This research was compiled as an input for policy discussions at Riga Venture Summit to illustrate how Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius could increase their competitiveness in the global war for startups and talent. The presentation slides are also available on SlideShare.
Teleport collects data on more than a hundred cities worldwide. From the vast amount of collected data we compose around 50 indices which help our users find their optimal location based on their personal preferences. These data dimensions can also be used to compare cities with each other.
In order to visualize the distribution of cities worldwide on a two dimensional plot, the 50 data dimensions need to be collapsed into something more manageable. For this purpose we’ve divided our dimensions into two broad categories:
low living cost + life quality and tech scene + business readiness (major components of each dimension described at the end)
Plotting all Teleport cities on these two axes:
Colors refer to the continents of cities. Without looking at specific cities right now (though hovering shows the city name and you can pan/zoom to take a closer look), we can see that North American cities tend to score well on the tech+business axis whereas European ones have better life quality+low living cost numbers.
Adding city names to the plot makes it quite busy and zooming in is needed to make sense of it all.
As we’re interested in Baltic capitals we can filter out most of the other locations and only keep a few extra ones for reference:
Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius are all quite close together in the top left corner where there is a good balance between cost of living and quality of life, but the tech scene is still maturing.
Quality of life + living cost
The low living cost + life quality dimension can be split into two, making it possible to compare cities based on the two new dimensions alone. The best area on the plot is the top right corner, where life quality is good but living costs are low as well.
Focussing on the Baltic capitals again, we see that all three occupy the coveted top right corner. Quality of life is perhaps not as high as in some of the world’s “most livable cities”, but paired together with the greatly reduced living costs Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius all make a compelling case for themselves in both local and global comparison.
Business readiness + tech scene
The tech scene + business readiness can also be split apart. Again the best place to be is in the top right, where the tech scene is booming and it’s easy to do business. In this case the quadrant is mostly occupied by North American cities.
Looking closer at the Baltics we see that, again, they are almost inseparable from each other when comparing to the rest of the world. The Baltic capitals match their local neighbours in terms of readiness for business but trail the global leaders both in this dimension and the vibrancy of the tech scene.
A high readiness level for business is a necessary prerequisite for a thriving tech scene. Business readiness can be thought of as being composed of the cost of doing business (in terms of money spent on taxes and time wasted on bureaucracy) and less obvious things like having good travel connectivity and quality higher education institutions for providing research insights and bright new minds. Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius do quite well in lowering the costs of doing business but limited accessibility and lack of world class universities appear to hamper their competitiveness.
In both global and local perspective the Baltic capitals are almost indistinguishable from each other. All three can boast a world class combination of life quality and low living costs. Locally they are also competitive in terms of readiness for doing business yet trail globally with regards to having an established tech scene. They prove to be cost effective in terms of money and time needed for doing business but need to improve on accessibility and higher education.
Separating the inseparable
Although it’s hard to find differences between Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius compared to the global scale, a few things pop up:
Tallinn – least pollution, best startup funding, worst air connections
Riga – best air connections, highest tax burden
Vilnius – best internet connections, most urban greenery, worst traffic
Low living cost: rent + other living costs
Quality of life: low crime, pollution, traffic; high quality education, network connectivity, public transport, healthcare
Tech scene: startup climate, tech events, funding availability
Business readiness: low corruption, taxes, labour restrictions, bureaucracy; good flight connections; highly qualified workforce