Zilina Offers More Possibilities For Startups Than You’d Expect

Published on:

Welcome to Zilina, the core of IT business in Slovakia. Located in the heart of the Northwest it's the fifth largest city of Slovakia and perfect for you to startup. Simply follow this guide.

If we want to talk about the heart of northwestern Slovakia we have to mention the historical city Zilina. The fifth largest city of Slovakia, it is the largest one on the Vah river and an important transport hub. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains with a lot of hiking trails, which is the reason why tourists mainly from Europe are regular visitors to Zilina. It is a city that lives and loves sports. Many talented footballers represent the famous club MSK Zilina and Peter Sagan is known as a professional road bicycle racer for the World Tour.

It is an important industrial center with a fast-growing economy. A great contribution to growth is coming from the largest car manufacturer Kia Motors Slovakia with its suppliers like Mobis. Zilina is also the core of IT business in Slovakia. There are many famous companies like Azet.sk, Siemens AG, Scheidt and Bachmann and others. It forms the basis for the development of the startup environment aimed at IT solutions and many others.

Welcome To Zilina!

The Zilina startup ecosystem is growing. There are many new places where you can develop your ideas and make your dreams come true with people always ready to help you out, and opportunities that are waiting for you at every corner. During the year there are a lot of interesting events (e.g. competitions, workshops, discussions) which are available for the general public. A lot of events are created in cooperation with startuppers and entrepreneurs.

Zilina is situated near some cities that are important for startuppers, like Bratislava, Vienna, Brno and Krakow. You can reach them between 2,5-3 hours. It provides an advantage to develop your business to different markets.

Advantages Of Starting A Business In Zilina:

  • In the city center we have a new coworking space for entrepreneurs, named Banka Zilina. It is a beautifully renovated historical building. Some companies have their own offices there. Entrepreneurs and startupers have a big opportunity to find services which are tailored to their needs.
  • Zilina is the fifth biggest city in Slovakia (85 000 inhabitants). Despite this, the size of the city is also it’s advantage. There is no problem with the transport – everything important for startuppers is distanceless.
  • The location of Zilina is very attractive. It is a transport hub and all bigger startup cities are within reach. It is a good stop for business travelers and for people to meet from all parts of Slovakia and other countries.
  • Cities with big startup incubators and accelerators are quite near. As already mentioned, it is possible to reach big startup cities like Brno or Vienna in two and a half hours and Kraków in 3 hours. Zilina infrastructure has the potential for startups to grow.
  • Zilina is a student city. The University of Zilina is the fifth biggest university in Slovakia by the number of students studying at it. The focus of the university is very unique in Slovakia, it has a tradition in providing education and research in the field of transportation and information technologies.
  • University-wide subject “The profession entrepreneur – Startup program” which was launched in 2009. Students work to develop their ideas in project-oriented teams. They have the opportunity to cooperate with experienced mentors. With specially prepared targeted workshops and motivational events, students receive help in their projects and are prepared for the business environment.
  • University science park and Research centre are being built. These are scientific research institutions with unique technologies which are aimed at applied research and linking science with entrepreneurial environment and industry.
  • There are many institutions providing technology transfer and innovation support as well as support for emerging startups (e.g. IPA Slovakia, The Slovak Productivity Centre SLCP, Science and Technology Park VTP Žilina, Central European Institute of Technology CEIT, ICT Cluster Z@ict).
  • Zilina is known for its beautiful nature and health spas near the city. Those and a lot of cultural events attract tourists during the whole year. Everybody can try delicious food and beverage anywhere.
  • In response to the need for expansion of new innovative projects and to the boom of the startup scene, the government is preparing the concept to support startups and to develop the startup ecosystem in Slovakia.

