SERBIA - Emerging tech development hub

WELCOME

Executive summary

Serbia is an emerging tech hub in Europe, conveniently located and open for business.

• An internationally acclaimed and growing engineering talent pool. Compulsory coding from the 5th grade, specialized IT streams in secondary schools, increased number of students in STEM programs, incentives to attract top talent.

• The most competitive corporate taxation in Europe. Companies can achieve 0% corporate income tax by combining the accelerated R&D deduction and IP box regimes. There is also a 30% tax credit for startup investments and attractive taxation of employee share plans.

• The Serbian Government as a partner committed to digitalization. The digitalization of public services and the growth of the tech private sector are number one national priorities.

• Top international tech companies, such as Microsoft, NCR, Epic Games, Continental and others, have already established R&D centers in Serbia with great success. Node, the first AI-as-a-service platform for businesses, recently opened in Serbia as a hub for its European expansion.

• Serbian tech companies are also making it big abroad. Nordeus is the world’s leading mobile gaming developer and publisher; Seven Bridges is a leading genetic research company and is rated as one of the world’s 50 smartest companies.

Foreword

We are entering the dynamic process of digitalization, modernization, and intensive education and work; new opportunities, much higher standards of living and better quality of life for all citizens of Serbia.


I deeply believe that Serbia is ready to lead the whole region through the changes before us and create new opportunities for all.


Prime Minister’s Manifesto, June 2017

ABOUT
SERBIA

Welcome to Serbia!

One of the few countries in the world

One of the few countries in the world that people from the USA, the EU, Russia, China, India and other countries can enter without a visa.

A great place for people from all over the world to get together.

About Serbia

The Financial Times has ranked Serbia #1 in the world in greenfield FDI performance twice in the last 3 years.
On the WB Doing Business List, Serbia has moved up by 43 places over the past 4 years and is now ranked 44th globally.
The City of Belgrade has been named a City of the Future in Southern Europe by the Financial Times.

Why invest in IT business in Serbia?

IT in
Serbia

Attractive investment location for establishing a Global IT Services Hub

With a remarkable rise in IT services, real estate development and air traffic, Serbia stands out as an ideal IT Services investment location.

Unprecedented growth of IT Services export

By increasing its total annual IT services export 2 times in just 3 years, Serbia has entered the stage of exponential growth, proving its viability as a regional tech leader and marking itself as a future digital hub of South East Europe.

This growth has led to IT services becoming the county’s biggest net export.

General stats

>1.42 B EUR

Serbian IT Services Export performance in 2019

x2 higher

Compared to the total IT Services Export performance in 2016

>1.13 B EUR

Serbian IT Services Export performance in 2018

Attractive Real Estate Location

A rapid rise of the real estate industry has followed Serbia’s strong economic performance in recent years. With a +9.9% YoY growth rate and 860,000 m2 of modern real estate space, Belgrade is standing out as one of the most attractive business locations not only in South East Europe, but in Europe in general.

Increased connectivity

Since the formation of the national airline, Air Serbia, in 2013, Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport has increased its number of passengers by over 70%, setting new records in recent years and reaching all-time high figures.

Belgrade’s unique geographic position and direct flights to every major EMEA location, as well as the USA via New York City, have helped to bolster Serbia’s reputation among leading international enterprises as a promising Global IT Services Hub.

We help our customer run their banks, stores and restaurants better so they can create the best customer experiences as they grow.

We do this for customers all over the world. So, we needed another global hub where talent and innovation could flourish. We found it in Belgrade, Serbia, where we're constantly inspired by the strong academic and start-up culture we need to help our customers thrive.

Today, 3,600+ of the brightest minds in Serbia use their talent and creativity to innovate and simplify our customers' businesses. And with our future, state-of-the-art campus (soon to be home to 4,200 team members), we'll collaborate across continents and 141 countries, using our legacy of innovation to inform our vision to take our customers into the future... and beyond.

Marija Zivanovic-Smith
SVP, Corporate Marketing, Communications & Chief External Affairs Officer

Development Center Serbia

Development Center Serbia is responsible for core engineering work in Azure, SQL Server, HoloLens and Microsoft Office.

Areas of expertise: artificial intelligence and database systems.

300 engineers engaged in developing cutting edge tech used by millions worldwide.

"The team in Serbia demonstrated amazing talent as they overcame significant technical challenges. The attitude the team has shown has really been such an amazing thing to watch."

Mr. Rohan Kumar,
Corporate Vice President
Azure Data

International company specialized in energy management, supplying over 400 million customers.

Over 1,000 employees, including 30 with a PhDs.

Schneider Electric DMS software enables big savings in power distribution, and is used by cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Toronto and many more.

"Schneider Electric recognized knowledge, innovation and experience of young engineers in the Republic of Serbia and invested resources in the DMS from Novi Sad, which is now a global center of Schneider Electric research."

