The street lights in parts of Sofia will be soon managed by devices invented and produced in Belgrade. This is a pilot and a small step for the city but it is leap forward for a small privately owned company iStreetLight LTD, from Belgrade. This was made possible by a grant from the Innovation Fund of Serbia, financed from EU Instrument for pre-accession (better known as IPA). I personally hope that many of you out there are smart and brave enough to become innovative entrepreneurs and do the something similar so I’d like to share with you more details.
IPA provided 8.4 million Euros to Serbia for innovation support. This money is distributed to Serbian companies that come up with new products/services or improve on existing ones through grants or cheap loans (5 % interest rate).
Let me explain through my example: iStreetLight LTD developed a system which not only manages street lights in a way that saves energy, but can also turn on special lights when the weather is foggy, measure humidity, pollution, noise…The system is very convenient for “smart buildings and smart cities” and, as we know, with the rise in energy efficiency and environmental monitoring and protection concerns, this is becoming very popular around the world. The device is produced in cooperation with a private company from Belgrade.
So, if you have a good idea, apply at www.inovacionifond.rs. Whether your innovative project is sound enough to turn your idea into a potentially successful commercial product will be judged by a group of renowned international experts, who have years of experience in venture capital funding and no business interests in Serbia, thus ensuring professionalism and objectivity of the selection process. Two of them come from here but one works for Cisco Systems and the other comes from Columbia in New York and IMT, Cambridge, Massachusetts. One is from Bremen, one from Finland and one from Netherlands.
Why innovation is important? Economies can generate growth by adding more stuff: more workers, investment and education. But sustained increases in output per person, which are necessary to raise incomes and welfare, entail using the stuff we already have in better ways—innovating, in other words.