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Smaller town than capital city. There are not as many enterprises and possibilities for networking.
  • The startup community in Zilina is quite new and it’s start is not as quick as it could be. Groups of people from the startup scene work hard and assiduously to develop and help to growth of this community though.
  • Along with the small size of the city there is also a smaller group of potential customers available to test the new products.
  • There is only one coworking space. On the other hand it is enough for the city of that size at this time.
  • There is only one university. Many students study in different cities or in other countries (mostly Czech republic) and they take their ideas and projects somewhere else.
  • Zilina has a limited number of potential investors. A lot of potential future startuppers move to bigger cities – mainly to the capital city – because they have many more opportunities to get some investment among other things there.
  • A lot of enterprises are specifically focused on information and communication technology. They employ a great number of people who are not interested and motivated to develop their own startup. The same situation applies to people who work in the automotive industry and in production companies.
  • There is no airport. It is the reason why people do not stop and stay in Zilina. They just pass the town.

Zilina has a lot of advantages and they will be still supplemented by further developments. A fast growing support system and newly emerging projects set up the basic building stone for the further successful expansion of Zilina’s startup ecosystem. We hope these advantages will be so convenient that startuppers will easily forget these small obstacles.

Say Hello To Zilina’s Startup Community

Zilina_guide_community

We can say that everyone who is somehow connected to startup and project life in Slovakia – they know each other. It is the same in Zilina. People who are trying to build the startup community and help other enthusiasts, all have different jobs. They work at the university, at some research institutions, at companies or at the coworking space etc. Some of them work in other cities. But they are able to join their forces and stay in touch.

A lot of events are organized during the year. Smaller events are visited by people from Zilina region and the biggest events attract people from all over Slovakia or from abroad. Events have great diversity and they are targeting different groups of candidates. They are mostly organized in three places – at the University of Zilina, at coworking Banka Zilina and at Stanica Zariecie.

Find Info About Upcoming Events, Meetups & Other Occasions:

  • Banka Žilina: In this coworking space they are organizing a lot of various events such as lectures, workshops, discussions, competitions, team meetings, conferences etc. If you come you can join our community to find new challenges. A table or whole office are waiting for you.
  • Stanica Žilina-Záriečie: Stanica (Train station) is one of the cultural nodes. The famous event is Pecha Kucha Night Zilina. It is the place for workshops, exhibitions (various kinds of art), small concerts, events for schools and for children. During the summer you can visit the summer cinema. This space is located directly at a train station in Zilina.
  • University of Zilina: The University represents wisdom and science. Specialized and scientific conferences and seminars are led in a serious spirit. However, you can have fun during the Best guest events, workshops, competitions etc.
  • Startupisti: This special group Startupisti is a closed group on Facebook. The group was established after the Startup Weekend Zilina #2 of 2013. This is the place for meeting and exchanging information between startuppers and entrepreneurs about their work and startup community. Actually the group has around 1500 members and still keep growing.
  • VTP Žilina: VTP Zilina was founded in 2001 with the aim to support new entrepreneurs. Since 2003 it has been an operated business incubator at campus of University of Zilina. Now there are around 25 started companies. VTP has started to operate the coworking space in Banka Zilina and is responsible for every event which is held there. That small group of passionate people is responsible for all activities in Zilina’s startup community.
  • Research of the University science park at University of Zilina is focused on Intelligent transport systems, Intelligent manufacturing systems, Advanced materials and technologies and Information and communications technologies.
  • Research Centre is structured into 3 divisions with following laboratories, machines and equipment: Monitoring and evaluation the transport infrastructure conditions, Progressive materials for transport infrastructure and vehicles production, Design and operation of smart buildings and renewable energy sources.
  • Women in Business Zilina Regional Office Top Centre of Businesswomen that has been operating for many years. It brings together active entrepreneurs and managers. The Platform Women in business Žilina – a local project for our region – was formed in order to support entrepreneurship and women in business within the Zilina region. They focus on organizing interesting events, workshops, meetings and lectures.

