Belgrade and Novi Sad
"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."
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
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Belgrade and Novi Sad
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
Cabinet of the Minister for Innovation and Technological Development
The Cabinet of the Minister for Innovation and Technological Development’s goal is the digitalization and development of intelligent and efficient infrastructure, making the country an attractive location for entrepreneurship. By building the innovation infrastructure, science-technology parks, and startup centers, and by strengthening ties between science and industry, the Cabinet is working towards making Serbia a regional innovation leader. Empowerment of female entrepreneurs and promotion of their innovative ideas is one of the Cabinet's key missions.
Digital Serbia Initiative
Digital Serbia Initiative is a non-governmental, non-profit organization advocating for the transformation of Serbia into a digital society. Founded by the leading digital players in the country, Digital Serbia Initiative combines the forces of more than 30 member-organizations from all sectors relevant for the growth of a digital ecosystem. It aims to create a business environment that serves the digital economy by investing in strategic programs in the areas of formal and informal education, startup ecosystem development, legal and regulatory frameworks, digital infrastructure and public dialogue on digital transformation.
Key Ecosystem Players
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