Creatives United by Desire to Bring Tesla’s Gigafactory to Lithuania
Jan 10

“Tesla’s Gigafactory in Lithuania? Why not!?” asked Vladas Lašas, a famous Lithuanian entrepreneur, in his column at Verslo žinios, the main Lithuanian business daily, last month. His article soon turned into a movement of enthusiasts and, consequently, a 60-strong hackathon with tangible outcome.

Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk recently announced that he started searching for a European location to build its second Gigafactory, a lithium ion battery production plant. The first one is currently under construction in Nevada, US. For this reason, Vladas Lašas suggested Lithuania could significantly benefit from having a Gigafactory quoting Costa Rica’s experience in bringing Intel’s chip factory and consequent boom of country’s IT industry as a prime example.

Interestingly, Mr Lašas’ article quickly escalated into a movement of enthusiasts, a meetup, a panel discussion with top government officials, a communication hackathon with 1K EUR prize, and a budget to implement the winning idea.

Rygaudas Guodis, one of founding members of Gigathon group, says he saw the amount of comments and the degree of enthusiasm under Mr Lašas’ article, contacted him and launched an event – a meetup at ISM’s Innobase – on Facebook.

“The discussion in the article comments section was great, Mr Lašas received many emails after the article, and so the idea to gather everyone interested offline was born. Around 90 people came to the initial discussion at ISM, including professionals from Invest Lithuania, Lietuvos energija, as well as many experienced managers and marketers. Nearly two thirds of them expressed their wish to contribute further in one way or another. There was super strong support for the main idea – bringing Tesla’s Gigafactory to Lithuania – by everyone . And so we decided to go further and organized a panel discussion and an idea hackathon last week,’ says Rygaudas.

His initial group was then joined by people from Startup Lithuania, Turing society, Invest Lithuania, Kurk Lietuvai programme and others that made the Gigathon event happen in the Martynas Mažvydas National Library in Vilnius. Saulius Skvernelis, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Mindaugas Sinkevičius, Minister of Economy, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Chairman of Committee on Economics at Lithuanian Parliament, joined the panel, to name a few influentials and government officials. Also, the discussion was broadcasted live by Delfi, the main Lithuanian news website, and attended by numerous journalists from local media.

Full support by the government pledged

The panelists agreed that full support by the government, non-conventional solutions and a well-prepared offer are all needed to bring a major investment such as Tesla’s Gigafactory. Government officials instantly pledged their full support to the initiative during the discussion.

“I admire and support this idea. All non-conventional decisions needed from the government will be made,” claimed Saulius Skvernelis, the Prime Minister of Lithuania.

“I also fully support the idea. I will personally show Elon Musk around if needed,” said Mindaugas Sinkevičius, the Minister of the Economy. He also pledged to allocate resources for Invest Lithuania’s team to work on the Gigafactory pitch.

However, Mantas Katinas from Invest Lithuania suggested that political support alone is never enough – Lithuania also needs to have a very clear selling proposition that would possibly consist of major individual tax breaks that always require explanation for broader society. Also, a designated team to work on this project would be needed, and yet Lithuania’s offer to build a major battery factory could be adapted to other companies working in this field in case Tesla turns the offer down.

13 ideas pitched

After the discussion, more than 60 young creatives formed 13 teams to work on the ideas how to pitch Lithuania to Tesla motors. Their creative work was mentored and evaluated by top advertising specialists like Tomas Nemūra, Stefanija Jokštytė, Jonas Lekevičius and others. Their work was presented next day at Vilnius Tech Park. An anonymous contributor has even set a 1K EUR prize for the winning idea as well as 4K EUR for its initial implementation.

First place was won by team Turbo that suggested a 72h live broadcast of Lithuanians waiting for Elon Musk to call in order to pitch our Gigafactory in LT proposal. They would create a web page with a live feed of people waiting for a call that would include both top government officials and simple citizens. This website would also include a dossier of people currently live, facts about our political will, infrastructure, and other information.

Second place was awarded to a team that offered to build Tesla’s Lithuanian Gigafactory in Minecraft, and the third place went to a visual campaign that pledges to do “whatever it takes to please Tesla”. Rygaudas Guogis says now the winning team will polish their idea together with a pool of professionals.

So what’s next then? We obviously have a huge desire, a vast pool of volunteers and enthusiasts, full support by the government, state of the art infrastructure, plenty of talent and ideas. We also witnessed our ability to unite for an important goal. Now it’s time to work hard – we’ll keep you updated!