Second StarTech competition - Nearly 200 applications for $1 million in support of innovation and digital transformation

Almost 200 startups, entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises applied for grants whose total value will reach one million dollars, at the second annual open call within the StarTech program for supporting innovation and digital transformation of the Serbian economy. The major interest in grants for the second year in a row proves how important these programs are to support domestic innovators in implementing their ideas.

About 30 grants ranging from 15,000 to 100,000 dollars will be awarded this year as well, and once again, the most applications were received for innovations in the IT industry. Among 197 applications, almost 100 innovative ideas are focused on the development of applications, digital platforms and software that improve business processes. The second most common field of innovation refers to agriculture and the food industry, followed by electronics, multimedia, construction and others.

- More than 60% of applications refer to the smallest Lot, offering grants from 15,000 to 25,000 dollars, which makes us especially happy because we will help make more innovations come to life for the first time. With excellent response to the second open call, and the fact that we received applications from some startups and companies that failed to qualify for grants last year, we can be assured that people have recognized the quality of this program. Through StarTech, innovators can get professional help in creating business plans even in the phase of preparing their applications, which other programs generally do not offer. Of course, there are grants, but also 1,000 hours of expert support, promotion, the opportunity for innovators to present themselves at international fairs and enter foreign markets. All this is accompanied by minimal administrative requirements when applying for the competition and implementing the project - says Dušan Vasiljević, Competitiveness and Investments Director at NALED.

The competition was open from March 18 to May 18, and innovators could apply for support in drafting a business plan until April 18, and 93 applicants used that help. There are now several rounds of selection before the competition commission. The names of the finalists will be known in late summer, and the final decision on the grant winners will be made in September by a team of eight experts in the field of innovation, digital transformation and entrepreneurship.

71 startup teams and 126 entrepreneurs and companies applied for the competition, with micro companies being dominant (86). Applications came from 30 cities and municipalities, from Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and other larger cities to smaller municipalities such as Lebane, Bogatić, Odžaci, Bački Petrovac, Šid, Aleksinac and Knjaževac, where new businesses and jobs can significantly contribute to a better quality of life.

The largest number of grants is intended for startups and companies not older than two years for the development of innovation. Grants of $25,000 to $50,000 will go to SMEs to successfully market or digitally transform their innovation, while the largest grants, from $50,000 to $100,000, are primarily intended for international market placement or for new jobs.

StarTech program is a three-year project for the promotion of innovation and technological development in Serbia, implemented by NALED in cooperation with ENECA, and funded by Philip Morris. The project recently published the Grey Book of Innovation with recommendations on what reforms need to be implemented in order to improve business conditions for innovative and high-tech entrepreneurship. In 2023, another public call is planned, so that a total of about 3.5 million dollars will be allocated for 100 innovative projects.


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