Proposed measures for accelerated growth of the Macedonian startup ecosystem, defined for the first time in the country by the National Startup Council, were presented today at a joint press conference of the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Coordination of Economic Affairs and Investments Fatmir Bytyqi and the director of the Fund for Innovations and Technology Development Kosta Petrov.
Prime Minister Zaev stressed that in the last four years, the Government has shown what it means to be a partner of the Macedonian startup ecosystem. The Prime Minister underlined that in the portfolio of the Fund for Innovations and Technology Development, in the last three years alone, 605 projects have been supported through co-financed grants, with over 85 million euros total investment, which is incomparable to the period before 2017, when only 36 projects were supported and a total investment of approximately 1.5 million euros.
“Of the total investments as of September 2021, 56% or about 48 million euros are funds provided by the Fund, while 37 million euros are own investments of companies, which means that FITD programs have encouraged a significant investment cycle by micro, small and medium enterprises. The fact that 51% of the Fund’s portfolio is startup companies, mostly founded by young people, is encouraging. Today we are talking about 326 supported startup companies, in which we have invested 18 million euros. Most of these companies successfully operate not only in the domestic market but also side by side with world-famous brands in the global market. The government, with all the ministries and institutions concerned, will provide real support. We will take steps to make the proposed paper measures functional, which will make it easier to create policies and strategies for the development of the Macedonian startup ecosystem. We will all work together to improve the regulation for the development of the innovation activity. In a world that is constantly changing, we will fight together to improve working conditions, because the Covid pandemic has shown us that we have to be more flexible, and working from home is the new normal for many companies. As a government, it is our duty to improve the conditions for access to finance, which requires tax breaks and exemptions for investors and startups,” said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
The Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, coordination of economic departments and investments Fatmir Bytyqi, who is also the President of the National Startup Council, presented the details of the three pillars of the document that relate to stimulating ecosystem development, improving working conditions for startups and improving access to finance. The Deputy Prime Minister informed that the proposed measures are grouped in three pillars: stimulating the development of the startup ecosystem, improving working conditions and improving the conditions for access to finance.
“The first pillar – stimulating the development of the startup ecosystem is definitely possible and we still have room to develop this, although we have made quantum leaps so far. Together we have determined that it is necessary to improve the regulation for the development of the innovation activity, to create additional, new instruments for supporting the startups that will be up to date with the global trends, to establish Centers for the development of startups, to improve the conditions for the residence of digital nomads, as well as to create a register of startups in the Central Register of the Republic of North Macedonia. Regarding the package of measures included in the second pillar, which should improve the working conditions, the following activities are planned: Enabling the registration of a new type of company, simplified limited liability company (PDOO), facilitating the liquidation process for startup companies, increasing the flexibility of working conditions, deregulation of operations outside the headquarters of the company (work from home). Access to finance is one of the most important elements for the development of any project, in this part really through the instruments of the Fund for Innovations and Technology Development, we have made serious steps, over 56% of the total value of projects is supported by funds from the FITD budget. Additionally, support is provided with favourable loans from commercial banks, as well as Amazon web services, however, we agree that more can be done. That is why in this pillar of measures we propose incentives for entry of foreign investors, tax incentives and exemptions for investors, tax incentives and exemptions for startups “, presented the proposed measures adopted by the National Startup Council, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Fatmir Bytyqi.
The director of the Fund for Innovations and Technology Development Kosta Petrov emphasized that our vision is simple – positioning the Republic of North Macedonia as a regional startup hub.
“Together with Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir, Bistra, Gjorgji, Anita, Stefan and Dejan, stakeholders in the startup ecosystem, foreign donors and chambers of commerce, we sat at the same table for the first time, and asked ourselves – what do we all need to do to enable Macedonian startups a faster development, easier access to finance and easier access to global markets, “said Petrov, director of FITD, adding that details about the first state investment fund are currently being finalized, through which, in Macedonian startups from 200,000 to 1.5 million euros will be invested.
Petrov also reminded that the final selection of companies that applied to the public call “Start-up 3” is underway, which will support Macedonian startups with 2 million euros and through the ongoing call for commercialization of innovations, 8 million euros are provided for domestic startups and innovative companies to commercialize their products and services.
The full presentation of the proposed measures is available at the following link.