A record of 256 applications for innovation grants at the third StarTech competition

The new grant competition under the StarTech program attracted more than 250 applications from startups, entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises. This is the greatest interest during the three years of project implementation and shows the growing potential of the domestic economy for the development of innovations and the digital transformation of business.

Among the 256 applications, the most are those for designing innovative products and services in the IT industry (92), followed by a griculture and food industry (22), artificial intelligence (19), healthcare (16), biotechnology. 109 informal teams applied for the competition, along with 147 entrepreneurs and SMEs, and bearing in mind that slightly more than 20 grants will be awarded, the competition is very high.

- The greatest interest in grants so far testifies to the importance of such programs and grants for supporting domestic innovators to realize their ideas. I am especially glad that about 40% of applications are from teams that have not yet registered their business and who see our project as a chance to start developing their ideas - says Dušan Vasiljević, Competitiveness and Investments Director at NALED, adding that innovators from around 50 cities and municipalities throughout Serbia applied for this competition.

As he states, this fact is very gratifying because more than half of the applications came from outside Belgrade, which is an indicator that innovations are also being considered in smaller cities and municipalities where new businesses and workplaces can significantly contribute to a better quality of life. According to regions, the most interest came from Belgrade 109, followed by Vojvodina with 55, Western Serbia with 54, Southern and Eastern Serbia with 38.

The contest was open from March 3 to May 3, and innovators could apply for support in the development of a business plan until April 3, with 155 applicants taking this opportunity. Grant winners will be known in the fall, after evaluation of applications, field visits, as well as public presentation of final projects and selection of the best, and during the selection they will also decide whether their innovation has global or local potential, as well as whether it can contribute to new jobs, export growth and digital transformation of the domestic economy. The final decision will be made by a team composed of eight experts in the field of innovation, digital transformation and entrepreneurship.

The largest number of grants is intended for startups and businesses not older than two years for the development of innovation, and they will be able to receive up to $25,000. Grants of up to $50,000 will be given to small and medium-sized companies in order to successfully market their innovation or implement digital transformation, while the largest grants, from $50,000 to $100,000, are primarily intended for placing the innovation on the international market or increasing the number of jobs.

StarTech is a Philip Morris project implemented by NALED in cooperation with the Government of Serbia. In order to improve the competitiveness of the domestic economy and the entire innovation ecosystem, a total of three million dollars in grants and 3,000 hours of expert support will be awarded over the course of three years.

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