Western Balkans economies are closing the gap to their western peers and digital entrepreneurship had an important role to play during this process. With a GDP growth rate of 3.8% last year, Western Balkans are catching up with EU counterparts on many key areas but the issues they face are still challenging.

Brain drain or small market size are some of the obstacles every startup in Western Balkans has to overcome, but lack of financing and passive role of startups it is still a concern. However, not only startups of Western Balkans are looking for new opportunities but the startup ecosystem is trying to bridge these gaps too.

Uplift Western Balkans, the first startup acceleration founded in Albania, represent one of the most promising prospects for Western Balkans startup community. For the last three years, these startups have identified opportunities across borders. Initiatives from private and public sector in Western Balkans have undertaken a difficult mission, to identify hope and opportunity for these startups.

This year, Uplift Western Balkans startup accelerator, brings close ties between startup communities in Western Balkans thanks to a close cooperation of ICTSmedia in Albania, Venture UP in Kosovo and Ican in Macedonia with the support of Slovak organization SOVVA and financial aid of SlovakAid. EU for Innovation, SwissEP, Huawei, Albvision, Credins Bank, South Eastern European University, ICTSlab, Tirana Municipality and EY are partners and supporters of this event.

Acceleration program of Uplift Western Balkans kickstarts on November 6. Final deadline for startup to apply and join is September 24.

Uplift Western Balkans

A short list of startups will come to the Selection Bootcamp in Kosovo on October 1-2, Northern Macedonia on October 8-9 and Albania on October 15-16. It is this process that determines the startups which will join the 4-month acceleration program.

During this program startups will lean to navigate a lot of challenges they face and find new opportunities for the future. For startups, Uplift Western Balkans is a chance to get mentored, build networks, gain investment and increase capital.

They will be introduced to some of the best practices, mentored by some of Europe’s leading experts, pitch to the many investors and companies that will accompany Uplift Western Balkans during acceleration program.

At Uplift Western Balkans startup will learn about business models, product development, marketing and sales strategy, business intelligence, presentation skills, financial and legal knowledge and secure investments.

A selection of young entrepreneurs of Uplift Western Balkans will join a study program in various European countries thanks to Bridge2EU program.

Demo Day on January 17, 2022 will mark the end of third edition of Uplift Western Balkans. Startups will receive 5,000-10,000 euros in rewards while surprises, support, rewards, and opportunities to increase investments up to 50,000 euros for participating startups.

On September 15, an informative session will be organized within Uplift Western Balkans at the Destil Creative Hub in Tirana followed by similar meetings on September 17 at Venture UP in Pristina and Ican at Gostivar. Young people will be invited to present their entrepreneurial ideas at a hybrid event with physical and virtual participation.

Uplift acceleration program organized for the 3rd year in a row to discover the entrepreneurial potential of Western Balkan startups. And while various regional challenges like brain drain and fragmented infrastructure and limited funding still need to be addressed, solid foundations for startup ecosystem development are in place.