Serbia

Belgrade and Novi Sad

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

Improving education related to interactive media is the key for further development of the Serbian gaming industry. We are building the next generation of innovators, which are essential for ensuring our competitiveness in the global economy

Vladimir Mastilović
VP Digital Humans Technology at Epic Games, Founder and General Manager at 3Lateral and Digital Serbia Initiative Board Member
Top 15 European Ecosystem: Affordable Talent

Highlights

Since Serbia’s economic reform in 2018, Serbia and the region around its capital city have quietly grown into one of the premier investment locations in central and eastern Europe. The Financial Times has ranked Serbia number 1 in the world in greenfield FDI performance twice in the last 3 years, and the country creates the most FDI jobs per million inhabitants, according to the IBM Global Location Trends 2020 report. World-class companies investing in the country include Bosch, Michelin, Siemens, Microsoft, Panasonic, Cooper Tires, and many others. The dynamism and knowledge brought into Belgrade by this influx of foreign investment has now begun to percolate through the local startup ecosystem. Serbian Innovation Fund has introduced new programs, thus expanding funding opportunities for Serbian startups. Smart Start offers pre-seed grants of up to EUR 30,000 and aims to disburse up to US$1 million in financing for startups. In addition to granting schemes for startups (up to EUR80K), innovative projects of more mature companies (up to EUR300K), as well as technology transfer programs and innovation vouchers, Innovation Fund is launching the new acceleration program with international partners. The Katapult Enterprise Accelerator program will launch in fall 2021 and offers to match private funding rounds up to EUR 300,000. There is also growing interest of international and domestic investors for innovative companies in Serbia, which proves the advancement of the ecosystem and its recognition worldwide. This ‘pay it forward’ ethos is central to the Belgrade and Novi Sad ecosystem and can be found at all levels and across Serbia.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
<$50 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$548 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
$439 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$13.68 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$246 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$480 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$0.55 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$3 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$22.9 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$44 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Gaming

Over the last year Serbian development teams, most of whom are based in Belgrade or Novi Sad, have published 41 games (40% of which are mobile). The industry now employs more than 2,000 people, about a third of whom are women, and generated total annual revenue of approximately €120 million in 2020, an increase of €60 million compared to 2018. Microsoft showed off Belgrade-based Ebb Software’s first-person shooter, Scorn, during last year’s Microsoft Inside Xbox event. The game will be exclusive to Xbox.

Blockchain

The Serbian Blockchain Initiative is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting blockchain adoption in the country. Leveraging its great engineering and mathematics talent, Serbia has become one of the top destinations for R&D and blockchain based product development. Some recent successes include the acquisition of MVP Workshop by Celsius, a US$15.3M investment in Tenderly led by Accel, a US$3.4M investment in Solrise Finance, and former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic’s Equity Fund investment in Blinkin.id. Serbia is also home to the Serbian Blockchain Summit.

Reasons to move your startup to Belgrade and Novi Sad

Education

Serbia is well known for its world-class engineering excellence thanks, in part, to the country’s unique approach to teaching computer science. More than 3,300 software engineers graduate every year from Serbia’s 26 colleges, with the number of new graduates rising each year. But tech education isn’t confined to tertiary education: coding is a mandatory subject since fifth grade of elementary school, over 35 grammar schools now teach specialized CS classes and talented high school students can pursue a 4-year program dedicated specifically to CS. In addition, there are more than 80 specialized high schools for computer science and electrical engineering in Serbia.

Benefits to Off-Set Operational Costs

Serbia is one of the most open countries in the world that strongly supports international teams in the country with 70% deduction of tax and social contributions on salaries for foreigners and expats (with fast & easy process of getting work stay permits for foreign employees). 70% deduction also applies for a certain number of software developers and young people entering the job market. There is also 0% tax and contributions on salaries for startup founders for the first three years.

Tax Incentives

The Government of Serbia offers a so-called “IP Box” incentive where there is only 3% CIT for revenues from IP created in Serbia, and R&D costs borne by startups are double-counted in income statements lowering the tax base. When combined, R&D an IP intensive companies effectively pay 0% CIT. Corporate investments into startups are also encouraged with a tax credit of 30% of the investment.

Startup Community

Startup Genome
Members

Startup Genome
Partners

Business Technology Incubator (BITF)
Business Incubator Novi Sad
ICT Hub
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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