The IMAGINE IF! Accelerator, the first truly global competition and pre-acceleration program for healthcare science ventures, will take place for the first time in Serbia, thanks to a successful partnership between the Innovation Forum, the Science Technology Park Belgrade, our platinum partner, and the Health Tech LAB, our silver partner. This gives Serbian start-ups the opportunity to access the global Innovation Forum network and represent their country at the final IMAGINE IF! competition taking place in June 2019 in Cambridge, UK.
The Innovation Forum platinum partner and local host of IMAGINE IF!, the Science Technology Park Belgrade (Tech Park: www.ntpark.rs), was established in 2015 by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the City of Belgrade, the University of Belgrade, and with support from the Swiss Government. Their main aim is to support entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing tech companies with innovation development and commercialisation by providing a need-based set of infrastructure and business support services. Currently, there are more than 70 start-ups and growing tech companies operating under the Tech Park roof, creating a combined total income of more than 16 million Euros in 2017.
Serbia – the new high-tech destination in the Western Balkan region, with the Science Technology Park Belgrade has created an additional national instrument for supporting innovation. The Tech Park is currently home to more than 10 international R&D centres, including companies from Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong, and from this year onward will be ‘home’ to the IMAGINE IF! Serbia Accelerator.
Commenting on the partnership with the Innovation Forum, Acting Director of Science Technology Park Belgrade, Ms Gordana Danilovic Grkovic said: “It is our honour to be part of the IMAGINE IF! program as a pioneer in Serbia and to be able to offer entrepreneurs mentors’ support, as well as the expertise and network provided by the Innovation Forum. This gives start-ups more knowledge and skills to develop into successful businesses. We currently host and support more than 70 start-ups and innovative SMEs, among which an increasing number of those are in the health tech sector. We are convinced that this competition will encourage and inspire more business ideas and promote the importance of commercialisation of health tech innovation in Serbia.”
With the need for better multidisciplinary engagement and the selection of key priorities for the region, in the field of healthcare, the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance), member and silver partner, The Health Tech LAB, was created in order to promote existing solutions in health tech ecosystems, to create innovative solutions and to support continuous growth in the region and beyond. They were involved in the organisation of “Startup Jerusalem” and “Belgrade Venture Forum”, which highlights the importance of international collaboration as well as their visibility to the world market through ECHAlliance.
The mission of the Innovation Forum overlaps with those of Tech Park and Health Tech LAB, and that is the creation of an ecosystem that stimulates innovation, as well as international collaboration between innovators, industry, academia, government and investors. With great enthusiasm to personally contribute and help the translation of science and entrepreneurship in Serbia, Staša Stanković, Head of IMAGINE IF! Serbia, uses Innovation Forum’s grassroots and professional network to support early-stage start-ups and academics with ideas that are based on scientific research, as well as to broaden and strengthen the networks between Serbian and international scientists and entrepreneurs.
IMAGINE IF! will provide extensive opportunities to Serbian start-ups including a mentorship program by local leaders in the field of healthcare, biotechnology and consulting, and networking with 10,000 innovators within the Innovation Forum global platform. This year’s competition will take place at the Science Technology Park, and will focus exclusively on healthcare start-ups, including new or different types of therapies, devices, diagnostics, platform technology, digital health intelligence or data, and other related topics.
The local winner will be awarded €2,000 funding and will also secure a place to compete against the winners of other international branches at our global IMAGINE IF! competition in Cambridge, where a further $10,000 non-dilutive funding is up for grabs. In addition, 6 months free laboratory space and additional mentorship by international representatives from leading healthcare and biotechnology companies are available to global winners.
This is an exciting time for Serbian start-ups! The Science Technology Park Belgrade and Health Tech LAB will greatly facilitate access to young entrepreneurs and professionals in Serbia, thus enabling the Innovation Forum to create a platform that provides Serbia with higher international exposure and publicity within the science sector.
We all look forward to working together to drive innovative technology development by globally connecting innovators, industry and investors.