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The gaming industry is a key pillar of the startup tech landscape in Serbia – Belgrade’s Nordeus is the creator of Top Eleven, one of the most popular online sports games in the world. Microsoft has a longstanding development center in the capital, and government support for the sector includes tax breaks and incentives for foreign investment.
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Serbia, like other countries in the Western Balkans, has benefited from an influx of tech professionals from Ukraine. The government has thrown its support behind the sector, introducing a startup registry, and tech education has been incorporated into the primary-school curricula; coding is compulsory from the age of 11. In late 2022, online military games developer Wargaming announced the opening of two new studios in Belgrade and Warsaw following its decision to quit Russia and Belarus, saying both cities have “fast developing technology sectors with enormous potential”.
Serbian is the official language, but English is compulsory from primary school and widely spoken, especially among young people.
The Serbian economy recorded a strong rebound in 2021 to well above its pre-COVID-19 crisis level. However, growth has cooled, with the World Bank’s country manager for Serbia, Nicola Pontara, expecting annual GDP increases of around 3% in the medium term. “This outlook crucially depends on external factors,” he reports, “such as the ongoing war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis, but also on the pace of Serbia’s internal reforms to put state-owned enterprises on a solid financial footing.”
Serbia is walking a diplomatic tightrope, seeking closer integration with the European Union without antagonizing Russia, its traditional ally. In September 2022, president Aleksandar Vučić’s of the right-wing Serbian Progressive Party announced the creation of a new political movement that would bring together a broad range of political opinions, from nationalist to liberal: “We have to raise our heads and voices for a normal and strong Serbia that will take care of itself, not others.”