National Startup Summit: North Macedonia is on right track to become a regional startup hub in the Balkans

Under the motto "Together we impact", within the first National Startup Summit, over 20 representatives of the Macedonian startup community, together with representatives of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, defined the next steps to be taken to position the country as a regional startup hub. 

At the Summit held yesterday in Skopje, the main speaker Sebastian Diaz Mesa, who is a former CEO of Startup Chile, presented the strategy for development of the startup ecosystem in Chile and his vision for the next activities in our country.

"I believe that by encouraging innovation, continuous and sustainable development of a country can be achieved, and in order to have an innovative process, we need startups. States, ecosystems, companies or any organization can become innovative if they put people first and encourages them through mutual communication, based on trust, diversity and a common goal or story. I am convinced that with the activities undertaken by the Republic of Northern Macedonia to support entrepreneurship, you are on the right path to becoming a regional startup hub in the Balkans" said Diaz Mesa.

According to a survey conducted by Startup Macedonia, the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development is an institution that for over 60 percent of startup companies in the country is the largest financial and strategic support in their development.

"Together with the Government, Startup Macedonia and all our partners and customers, we have done a lot in the past seven months. For the first time we have a National Startup Council. For the first time, the key stakeholders of the ecosystem together with the representatives of the Government sit and discuss the challenges of the ecosystem, the trends in the ecosystem, but also the steps we need to take for its transformation. We have turned these talks into a document and in the next period I am seriously looking for all of us to work together on the legal changes that are needed for the transformation of the ecosystem", said Kosta Petrov, director of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development.

Petrov also sent a message to all stakeholders in the Macedonian startup ecosystem, to work together to create a new, unique, modern, global Macedonian story, to continue to listen to the voice and follow the vision of startup heroes, and they continue to inspire us and prove that we can really succeed in our country.

Within the first panel discussion "Macedonian startup ecosystem: Where are we and where do we want to be? 2016-2026” moderated by Igor Madzov from Startup Macedonia, Gogo Rafajlovski from SEEU Tech Park, Petar Ninovski from Breinster, Vesna Ivanoska from Seavus Accelerator and Svetlana Kordumova from presented their experience in the development of their startups and organizations and concluded that startup companies in the country need more support and direction from other stakeholders in the Macedonian economy, in order to develop better strategies for breakthrough the local and global market. 

The Summit also presented the success stories of the innovative companies Stratum R&D, Codwell, Orange and Future Innovations, which with the financial support of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development managed to develop successful business stories and be the motivation of many innovative companies. The representatives emphasized that every start brings many challenges and risks, but they should not stop there, because every step brings many opportunities that should be used to succeed.

Access to finance was one of the key topics at the summit. Kosta Petrov from FITD, Eli Zabevska from SC Ventures, Igor Andreev from XFactor Accelerator, Dragan Dimitrov from CEED Club of Business Angels and Milan Damcevski from ProCredit Bank agreed that there is a need for greater involvement of corporations, business support and investment angels in support of the startup community. The strategy for development of the FITD Investment Fund was presented at the panel, which is expected to be registered by the end of the year.

The topic of the last panel discussion at the Summit was social entrepreneurship and impact businesses run in the country. Bistra Kumbaroska, representative of the Startup Council; Vladimir Vuksanovi from Orgalife, Asib Zekir from Redi Recycling and Gorjan Jovanovski from Moj Vozduh. Impact companies in our country are partners and major supporters of the startup ecosystem, by transferring their experience and know how to new startups that are just starting. The speakers emphasized that every beginning is really difficult, they face numerous risks and challenges in the development phase. They said that in order to succeed, startups should take risks, start an initiative and use all the opportunities that are offered.

"I hope that this first startup summit will grow into an annual startup summit and next year we will be in even greater numbers, to celebrate all the successes and failures because they teach us and show that together we can really transform the new economy in our country" said Nina Nikolic, co-founder of Startup Macedonia.

The first national Startup Summit was organized by Startup Macedonia, Business Impact Lab, the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development and the Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP). The Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Coordination of Economic Affairs and Investments, Fatmir Bytyqi, as well as the Ambassador of Switzerland to Northern Macedonia, Sibil Zuter Tejada, also addressed the summit.