Belgrade & Novi Sad’s Promising Startup Ecosystem
Belgrade is one of Europe’s oldest cities with settlements existing around the city for more than 7,000 years. Today, the Belgrade and Novi Sad region is the economic hub of Serbia and its growing startup ecosystem stands out in our 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report.
The Belgrade and Novi Sad ecosystem is seeing particularly noteworthy success in Gaming and Blockchain technology. Nordeus, a company known for its popular football app Top Eleven Football Manager, is a self-funded game developer that has generated more than $75 million in revenue. Another notable success in gaming is 3Lateral, a startup best known for its “digital humans,” a realistic digitization of human appearance and motion. The company was acquired by Epic Games in January 2019. The Serbian Games Association aims to help startups in the video game sector through organizing incubators and programs in partnership with big name brands.
Also, Serbia is one of the top five countries in the world in the number of blockchain developers. Some significant blockchain startups in the Belgrade and Novi Sad region include GameCredits, a virtual wallet for gamers and developers, and OriginTrail, a startup utilizing blockchain technology to enable trusted data sharing through global supply chains.
Some particularly interesting points of the Belgrade and Novi Sad ecosystem in our 2019 assessment include:
- As a high-growth ecosystem, Belgrade and Novi Sad has a Funding Growth Index of a 10 and Output Growth Index of 9.
- The region is in the top 5 ecosystems for affordable talent, with access to high-quality engineering talent.
- Tech startups pay almost no corporate income tax; they enjoy accelerated R&D reduction (2x) and IP Box (3%) tax regimes.
- The ecosystem is in the top 5 activation ecosystems for blockchain
Recent ecosystem growth has spurred new venture capital firms including ICT Hub Venture, a private investment fund founded in 2017 that focuses on early stage investments in the Southeast European region.
Our member Digital Serbia Initiative is a non-profit launched by Ringier Axel Springer Serbia, Infostud, Microsoft, Nordeus, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Seven Bridges, Startit, Telekom Srbija, and Telenor. It improves frameworks to enable digital innovation across Serbia with the ultimate goal to strengthen the startup ecosystem within the country.
“Serbia has a promising startup ecosystem where the most successful startups are bootstrapped, but we are now seeing active involvement of both private and public sector focusing on further acceleration including early-stage funding,” Nebojša Djurdjevic, CEO at Digital Initiative, said.