Eighteen start-ups from the region presented their ideas today at the ICT Hub in Belgrade. The pitch was a part of the Star Venture program of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union. The participants were greeted by Emanuele Giaufret, Ambassador of the European Union to Serbia and Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Director, Regional Head of Western Balkans.
The startup support program Star Venture was successfully launched in 2019 with funds provided by Luxembourg, and then in 2021 it was supported by the European Union (through the WBIF/EDIF program).
The European Union has recognized a growing business need in the region of Western Balkans and provided the essential boost in supporting high-potential enterprises that are at the early stage of their lifecycle, Ambassador Giaufret said.
„The European Union has so far invested in Serbia more than EUR 90 million in projects for the development of innovation, acceleration and R&D. We provided capacity building of start-up support organisations, like the Innovation Fund or the Science and Technology Park Belgrade.
This event is just another proof that Serbia is part of the European R&D and innovation community, and today we are here to promote the Star Venture Programme for which the EU allocated 4 million euro. Start-ups are important since they are the engine of economic growth. They are the source of new jobs, new products, and new services – not only for Serbia but the whole Western Balkan region “, he concluded.
The Ambassador drew attention to the recent European Commission report that shows that start-ups have become the leading job growth engine in Europe: they provided approximately 2 million jobs in 2019 only and are adding more new jobs each year than any individual sector.
As a development bank, EBRD’s main mission is to help businesses and economies thrive, Colangeli said.
„The aim of the Star Venture Programme is to identify high potential start-ups and to mobilise globally sourced expertise to help these nascent firms to scale up rapidly. So far, the programme has supported 39 high-potential start-ups and we can already see amazing results in terms of revenue growth, new employment and access to finance and access to new markets“, he concluded.
Among the business ideas are personalized books, a digital bank, a platform for recruiting young architects, an e-commerce solution integrated into the banking service, automation of communication on LinkedIn, a platform for recommending doctors, etc.
So far, 35 startups with great potential from the region have joined the Program, supported in various areas, from strategic and investment planning, assistance in fundraising, market research to business development or branding and sales. Within the program, a significant number of start-ups was supported through training in various areas of business skills, and cooperation with key accelerators in the region was also established.
EBRD Star Venture – a program of advisory support and mentoring for fast-growing startup companies is intended for young companies with great potential for rapid growth on a global scale.
The program offers technical expertise, mentoring, local advice and strategic programs for business development. The program is a combination of advisory, consulting services and mentoring for young companies, in order to prepare them to interest investors or other sources of financing. In the future, it also includes practical workshops and meetings with international mentors and local consultants, as well as potential investors.