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Nur-Sultan’s Startup Ecosystem’s Many Opportunities

Spotlight: Nur-Sultan is uncovering success in Fintech and Smart Cities
Sofia Kousa
on August 15, 2019

Nur-Sultan is known for its rich history and futuristic buildings including the pyramid-shaped Palace of Peace and Accord. The Independent writes that Nur-Sultan is becoming a hype destination for travelers and suggests it could become the next hottest travel destination. Since 1997, when Kazakhstan’s capital was moved from Almaty towards the North, the population of Nur-Sultan has been bulging and their startup ecosystem has been growing right alongside.

There definitely isn’t a shortage of resources for entrepreneurs in Nur-Sultan. According to our 2019 assessment, Kazakhstan is supporting startups by offering tax preferences, grants, and a visa regime to allow foreign partners to get work visas for up to 5 years. The Digital Kazakhstan State Program is the most well-funded program in Kazakhstan and has a budget of over $1 billion. The program’s goal is to accelerate economic growth and improve living standards across Kazakhstan and create a pathway towards a digital economy.

When it comes to startup sub-sectors, Fintech and Smart Cities are finding traction in Nur-Sultan. With Fintech, there are several notable Nur-Sultan-based startups. Senim, a smart wallet provider, raised $120,000 in 2018 in a Series A round. Moreover, The National Bank of Kazakhstan launched Invest Online, a blockchain-based mobile securities trading application. It acts as a free tool for people to invest in state securities. To enable growth in Fintech innovation but not diminish consumer protection in Nur-Sultan, the Astana International Financial Center implemented the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox and visa-free entry for citizens of 65 countries in 2018.

Nur-Sultan is also uncovering success in the Smart Cities sub-sector. The Astana Innovations Challenge was created to direct focus on the Smart City concept. They organized their first Open Data Hackathon in 2018. In addition, the world’s first Smart Sustainable City acceleration hub is set to open in Nur-Sultan. The hub includes the implementation of 10 to 15 startup solutions into Kazakhstan’s infrastructure.

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Some of the most interesting highlights about Nur-Sultan’s startup ecosystem, as featured in the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, include:

  • Ranked as a top five global ecosystem for affordable talent
  • The Output Growth Index for Nur-Sultan is 9
  • After introducing reforms to registration and trading, Kazakhstan ranked among the world’s top 30 economies in ease of doing business

Our local members in Nur-Sultan are Astana Hub and “Zerde” National Infocommunication Holding JSC. Astana Hub’s mission is to support high-tech projects and develop the startup culture in Kazakhstan. Led by their CEO Joseph K. Ziegler, they aim to become the heart of innovation for Kazakhstan and an internationally recognized Hub. Zerde National Infocommunication Holding is the largest Kazakhstani state company. It was created to develop modern infocommunication technologies and to implement disruptive projects. Their mission is to make ICT a competitive field in Kazakhstan. Both organizations are improving the Nur-Sultan ecosystem by encouraging and aiding innovation.

“Kazakhstan’s market provides an opportunity for startups to pilot their solutions, interact with large local and international corporations, who are open to cooperation with startups, and a possibility of entering the neighboring markets of Russia, China, etc,” Pavel Koktyshev, Deputy Chairman of the Board, JSC “Zerde” National infocommunication holding, said.

Want to be more involved in the Nur-Sultan startup ecosystem? Become a Startup Genome ambassador! Please get in touch.


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