Regional initiatives for startups

Based on recently launched regional support initiatives for startups, it seems the region’s startup scene is gaining traction among outside investors. This is a much welcome sign considering the region’s poor entrepreneurial outlook.

On average, there are only four businesses per 1.000 people per year in the region or three to four times average in Western Europe.

The ongoing regional initiatives for startups can make things improve.

We’ve reported on the Western Balkans Startup Expo 2020 as an opportunity for startups to compete for funding and mentoring (sometimes far more important than more cash).

Two additional regional initiatives deserve your attention.

PowerUp regional startup initiative

PowerUp is another interesting program that aims at SMEs and start-ups looking to attract customers, adapt business models, and consider the outside investment.

The program offers capacity building and training designed to help increase the selected companies’ investment readiness and resilience to external shocks akin COVID-19.

The capacity building program would provide valuable know-how and focus on the topics of customers and market, financial and internal performance, branding, and pitching.

The Program is free of charge.

The initial phase should last until February 2021.

PowerUp poster

After the initial phase, some 100 best performers will compete in the “PowerUP Finals” in March 2021. This will be a major pitching opportunity to attract angel investors, venture capitalists and experienced entrepreneurs.

Three best pitches will win the Western Balkan Entrepreneurial Excellence Award and exclusive, tailor-made business advisory support from Deloitte.

Deadline for application is September 30, 2020.

Star Ventures

As opposed to the PowerUp program, Star Ventures has been in the game for a few years. Its focus is on providing customised support to promising startups in the Western Balkans (and some other regions).

The program rests on partnering with the existing accelerators in the region to identify promising ventures.

Star VentureStar Ventures target high-potential regional startups with the potential to become market leaders. The most promising ventures get a chance to work with renowned international mentors and consultants.

The bottom line is that Star Venture provides skills, training, and access to global finance.

Startups from all Western Balkans economies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia) are eligible to apply if they have less than €1 million annual turnover and have been in business for up to 5 years.

Most importantly – and this is what the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is mainly looking at supporting – your business has to be scalable.

Deadline for application is September 30, 2020.


Regional initiatives for startups such as these two are useful, but more efforts are necessary for the region to catch up. Potential entrepreneurs – mainly young people – need a motivation boost.

We need more inspirational stories about upsides and downsides in the Western Balkans. A growing number of success stories testify that making profitable businesses is possible, despite all administrative and economic obstacles.

By admin

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