Mr. Dragoljub Damjanovic,
General Manager
Schneider Electric Serbia

The R&D center in Serbia works on innovative products and solutions, which define the future the of automotive industry.

The company employs more than 400 highly qualified specialist engineers who develop electronic parts for leading car and commercial vehicle manufacturers, such as Mercedes, VW, MAN, Volvo etc.

"The energy and competencies of our people enable us to grow so fast that in only two years of operation, we were able to create the complete product. For the international CVS R&D Innovation Award, among 110 applications from 16 locations, Novi Sad center won first prize!"

Mr. Sasha Cioringa,
General Manager
Continental Automotive Serbia

Philip Morris International is investing furhter $5 million in the implementation of a project supporting the transformation of the Serbian economy through digitalization and innovation in partnership with the Government of Serbia, through financial and technical assistance for technology and R&D focused start-ups.

PMI has been present in Serbia since 2013 and since then it has invested more than $ 900 million in its operations and people here. Serbia is a hub for South East Europe where the company directly employs over 1000 people.

"This investment is in line with the stated global vision of PMI, which has led the transformation of the industry for a number of years by relying on cutting edge technology, robust science and data"

Mr. Aleksandar Jakovljević,
Managing Director SEE,
Philip Morris International

AI startup Node opens office in Serbia

In November 2019, Node, the first turnkey AI-as-a-service platform focused on powering predictable business outcomes, opened a new office in Novi Sad, Serbia. The Silicon Valley based company will be hiring top talent as part of its European expansion.

"The opportunity to do cutting-edge AI development for a Silicon Valley startup in Serbia has attracted top talent. We have a first-class team here in Novi Sad and look forward to continued investment across all product development disciplines as we build out our AI platform and products."

Michael Radovancevich

Founded in Serbia – winning globally

Creators of the world's most successful mobile sports game

One of the 50 smartest companies in the world by MIT Tech Review

#1 in HOPA games

Creates most advanced technology that allows digitalization of human appearance and motion

Independent games company founded in Serbia, with over 170 employees from 20 different countries.

Over 200 million registered users of Top Eleven, Heroic and Golden Boot.

Launched Nordeus Hub - a free co-working space offering education and mentorship to boost the local gaming ecosystem.

"Serbia’s great advantage lies in the fact that we, as a nation, are naturally inclined towards science, and our most talented pupils and students are attracted to technology."

Mr. Branko Milutinovic,
CEO and co-founder
Nordeus

3Lateral is recognized as a leading company developing technologies for digitalization of humans, and recently became a part of the Epic Games - Unreal Engine development team.

Vladimir Mastilovic, founder of 3Lateral (based in Novi Sad), is managing Epic Games’ worldwide digital humans technology development efforts.

"In the future, we are planning to invest significantly into our campus facilities - a center of excellence focused on digital humans related R&D and technologies. We plan to continuously expand our R&D capacities and to closely tie those into our future products. We plan to further expand our team and to share our knowledge and expertise with the broader ecosystem."

Mr. Vladimir Mastilovic,
Founder
3Lateral

Notable acquisitions

Total acquisitions in the Serbian tech market are worth

more than $500 million

Other renowned companies in Serbia

According to the Financial Times:

Serbia is “punching almost at 12 times above its weight” in attracting foreign direct investments.

Opportunity to set up a DATA center in Serbia

Construction of a state-of-the-art high security and reliability data center

Vibrant IT ecosystem

8 universities, 4 Science Technology Parks, 15 startup centers, 20+ coworking hubs, 5 IT clusters and lots of industry events

Digital Serbia Initiative: an NGO aiming to develop a globally competitive digital economy. Founded by leading digital players, it gathers 30 companies from all relevant sectors including tech, banking, telco and consulting.

Notable members:

"Serbia has a vibrant IT sector growing more than 25% annually. For years, Serbia has been home to great engineers developing products for global leaders such as Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. Serbs have become great tech entrepreneurs, too, with startups such as Seven Bridges, 3Lateral and Nordeus growing into global leaders."

Mr. Nebojša Djurdjević,
CEO
Digital Serbia Initiative

Vibrant IT ecosystem

Western Balkans Digital Summit 2019

Over 4,000 participants and 200 speakers

Internationally awarded on major event management festivals

Sustainable
talent pool

Producing a sustainable talent supply

Education for the digital age is a government priority. Comprehensive reforms include:

- Compulsory coding curriculum starting in 5th grade (Scratch, Python, Pygame, Jupither)

- Specialized IT streams in secondary schools

- Increased number of students in STEM programs

- State-of-the-art multidisciplinary Masters program

- Employing 1,000 PhD students annually

- Establishment of the new Science Fund

- Financing of academia-industry cooperation

Top 5 Global Ecosystem: Affordable Talent

Startup Genome / Report 2019

Top 5 Global Ecosystem Affordable Talent

Top 5 Activation Ecosystem Blockchain

Sub-Sector Strength: Gaming

Nordeus is a completely self-funded, Belgrade-based, games company that is best known for the world's most successful mobile sports game, Top Eleven, with over 200 million registered users.

