Startup accelerators have some of the biggest contributions not only in economy but also society and may be their biggest impact is the way we look at startup founders.
Uplift Western Balkans, the first European startup accelerator in the Western Balkans, closed its third acceleration program on 17 January 2022.
Towards the last decade, startup founders have increasingly become central figures of the times we are living in, and today they don’t even need to be involved in technology. Artists, influencers, athletes, they call themselves builders, they call themselves creators.
Uplift story took another dimension this year bringing into attention of the community startups of Western Balkans and not only startups of Albania.
“No more Uplift Albania, but with inclusion of Kosovo and Nort Macedonia we have Uplift Western Balkans and why not pretending to be WB6 accelerator in the near future,” said co-founder of Uplift, Mr. Kushtrim Shala.
Uplift Western Balkans is not simply an initiative of SOVVA, ICTSmedia, VentureUP, ICANN and SlovakAid, it is an initiative where everyone of us, startups, ecosystem, and societies of Western Balkans are invested, and hundreds inspired.
“It’s not only about opportunities, but building something together that is worthwhile,” said Ms. Anuela Ristani, Deputy Mayor of Tirana on the stage of Demo-Day.
The sheer audacity of courage and will that make the craziest plans, the most valuable. It is the energy and creativity of these startup founders the true value of a startup accelerator.
“When we came here for the first time, we found an active community around ICTSmedia, ICTSlab and other organizations trying to support the startup community,” said one of the biggest supporters of Uplift Western Balkans, Mr. Peter Kolesar.
10 startups from Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia for 4-months joined startup acceleration program of Uplift Western Balkans. Dozens of meetings, training, workshops with experts, professional, investors and representatives of startup communities in Europe and Region, accompanied startup founders of Uplift Western Balkans.
Demo-Day is the final step for startups preparing them for a new journey awaiting in their respective industries and markets. The regional manager SwissEP Mr. Jakoob Modeer said the moment these startups graduate from Uplift; the private sector should step up and not only motivate them also invest on them.
Startup ecosystems are flourishing around the world and there are many factors that make a startup ecosystem thrive such as startup accelerators. From access to big ideas, to talent, capital, and consumers, each on of the stakeholders has a unique role to play especially the role of the government.
Minister of State for Entrepreneurship Protection Ms. Edona Bilali said that in the next four years, the government has allocated a fund of 10 million euros which will be distributed among startups and startup accelerator in the form of grants beginning in March of this year.
Before the moment of Demo-Day, startups for about 60 minutes had the opportunity to meet with dozens of investors from around the world that came especially for this event. GoConf, DrejtShkruaj, Spyvio, Imortelle, ARMMA, ArchiGame, VR Drive, TePema, Envicon and Pinca pitched in front of a jury of entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, and leading experts such as Mr. Elvin Guri, Ms. Cosmina Popa, Ms. Eli Zhabevska, Mr. Martin Bjergegaard and Mr. Matej Ftacnik.
Each startup pitched for 3 minutes followed by another 3 minutes of question from the jury of Uplift Western Balkans. The grand final of third edition closed with prizes allocation for best startups.
GoConf, the first online platform for ICT Conference, a platform where you can find and manage the conferences you will take part, won the Audience Awards of 2 thousand euros.
Green design startup which provides sustainable solutions for the spaces where we live, TePema won the grand prize of 5 thousand euros.
Uplift Western Balkans is a three-year-old effort with the mission to develop and democratize startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Western Balkans.
The third edition officially kickstarted on September 24. During the first half of October, the best startups came out of Selection Bootcamp and the accelerator program started on November 6.
Uplift Western Balkans enjoyed the support of partners and sponsors such as: Slovak Aid as the main financial supporter, including Banka Credins, One Telecommunications, Albvision, EU for Innovation, SwissEP, Huawei, CIVITTA, Eurovia, Universiteti i Evropës Juglindore, Bashkia Tiranë, EY, ICTSlab and media coverage of SCAN TV, Emerging Europe, Shqip.com, PCWorld Albanian, Business Magazine, GeekRoom, Albania Tech and CIO.al.