Canadian Producers Filmed Documentary About Ukrainian Tech In Wartime

Last week Canadian content producers from Toronto, Dan Herman, and Chase Kaiser, visited Ukraine to spotlight the Ukrainian tech ecosystem in wartime and shed light on it, representing a documentary for a global audience. 

At the beginning of summer, we communicated with Dan. Then he visited the first Ukrainian Pavillion in Collision, Toronto, and met the delegation of Ukrainian Startup Fund who invited him to visit the country. It was so impressive to finally meet the team in Kyiv and Lviv within the IT Arena, even in such unprecedented and challenging times and conditions.

Dan Herman and Chase Kaiser are Canada-based content producers. Dan Herman is the former Executive Director of Innovation Policy for the Government of Canada and an advisor to governments around the world on innovation policy. 

Herman and Kaiser have spent the past year travelling worldwide to film Magnetic Cities, a documentary series that profiles startup ecosystems and looks at what makes each unique. The series will be released later this year, but a trailer can be viewed here:

We asked the team about their motivation to come to the country at war, their interest in the innovative Ukrainian sector, and their impressions of visiting Kyiv and Lviv.

TechUkraine: What is the aim of starting the project?

Dan Herman: At the start of the war I really wanted to help and while donating money was easy, it didn’t feel like a truly meaningful way to help in the long-term.

Winning the war is only half the battle and Ukraine will need to the world to remain engaged as it rebuilds.

I decided I wanted to contribute to that long-term aspect, however I could. As it happens, I met two officials from the Ukrainian Startup Fund at the Collision conference in June 2022 and I mentioned that perhaps we could film a short film about the country’s startup ecosystem as a way to show the world Ukraine’s potential.

Given the state of the war at that time, I didn’t think it would happen. However by September it was clear that Kyiv and Lviv were safe enough to make this happen and after some negotiation with my wife, here we are!

TechUkraine: Why do you keep an eye on Ukrainian tech?

Dan Herman: When I was building my last startup (an artificial intelligence company built on machine learning and natural language processing), my co-founder and I saw that there was a strong concentration of AI and other tech talent in Ukraine.

Truly world class, if not world leading talent.

The country’s outsourcing economy is a strong sign of that. And historically, places that are magnets for outsourcing tend to evolve into competitive hubs for technology development and startups as well.

So when we were developing our location list for Magnetic Cities, Kyiv was one of 18 locations. However the war made it impossible to include it for that project.

It also helps that my grandfather on my father’s side was Ukrainian, and moved to Canada nearly a century ago, so I feel a personal connection as well. 

TechUkraine: How do you feel here in Kyiv and Lviv during wartime? What are the insights of the people and atmosphere in Ukraine now?

Dan Herman: To be honest, I am so inspired by what I have found in Kyiv and Lviv. To hear the stories of how founders, policy makers, investors and others, have all sought to continue to build the ecosystem but also contribute to building the country during the war is truly humbling.

And looking forward, I am certain that this experience, however stressful and destructive in many ways, will contribute to a sense of resilience amongst entrepreneurs and to an alignment between their talent and the country’s needs that will put Ukraine on the map as one of the world’s best places for tech and startups.


Stay tuned – more news about the movie soon!

Huge thanks for support and assistance during the whole visit to Evelina Komarnytska, Head of Grant Programs at Ukrainian Startup Fund. 

Watch the movie now

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