Serbia: a small country with a great vision

Serbia has strived to implement numerous social and economic reforms, aiming to become a modern state, a thriving democracy, and a free market economy. The positive changes in the country are especially apparent if you consider the difficult years in the 1990s and 2000s, when Serbia was embroiled in the post-Yugoslav Wars and fought for its independence. These reforms are now paying off for this country on the Balkan Peninsula – and also for entrepreneurs.


Much more appealing business climate

Recent developments provide plenty of reasons for confidence, including stable economic growth, an increase in foreign direct investment, and a better business climate. While a lack of prospects led young people in particular to leave Serbia after the post-Yugoslav Wars, the trend today is quite different. Increasing numbers of Serbs who have gained valuable professional experience and earned good incomes abroad are now returning home. This may be because they wish to return to their roots and their families, or because they now see greater potential and career options in Serbia than in other countries.


Back to the future

One good example of a Serb who has returned after spending several years in another European country and has successfully created a business in Serbia is Branko Milutinovic. Together with the co-founders of the company Nordeus, he developed a computer game that is now successfully marketed beyond the country’s borders. Nordeus shows that a small country like Serbia with a small population and a small market can be attractive for start-ups. ‘Business Ideas for Development’ supports Serbs living in Germany to harness the potential of their country of origin.

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New impetus in new sectors

People with a strong education and skillset who have widened their horizons by working abroad can make a valuable contribution to modernization and economic diversification in Serbia, enabling the country to move beyond traditional sectors such as services, industry, mining and agriculture. The tourism sector, which has gained importance in recent years, is a good example of this, as is scientific research.


Starting a business in Serbia

Marko Panic is a molecular biologist. He acquired his doctorate in Germany. During his work in the laboratory, he realized that the steps involved in most experiments and processes are constantly repeated, which can be extremely tedious. Aiming to increase efficiency, he teamed up with a friend from Serbia who is a mechanical engineer. Together they worked on developing a device for automated biochemical testing. When it came to turning the prototype into a commercial product, the pair decided to set up a company. However, this proved rather difficult in Germany. Marko recalls: ‘There were lots of rules and regulations, lots of paperwork, high setup costs and, above all, high costs for the development and production of individual components, of which we only needed small quantities in the very beginning.’

The situation was entirely different in Serbia where Panic and his business partner obtained seed capital through the Serbian Innovation Fund and lost no time in setting up their company, “Smart Research”. Marko names another important reason for this decision: ‘We were also able to set up a small production line of our own in Serbia. In Serbia, the cost involved and the cost of production amount to only a fraction of what we would have had to spend in Germany.’ The first Smart Research devices are already on the market in Serbia. They are set to be available throughout Europe soon.


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