The citizens of Serbia are increasingly recognizing the benefits of innovation, but they would hesitate to invest money in their development. One in two citizens of our country would rather spend their 10,000 euros in savings to buy real estate, while only one in ten would invest in an innovative company. Likewise, 46% of entrepreneurs would not invest in startups, although they believe that it is worthwhile to invest in domestic innovators.
While the willingness to invest in innovations is still at a low level, they are gaining an increasingly important place in our society. As many as 52% of citizens see them as something that will have a positive impact on their lives, compared to only 13% who expect negative effects. Compared to last year, the share of citizens who would give preference to innovative products and companies, sometimes regardless of price, has increased. This was shown by the second annual citizens and businesses opinion survey on innovation, conducted within the StarTech program.
- The results of the research, as well as the Global Index of Innovation, clearly indicate the direction in which the innovation ecosystem in Serbia should be further developed. First of all, we must facilitate access to finance for innovators, especially entrepreneurs and small businesses. NALED supports the achievement of that goal through Startech program, awarding three million dollars in grants to 100 innovative businesses. It is equally important to work on better connection between businesses and scientific institutions in developing innovations, as well as on greater visibility of innovative companies and their solutions. This will create the conditions for us to have better results in relation to investments in innovation in Serbia - said Dušan Vasiljević, Competitiveness and Investments Director in NALED.
The data presented at the press conference show that 54% of entrepreneurs came up with an innovation by modifying an existing solution, 31% by copying an existing innovation, and only one in ten offer a completely new product. Most digitally transformed companies have introduced a website, social networks or e-commerce into their business, while blockchain and artificial intelligence are still rare. Almost two-thirds developed the innovation independently, one in three in cooperation with another company, and only 5% in cooperation with universities and scientific organizations. Product protection is also at a low level, as the share of those who have registered a patent, design or trademark is less than 5% this year as well.
- For 41.5% of entrepreneurs, finances are still the biggest obstacle to the development of innovations. The share of those using their own funds as the main source of financing has decreased, but it is still higher than 80%, while the rest rely on loans, state subsidies, grants, relatives and friends. Even 89% of businesses did not apply for support programs to develop their innovations, while more than 93% did not use any of the tax incentives and almost no one asked for money from business angels, VC funds and other alternative sources - pointed out Irena Đorđević, Policy Manager in NALED.
She added that the number of companies that do not have a budget for research and development has decreased, while there are now 10% more companies that are digitally transformed compared to companies that did not enter that process.
More than two-thirds of citizens have heard of startups, but cannot give an example or confuse them with large IT companies.
The most important innovative products for them are new tastes of food products, mobile banking, eGovernment and smartphones, while electric cars and scooters are also at the top. They consider mobile operators to be the most innovative, and they would first develop innovations in healthcare, education and ecology.
StarTech program was launched to support innovation and digital transformation of the Serbian economy and is implemented by NALED in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Serbia and with the support of Philip Morris International.
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