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Belgrade and Novi Sad startup ecosystems surge to $1.12 billion, leading Western Balkans

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The combined value of the startup ecosystems in Belgrade and Novi Sad reached $1.12 billion in 2023, marking a record 66% year-on-year growth, according to the preliminary Startup Genome 2024 report. This places the two largest cities in Serbia at the top of the Western Balkans region for startup ecosystems.

Regional and European rankings

Belgrade and Novi Sad’s startup ecosystem is ranked:

  • 1st in the Western Balkans region
  • 10th in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)
  • 48th in Europe

In the CEE region, Serbia’s startup ecosystem leads in value growth with a two-thirds increase, outpacing Prague (56%), Lithuania (25%), and Warsaw (21%). In contrast, ecosystems in Ljubljana and Bucharest saw declines compared to 2022.

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Resilience and demographics

Serbian startups have shown resilience against global and regional disruptions, with only Bucharest’s ecosystem outperforming in early-stage financing stability. The average founder in Belgrade and Novi Sad is 35 years old, three years younger than the European and global averages. Additionally, female participation in these ecosystems is above the European and global averages.

Experienced founders and global ambition

The domestic ecosystem boasts a significant number of serial founders (33%), indicating a wealth of experience in founding and developing innovative ventures. Impressively, 64% of startups target the global market, significantly higher than the global (34%) and European (27%) averages.

Highlights of the Belgrade-Novi Sad ecosystem

The Startup Genome 2024 research identifies several standout achievements for Belgrade and Novi Sad’s startup ecosystem over the past year:

  • Record ecosystem value
  • A growing community of professionals
  • A diverse and talented pool forming innovative teams
  • Experienced founders reinvesting as entrepreneurs or investors
  • Robust early-stage financing
  • A strong global mindset and ambition
  • Traction in advanced technologies like artificial intelligence

Recommendations for further development

The report also offers recommendations for enhancing the startup ecosystem:

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  • Foster community building by involving all system actors
  • Establish more venture capital (VC) funds
  • Attract foreign startups to enrich experience and knowledge

The full Startup Genome 2024 report will be officially released on June 10, 2024, in London during the London Tech Week event.

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