The Second StarTech programme completed: One million dollars for the most innovative projects

The winners of the second StarTech competition, who will share a one-million-dollar-prize fund for innovation-based or digital transformation projects, have been officially announced in the presence of new Government ministers, business leaders and experts. This year’s winners include 28 teams, start-ups and companies whose ideas related to agriculture, healthcare, AI, and IT, can transform the way we treat illnesses, do business, produce food, as well as help the ones in need.

The StarTech programme, that supports the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises, is part of a three-year project aimed at the promotion of innovation and technological development in Serbia, which is implemented by NALED and financed by the Philip Morris Company.

“Million dollars worth of grants provides the programme participants with the opportunity to conquer the market”, said executive director of NALED Violeta Jovanović, adding that NALED will continue to help entrepreneurs in the future. As an example of this, Jovanović said that the first mobile CT scanner has already arrived on the American market, while a lot of other products are in the testing phase.

The executive director of NALED highlighted the importance of collaboration between government, non-government and private sector for the success of innovative ideas. New Minister of Science, Technological Development and Innovations, Jelena Begović said that “the connection between the state and the civil and private sectors is very important, and StarTech reflects it the best”.

Begović also underlined that it`s extremely important to attract other companies because “a small investment can give a big impact”. On the other hand, the Minister of Science recognized the legal framework as another crucial aspect in the support of innovative ideas coming to life. “The legal framework is very important; in this sense and it is up to us (the state) to create an ecosystem in which creators of new ideas will feel free and brave”, concluded Begović.

Talking about technological background which should be aligned with innovative ideas, the new Minister of Information and Telecommunications, Mihailo Jovanović, stated that the country is committed to the development of infrastructure on the one hand, and the development of the necessary capacities for the progress of education, on the other.

As the private sector is an indispensable part of this project, the Director of External Affairs for the region of Southeast Europe at Philip Morris, Ivan Miletić, underlined that Philip Morris was a good example of how the private sector could support the development of new ideas. “It is easy to forget that you are part of the greater ecosystem. If it benefits only big companies, t will not be good for anyone. That’s why I think this project is great – because we help small ideas become big”, stated Miletić. He went on to say that StarTech is his favourite project and agreed with Jovanović and Begović that the presence of ministers is extremely important because it demonstrates how ready is Serbia to support innovation and digital transformation.

(eKapija, 09.11.2022)

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