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.

Green Solution Hackathon



Are you a student, founder, or an employee of a startup? Maybe you are someone with a solution to an ecological challenge in your community or in your company? Do you have an idea for sustainable work, or you want to realize some green initiative? Then, this Public Call is for you!

Apply for the Green Solutions Hackathon for students and startups that will take place on 15 th and 16 th September 2023, in Tetovo.

The Hackathon is organized by the SEEUTechPark and Liberal Alternative Institute (LAI) with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) under the auspices of the German Cooperation and the SENECA Green and the USAID’s Youth Actively Create Opportunities Activity, implemented by Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC).

What’s in it for you?

Participation in the Green Solutions Hackathon will bring you an amazing opportunity to acquire new skills, exchange experience, learn and network on sustainable, innovative, and green business solutions, business development, increasing market potential and building financial sustainability, as well as take your pitching skills to another level through mentoring sessions and workshops.

In addition, the event will enable you to expand your professional network with likeminded progressive, innovative, and motivated green changers in the society, students, young people, startups. Finally, the Hackathon will provide opportunities for fundraising for your green idea.

The highest ranked green ideas will receive the opportunity to compete for one of the following awards:

• The first ranked team will receive an award price of 30.000 MKD.
• The highest ranked 3 teams will participate in a follow-up Investment Rendezvous for Green Solutions with potential financiers in the country and the region organized by the GIZ.
• The highest ranked teams will be enabled to participate on a specialized training on 1] Sustainable Corporative Operations and 2] Development of Business Plan organized in cooperation with ProCredit Bank.
• The highest ranked teams will be enrolled in a Master Class – From Idea to Startup and a Workshop on Idea Screening with the founder of Networker, Sanja Mitrovska.
•The highest ranked teams will receive an invitation to participate in the 700 Accelerator call and get a chance to get an investment up to 40.000 Euros.
• The high-school students that will participate on the Green Solutions Hackathon will be invited to take active participation in specialized educational workshop on green business model organized by NGO Liberal Alternative Institute-LAI.

The event will be held in English language.

The deadline for registration is 1 st September 2023, by 12.00.

Link for application

Full details for the registration process are provided here

Be Sustainable, Green, and Innovative!

#GreenSolutionsHackathon #GIZNorthMacedonia #SENECAGreen #WithYouthForYouth

This initiative is organized by the SEEUTechPark, Liberal Alternative Institute (LAI) and the 700 Accelerator, with the support of GIZ and USAID’s Youth Actively Create Opportunities Activity, implemented by Improving Economies for Stronger Communities, in partnership with Youth Educational Forum and Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) Hub Skopje. The author’s views expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of GIZ, USAID or the United States Government.

Small Country, Big Changes!

Montenegro’s Laws on Innovation and R&D Incentives Promote Entrepreneurship and Growth

In recent years, Montenegro has emerged as a promising destination for startups and innovative businesses. The country’s Government has recognized the importance of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship and has taken several steps to support the development of these sectors. 

One of the most significant steps in this regard is the adoption of two modern laws in 2020 – the Law on Innovation Activity and the Law on Incentive Measures for the Development of Research and Innovation. These laws provide entrepreneurs with a clear legal framework, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, reduce bureaucracy, facilitate access to financing and promote economic growth.

By creating a supportive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in Montenegro, laws provide a legal framework for research and development, protection of innovation and establish a range of measures to support innovative businesses.

One of the key provisions of the Innovation law is the establishment of the National Council for Innovation and Smart Specialisation. The Council is tasked with developing policies and strategies to promote innovation, advising the government on matters related to innovation, and coordinating the activities of different stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem. The law also provides for the establishment of the Innovation Fund, which is intended to provide financial support to innovative businesses.

The major result from the Law on Innovation is the establishment of the Fund for Innovation in Montenegro, which formally started working in September 2021.  Its main activity is the implementation of innovation policy by providing and directing financial resources from national, international and other sources towards the development of innovative entrepreneurship and encouraging cooperation between the scientific and economic sectors. The Fund very soon became operational and successfully implemented two program lines in 2022. For this year the Government approved significantly higher budget  and the Fund is going to implement 8 new support instruments during this year, i.e support for startups in pre-acceleration phase and early stage, proof of concept, vouchers for patent protection, support for strengthening innovation culture, educational programs in S3 priority areas,  as well as largest support Program for strengthening the innovation of newly established or existing MSMEs. 

Additional strength to the development of innovation and entrepreneurship in Montenegro is enabled  by the Law on R&D and innovation incentives, which provides a wide range of benefits and incentives for domestic and international companies. These incentives include tax breaks for innovative businesses, support for the commercialization of research and development results, and investments in startups.

This Law outlines the types of incentive measures available for the development of research and innovation and these measures include reduction or exemption of various types of taxes or fees that one legal or physical entity can receive. These measures are aimed to encourage and support innovation and research in Montenegro by providing financial relief and incentives to individuals and companies engaged in these fields. They can be incentivized through exemption or reduction of personal income tax, contributions for social insurance, corporate income tax, fees for communal equipment of construction land, use of state-owned real estate and real estate tax.

The exact type and scope of available incentives depend on the type of entity. 

Start-ups and spin-offs have the most supportive environment and best conditions for development and growth. They are entitled to apply for full exemption from personal income tax and surtax for their employees and other engaged persons for a period of up to five years from their establishment date and receive investment from the other legal entity. 

Practice has shown that the most popular measure is the Corporate income tax exemption. This measure fosters legal entities to invest in their own innovation projects or invest in startups. Based on that investment they are entitled to ask for exemption from the corporate income tax for the profit reinvested in purchase of shares of startups or spin-offs, or profit given as a donation to scientific research institutions, research or innovation infrastructure entities.

Innovation activity entities may use several incentives at the same time, provided that the total amount of incentives does not exceed the permitted limit of 300,000 euros over a three-year period, in accordance with the law governing state aid.

The laws on innovation and R&D incentives are significant steps towards creating a supportive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in Montenegro. Together, they provide a clear legal framework for innovation and establish a range of measures to strengthen competitiveness and support the development of innovative businesses. With the implementation of these two laws, recognizing the importance and positioning  innovation high on the agenda, Montenegro made a significant step forward and it is currently well positioned to become a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

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!