At the end of February 2020, The Economist, a renowned weekly magazine publishing in London since 1843, featured a piece on the tech boom in Serbia. In an article titled 'An unexpected tech boom in Serbia', the magazine took notice of what has been known to many observers and investors as a booming technology industry in Serbia.
According to The Economist, the tech industry accounts for at least 6% of the country's GDP, employs around 45,000 professionals, and is growing by leaps and bounds.
This comes as a validation of findings of the top global tech ecosystem analysis organization headquartered in San Francisco, Startup Genome.
The key findings of their report, which has grouped Belgrade and the second-largest city, Novi Sad, which is an hour's drive away, into one ecosystem are as follows:
- Startups in Serbia can access high-quality engineering talent
- The talent ranks among the top five in the world in terms of quality and affordability
- Low corporate income tax, whereby startups enjoy accelerated R&D deduction and IP Box tax regimes;
- Gaming and blockchain are leading subsectors according to the Global Startup Ecosystem report for 2019.
According to the CEO of Digital Serbia Initiative, NebojÅ”a ÄurÄeviÄ, who was a serial entrepreneur and an active player in Toronto's tech ecosystem before taking this role, despite considerable successes the local ecosystem is only now taking shape.
Serbia has a promising startup ecosystem where the most successful startups are bootstrapped, but we are now seeing active involvement of both the private and public sector focusing on further acceleration including early-stage funding.
The potential of the ecosystem has been recognized by players such as Fortnite's creator Epic Games, which has acquired Novi Sad's 3lateral, Nutanix, which acquired Frame, Amazon, which acquired Sizmek (which has a considerable footprint in Serbia), and Google, which chose Belgrade's Startit Accelerator to be the first European accelerator to become a part of their new global acceleration network.
In addition to the tech boom, The Economist noted that Serbia can play a big role in creating a more sustainable world, by tapping into its deposits of lithium. According to the magazine, Serbia is sitting on Europe's largest deposits of lithium, a crucial ingredient for electric car batteries.
If you wish to leverage this nascent and sustainable ecosystem, you are in luck since only recently the Serbian government introduced a string of new measures intended to provide significant tax breaks for international talent and considerably easier residence for professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors.