This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.
Although the Serbian startup ecosystem is still in the phase of activation, according to the Startup Genome, we are witnessing a great level of engagement and effort created by numerous supporting organizations and agencies, but also the government, in order to induce the transition of our startup ecosystems to the next level, towards global relevance.
In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of startups, inventions and overall ecosystem value generated in Belgrade and Novi Sad, estimated at 439 million euros, while we also witnessed a record number of investments and acquisitions in the past year.
Here are just some highlights from the local startup and digital ecosystem:
Acquisition of Nordeus - a mobile games company based in Belgrade, has become part of the global company Take-Two Interactive (which has some of the biggest gaming titles in its portfolio, including Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2K, Civilization and others). The total value of this transaction was $ 378 million. Almost at the same time, the company established its Nordeus Foundation with an initial budget of $ 3 million, to support the development of creativity and innovation in local highschools with the focus on quality of learning and the use of digital technologies, which will contribute to the development of education in Serbia.
Some other investments were directed at MVP Workshops (a blockchain company), Tenderly (Ethereum developer platform), Anari AI (developing hardware for AI), Tapni (digital business card) and Orgnostic (people analytics platform).
Numerous programs and opportunities for startups were kickstarted, to distribute financial and mentoring support through various programs realized within business incubators, initiatives agencies or competitions, such as Venture an Idea, Innovation Fund, Katapult accelerator program, Raising Starts, Startech and others.
Regardless of this great expansion within the local startup ecosystem, there are still many challenges to be taken into account when directing the needed development of the ecosystem towards the next phase of the development - the much-needed globalization. There is a constant need for new talent and experienced professionals within technology startups, and this is not only in the local context, but even more across the EU, USA or Canada.
The additional aspect of prosperity is shown through the newly defined and approved Strategy for the Development of Startup Ecosystems of the Republic of Serbia for the period from 2021 to 2025, giving an extra push to the concept of economic growth based on the knowledge economy.
The adoption of this strategic document is intended to harmonize the work of various individual initiatives within the ecosystem, and provide a strategic and systematic approach to public institutions to support the creation of an environment that will start at different stages of development (risk-sharing, knowledge sharing and access to information and funding), and make doing business easier and through new opportunities. The strategy for the development of the startup ecosystem also plans to introduce content about startup entrepreneurship at all levels of education, as well as to improve the infrastructure and program support for startups in the early stages of development.
This article was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of Nova Iskra and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.