Tanya Romanyukha: "I am honoured to lead our mission of transforming Cyprus into a dynamic tech island"

Recently appointed General Manager of TechIsland, Tanya Romanyukha has shared her vision and priorities within her new position, along with her view of Cyprus' tech sector and TechIsland's role in developing it even further.

Having been TechIsland’s Head of Operations since 2021, leading the association’s strategic and operational initiatives, Romanyukha has over 12 years of experience in operations management, business development, and venture capital. Speaking to CBN, Romanyukha, among other things, shared that her aims as General Manager include building upon the momentum that TechIsland has established over the last three years to leverage Cyprus' potential to advance as a tech-driven economy.

She also spoke about the tech sector’s main challenges and TechIsland’s role in overcoming them.

Congratulations on your new position at TechIsland. What are your vision and priorities as the new General Manager?

I am honoured to lead our mission of transforming Cyprus into a dynamic tech island. The trust placed in me by our Board is both an honour and a driving force. My aim is to build upon the momentum that we have established in the last three years, leveraging Cyprus' potential to advance as a tech-driven economy. In terms of priorities, this year we plan to enhance the collaboration between the education sector and the tech industry. We are placing emphasis on expanding capacities at international schools. We are also committed to supporting the younger generation of Cypriots by cultivating a tech culture through collaborations between industry and academia and initiatives such as lectures, mentoring, open days and more.

More generally, what is your current view of the tech scene in Cyprus?

Our tech scene is in a remarkable phase of growth and transformation. In 2022, ICT accounted for 13% of the country’s GDP, marking an average growth rate of 15% and outperforming all other sectors of the economy. Notably, according to Eurostat, from 2006 to 2022, Cyprus ranked third in the growth of ICT specialist employees at 145%, while the EU27 average was 41% over the same period. The diversity of our tech scene is also impressive. We have so many different companies, especially in key booming sectors such as AI, proptech and biotechnology.

Despite this impressive growth, the sector is not without its problems. What are they and how is TechIsland acting to help solve them?

The tech sector faces several challenges but, with focused efforts, we can overcome them. It is necessary to bridge the gap in the ICT job market to enable further growth, so the strategy now focuses on attracting highly skilled tech professionals from abroad, while upskilling and reskilling local talent to build a robust tech workforce. Within this approach, we need to address key issues such as education, housing and banking. The education system is under pressure due to increased demand for English-speaking and international-oriented schools, which is a key consideration for tech professionals moving with their families. Supporting the expansion of educational facilities is crucial to meet this growing need. The high cost of living, particularly housing, is another hurdle and further initiatives are needed to make living in Cyprus more approachable for locals and relocating professionals. As for the local banking sector, banks in Cyprus often lack a deep understanding of the unique business models created by tech startups and how the venture capital ecosystem works. A complex compliance environment, the lengthy process of opening bank accounts, and the requirement for exhaustive pre-moderation of transactions hinder startups' operational efficiency and growth potential. While some banks are making efforts to establish tech hubs or specialized services, the overall experience for tech companies seeking banking services in Cyprus is still lacking.

How do you view TechIsland’s role in the sector?

Our role is to support and collaborate with other stakeholders in the tech industry who share our commitment to making the island a better place for everyone. Our members have united to leverage their skills and resources in projects that not only enhance our business infrastructure but also contribute to societal wellbeing. This includes initiatives in community infrastructure, social innovation, and environmental sustainability. Together, we are committed to helping Cyprus become known not only for its technological capabilities but also as a beacon of community development and sustainability. This collective effort is the direction we are proud to pursue

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