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EBRD Star Venture Showcases 18 Regional Startups in Belgrade

Eighteen startups from the region showcased their ideas at the ICT Hub in Belgrade as part of the EBRD Star Venture program for startup support.  Attendees were greeted by the EU Ambassador to Serbia, Emanuele Giaufret, and the EBRD's Western Balkans Director, Matteo Colangeli.

Eight startups were chosen for the “Star Venture advisory support and mentorship program.” Those supported include View ECG and Hey Reach from North Macedonia; Gap App, Cloud City, Curious Sparrow, Neuroblast, and Inclusio from Serbia; and Cardo AI/Softics Data Science from Albania.

The EU Delegation reminded that the startup support program began in 2019, funded by Luxembourg, and was later supported by the EU in 2021 through the WBIF/EDIF program.

EU Ambassador Giaufret emphasized the EU’s recognition of the growing business needs in the Western Balkans. “The EU has invested over 90 million euros in projects for innovation, acceleration, and R&D in Serbia,” he noted, further highlighting the importance of startups as economic growth engines. Giaufret cited a recent European Commission report that new businesses are now the primary job growth drivers in Europe, providing about two million jobs in 2019 alone.

Colangeli stated that the EBRD’s main mission is to assist businesses and economies in progressing. “The Star Venture program’s goal is to identify fast-growing potential startups and offer them global expertise,” he added. So far, the program has supported 39 regional startups, already showing promising results in terms of revenue growth, new job creation, and access to new markets.

Among the business ideas presented were personalized books, a digital bank, a platform for recruiting young architects, an e-commerce solution integrated into banking services, LinkedIn communication automation, and a doctor recommendation platform.

To date, 35 high-potential startups from the region have joined the program, receiving various forms of support, including strategic planning, funding assistance, market research, and branding.

The EBRD Star Venture program aims to provide advisory support and mentorship to high-potential startups poised for rapid global growth, offering them technical expertise, mentorship, local advice, and strategic business development programs. The program prepares young businesses to attract investors or other funding sources through a mix of advisory services, consulting, and mentorship. It also includes practical workshops and meetings with international mentors, local consultants, and potential investors.