There is a large and lively community of developers here in Cyprus. Connecting with them is easy, as it is an international and multilingual community. But Cyprus needs to forge its brand as a software development hub. Sean Alimov, who helped found the CypRus IT Community, gives a sense of what developers who relocate need here and what remains to be done

Cyprus definitely needs to distinguish itself as a centre for IT innovation. Although it is advisable to utilize and mirror the best practices of the countries that have achieved success in attracting top talents, I would not advise simply copycatting everything that other jurisdictions have done in terms of specific reforms. It’s important to develop and promote our own unique image that will ensure a solid association of Cyprus with the specific identity, practice and quality. If I’m an IT and tech person intending to relocate, and I see that Cyprus is just replicating Estonia’s approach for example, I would probably end up choosing Estonia.

Cyprus certainly has the means to distinguish itself from other jurisdictions. High salaries which can be on par with Europe and even US, however, are not the main differentiator. In order for us to achieve a kind of reputation as a globally recognized centre for ICT Innovation

there are five key pillars. These are taxation and investment incentives, tech-friendly immigration system, talent availability, digital infrastructure as well as the active and engaged ecosystem.

Then, overall, you need to make Cyprus both friendly and desired place, more so than in competing countries.

Cyprus has the attractive IP Box (a tax deduction for profit on intellectual property rights) which has already been drawing the attention on the global arena. However, that contributes to Cyprus’ image as a holding company jurisdiction.

What we need to focus now is on the reforms that will also support and further promote Cyprus to those heavily involved in ICT operations. To attract, harness and retain the cutting-edge tech talent, there should be specific tax incentives and immigration rules, related to skills, at the individual family level. Good examples are countries like Finland or Germany.

They offer incentives for residency as well as tax break on the salaries, the spouses have the right to work and in some countries the housing is also subsidized.

If we want to attract top developers we must not ignore all the relevant aspects, such as demographics, age, background, family situation, habits, religion, etc. We also need to recognize the fact that the overseas tech talents tend to mingle in silos.

With in our Community, we see a lot of exceptionally talented developers who are not necessarily young and single, as they are often thought of.

A great many at this stage are either in a relationship, married and starting young families. They are predominately from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. They are united by the ability to use common language (Russian) to exchange ideas, share best practices and have social setting interactions which has created an appealing environment for them. The same should be accounted for the growing Israeli and Arabic tech communities in Cyprus.

Such engaged communities are the crucial part of the overall ecosystem. They serve to attract high-value businesses, cutting edge individuals such as world-class developers, tech entrepreneurs and investors, along with their networks, capital, vision and ideas.

It’s not just about the salary and tax incentives or visa system; it’s about social integration too. The civic aspect is highly important for many entrepreneurs and developers, and we should not ignore that either. A number of the influential Russian-speaking figures in Cyprus do things like building a church, museums, investing in community activities and social support actions. At the pick of the first wave during the pandemic, a group of prominent tech guys in Limassol voluntarily provided essential equipment and masks to hospitals.

What is needed is a carefully customised life-style offer that favors the developers from start to finish – if that sounds outrageous, consider that developers get this and more in many other countries. When Cyprus has an offer that it truly seamless, it will succeed in competing with other countries for these high skilled workers.

Developers, if all else is equal, will go where the work is most interesting for them, where their professional development is achieved, and their personal choices are accommodated. We need to work closely with theCyprus-based technology driven companies to find out what is on offer, and then bring all aspects that we’ve discussed into a single point of contact so these talents can work and live permanently in Cyprus. As the result, Cyprus will claim a globally recognised IT Innovation brand positioning and will continue to enjoy a myriad of social and economic benefits. Last but not least, this will in turn generate opportunities for Cypriots by skills transfer, promoting innovation at the regional level and of course creating jobs.