Innovations to the stars - five million dollars to support small businesses within the StarTech program

In cooperation with the Government of Serbia and with the support of Philip Morris, NALED today announced an open call for the first million dollars of grants for small businesses and anyone who wants to digitalize their business and invest in developing innovative products and services to create new jobs and conquer new markets.

The first annual open call is organized within the three-year StarTech project, worth five million dollars. The project was launched to improve the competitiveness of the domestic economy and the entire innovation ecosystem.

The project StarTech contributes to the realization of the key priorities of the Government of Serbia - digitalization and accelerated economic development based on science, creativity and new technologies. We will work together to connect faculties, research centers and businesses to develop innovative products and services. The activities envisaged in this project have been recognized and included as measures in the Action Plan for the implementation of the Smart Specialization Strategy for the period 2021-2027 which was prepared by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development - said the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development Branko Ruzic, at the press conference.

According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, 69% of large companies in Serbia are innovative, while the percentage of smaller companies is only 47%. One of the main challenges is the poor availability of funding for innovative projects.

Through the first pillar of the project, in the next three years, more than 3.5 million dollars will be awarded through grants for around 100 domestic startup teams, entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium enterprises, along with several thousand hours of expert support.

- Carefully following the vision of the Government of Serbia regarding the transformation of the Serbian economy, we recognized that our example can provide inspiration, and through such a project we can also provide financial support to companies. At the same time, we want to help the state build an ecosystem that will be attractive for innovative companies. With a large number of entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized companies that adopt digital business, focus on innovation, generate high value-added products or services and perform more easily in foreign markets, Serbia will be a country with an even stronger and more resilient economy - said Ivan Miletic, Corporate Affairs Director for the Southeast European Region at Philip Morris.

The second pillar of the StarTech project will be aimed at improving the regulatory framework for the operations of innovative companies and the promotion of innovations, the biggest innovators and Serbia as an investment destination.

- Last year, our country improved its ranking on the Global Innovation Index (GII) by four places and is now positioned as the 53rd among 129 countries. Although it ranks better in the field of innovation compared to most economies with a similar GDP, it is among the five weakest in Europe. Through StarTech, we will propose solutions for stimulating the digital economy in Serbia, as well as improving the position of our country in the GII - said Dusan Vasiljevic, Entrepreneurship and Investments Director at NALED.

Open call propositions

Entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as teams of individuals up to five members have the right to apply for grants within the StarTech program. Within the first call, they will be able to apply for a total of one million dollars, and the amount of the grant will depend on the LOT for which they are applying.

Under Lot 1 intended for startup teams or businesses established not earlier than 2019, it is possible to apply for grants ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 to develop an innovative idea (with 10% co-financing by the applicant). Lots 2 and 3 are intended for micro, small and medium enterprises established before 2019 who can apply for grants from $25,000 to $50,000 (with co-financing of 20%) for digital transformation or innovation development projects, and if they also plan new employment and entry into foreign markets, they can apply for grants worth $50,000 to $100,000 dollars (with co-financing of 30%).

The deadline for applications is June 4. Interested applicants can find detailed information about the program, all conditions and the necessary documentation for participation on the website, as well as through the contact center at and number 0800 000020. 

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