As of late, Belgrade has been actively tilling fertile ground for Serbia’s future entrepreneurs and their startups. The city recently hosted a Mini-Seedcamp in partnership with the Belgrade-based NGO SEE ICT and supported by the Crown Prince Alexander II Foundation for Education.
It’s no wonder that so many innovative tech startups have emerged from the city over the past few years. Here are 9 factors that position Belgrade favorably as a leading tech innovator on the global stage.
9. A growing number of incredible tech startup accelerators, incubators, and communities for entrepreneurs.
A plethora of resources catering to bootstrapped startups are available, from coworking spaces to startup business support groups. For example, ICT Hub helps tech entrepreneurs develop and prep their offerings for financing and market entry, while spaces like Smart Office—Belgrade’s first coworking space—and the Polygon Hub provide affordable office space and connectivity to starting entrepreneurs.
8. A government and educational system with a strong focus on STEM.
The Serbian government and educational institutions have been pushing for stronger programs in STEM-related fields, and have also worked with international bodies to this end. For example, NATO and Serbia have been fostering security-related scientific cooperation for some time now—recently, the organization visited the Ministry of Science and Education of Serbia to explore potential collaborations.
7. Low living expenses when compared to the world average.
One of the countries with the lowest cost of living in Europe, Belgrade is surprisingly affordable for cash-strapped tech entrepreneurs. Basic living expenses are as follows (2015): a fast food meal would cost you $4.33, a 1-bedroom apartment would run about $262.60/month, and basic utilities would cost $144.94/month.
6. One of the lowest standard rates of corporate tax in Europe.
Serbia’s tax system is highly conducive to business development and investment—currently, the corporate tax rate is 15%. Additionally, labor costs in Serbia are 50% less than in Eastern European EU member states.
5. A city of active young professionals—with active social lives.
Belgrade’s nightlife scene may be legendary, but the city’s young population also has an abundance of cultural events and daytime entertainment activities to choose from. Your social life won’t suffer in this city.
4. Various fundraising channels for getting venture-backed.
Various channels for getting funding can be readily accessed in Belgrade, from incubators and accelerators to networks and funds. Some of these include BTI of Technical Faculties Belgrade, StartLabs, Mentors and Founders, Serbian Private Equity Association, Serbian Venture Network, and more.
3. Belgrade is an important transportation corridor for South East Europe.
Belgrade is ideally located in the heart of South East Europe, at the intersection of strategic transportation corridors No. 10 and No. 7, linking Western and Central Europe to the Middle East. Also, the city lies at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube Rivers, making it an important waterway and cargo hub for South East Europe as well.
2. An existing network of successful tech startup ventures.
Many tech startups in Belgrade have already launched successful products and services—check out the Top 15 Tech Startups from Belgrade You Need to Know About in 2016 for some of our favorites from last year.
1. A plethora of tech startup-related activities and conferences.
In short, Silicon Valley may be home to the world’s leading tech startups, but Belgrade may soon be giving it a run for its money. Be sure to keep your eye on Serbia’s capital city as it develops into a leading global center for tech innovation.