Report: 2018 One of the Best Years for SEE Startups
Date: January 22nd 2019
Author: Tanja Srnovršnik
More startups, investments and success stories have emerged from the SEE region in 2018, and large companies have started to notice the innovative potential that startups can play in their digital transformation and are starting to play a more active role in the ecosystem. However, what remains missing is a systematic and effective role of policymakers that would increase the pace of development, according to the latest South-East Europe start-up report by ABC Accelerator and EIT Digital.According to the report, “2018 was one of the best years for the regional startup ecosystem in South-East Europe.”
In the less developed ecosystems such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kosovo and Macedonia, there was an increase in the number of new early stage startups, support actors and support schemes in 2018. In the more developed countries such as Serbia and Croatia, startups and high-tech entrepreneurship also gained additional political attention and public exposure.
The most developed of all, the Slovenian startup ecosystem, consolidated in the past year, driven by private investments in Slovenian companies and the professionalisation of the startup world. Meanwhile, the Montenegrin startup ecosystem seems to be the only one that is stagnating, however, there are positive signals and motivation for change from the very pro-active Ministry of Science and local startup enthusiasts, noted the report.
In terms of industry focus, the blockchain expansion that started in 2017 also dominated the first half of 2018. According to the Crypto Nation Report, blockchain startups emerged in the whole region and put Slovenia in particular on the map of blockchain destinations.
Significant investments and exits took place in startups coming from more developed ecosystems – Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia. ABC Accelerator and EIT Digital noted that the vast majority of these startups are still in IT, “but there are also very positive stories involving startups with B2C and physical products. In the most developed ecosystems in the region, startups are now also emerging in more and more ‘non-IT’ industries, showing a growing expansion of the startup ecosystem.”
Another trend that could be seen in 2018 is increased corporate engagement in the regional startup ecosystem.
Still a lot of work for policymakers
However, the report stressed that a systematic and effective role of policymakers is still missing in the startup world.
“In emerging startup ecosystems such as that of the SEE region, effective public policy measures can greatly increase the success of the startups and their growth prospects and turn them into attractive destination for startups from other regions.”
“Unfortunately, in most countries in the region, startup ecosystem policy measures remain fragmented, non-comprehensive or sometimes even non-existent, or are mistaken as being support to general entrepreneurship that requires a different kind of support to that of startups. Even when there are support measures, their development is not based on data and their success (or lack of it) is not properly evaluated,” stressed the report.
“In order to speed up the development of the startup ecosystems in the region, policymakers should take a leaf out of the startups’ handbook: they should implement data-driven decision-making. Constant measuring of the impact of their existing measures, coupled with constant experimenting with new policy measures and adjusting of the old measures once their ecosystem develops to the next stage of development, would mean that the growth of the most successful startups could be greatly increased – and with it all the benefits this brings to society (more taxes, well paid jobs, sufficient profits that allow for more investments),” said ABC Accelerator and EIT Digital.
The whole report can be found HERE.
This article is available also in Slovene.