On May 15, the Georgia and Armenia Tech Hub Summit 2023 was held at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. Its main sponsors were GEORGIA TODAY and Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. The conference was organized by the Georgia-Based law firm Klein & Pantsulaia and Armenia-based law firm Klein & Iskandaryan.
The keynote speaker was Adobe´s Arsen Babayan and this address was followed by a panel discussion including UK´s Exactpro, Devexperts and Amercia´s Software company Lineate´s Giorgia Tsikoloia who previously (amongst other things ) served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Georgia in the United States.
The focus of the event, amongst other issues, made comparisons between doing business in Armenia and Georgia with lots of detailed discussions and debate re staffing and related issues as concerns both countries.
As both economies have expanded at double digits in the last year (two of the strongest growing economies in the world). In step with the dramatic economic growth the regional Tech Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has well oustripped these figures since there has been a dramatic and sudden shifting of Tech firms from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. As a result, dozens of foreign tech firms have appeared in the region since last year. There are several instances where up to 1000 or 1500 employees/job openings were relocated to the region. Not only has this shocked the local job market, but it has impacted commercial/residential rents and in general cost of living.
During the panel discussion it was revealed that the difference between Silicon Valley and Georiga/Armenia salaries was previously five fold. As regional Tech salaries have recently spiked the difference is now closer to two and a half times. And closer to two times if the regional tech salaries are compared with places lik Utah. That does not include Tech firms price put on country risk and also issues relating to managing far away offices.
In terms of tax incentives there was a heated discussion comparing Armenia´s Armenia small business focused programme with that of Georgia´s focus on foreign tech investors.
According to Daniel Klein of Klein & Pantsulaia, there are well in excess of 40 foreign tech companies who have offices in Georgia, of which more than half also have presence in Armenia. There are no significant or known initiatives between the two countries and in that regard there seems to be a pent up demand to have more similar events and more initiatives both on a company level and perhaps even on a government level. Multi-national tech companies view the two countries as part of the same company geographical area, yet the countries do not appear to be cooperating in terms of similar tax rates, tax incentives and or in the areas of employment. It was opined that as the markets are each not that big, that it would be in the region´s best interest that the two countries compete a bit less and cooperate/coordinate a lot more in order to better compete with other markets such as Romania and Bulgaria. In that regard, Klein & Pantsulaia is in the process of trying to open a foreign tech trade association covering the region.\