Western Balkans Startup Alliance holds midterm Strategy Meeting

Build, Scale, Connect

The Western Balkan Startup Alliance recently held a significant strategy workshop in the beautiful city of Berane, Montenegro. The event brought together various stakeholders, including existing alliance members, industry experts from the Western Balkans region, and organizations dedicated to fostering a conducive environment for learning, networking, and growth. Notably, the workshop welcomed new members to the Alliance, expanding its collaborative network. mong these esteemed participants were representatives from GIZ Albania EU for Innovation, GIZ Kosovo, ITP, and GIZ North Macedonia EU for Growth Projects. Their expertise, experience, and commitment to fostering regional entrepreneurship were instrumental in shaping the discussions and outcomes of the event.

During the workshop, participants engaged in discussions on new business models, exploring innovative approaches to cooperation and growth. These conversations generated fresh ideas and identified potential avenues for collaboration among startups, hubs, and supporting organizations. The workshop also laid the groundwork for the formation of themed keystone teams, which will be established in the coming weeks.

The creation of these themed keystone teams is an exciting development for the Western Balkans Startup Alliance. These teams will bring together experts and stakeholders in specific areas, fostering focused expertise and collaboration in key sectors of the startup ecosystem. By leveraging the diverse talents and perspectives within these teams, the Alliance aims to drive targeted efforts towards growth, innovation, and regional integration.

In addition to the discussions on new business models and the formation of themed keystone teams, the workshop provided an opportunity to reflect on past achievements. Participants celebrated the progress made by the Alliance in fostering startup development throughout the region. This reflection served as a reminder of the shared vision and commitment to supporting entrepreneurial success.

The outcomes of the workshop have provided the Western Balkans Startup Alliance with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear roadmap for its future endeavors. With the addition of new members, the Alliance’s network expands, enabling greater collaboration and resource-sharing. The engagement and contributions of these new members will undoubtedly enrich the Alliance’s collective efforts.The workshop’s success is attributed to the active engagement and insightful contributions of all participants. Their expertise, experience, and dedication to the startup ecosystem have played an integral role in shaping the Alliance’s strategic direction. The Alliance is grateful for their commitment to drive innovation, economic growth, and regional cooperation.

Moving forward, the Western Balkans Startup Alliance will continue to create an enabling environment for startups to thrive. The establishment of themed keystone teams and ongoing collaboration among members will support startups in their growth journey. These teams will focus on specific themes, nurturing expertise, and developing initiatives to address the unique challenges and opportunities within each sector.With the collective efforts of its members, the Alliance aims to accelerate its impact in the region, supporting startup growth, fostering regional integration, and positioning the Western Balkans as a vibrant hub of entrepreneurial activity.

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is extended to the workshop’s participants, as well as the projects from the regional countries and the experts who facilitated the activities. The exceptional support of the team from GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Foreign Trade has been instrumental in the Alliance’s ongoing progress, and their continuous assistance is deeply appreciated.

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!