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New Insights from the Balkan Venture Forum (BkVF) in Sofia

New Insights from the Balkan Venture Forum (BkVF) in Sofia
Added on 29/05/2013

The South-East European Research Centre (SEERC), the research centre of the International Faculty of University of Sheffield, CITY College, in Thessaloniki, participated at the event with the active engagement of the 17 members of its delegation consisting of innovative start-ups, experienced entrepreneurs, and innovation experts.

The “most successful Balkan Venture Forum so far“, as summarized by Mr. Aleksandar Tasev, Executive director of Balkan Unlimited and one of the co-organisers of the Balkan Venture Forum, was held at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia on 21st and 22nd May 2013. The delegation was also joined by Ms Jelina Makrantonaki, Vice Governor of the Prefecture of Central Macedonia in International Outlook, Innovation and New Technologies. Ms Makrantonaki and the Director of SEERC, Mr. Nikos Zaharis, participated as panel speakers in the ‘High-Level Policy Meeting’ that opened the Forum on the topic of maximization of structural funds as a financial instrument for innovation and development in the region.

The Balkan Venture Forum (BkVF -, a leading regional investment and innovation forum, gathered more than 500 international participants ranging from start-up companies, established SMEs, serial entrepreneurs, support agencies and innovation experts to policy makers and a wide array of high-level international venture capitalists and investors.

A series of captivating speeches and panel discussions by high-level experts and investors, on various topics regarding innovation, risk investments and business development were held throughout the event. Emphasis was given to themes dedicated to the growth perspectives of start-ups in the region of South-East Europe and the future of cross-border investing in the Balkans. “Building more bridges than (Silicon) valleys” and the emphasis on building the entrepreneurial ecosystem through personal relationships with a mentality of “first give - then take” were statements heard during the Forum.

The Forum ran also a pitching competition in which 36 start-ups presented their venture in front of expert panelists, competing for investors’ interest as well as exclusive prizes and benefits. Parallel there was a Seedcamp event aimed to accelerate up to 10 local startups through master classes and pitching.

Greek young entrepreneurs participated actively in the highly competitive pitching competition with such start-up companies as Redback, Mageca, and Codebender and in the Seedcamp event with the start-up Aterin. Codebender won one of the exclusive prizes.

The South-East European Research Centre (SEERC) welcomed this opportunity to help with its participation to foster the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the region.

The next Balkan Venture Forum will be held in Tirana, towards the end of the year.

Balkan Venture Forum is one of the main objectives of the SEE Programme project VIBE (Venture Initiative in Balkan Europe) and is being co-financed by the European Union.

VIBE ( is an EU funded project in the framework of the ‘SEE Transnational Cooperation Programme’ with the primary objective to support facilitation of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region of South-East Europe. VIBE aims at fostering the creation and growth of innovative SMEs and start-up companies through a large array of actions. SEERC ( is the only Greek partner in the VIBE project.

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