Serbian fintech and ICT outlook for the UK market, by BSCC and Emerging Europe
Following the signing of a trade agreement in April between the UK and Serbia, the Anglo-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Emerging Europe, organized an online seminar – the first in a series – focused on joint business opportunities for the British and the Serbs. companies.
The online webinar began with a fireside chat between Andrew Wrobel, founding partner of Emerging Europe, and Dr David Landsman, President of the Anglo-Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
“It is gratifying to see that Serbia and the UK are among the best countries for Covid vaccination.
At BSCS, we really feel like we’ve had some positive news. The Continuity Trade Agreement between our two countries was signed on April 19 and this will guarantee preferential trade between our two countries in the same direction as before, ”said Dr Landsman.
“Why Serbia? You don’t have to take our word for it, you don’t have to take the Chamber of Commerce. Just look at all the German, Italian, Chinese and other companies that have developed very successful relationships in Serbia and ask them what the opportunities are, ”he continued.
Mr Wrobel cited a recent study by Emerging Europe on IT in the region, saying that Serbia is ranked seventh overall. It was second in the talent stream.
“When you look at the number of computer science students per 100,000 inhabitants, only Estonia performs better than Serbia. Serbia has 325 students per 100,000 inhabitants. But it’s not just talent; it is also the development of certain areas such as blockchain, games and the digitization of public services, ”he added.
Wrobel also said it was time to stop talking about the region as a “low cost” destination.
“Right now what we have to look for is value for money, better quality which is maybe a little cheaper, and better quality is certainly offered by Serbia. And we must continually feed the UK market with information about the development of the ICT market in Serbia, because this has to be a constant, not just one-off. There is already a step forward with these webinars, I am happy that this is happening as it is time for UK companies to learn about ICT opportunities in Serbia ”, he continued.
The second part of the webinar, moderated by Filip Banković, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Director of International Market Development at Roaming Networks, looked at specific examples of Serbian ICT and fintech and included an excellent roster of experts: Nebojša Đurđević, CEO of Digital Serbia Initiative, Milan Simić, CEO of EneTel Solutions doo, Dr Dejan Vukobratvoić, Professor at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Nataša Skrbić, Project Coordinator and Business Analyst at Digital Serbia Initiative, Marija Ilić, Co-Founder and CPO of Two Desperados and Chairman of the Board of the Serbian Gaming Association, and Vuk Mirković, Executive Director and Founder of Razor Communications.
Nebojša Đurđević: “A digital economy requires talent. Everyone should have an understanding of ICT and algorithms. […] Serbia has more than 30,000 specialists working in more than 2,000 companies. The contract is estimated to be worth more than 1.3 billion euros. Why? Serbia has a strong talent pool: deep roots in a good education in the field of engineering, AI. Computer education is compulsory in Serbia from the fifth year, for high school students who wish to specialize, more courses are offered, and there are new multidisciplinary master’s study programs, combining computer science with business and the economy. Serbia has improved as a business environment: there are strong incentives for R&D and only 3% corporate tax. “
Milan Simić: “The most important thing is a quality workforce, excellent engineers and a growing talent pool. We’re talking about 60%. 100 and more highly skilled workers across the labor pool. We’re talking about competitive corporate taxation, we’re talking about regulatory frameworks that support ICT companies, so it’s a good place that’s easily accessible. Belgrade and Serbia as a whole have modern infrastructure. Like all other emerging European countries, we started out as an outsourcing destination. In the meantime everything has changed, as you can see the European innovation scoreboard for Serbia is really high, we are at the top of the list. Moreover, Serbia is in a good position in the Global Innovation Index, and it all has to do with the Talent Index that Andrew has already mentioned. As a result, today more companies are working on smart products and solutions than on traditional outsourcing. “
Dr Dejan Vukobratović: “In terms of the number of researchers, Serbia is very strong, a regional power. The dominant percentage of these researchers are in STEM. We are very proud that over 50% of them are women. If you see the number, how much is invested in Serbia, it’s less than 1% of GDP which is still below EU standards, but the link here shows that we are a strong outlier between European countries and global in terms of how much you get from each pound invested. The research output really outweighs its weight in terms of the amount you get. The research system is quite efficient and it has actually contributed a lot to the development of the ICT scene. “
Filip Banković: The startup ecosystem is something definitely worth taking a look at. The start-up scene in Belgrade is comparable to that of Bucharest and Warsaw while at the same time being much larger than that of Budapest.
Nataša Skrbić: “Although very young, our ecosystem is actually quite mature, and it is developing very quickly. If our start-up ecosystem were a kid, it would be a 10-year-old who speaks a lot of languages and plays at least three sports. It is quite advanced. Serbian start-ups need help reaching the global market, as the local market is quite small and often saturated. And the behavior of customers and companies is quite different in Serbia. There is also a specific energy in the air here in Serbia that makes you feel that the ecosystem is recovering and flourishing and the ecosystem is growing rapidly, so now is the perfect opportunity for first-time arrivals. and the first to enter and join the sector with support and investment. “
Marija Ilić: “The Serbian market is still very young, and we had a later start compared to the Polish gaming market, which is the best performing of the emerging countries in Europe. But we already have clear signs that we are heading in the same direction. As with any emerging market, the Serbian gaming industry is not without obstacles and challenges. There is a lot of work to be done, some of the biggest challenges are the bureaucracy or the so-called bureaucracy. There are a lot of excessive regulations and standards and some formal rules that prevent decision making and action in this cutting edge industry where agility is a necessity, but we don’t have it. So this is one of the biggest challenges, also the double taxation with the United States which drastically reduces revenues, especially for small studios. Our industry is on the radar of foreign investors who provide financial opportunities and support for local growth, so the next challenge for us as an association is to create a status report for developers, start-ups and businesses. investors.
Vuk Mirković: “The corporate culture in Serbia is customer-centric and you won’t find much elsewhere. Instead of arguing with a customer, people in business processes understand the customer side and focus more on the client side than anything else. Additionally, a basic understanding of the principles of consumer engagement is something that is in the DNA of any business organization here. It’s a pro-consumer setup you’ll find here. Belgrade and Serbia are a melting pot for Europe. People do great things and they kind of tend to create something that is beautiful, not just functional. “
You can watch the entire session below: