Western Balkans Startup Alliance Participates at Future2Tech Expo in Tirana.

Future2Tech, an annual tech conference that brings together entrepreneurs, tech companies and educations institutions, provided the perfect platform for the Western Balkans Startup Alliance to showcase its activities held in the past year. The event, held at the Tirana Palace of Congress, attracted participants and attendees from around the world, all eager to explore the latest trends and innovations in technology.

The Western Balkans region has been gaining attention in recent years for its rapidly growing tech startup ecosystem. With a young and tech-savvy population, a supportive business environment, and access to European markets, countries in the region have become attractive destinations for entrepreneurs and investors alike. The Western Balkans Startup Alliance, a collaborative effort involving startups, incubators, and government agencies across the region, has been at the forefront of this transformation. Their participation in Future2Tech highlighted the innovation and potential that the Western Balkans has to offer.

The WBSA booth at Future2Tech informed the participants about its members services, their activities and policy document that has been developed for the region, The Way Forward to Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. The alliance was also represented in the first panel, Visionary Insights, by Mr. Arjan Ymeri, Executive Director of Oficina. The panel included CEO of international companies such as Vodafone Albania, and regional technology and media companies such as InfoSoft, DevAL and Digit ALB.

Additionally, it featured a diverse range of startups from various sectors, including fintech, health tech, edtech and e-commerce. Attendees had the opportunity to interact with founders, learn about their products and services, and witness live demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies.

The WBSA booth received a visit from the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Business Climate, Ms. Delina Ibrahimaj, who expressed strong support for the alliance’s initiatives. The minister’s presence underscored the Albanian government’s commitment to fostering a favourable business climate for startups and tech companies in the country.

The alliance also used the event as an opportunity to network and establish connections with global investors from Israel and USA, and industry leaders from Germany and Japan. The alliance believes that collaborations and partnerships with the public sector are crucial for the continued growth of the tech ecosystem in the Western Balkans.

Looking Ahead

As the Western Balkans Startup Alliance continues to build the interest in the regional startup ecosystem, events like Future2Tech serve as valuable stepping stones. The alliance’s participation in such international events not only showcases the region’s potential but also opens doors to new opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to increase their presence in the regional ecosystem. The alliance looks forward to upcoming conferences and presentations of our continuous work in the region and beyond in the next few weeks.

The future of tech in the Western Balkans looks brighter than ever, and the Western Balkans Startup Alliance is at the forefront of this exciting journey.

The way forward for a regional entrepreneurship ecosystem

The Western Balkan entrepreneurship ecosystems have seen significant progress over the past few years, nevertheless compared to other European ecosystems they are still at the early stage of development. Policy and advocacy are major instruments in driving further change in the ecosystems. In order to improve the policy environment for start-ups and innovation hubs, stakeholders from various backgrounds need to join forces to provide concise information and recommendations about further improvements.

“Since I was coordinating the National Start-up Council in MKD, which produced the 1st Policy Change Paper and was presented to the Government and entered their program, I shared the idea with my colleagues of the WBSA, that we do something regionally. We then identified the key ecosystem leaders in Western Balkans and with the support of GIZ and Start-up Genome, we gathered over the summer to identify the priorities and work on and produce a document with policy recommendations”. – said Nina Nikolich.

This is why The Western Balkan Startup Council was created. It is an initiative started by members of the Western Balkan Startup Alliance and seeks to support the growth and development of a robust regional ecosystem that will provide support to both start-ups and ecosystem stakeholders by jointly advocating towards policymakers.

Members of the Start-up Council are representatives from the partner hubs of the project as well as ecosystem leaders that are willing to volunteer their time and expertise for giving back to the community.

In July 2022, the workshop powered by Western Balkans Start-up Council and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) brought together representatives from government agencies, incubators and accelerators, coworking spaces, and start-ups from across the region to Mostar, BIH. The goal of the workshop was to discuss the topics of the policy recommendation paper and identify ways to support the growth of the start-up sector in the region.

Western Balkans Start-up Council members collaborated on a paper outlining policy recommendation for the region’s start-up ecosystem and the many challenges its start-ups face. Policymakers, investors, and other stakeholders can all play their part to encourage entrepreneurship and new ideas by following the recommendations in the Policy Recommendation Paper.

Several different areas were chosen to showcase the activities that were proposed:

  1. Facilitate the engagement of corporates in the innovation processes
  2. Enable early-stage funding access to start-ups
  3. Advocate for Policy Innovation
  4. Support start-ups growing internationally

Overall, the workshop was a great opportunity for start-up ecosystem players from the Western Balkans to come together and discuss ways to support the growth of the start-up ecosystem in the region. By sharing their insights and expertise and working together to draft the recommendations in the policy recommendation paper, they aim to drive innovation and economic development in the Western Balkans.

Full version of the document on the Policy recommendations comming soon!