The project was built on the excellent results of the previous Uplift Albania project, which was created thanks to the support of SlovakAid (2019-2021) and the transfer of know-how from the Slovak startup ecosystem. The result was the creation of the first international startup program in Albania (, which in two years of existence built a network of dozens of mentors and experts, investors and a strong brand even beyond the borders of Albania. The significant impact of the UPLIFT program subsequently attracted other important partners (e.g. Vodafone and Raiffeisen) as well as other foreign donors (Switzerland and the EU). At the same time, it also aroused great interest in other countries of the region.

The aim of the new project was therefore to extend the entire program to other countries of the Western Balkans, primarily to Kosovo and North Macedonia. The project thus responded to the demand for this type of program and the interest of new local partner organizations to replicate the success of UPLIFT in Albania.

The Uplift Western Balkans project was co-financed by the SlovakAid program of the Official Development Assistance of the Slovak Republic.

Plans and target audience

The UPLIFT acceleration program prepared startups and young entrepreneurs for entrepreneurship through intensive and practical training. The training provided in-depth and concentrated education in cohorts of startups, aimed at business development as well as improving the ability to present the companies and thus also attract investments or clients.

The project also focused on training program managers in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia through consultations with experts and managers of startup acceleration programs in Slovakia and creating a platform for developing relationships with program graduates. The project also contributed to cross-cutting topics, such as gender equality by supporting the representation of female entrepreneurs in the program and the environment by supporting companies with solutions that have a positive impact on the environment.

Project partners

The partners of the Uplift Western Balkans project were ALBICT (Albania), Venture UP (Kosovo) and South East European University/Youth Resource Center – iCan (North Macedonia).

ALBICT is an Albanian non-profit organization focused on the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) sector, whose main goal is the promotion of this sector, successful individuals, entrepreneurs, innovators, academics and promising talents and connecting the scientific research environment with the business sector. ALBICT focuses on the creation of new future-oriented job opportunities by spreading know-how about new technologies. It also organizes and promotes various events and competitions, especially in the field of ICT and business, as well as the collaboration of various initiatives involving experts, business leaders and others. The organization is also dedicated to research, analysis and creation of statistical reports related to the development of the sector.

In 2018, ALBICT was also involved in the creation of an innovation hub – ICTSlab that provides training for young people in the field of information technology. In just one year of operation, ICTSlab has become an important center of innovations and startups in Tirana, which organizes well-known community events such as Startup Grind. Through the Albanian ICT Awards initiative, ALBICT aims to identify, reward and promote the most outstanding individuals in the field of ICT. ICT Awards is the most prestigious and well-known competition aimed at supporting innovators in Albania.

Venture UP is a business center and official incubator of the largest public university in Kosovo - the University of Pristina. It was founded in 2017 and serves as a bridge between higher education, the economy and the labour market for more than 50,000 young Kosovars. The organization provides entrepreneurship support, mentoring and training for students who want to transform their ideas into starting their own businesses and self-sustaining organizations. Venture UP cooperates with students who are in the early stages of their business ideas, as well as those who are advanced in the process of building their own company. So far, Venture UP has organized two large-scale incubation programs, where 22 startups have completed 12 weeks of training. Based on these programs, 9 startups received seed funding. In addition, Venture UP is a gateway for all students and professors who need support and guidance in developing their business ideas.

The South East European University (SEEU) shares best practices in the region regarding incubation, start-ups and cooperation with academia and government. The vision of the university is to implement the Triple-Helix model, that is, the creation of links between academia, industry and government. Thanks to this vision, the university established open communication between these actors and implemented long-term business activities. The university has already supported more than 20 startups, helped the creation of more than 150 new technology jobs (all on the SEEU campus) and secured more than 40 internships. The SEEU offers programs to develop new skills, office and business space, advice and mentoring, access to networking events, financial assistance, assistance in finding investments and company valuation. Youth Resource Center-iCan was created on the initiative of the university. The iCan Center functions as an innovation and resource center to support start-ups with a focus on the jobs of the future.

Provider: Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation (SAIDC)
Time schedule of the project: 1.9.2021-31.12.2022
Subsidy amount: €135,490

European Researchers' Night

The festival of science - European Researchers' Night is an annually organized event throughout Europe. The ERN is the largest of its kind in Slovakia and Europe, bringing together people and researchers in 300 cities in about 25 countries on the last Friday of September. This year´s edition will take place on 29 September 2023 and you can look forward to the 17th anniversary of the science festival in Slovakia.



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