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Economic Resilience Activity

1991 Mariupol Startup Development Center

1991 Mariupol Startup Development Center is a space for learning and developing IT initiatives in Mariupol, which was aimed at the growth of the community of innovators as a powerful source of renovation and renewal of the ecosystem in the IT sector of Eastern Ukraine.


Nestled just 20 km from the frontline of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mariupol grappled with the dual challenge of conflict proximity and economic restructuring. The city, integral to Ukraine's metallurgical industry, faced a significant brain drain as IT graduates sought opportunities elsewhere. Meanwhile, local industries, predominantly metallurgical, were navigating digitalization hurdles. With a pressing need for innovation and economic revival, SocialBoost envisioned a hub to connect Mariupol's burgeoning IT talent with the industrial giants and create a synergy that could spark investment and technological transformation. The 1991 Mariupol Startup Development Center emerged as a pivotal solution to address these challenges, aiming to forge collaboration, retain local tech expertise, and catalyze a tech-driven renaissance in Mariupol.



In October 2019, SocialBoost unveiled the 1991 Mariupol Startup Development Center, a transformative initiative in Eastern Ukraine. The center's inauguration was graced by the President of Ukraine, Mariupol City Council, USAID, and the European Investment Bank during the RE:THINK. Invest in Ukraine forum, marked a milestone. Designed to stem the outflow of IT talent, the center aimed to catalyze a tech renaissance, engaging the local community as a dynamic force for innovation.

At the core of the 1991 Mariupol was an educational ecosystem featuring incubation and acceleration programs for startups, targeted training courses, and internships. The center strategically partnered with the city and local enterprises, aligning services with their needs. With monthly foot traffic of up to 6 thousand visitors, the center became a vibrant hub, hosting 40 to 90 online and offline events.

One noteworthy initiative was the EAST COAST: IT Investment Forum held in December 2020. This forum dismantled stereotypes about the industrial region, showcasing opportunities for Ukrainian venture investors. It brought together experts, local authorities, and startup industry representatives, amplifying the creative economy's potential. The event also spotlighted startups that had graduated from the 1991 Mariupol incubation program.

As a member of the MRPL IT Cluster, an alliance of the city's IT entities, the center actively contributed to elevating IT education, fostering technological entrepreneurship, and bolstering personnel influx to the region. 

Unfortunately, the center ceased operations in March 2022, succumbing to the repercussions of Russia's full-scale invasion and the occupation of Mariupol. Despite its closure, the 1991 Mariupol Startup Development Center left an indelible mark, demonstrating the potent impact of collaborative tech initiatives in regional development.


The impact of the 1991 Mariupol Startup Development Center surpassed the conventional boundaries of a startup hub. While its primary focus was nurturing startups, the center embarked on a broader mission—reviving the ailing IT ecosystem in Eastern Ukraine. In the 2010s, the region faced a considerable brain drain, depleting human resources and intellectual capital. 1991 Mariupol emerged as a beacon of change, drawing back specialists and catalyzing greater productivity for the entire regional ecosystem.

  • Community Development: The center played a pivotal role in fostering a robust community of innovators, acting as a catalyst for regional renewal. Through many programs and events, it became a dynamic hub for collaborative ideation and growth.
  • Talent Retention: A primary objective was achieved as the center successfully curbed the outflow of IT specialists from Mariupol. It became a magnet for retaining and attracting tech talent by offering meaningful opportunities and support.
  • Youth Empowerment: The center created avenues for young individuals to explore and contribute to the tech industry. Training courses, internships, and educational initiatives empowered the youth, offering a pathway to impactful careers.
  • Collaborative Coalition: A robust coalition was forged between the city, its residents, regional entrepreneurs, and businesses. This collaborative network became a driving force for sustainable development, fostering synergies for collective progress.
  • Investment Attractiveness: By addressing critical issues related to human resources and elevating the overall tech ecosystem, 1991 Mariupol significantly increased the investment attractiveness of the Donbas region. It laid the foundation for sustained growth and economic resilience.