3Lateral, is a leading developer of digital animation and creative content.

The Serbian Government has invested around $79 million in technical infrastructure to nurture startups, including initiatives like free workspaces and a focus on tech in universities.

Availability of High Quality Workforce

Global Innovation Index 2019 ranked Serbia within the top 15% in the category of Graduates in Science and Engineering*

* share of tertiary graduates in science, manufacturing, engineering and construction among all tertiary graduates

Serbia’s ranking out of 76 countries in Business English Proficiency by the Business English Index

* Global English Corporation, 2012.

Enabling
business
environment

Enabling business environment

COOPERATION
Working together with the Tech Industry

The Serbian Government is actively listening to the needs of the business community and working in partnership on effective policies.

Innovation Infrastructure
Significant investments for growth

• Building 4 Science Technology Parks, 15 startup centers and a dozen university sites, scientific institutes and technology labs.

• Connecting and equipping schools for digital education. All classrooms will have digital connectivity and online presentation equipment by 2021.

Enabling regulation

Strong IP Protection
Serbian IP Protection laws have been updated to reflect contemporary trend and business needs.
They were changed in close cooperation with MNEs, drawing from their global experience, to make Serbian laws fit for purpose in the digital age.

Ease of employment for global talent

Easy to get work permits
New regulations for the employment of foreigners mean that getting a work permit in Serbia is a quick and efficient process, so businesses can easily and quickly scale up.

A 70% deduction of tax and social contributions can be applied if you employ a repat or a foreigner in Serbia and pay them at least three times the average national salary (except for internal transfers).

Regulatory sandbox

Companies can benefit from two regulatory sandboxes already in place:

FinTech sandbox, where innovative payment solutions can be tested within a limited market without regular prior registration.

MedTech sandbox, where unregistered medical devices can be imported for R&D on a fast track procedure, if the company is settled in one of Science Technology Parks.

New sandboxes can be introduced if needed.

National AI strategy

Four pillars of the strategy

Education

Introducing new specialized AI Masters- and PhD-level university programs.

Increasing the number of students enrolled in AI-related programs.

Introducing retraining programs in the field of AI in collaboration with the private sector.

Economy:

Developing strong verticals like agritech, healthtech and mobility. Making public data open whenever possible.

Science and Innovation:

The Science Fund supports AI research and application. 12 projects will be fully funded over the course of the next two years. The plan is to invest into 20 additional projects in 2022.

Establishing AI Research Institute that will be the center of AI research in SEE.

Investing €5M into grants and equity for AI startups in Serbia.

Ethics:

Creating a framework for establishing ethical AI applications.

COMPETITIVE
TAXATION

OF THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY

R&D costs are double-counted for tax purposes, lowering the corporate income tax baseline.

Revenues from IP developed in Serbia are taxed only 3% instead of the regular 15%.


When combined with the Accelerated R&D Deduction, Corporate Income Tax can easily be reduced to 0%.

There is a 30% tax credit for companies investing in startups.

Startup founders pay no salary tax and contributions during the first three years.

ESPs are taxed only on capital gains at the moment of sale, with Step Up in Basis for those who come with assets from abroad. ESPs can easily be granted from Serbian or US based legal entities.

A great
place to live

A booming tourist destination topping international rankings

With the number of foreign tourists growing 12% every year, Serbia is recognized as a vibrant crossroads of East and West, with a bursting and exciting cultural and social scene.


Belgrade

The largest center of business, education, culture and science.

Often compared to Berlin, Belgrade has a thriving nightlife driven by clubs on the river, with a vibrant atmosphere, abundant street art, and bustling bars and night clubs throughout the city.

Niš

An important international crossroads between South and East. A city with a great historical heritage and tradition, and home to Philip Morris HQ.

Novi Sad

The second largest city in Serbia. A unique university, business, and startup center housing many foreign companies, such as Continental.

Novi Sad is also a cultural hotspot: it is the hometown of Exit, one of the best music festivals in Europe, and was designated the European Youth Capital 2019 and the European Capital of Culture 2021.

Kragujevac

Home to FIAT and the Serbian mobility ecosystem, with a two-century-long industrial tradition and 60 years of experience in automotive production.

SERBIA IS YOUR
OPPORTUNITY

Open a second HQ
Establish an R&D center
Invest in startups
Find a product development partner
innovations@ras.gov.rs

Thank you.