By Igor Izotov, North Macedonia
From 4 - 8th of November, I was invited by the organizers of Spark Festival of Innovation to have multiple roles in their 4 days conference. My trip would not have happened without the generous support of the Western Balkans Mobility Fund (WBMF) and Startup Macedonia, an organization that I co-founded years back and hold dear. The following paragraphs are overview of my short but fruitful stay in Mostar.
First and foremost, in the days leading to the conference I was holding a workshop with 30 representatives from various departments of the city of Mostar, the general sponsor of the festival. In the workshop, I touched subjects ranging on my experience with cultural innovation, as lead organizers of Hackathons to preserve Israeli cultural heritage in the Balkans, to tools and methods on how to make their institution more open to innovation. I was pretty pleased that the City library of Mostar is willing together with accelerator Spark to make an interactive kid’s corner as part of the institution. There were other great ideas developed during the workshop but time will tell if they come to life.
During the conference days 6-8, I was part of a panel discussion together with representatives of EBRD, Finance in Motion and city of Mostar on how we can help startups and innovators grow. I also shared how Startup Macedonia is supporting startups in Macedonia and projects as well as the digital platform, which was created to digitalize and accelerate the process of matching startups to support institutions and investors.
Lastly, there was Betapitch the global startup competition initiated by betahaus, Berlin. Moreover, as I am keeping close ties with Betahaus, I was representing them in the jury of the pitching competitions. It was a close call but 15do3 had that extra that made them winners. eAgrar and 2.Mom were so close to winning the first price - trip to Berlin, but this competition will serve as an extra motivation to be even greater tomorrow. The Bosnian team went to Berlin and had successfully presented their solution upfront German multinationals, startup scouts and investors.
Finally, thanks to SPARK and all the team for doing fantastic job and thanks for Western Balkans Mobility Fund (WBMF) for recognising and supporting such great initiatives.
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