The definitive guide to the Kosovo startup scene. What it is, what the opportunities are and other related information.
Finding information about Startups in Kosovo is hard, and only a few internet resources provide a bit of information which is often outdated and just for the sake of it. We want to change that and provide direct information to those who are interested in startups in Kosovo, their investments, products and other steps.
#1 Incubators and Institutions
In Kosovo, a large number of business support structures were established since the year 2000, offering initially basic business services in different cities around the country, while none of them are to be considered as business incubator programs, and those who are left serve only as rented workspaces.
In 2001, the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), as part of the European Union Integrated SME Development Program for Kosovo, established five Regional Enterprise Agencies (REAs) in Mitrovica, Prishtina, Gjilan, Prizren and Peja, while only the one in Prishtina remains active with focus on donor funded projects and grant schemes, and acting as a private consulting company.
The EAR in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Kosovo, established incubators in Gjilan, Shtime and Decan, most of which according to the exit strategy have turned into rented spaces or have seized to operate, while the Business Park in Drenas, only in the last two years managed to become a bit more operational and attract companies after remaining for more than 5 years without any functioning companies.
The constant support of international donors has created the necessary structures, such as agencies, business centers, and business incubators, even though the failure rate of such projects has been quite high. Only in the last 2 years, there has been a more focused approach on setting up such centers with more professional business models, financial support, mentorship programs, training, etc.
After many attempts to establish well functional incubators in the country and foster startups and entrepreneurs through incubation services, mentoring, coaching and training, the market of Kosovo saw new structures appear in the last two years, including the business incubator Innovation Centre Kosovo – ICK funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE), MDA Foundation (their project Enhancing Youth Employment – EYE), BSCK and the Innovation Centre Gjakova, implemented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Kosovo
One of the most recently successful programs is Innovation Centre Kosovo – ICK, a project started in June 2011 and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs, to support entrepreneurship, innovation, and commercially based business development, with focus on information and communication technology, and supporting both start-ups and existing businesses no longer than 2 years..
The main goal of ICK was initial to establish successful start-ups that graduate and become financially viable and act independently, and also create jobs, commercialize new technologies and create wealth.
#2 Notable Startups
Proficiency in English, fast internet connection, young and enthusiastic people, close location to Western European capitals, VAT free operations for companies offering outsourcing services and commitment from the government to further improving business conditions are the factors that make Kosovo an exciting location for both startups and established western companies looking for IT Outsourcing and investment opportunities.
The number of startups in Kosovo is not big, but their potential is high. The leading sectors include Productivity and Collaboration tools, followed by Hardware, SaaS Solutions, and Entertainment.
In my opinion, and while talking to other tech industry leaders in Kosovo, this list resembles the 7 most exciting startups that are based in Kosovo and that are planning or are already making products for global markets (There will be another list for service oriented companies and other exciting ventures around Kosovo).
Prishtina Startup city guide is the one resource you should have in mind to read on, if you’re interested in launching a startup in the capital of Kosovo. You will find different resources and information there, including information about events, investments, resources, incubators and others.
Kosovo startup Scene is one of the first articles from 2013 that offers information on how the start-up scene of the country started to take shape and how things started to move ahead.
Internet companies from Kosovo is another interesting resource that provides information about an initial evaluation of the top 3 internet companies of the country.
Read also – Outsourcing to Kosovo – Get details on the best tech companies to outsource services to, see their practices, learn about their team, and more.
Read also – 7 Kosovo startups to watch – The 7 most exciting startups that are based in Kosovo and that are planning or are already making products for global markets