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • IT Camp – The event focused on linking students with representatives of the companies. Students work on real tasks from companies focused on IT technology.
  • KROScamp – Camp where participants have the task of implementing a single project – from requirements gathering through to implementation in a test environment.
  • Evening bussines school – Workshop aimed at enabling the use of principles to understand business model canvas and find innovation of business ideas.
  • Bar Camp – is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.
  • Bussines Angel Festival – The event takes place in the form of short presentations applying project before inviting investors.
  • Business breakfast: Breakfast is organized regularly by VTP Zilina. It is a meeting of entrepreneurs and people who are interested and who meet at breakfast. They discuss current topics which are important for the Zilina region and Zilina’s startup ecosystem. You can meet business angels, local entrepreneurs from various sectors etc.
  • BestGuest This event is aimed at people who have a successful business but who had to overcome many obstacles. Usually these kinds of events are intended for students and people who need to be inspired and be kicked to stop looking for excuses and get on with starting their own business. In this event hide a lot of motivational themes. At the University of Zilina and at Banka Zilina you can meet people like Michal Stencl from Sygic, Vladimir Beno from Beno Zilina, Milan Dubec from Azet, Miroslav Trnka from ESET, Marian Lemo Lemes from Enjoy Club Zilina, Miso Truban from WebSupport, Michal Meško from Martinus and many others who cannot be named at this time but who support the many events in Zilina.
  • Vzdelávareň.sk who leads various workshops and events aimed to creating web pages, graphic, SEO and programming.
  • Whatify? – The event for young people interested in entrepreneurship and with innovative ideas which can be applied in the market.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Startup Weekend Žilina: One of the best things that are organized in Zilina is Startup Weekend (SWZA). SWZA has had its start in 2012 and has been moved from Bratislava. The quality of the whole event is pretty high so one difficult issue is what new and improved things to incorporate. Organizers are facing these kinds of challenges. Startup weekend is getting bigger attention each year and it generates higher interest in competition.
  • Startup Awards Roadshow – an event for presenting competition StartupAwards.SK and getting feedback on applied projects. The culmination of different roadshows is the largest startup event in Slovakia – Startup Awards.
  • Pecha Kucha Night Zilina is a meeting of architects, artists, designers and other creative people. Each author can show 20 pictures in his presentation and each picture remains on the screen for 20 seconds. Pecha Kucha Nights is in its seventh year and one of the most visited events in Zilina.
  • SmartUp Challenge is an entrepreneurship and innovation program implemented by Junior Achievement for developing ideas of young people. It is a four step competition that gives you the opportunity to create your own job.
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. During this week some of the major events take place in Zilina.
  • IRR is a conference that aims to support innovation in the region of Zilina.
  • Rails Girls Zilina: This event is tailored to women to help them understand technology and build their ideas. Women can learn sketching, prototyping, basic programming etc. Especially in Zilina they can learn to program their own website and build web applications with Ruby during one weekend. The event is famous everywhere in Slovakia.
  • Research Star: Competition for researchers and students at the University of Žilina with innovative ideas.

Book A Co-working Space In Zilina

Zilina_guide_coworking

The coworking space in Banka Zilina is completely new. Startuppers, work teams, freelancers and anyone else can have their own place, table or office according the agreement. There is room for organization lectures, workshops, discussions, competitions, team meetings, conferences etc. The coworking area takes two floors and have their own spaces for refreshment.

There are different places where entrepreneurs and startupers can meet or work. Some of them are focused on the organization of events or various discussions:

  • Foundation POLIS – In the premises of the POLIS you can meet a very large amount of famous, influential and opinion-setting people from diverse part of Slovakia and the world during the discussions. People of all generation can come and participate in discussions about different areas of their social life – e.g. culture, entrepreneurship, politics, communities, different projects etc.
  • In the Regional library Zilina you can borrow a lot of books but in addition there is place for organizing some workshops, discussions, trainings etc.
  • The bookstore Artforum is already part of the cultural community of Zilina. One part of the bookstore creates cafe what is nice place for meetings and organizing of the public discussions. Other books store Panta Rhei has its beautiful cafe in shopping centre Aupark. Martinus is next famous bookstore in Zilina which is situated in shopping centre MIRAGE.
  • University pastoral center (UPeCe) at the University of Zilina is a place where students and the general public can meet. You can visit the nice cafe and it is possible to organize small meetings and discussion there. Behind the UPeCE you can lease volleyball playground or other playground for football or basketball. You can book a gazebo where you can have e.g team building. It is good place for barbecue or for cooking goulash in the kettle.
  • Hotels like Holiday Inn Zilina, Dubna skala, Polom, Slovakia, Grand are situated directly in the city centre. Each hotel has own space for bigger or smaller conferences, workshops and team buildings. Hotels offer services for everyone at a great level.
  • It is possible to rent a huge lecture halls and smaller rooms in the University of Zilina (UNIZA). Additional space outside the main university building can provide the Faculty of management science and informatics (FRI). The University has hosted the first year of the Startup Weekend Zilina and  FRI has hosted the second year of the this popular event.
  • Entrepreneurs can lease new offices e.g in the building of the Business center.

Where To Get Funding In Zilina

Zilina_guide_financing.

Zilina’s startup ecosystem is still developing. It is believed that the increasing number of quality startups will increase the number of people interested in investing in local startups from the Zilina region. From a broader perspective we have a number of opportunities for startups in Zilina or in Slovakia.

Incubators:

  • VTP Zilina is an incubator on the campus of University of Zilina. Now is there around 25 started companies. This is a great opportunity if you need to rent some space.
  • The second startup incubator Startup BaZA in Slovakia (the first in north of Slovakia). It is located in Banka Zilina. Startup BaZA has its own three-month accelerator program where teams can be chosen after signing up from around the world.

Grants & Subventions:

  • The Slovak government is preparing activities to support startups. You can read about this in the short article Start-ups to get boost from state in The Slovac Spectator.
  • Slovak Business Agency wants to be the first choice for Slovak enterprises for starting and developing their business. It is also the oldest specialized non-profit organization for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Crowd Investing Platforms:

  • Crowdberry is equity crowdfunding platforms that bring together a private investor club with dynamic business ideas. It is the private banking in the world of startups.
  • Conda.eu is a crowfunding platform which is starting its activities in Slovakia.

Angel Investors:

  • Club business angels Slovakia Club is the first network of business angels in Slovakia. It was established in 2011 and its mission is supporting the development of innovation and entrepreneurship in the new generation of entrepreneurs. It brings together successful entrepreneurs and managers who want to invest their expertise, time and money into startups.

Venture Capital Investors:

  • Neulogy Ventures is the first Slovakia-based management company to run fully regulated seed and venture capital funds structured along the highest industry standards.

Where To Seek Further Support In Zilina

Zilina_mentors

The Slovak government is preparing many support activities for small and middle size companies (SMEs) and startups.

At this time is is building a National business center (NPC) which will be situated in the capital city. Under one roof several organizations will be situated which have provided many support activities and services for companies and startups for a long time. Goal for the building a NPC in Bratislava is to ensure complete support for SMEs and create the system support the transfer scientific and research potential to the business community. Part of the NPC should be organizations like Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information (CVTI SR), Slovak Business Agency (SBA) etc.

Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information (SCSTI/CVTI SR) is a national information centre and specialised scientific library of the SR focused on natural, technical, economic and social sciences. Among other things SCSTI organizes famous events such as Trans Tech Exchange or Researchers’ Night etc. SCSTI provides a lot of different services for researchers and entrepreneurs.

For researchers and startups it is important to be interested in intellectual property protection. These services and various consulting services provide Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic.

In the end every startupers and entrepreneurs can find help or own space for his/her work in different cities. People and organizations collaborate together. There is growing one big startup community.

Zilina startup ecosystem is in expansion and now is the right time to discover it and to harness it‘s full potential. For developing new ideas and creating innovations it is very useful to work in new places and to meet with new people with fresh ideas. If you want to explore a new place with space for your talent deployment and new opportunities, follow our guide and welcome to Zilina!

__________________

Last updated: July 31st, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they contstantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!