Serbia

Belgrade and Novi Sad

MEMBERS:
Cabinet of the Minister for Innovation and Technological Development Digital Serbia Initiative

"More and more great Serbian companies are finally getting the international attention they deserve. We believe the blockchain ecosystem will inspire the next generation of companies and drive innovation worldwide, and we are on a mission to help that happen."

Miljan Tekić
co-founder and COO, Tenderly
Top 20 European Ecosystem in Affordable Talent

Highlights

Serbia’s strength as a startup hub lies in its wealth of tech talent and proactive government support of the ecosystem. These advantages are beginning to pay off — 2021 was the most successful ever for the Serbian ecosystem, with local startups attracting over €123 million ($135 million) in investments, an increase of 600% year over year. In addition, the Serbian tech sector exceeded $1.7 billion in export revenue in 2021.


The Government’s Strategy for the Startup Ecosystem Development of the Republic of Serbia for the period from 2021 to 2025 aims to accelerate the development of the startup scene and encourage innovation. It includes the introduction of entrepreneurship education at all levels, as well as the improvement of infrastructure and support programs, with an overall goal of Serbia creating up to 1,200 active startups that attract worldwide investors.


The Science Fund, which supports AI research and applications, aims to invest €5 million ($5.5 million) in grants to startups by the end of 2022, and Serbia has established Science Technology Parks working with universities in four cities: Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad, and Čačak. Established in 2021, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research and Development of Serbia is headquartered in Novi Sad.


The Innovation Fund’s new acceleration program, Katapult, provides mentoring, financial support, and networking opportunities to both ideation and growth stage companies. Founded in 2021, the DSI Business Angel Group supports startups with both expert advice and early-stage investments up to €200,000 ($219,000). Games developer Nordeus was acquired by Take Two Interactive for $378 million in 2021.

Ecosystem by the Numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
(2019H2-2021)
$38 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$687 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(2019H2-2021)
$677 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$28.6 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$224 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$671 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$555 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2021)
$23 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$46 k
639 m
GLOBAL AVG.
11.3 bn
13
GLOBAL AVG.
101
Amount ($)
Count (#)

Exits

(2017-2021)
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH TIER (2018/19 VS. 2020/21)
4
Calculated on a scale of
1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2017-2021)
$79 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.5 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2017-2021)
10.6 years
GLOBAL AVG.
9.4 years

Sub-Sector Strengths

Gaming

Serbian development teams, most of which are based in Belgrade and Novi Sad, published 35 games in 2021. The industry employs more than 2,200 people — a third of whom are women — and generated approximately €200 million ($218 million) in 2021, €80 million ($87 million) more than in 2020. Game Funding Bootcamp introduces companies to potential sources of funding. In June 2021, developer Nordeus was acquired by U.S. video game holding company Take-Two Interactive for $378 million in cash and shares, one of the largest deals ever in the sub-sector.

Blockchain

Serbia has become a top destination for R&D and Blockchain-based product development. The Serbian Blockchain Initiative is an NGO dedicated to promoting Blockchain, and a 2021 law on digital assets legalized cryptocurrency trading and mining, as well as obliging many cryptocurrency service providers to obtain a license. Ethereum Blockchain development platform Tenderly raised $58.6 million in venture funding in 2021. Tempus Finance raised $27.9 million through a token sale in December 2021, and UNQ Club, a platform for NFT asset management, raised $3 million in venture funding the same month.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to Belgrade and Novi Sad

Engineering Talent

More than 42,000 people are employed in the technology sector in Serbia. Every year the country’s 26 colleges and universities graduate over 3,000 engineers. There are 44 specialized IT courses in Serbian high schools, and programming is a compulsory subject for all students over the age of 11, who have a curriculum that includes Scratch, Python, and Pygame.

Tax Incentives

Startup founders pay no tax on their salary for the first three years after founding a business. From 2022, a new incentive will lower tax by 70% and eliminate mandatory contributions for salaries on R&D projects. Entering IP rights as a non-pecuniary contribution to the capital of a company is exempt from capital gains tax on the transfer. Companies that invest in the capital of an innovative startup receive a tax credit of 30% of the investment, reducing tax liability. A fund-of-funds mechanism offers €5 million ($5.5 million) in matching funds for every new VC that incorporates in Serbia in 2022 through the Serbia Ventures program.

Selected Startup Organizations

Startup Genome Members

Key Ecosystem Players

Startup Genome
Partners

ICT Hub
Business Incubator Novi Sad
Business Technology Incubator (BITF)
Innovation Fund Serbia
SC Ventures
Science Technology Park Belgrade
Serbian Blockchain Initiative
Serbian Games Association
Startit
The Office of the Minister without Portfolio Responsible for Innovation and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia
UNICEF Innovation Fund
Vojvodina ICT Cluster

Featured Articles from
Local Ambassadors

Jovan Marjanovic
Jovan Marjanovic is the Managing Partner of ProWerk Consulting, an IT solution provider specialized in advanced analytics, machine learning, and data management solutions. He previously served with Oracle, SAS, SAP, and Deutsche Telekom in national and international executive roles as well as with several startups in Silicon Valley. Mr. Marjanovic is a graduate of the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade. He lives in the Washington DC area.
Jovan Marjanovic | Ambassador
Jovan Tisma
Jovan Tišma is a CBDO at RealMarket, a blockchain-powered Fintech company. Jovan’s previous business development experience spans a range of fields, from entertainment and music industry, to innovative startups and global multinational conglomerates. He is an active member of ECN and its workgroup for “Exploring Blockchain for Alternative Finance”.
Jovan Tisma | Ambassador
Marija Batic
Marija Batić is a service delivery manager in a software company. Her previous business experience varies from customer support and business development in IT sector, to account executive in telecommunication, as well as a teaching assistant in Poland and Russia. Ms. Batić graduated at Faculty of Economics Subotica and is active in Novi Sad tech scene.
Marija Batic | Ambassador
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