Belgrade and Novi Sad
Through targeted investments, strategic partnerships, and policies that promote innovation and entrepreneurship, we are working to create an environment where Serbian startups can thrive. With our focus on fostering the blockchain ecosystem, AI and other emerging technologies, we are confident that Serbia will become a driving force in the global innovation landscape.
Serbia is known for its engineering talent, but the startup ecosystem in Belgrade and Novi Sad also benefits from an innovation-focused approach of government, industry, academia and other stakeholders in the digital ecosystem. Its strategy includes the introduction of entrepreneurship education at all levels and the improvement of infrastructure and support programs, with a goal of creating up to 1,200 active startups that attract worldwide investors. In 2022, Serbia saw a record year with inflows of foreign direct investments of approximately €4.4 billion, according to the National Bank of Serbia.
In June 2022, the EU and the World Bank jointly pledged €84.5 million to finance Serbian research and startups. The Serbia Ventures program, an initiative of the Serbian Innovation Fund, aims to encourage private investors and institutions to finance startups and establish VC funds in Serbia. It will invest up to €5 million in newly established VC funds. Omorika Ventures and The Fifth Quarter are two new funds that will start operations in 2023.
3Lateral and Epic Games continue the planning and construction of a future campus in Novi Sad as a support to education and educational infrastructure. Microsoft signed an agreement with acceleration program Katapult that gives affiliated startups access to Microsoft services, and Katapult welcomed its first cohort of 18 startups in Serbia in 2022. The NINJA Accelerator Program happened as a joint initiative of Digital Serbia and the Japan International Cooperation Agency that aims to connect the Serbian and Asian markets.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
There are 140 Gaming studios in Serbia as of April 2023, and the 15 most successful companies collectively generated €150 million in 2022. Serbia is home to Nordeus, which became part of the U.S. company Take-Two Interactive in 2021, in one of the largest ever Gaming deals in Serbia. In 2022, the Nordeus Foundation introduced the free Gaming learning platform Gamelab, and Wargaming announced that it will open a studio in Belgrade. The Serbian Games Association continues its support via programs for its 120 members.
Serbia is a global leader for Blockchain and home to many related startups. The Serbian Blockchain Initiative is an organization dedicated to promoting Blockchain adoption. The Law on Digital Assets regulates virtual currencies and digital tokens. Two licenses for the provision of digital assets services have been issued to date. Tenderly, which aims to make it easier for Web3 developers to build Blockchain products, raised a $40 million Series B in March 2022. Web3 venture-builder Attic42 opened in April 2023.
The construction of BIO4 Campus, the first Life Sciences campus in the region, will begin in Belgrade in 2023. Covering 110,000 square meters, it will house six faculties and nine science institutes. The Serbian Government, partnering with the World Economic Forum and the United Nations Development Programme, hosted the inaugural Biotech Future Forum in October 2022. The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Serbia is a platform promoting public-private partnerships in Life Sciences. The Serbia Innovates program includes the Laboratory of Health Technologies supercluster.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Belgrade and Novi Sad
Serbia’s tech industry accounts for at least 6% of the nation’s GDP and is growing rapidly. There are over 45,000 highly-skilled tech professionals in Serbia, which is known globally for its world-class engineers. Computer programming is compulsory for all students over the age of 11, who study Scratch, Python, Pygame, and Jupyter. There are 44 specialized IT courses taken by 800 pupils annually in high schools. 3,300 software engineers graduate from 26 faculties every year.
The Personal Income Tax Law provides tax exemptions for employees who are directly engaged in R&D. Combined with the IP Box regime and Double R&D deduction, these incentives provide solid ground for startups in R&D phase. The Personal Income Tax Law and the Law on Mandatory Social Security Insurance provides exemptions to startups that perform innovative activities. Serbia provides subsidies for startups, and benefits for investing in newly established companies.
Serbia is the largest and most prosperous economy in the Western Balkans, serving as a regional hub and springboard for companies to access the region. It is also in the gradual process of accession to the EU, which would potentially expand its market reach further. The NINJA Global Project is building international connections to Belgrade and Novi Sad and opening Serbia to Asian markets. Western Balkan Startup Alliance is a collaborative initiative of startup support organizations from the Western Balkan region with a mission to strengthen the startup ecosystem in the region.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
The Ministry of Science, Technological Development and Innovation of the Republic of Serbia
Led by Minister Jelena Begović, PhD., the Ministry will launch numerous projects, and propose measures and activities in the field of science, innovation and technological development. Reform processes that contribute to the development of society have already begun in the areas of the Ministry. The work of the Ministry includes all activities in the development and application of scientific knowledge, the promotion of innovations, technological development and the provision of larger investments, as well as the creation of a favorable system for the development and promotion of innovations, so that Serbia continues to keep pace with world practice and achievements. This Ministry, together with other participants in the innovation ecosystem, will build the reputation of Serbia as a society and economy based on knowledge and innovation.
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
An acceleration program that supports startups in the early stage of product development and market positioning, aiming to accelerate their growth and raise additional investments.
Tenderly Garaža is a community of tech startup founders with the goal of peer sharing and learning.
News from the Ecosystem
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