Usually, the capital and big cities are where you might expect to meet exciting entrepreneurs and cutting-edge startups. Founders usually opt to be at the center of the action.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, physical proximity became less relevant and live events obsolete. Suddenly, towns and villages became a more desirable option for living and building a business. And that became quite apparent in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina never had a single center. Instead, it was divided among three cities:
- Sarajevo – as the country’s capital, with offices of foreign tech companies and donor projects, the city naturally attracts a large number of startups.
- Banja Luka – a university center and big city, Banja Luka has a rich entrepreneurial scene and quite a strong startup community.
- Mostar – thanks to the efforts of Intera (and Spark until a few years back), Mostar has quickly become the third center for entrepreneurship in the country.
However, in 2021, we realized that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ecosystem had become even more eclectic and diversified, as different organizations began running their activities throughout the country, attracting emerging local entrepreneurs.
Some of the best examples of local support organizations are:
- Linnovate Technology Park was founded in Livno in the south of the country. With a business incubator and technology park, Linnovate strives to improve entrepreneurship in the entire region. One of the founders of this initiative is Mate Rimac, founder of Rimac Automobili from Croatia.
- InCOR, from Bijeljina, is an incubator for technology-based startups. Founded in 2020, this organization aims to support local IT companies and to reinforce the local economy, labor force and build community.
- Beezone from Travnik is a business incubator that supports young entrepreneurs. Beezone wants to provide education, mentoring support, space, and access to funding to all young entrepreneurs interested in pursuing their business ideas.
- Impuls Creative Center located in Zenica is a creative hub and coworking space. Supporting innovation and innovative ideas, Impuls works with founders on developing their businesses.
Swiss EP Entrepreneur in Residence Martin Bjergegaard had an opportunity to work with Linnovate in late autumn 2021. Recalling the experience, Martin explains:
Geography matters less nowadays. Especially after COVID. A tech entrepreneur can sit anywhere in the world and develop and market products for the whole world. It is only a matter of mindset. And a good internet connection, of course. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful place, and I can definitely see why people would choose to live there. I believe there is quite a lot of tech talent. And the big job (as in the rest of B&H) is to make sure to work on good enough ideas, and in a startup-savvy way.
Martin Bjergegaard, entrepreneur and investor
Usually, the capital and big cities are where you might expect to meet exciting entrepreneurs and cutting-edge startups. However, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that might not be the case—in the future, maybe even in 2022, Livno, Zenica, or Bjeljina will be the places to be.