As MY-GATEWAY will be creating connections between startups and scaleups from the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovenia and prominent European ecosystem builders, to boost their growth potential, it will also generate valuable knowledge. The results and knowledge that will be obtained during the implementation of the activities in the CEE region will be also supported by three Western Balkan countries: BiH (Spark Business Park), Serbia (Serbia Start Up) and FYROM (Foundation Seavus Enterprise). The cooperation between these two regions will not only strengthen the business connections, but will also create guidelines on how the knowledge and services from MY-GATEWAY can be adapted to the needs of the Western Balkan ecosystem.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
What makes the BiH ecosystem unique?
Lowest living expenses in the region
- Stable currency related to euro
- Corporate income tax is 10%
- Competitive and highly-educated human potential
- Excellent geographic position
- Great transport connections
- English as widely spoken language
- People are friendly and hospitable
- Emerging startup community (startups, accelerators, incubators…)
- Active startup domains of the region: mostly ICT/IT, Health, Agri and FinTech)
- Startup domain of SPARK: IT startups
- Accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces with educative content:
- SPARK, INTERA, Mozaik Foundation, Networks, SmartOffice, etc.
- Eco-system supporting organisations and agencies:
- Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP), MarketMakers, REDAH, ZEDA, IT Girls, UN Women, IKT association, IT klaster Banja Luka, etc.
- Private companies:
- SPARK, Ministry of Programming, Mistral Technologies, DVC Solutions, Bookvar, etc.
SPARK is interested in collaboration/looking for support in access to investors from Western Europe, meeting industry representatives, connecting with key stake-holders from eco-systems in Western Europe and beyond, forming corporate partnerships (SPARK and startup related) etc.
What makes the Serbian ecosystem unique?
The Serbian ecosystem is quite diverse and offers many opportunities for startups to grow. The region of Vojvodina consists of over 20 different Cluster Organisations (Serbia 40+) which empower startups cooperating with other resources such as:
- Public institutions
- Research Centers
- Business Chambers
- Hubs and Coworking spaces
In this region, Novi Sad in particular won two prestigious titles:
- European Youth Capital 2019 and
- European Capital of Culture 2021, being the first city outside the EU that will hold the title.
It is an extremely important opportunity to promote the significance of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovations through those programs. Startup Serbia aims to help Serbia become one of the top 20 startup ecosystems in the world with a strong focus on Creative, IT, Agriculture, Science, Sports, Food and Lifestyle. In recent years has been shown that the fastest expected development are the Information Communication Activities, Creative Industries and Services in Agriculture. In the recent years, creative industries are increasingly becoming important components of modern Serbian economy and one of the key elements for accessing creative economy and society. In Serbia, creative industries are based on sector networking of cultural activities and industrial sectors with the special emphasis on new ideas and their creative application.
Key support for creative industries development:
- Ministry of Culture and Information - Republic of Serbia
- Provincial Secretariat for Culture and Public Information - Republic of Serbia Autonomous Province of Vojvodina
- Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia
- Belgrade Fashion Week
- Serbia Film Commission
- Film Center Serbia
Startup Serbia is open for collaboration opportunities in the field of Creative Industries. Lately, an international cooperation is becoming important aspect of development of culture and creative industries. A new practice in international cooperation, within the strengthening of traditional cooperation, is introducing culture and arts into documents concerning economic and scientific-technical cooperation. Special attention in all programs of cooperation is dedicated to exchange of cultural goods and services, facilitating access of cultural expressions as well as cultural mobility, because stipulations of these documents bind all signatories to enable through their policies, among other, creation of co-production with countries partners, primarily in product design, audio-visual field and performing arts.
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
What makes the Macedonian ecosystem unique?
Though still small and underdeveloped, often far behind the startup communities in other countries in the region, lately Macedonian start up scenes is becoming more vibrant. The current eco system activities are focused mainly on providing initial pre-acceleration programs.
One of the biggest strengths of the country is easy access to technical talents who are usually the ones most interested in launching business. However, still, there is a common believe that students of technical especially computer science are choosing local or international companies and outsourcing over entrepreneurship for their future career.
The main weakness is the size of the local market associated with the low Startup index. Some of the possible solutions recommended is increasing risk capital and startup support structures (Startup EcoSystem Report, Swisscontact SECO Entrepreneurship program 2016). Therefore, assistance is needed prior to the startup phase through various educational programs and motivational events.
Yet, there are few interesting startup stories who started with very little capital $5k-15 and some have joined international accelerators. These good practices should be celebrated and spread in order to inspire and make a change.
Now there are few multi-functional working spaces for the newly launched startups: Seavus Incubator, SEEU TechPark (within SEEU University) and YES foundation. They are established to provide co-working space, mentoring, administrative and technical resources and access to finance.
Recently established Startup Macedonia network https://startupmacedonia.mk/ is aiming to promote Macedonia as country with affordable lifestyle, great talents and delicious food where it only takes 24 hours to set-up a company and only 15 days to get a work and residence permit.
As expected, Skopje, the country’s capital, is the center of the Macedonian startup ecosystem—and place where most of the nation’s startup activity occurs. Startup activities are present also in other bigger cities such as Ohrid, Bitola and Strumica.
Activities and Events such as Startup Weekend, Demo Day, Tech Crunch, CodeFest , Funky Coworking Friday initiative and many more, have significantly affected startup activities and raise awareness for entrepreneurship. Though, there is still need to connect the Ecosystem and especially to connect it with other regional stakeholders.
Finally, there is a consensus that Macedonia has the great potential to develop promising startup community but there are still a lot of lessons to be learned.
The Macedonian ecosystem in open for collaboration and exchanges of best practices on regional and European level.