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In 2021, great steps have been made in the development of the Serbian capital market for startups

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During 2021, startup companies played a significant role in the Serbian economy, not only at the micro, but also at the macro level. New rounds of investments, entering the world market, but also acquisitions from foreign major global players marked the past year in the startup world. Also, at the end of the year, the Strategy for the Development of Startup Ecosystems until 2025 was adopted, which should be a guide and support for further progress of innovative startups in Serbia.
Milos Matic, a partner in the ICT Hub Venture investment fund, said that the past 2021 was a record year in all segments related to technology startups and the IT industry – both in our country and globally.
“Speaking from the point of view of a private venture capital investor, the total amount of capital and the level of individual investments in regional technology companies that I see are impressive and I am happy because I believe that our region will develop further. Major steps in the development of our startup-related capital market have already been made with new legislation and tax incentives. Together with new support programs, grant options and additional funding, I believe that the number and quality of domestic (and regional) startups will increase, which is something we are striving for all the time. The more we grow and develop some types of specialization on a global level, the better position we will take in this game of “knowledge economy”. I believe that we are currently on a good path to achieve that,” Matic said.
Development strategy
The year we have seen is important for this sector because in December the Government of Serbia adopted the Strategy for the Development of Startup Ecosystems for the period from 2021 to 2025, which aims to encourage their development so that Serbia reaches 800 to 1,200 active startups. They should continue to attract quality staff and investors from Serbia and the world and further encourage the development and support of startup ideas.
The strategy for the development of startup ecosystems, among other things, should support the improvement of startup entrepreneurial capacities through educational programs. It is planned to introduce content on startup entrepreneurship at all levels of education.
The Startup Genome report from September 2021 states that Serbia is a world leader in attracting foreign direct investment, and the Financial Times magazine has declared Serbia the number one destination for attracting foreign investment twice in the last three years, as well as a country that creates the most jobs from foreign direct investment per million inhabitants.
When it comes to investing in the innovation and startup ecosystem, Serbia is rated as one of the leaders in creating conditions for attracting foreign capital to this sector, especially in the ecosystem of Belgrade and Novi Sad.
In June this year, the Government of Serbia announced that it would allocate funds from the budget for the program to support the work of regional innovation startups and Smart City Centers in 2021 in the total amount of 381.3 thousand euros. The new program will determine the goals, beneficiaries, purpose of funds, conditions for obtaining funds, financial framework, necessary documentation, method of selection of applications, method of application, conclusion of contracts and monitoring the implementation of activities.
More than 100 innovators contributed to the innovation ecosystem through 30 recommendations for creating a regional support program, including startups in producer chains and stimulating greater participation of employees in innovation within the Startech program, the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) said.
New investments
Milos Matic points out as a good example the investment in the company Trickest worth 1.6 million dollars. The round was led by Credo Ventures, followed by Earlybird, Moonfire and the founders of the Romanian unicorn UiPath. He also singles out an investment in Orgnostic, which amounted to five million dollars, and which was led by Earlybird. A significant startup investment is also Anari Ai, earlier this year, in the amount of two million dollars, which was also led by Earlybird.
Startup firm Tenderly announced in August that it had raised about 12.85 million euros in the first round of funding. Earlier in 2021, the Belgrade startup raised funds of 3.3 million dollars. By the way, as our portal wrote, the world media are buzzing about this Serbian startup.
Startup from Serbia Joberty Technologies was named the best in the category of marketing technologies at EXPO Dubai 2020 in October at the Supernova Challenge at Gitex Future Stars, the largest event dedicated to the development of startups in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Joberty Technologies won the competition of more than 750 top startups from around the world and won a prize of 4,000 dollars.
In late October, it was announced that startup companies working to develop technologies to combat climate change had raised a record 32 billion dollars globally this year, according to a survey.
That there is hope for the future of startup ideas was confirmed by the announcement of the best within the startup accelerator program Univerzum, University of Belgrade and Mozzart, which awarded the best ideas of seven startups – SOMA BioWorks, Perun Lab, Klik Cash, Inclusio, EasyPass, SportUp5 and Pet Travel Advisor Solutions.
Digitization, Data Center and 5G
Looking back at the Hi-Tech sector in Serbia, the end of 2021 marked the launch of the first National Platform for Artificial Intelligence in Serbia, and it is the latest generation, high-performance supercomputer, ready to process large amounts of data in a short period of time. This 55 million euro data center covers 14,000 square meters and was built in less than a year.
Thanks to the processing of data in the supercomputer, it will be possible to monitor the changes that will occur in the next 10 years in the field of environment, but also to assess the quality of soil, its pH value, what can be sown and when, how to irrigate. As it was pointed out, the Serbian IT sector participates in the country’s GDP with more than 9.2 percent, and the surplus from exports and imports in the IT sector will be more than a billion euros.
Last year, it was announced that the auction of the frequency spectrum for the 5G network would begin in 2022, which, as announced by the Ministry of Telecommunications, will give a groundbreaking contribution to the development of modern industries in Serbia.
For several years now, there has been talk of digitalization in Serbia, the goal of which is to save time and perform administrative tasks more efficiently. At the moment, we have 197 local institutions that provide services through the eGovernment portal, and the most available services are within the health domain, said the project manager at the Institute for Development and Innovation, Nevena Nikolić, Biznis reports.

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