For the first time, at Synergy 23 conference, a completely new track of the conference has been announced, dedicated exclusively to startups and innovations in the Western Balkans region. Representatives of VCs, successful startups from Serbia and other countries, incubators, and accelerators will gather within the Technical Days of Synergy 23 through the sessions “What defined the last 10 years and what will define the next 10 years.” Venture capital investors from different regions, successful serial entrepreneurs, as well as startup studios, will share their opinion on how the future is shaped and how the key elements – financing, product building, scaling, and talent – are redefined in times of great stock market crashes.
This year’s report includes insights on the startup ecosystems of Belgrade and Novi Sad, acknowledging them among the top 20 European ecosystems with a strong pool of available talent. Specifically, they excel in the category assessing their employment capabilities and the overall number of tech talents. These cities stand out with over 45,000 highly qualified technology professionals. Belgrade and Novi Sad created an ecosystem value of $1,116,736,155 from July 1, 2020, to December 31, 2022, which represents an increase of 75.4% compared to the previous period. The value of the ecosystem is expressed through the economic impact, calculated as the value of the exit and the valuation of startups.
Today, there are 150 million active startups around the world – every year 50 million new ones open, but according to statistics only 10% survive, while 90% cease to exist, most often due to lack of investors or because they spent the funds they had available. Startups that survive drive innovation and economic progress because the innovation itself is the key to economic growth. Startups change can also the way of conducting business in different industries by offering new solutions to challenges businesses are facing or even by creating new ways of working. The startups drive the digital transformation of traditional industries, creating their own circle of talent development and, consequently, more employment opportunities.
“I take this opportunity to announce, for the first time, the track dedicated exclusively to startups at Synergy 23. We are expecting participation of Serbian, regional and global experts who will share their experience with us. Our company continuously supports the startup community through the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub program, bringing founders of different stages of startups together, providing them with access to our technological solutions and expert support. We are proud of the success of Serbian startups that has participated in the program and hope they will continue to be drivers of innovation and economic change in the region,” said Milan Gospić, Country Manager of Microsoft Serbia.
Our country and the entire region are considered fertile ground when it comes to the development of the startup community. Startups from Serbia and the region are increasingly gaining the attention of investors around the world. This sector’s growth is also shown by the data of the Microsoft Digital Future Index research; it is better positioned globally in terms of innovation. Proof of this is this year’s report on the Global Startup Ecosystem 2023 as well, which was conducted by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and presented at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam. Based on data on 3.5 million startup companies in more than 290 global ecosystems, the report provides new insights and knowledge about the trends of startup ecosystems around the world, while having experts, leaders and local key players to further contribute to the quality of data.
Microsoft expands the network of Microsoft for Startups program participants using local agreements and cooperations
Microsoft in Serbia has signed a cooperation agreement with the Innovation Fund within the Katapult acceleration program. Startups from the Katapult community have access to Microsoft services for better organization of sales and customer relations on a global level. Also, a business-technical cooperation agreement was signed with the Ventures fund of Telekom Srbija, which envisages joint support to selected startups.
The goals of these agreements and contracts are to further strengthen and support the startup community in Serbia. The plan of cooperation is to join experiences and resources in the next period that would be directed towards strengthening the Serbian startup scene. One of the allies of Microsoft in promoting and supporting the startup community is the Digital Serbia Initiative, which, through multiple activities and organizing conferences, has influenced the development and creation of new startups in Serbia, while also reviewing and publishing all relevant world and regional annual reports, and keeping an eye on the development and success of the Serbian startup scene.
“Since its founding, we have been actively working on promoting our growing startup community, and with the support of our founders such as Microsoft, we continue to strengthen innovation and technological development in our country. We are convinced that cooperation between local startups and global technology leaders such as Microsoft, represents a key step towards the digital transformation of Serbia,” says Nebojša Bjelotomić, director of the Digital Serbia Initiative.
The Petlja Foundation offers promotion of digital literacy and support for founding startups through its education programs, organization of hackathons and all that with the implementation of artificial intelligence.
“Petlja is a non-profit organization that nurtures the mentality of a technological startup. We use innovative technological solutions to bring programming learning closer to the widest population. The initial role model was code.org, which was supported by the largest technological companies such as Microsoft. Microsoft and its development center in Serbia (MDCS) are responsible for the creation and development of Petlja. We are currently working on integrating artificial intelligence into our online courses, as a technology that has the greatest potential for the next big breakthrough in the approach to teaching and learning programming,” adds the director of the Petlja Foundation, Nebojša Vasiljević.
Microsoft, as a leading technology company, has always supported the startup community, considering it as one of the key drivers of the economy. Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub provides operational support to startups, by bringing together people, knowledge, and benefits to help their founders solve the challenges they face in every stage of development. The program is open to everyone, from people who just have an idea, to startups with the first products, scale-up companies, and “unicorns” (a term used for a startup whose value reaches one billion dollars) as well.
Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub also provides resources that startups need to develop their product in the Cloud and accelerate the path to finding a product that fits the market. Each member of the program receives Azure Cloud credits for product development worth up to $150,000, as well as access to GitHub Enterprise, Microsoft 365, LinkedIn products, Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365, Visual Studio Enterprise and much more. After they design the product, startups have the opportunity to sell through Microsoft channels and marketplaces.
The startups in the later stages of development can choose a mentoring program, with over 600 Microsoft experts in various fields, from technology to marketing, hiring, self-guided learning, and personalized content for training. This program operates on a partnership model, aiming to bolster the energy and dedication of startup founders, fostering their growth and development.