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Belarus - the new Silicon Valley?

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 01:32

World of Tanks, one of the five most popular PC video games in Europe and the United States with 100 million players joining virtual battles in World War II-era tanks, started in a kitchen in the capital of Belarus. Grace Pascoe reports.

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It's a war game with a big following. World of Tanks has attracted 100 million players globally. And is Europe and the U.S.'s fifth most popular computer game. But it rose from humble beginnings A kitchen in Belarus. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) GAME STREAM DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, CYRIL STADNIK, SAYING: "Even at the alpha-testing stage the inflow of players was massive. So we knew already then that the project would be successful, but no one expected it to become that successful." Despite its international advances the games developer - Wargaming Has kept much of the operation in Minsk At High-Tech Park, the home of another dozen companies. It was set up 10 years ago by a former Belarusian ambassador to Washington. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HIGH-TECH PARK DIRECTOR, VALERY TSEPKALO, SAYING: "The Republic of Belarus does not have resources. We don't have oil, gas or metals. So the only thing we could rely on was brain power and education, and a lot of young people." High-Tech Park employs 24,000 people - it grew 20 percent in 2015 whilst the economy shrank by 4. EPAM was one of the first residents - it's enjoyed years of 20 percent plus growth (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) EPAM SYSTEMS HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR, JAROSLAV TOMILCHIK, SAYING: "The most important factors are the good education which produces professional engineers and the state's policy towards the IT industry. That includes big tax breaks, without too much government interference. There's now hope the sector will be seen as a model to transform what is still a largely state-run economy.

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Belarus - the new Silicon Valley?

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 01:32