“STARTUP – STAND ON THE LINE”
Innovations – a chance for economic Serbia Belgrade, October 21, 2022 – The conference on startup entrepreneurship “Startup – stand on the line” gathered more than 80 representatives of regional startup centers, entrepreneurs, investors, future startup entrepreneurs, representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank in Serbia and other institutions, as well as the media. The aim of the professional conference was to connect start-up companies, future entrepreneurs and investors, in order to start new or improve existing businesses with the exchange of information and experiences. The conference was opened by Nebojša Popović, Minister for Innovation and Technological Development, highlighting Serbia’s significant investments in innovation and startups.
– More than 400 innovative startups say that we have evolved into one of the countries with the best growing startups and innovations in Europe. The largest number of startups in our country were created in the last three years, and about 50 percent of their products are marketed in the European Union, and about 40 percent in the United States. We are also proud of the fact that a fifth of startups were started by women, while their share was only four percent a few years ago. In the past six to seven years, the Government has managed to do a lot to improve startups, and the big challenges are investments that exceed several million euros, and so far such funding has come from abroad, and our goal is that the Government of Serbia helps such startups in the future. Information about Serbian startup companies will soon be available on the most famous global database Deal Room, which is of great importance. Since 2015, Serbia has recorded an exceptional rate of development in the field of innovation, primarily in product innovation and business processes. We have an excellent engineering staff, which has been recognized by relevant world organizations, highly evaluating our development potential and professional staff. Recently, the Government of Serbia, together with startup participants, adopted the Strategy for the Development of Startup Companies until 2025. We no longer have a sufficient number of engineers, all of them are employed, unlike the European Union. That’s why I advise young people to go to technical sciences, because that’s where their business future is guaranteed. We must all work together to develop the economic and innovation infrastructure. In previous years, we opened as many as 26 regional startup centers. By constant exchange of information and systems, if we work together, we will have an excellent result. The bottom line is knowing where and how to invest money. Thanks to the organizers for a successful conference – Minister Popović concluded.
– Now is a good time in Serbia for investments in startups, regardless of the crisis. Whoever has a good idea, a good team and a clear vision of where that idea will be marketed can succeed because there are five or six ways of financing to get that business off the ground. It is up to those teams how much they will accept such an opportunity. But the moment of further follow-up is missing. Namely, when ideas receive initial funds, they often disappear, and that is why we, in front of the World Bank, are looking to prevent new businesses from disappearing. It is not enough to show the idea only on the small markets of Serbia and the region, but to jump on the continental level. The Star Venture program for the Western Balkans, which I coordinate, includes consulting services, mentoring work, primarily in cooperation with the University of Cambridge. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is not yet interested in investing in start-up businesses, but I hope that will change in the future. Duško Vasiljević, senior expert for the development of the private sector of the World Bank in Serbia, explained the importance of the institution’s support: – The wider ecosystem is important, because we support the reform of science and scientific research institutes. When we talk about entrepreneurship, we have to keep in mind the importance of coding and how to connect it to concrete services and the economy. Specifically, regarding support for innovative entrepreneurship, we supported the Catapult Accelerator project both economically and through mentoring and professional development. It is necessary to help young people in many ways. In cooperation with the European Union and the Government of Serbia, we focus mainly on investments in the initial stages of startup development, and these grants range from a few dozen to 300,000 euros. Those startups require co-investment. The value of the Science Development Fund is great and it is important that independent experts make the decision about who will receive additional money. Rade Rakočević, executive director of Senzal capital doo, assessed that the founders of startups face great challenges in this time of crisis. – All the circumstances in which we find ourselves and the huge problem with personnel means that a startup that is focused on traffic will succeed in business. Startups are considered the most risky for economic investments. That’s why the role of a mentor is very important, because ideas, funding from the state are only the basis, that’s why professional staff is necessary to upgrade all those ideas.
Stefanija Lukić, founder of the fun learning platform Sthreber, gave an interesting presentation: – The idea of digitizing education six to seven years ago was a complete novelty. As a journalist and producer, I wanted to deal with educational content for children in a digital format and today it helps children from fifth to eighth grade to learn in a fun way. We have created a platform on Shtreber.com, where children enjoy learning, but not only about basic school lessons, but also about healthy eating, among other things. Half a million parents and students visit us every month, which is an indicator of the success of the idea. Successful entrepreneurs and representatives of regional startup centers spoke about opportunities and challenges in business: Nikola Mijailović, Joberty, Vladimir Đukanović, ID Interactive design, Vukašin Stojkov – SEE ICT, Startit, Nikola Kujundžić, game daveleoper, representative of the Regional Startup Center Užice, Vladimir Perić, Three Swords Studio, Uroš Nikić, Flow Ninja, Marko Ljubenović, Science and Technology Park Niš and Dragan Perić social network I am. The moderators were Olivera Jovićević, journalist and entrepreneur, First media group, and Vladimir Stanković, author of the Business Stories podcast and digital entrepreneur. The organizer of the conference on startup entrepreneurship “Startup – stand on the line” is the “Red Press” Association, under the auspices of the Cabinet of the Minister for Innovation and Technological Development in the Government of the Republic of Serbia. First media group provided a public relations service for the needs of the Conference.