IT in Serbia: Breakthrough on the World Market Map

novi sad

Serbia honored the world with an extraordinary mind - Mihajlo Pupin. So, it is only natural for the province of Vojvodina, where he was born, to continue the brilliant path of one of the most outstanding scientists. And, as Novi Sad is becoming the center of IT and innovation in this part of Europe, so it does!

This process is not a one-man show but the merit of the joint brainstorming, work, and effort of experts from different branches and state institutions. The economy, education system, and government participate equally in this process and create a healthy ecosystem for the advancement of the IT industry.

As the community has recognized IT as the engine for all other sectors of the economy and the main generator of sustainable growth, it handed over the baton to many talents in the field of technical sciences. Consequently, Serbian IT is receiving increasing international attention. But what exactly positioned Serbia on the map of attractive environments for developing innovation and IT?

The Course of IT Development in Serbia

If you were to travel back in time 20 years ago, you would encounter a small IT community in Serbia. You might find it unbelievable that owning a computer for private purposes was a luxury. Programming had yet to pique people's interest outside formal electrical engineering education. Suppose you turned the clock forward just a few years. In that case, you'd see that the Internet, informatics as a subject in schools, and more accessible computers are slowly breaking the myths about information technology as something distant and unattainable for the average person.

Somewhat closer to today, ten years ago, pioneering attempts to integrate IT deeper into the economy and education became tangible. With the support and work of the professors of the Faculty of Technical Sciences, stable companies appeared on the scene providing software engineers with the opportunity to lay the foundation stone for future IT generations. Soon, companies like Schneider Electric DMS, RT-RK, and Levi9 put students and newly graduated engineers under their wing.

Today, the faculties cooperate closely with Science Technology Parks and have clearly defined programs in line with the world's educational streams, from which approximately 3000 engineers graduate annually. Including other related professions, it is estimated that over 42,000 people in Serbia work in the technology sector. Behind these figures is a quality education system, and exceptional young tech talents, who have demonstrated their knowledge in domestic and foreign companies. Since 2021, Novi Sad has been the proud center of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research and Development of Serbia. Moreover, in contrast to the first stages in the development of IT in Serbia, when programmers were only the workforce on projects, they now initiate and manage their own projects and products and provide innovative solutions. So, in just two decades, this economically unenviable country made it from an underdeveloped scientific field to a trend of increasing startups and reputable software companies cooperating with tech giants like Apple and Microsoft.

Foreign Investments in Serbian IT Speak Volumes

Apple's founder Steve Jobs said, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." Is this the answer to why Serbian IT is getting more and more international attention? The core is not only vast knowledge but many top-notch products arising from it. Company COING, for example, has developed a very successful product Clockify. Vivify Ideas has also developed a project management product VivifyScrum. The ability to skyrocket change is also rooted in mentality. In modest conditions, with a strong sense of responsibility and work ethic, the carriers of the genetics of Mihajlo Pupin, Nikola Tesla, Milutin Milankovic, and Milena Maric Einstein turn every stone into gold. From outsourcing to an increasing number of Serbian project managers and CTOs of foreign companies, dedication to learning, ability to adapt, and creativity paid off. And that sees through the influx of international investments.

Microsoft, Siemens, Bosch, Panasonic, Continental, ZF, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Michelin are just the tip of the iceberg of all companies that have shown trust by investing in various areas of IT.  Contrary to the beginning of the 2000s when IT counted only programmers, this industry in Serbia relies upon many talents among graphic designers, business developers, project managers, content creators, and others. With all that influx of next-gen experts, Serbia is also justifiably positioned as a top location for Blockchain-based product development. With this fantastic momentum, IT in Serbia seems to be on an upward trajectory and is about to amaze the world.

How Will Novi Sad Make the Most of Its Headstart?

Expertise and reliability are crucial for the growth and expansion of any business. As a result, Serbia is still a favorite outsourcing destination. And where are profit and a healthy business climate - there is room for innovation. That is an incentive for young minds to continue this positive trend in IT development. The city of Novi Sad is undoubtedly moving towards the title of leader in IT and innovation in this part of Europe. Now it is up to its community to raise awareness of the importance of this undertaking for all segments of the economy, culture, and education. Encouraging the state to invest in business development and more significant promotion of the country to the world market is another pending task.

We at Lilly 021 wish to publish a text that will confirm the realization of all these open tasks and see Serbia as the undisputed IT hub of Southeastern Europe. And, perhaps a bit immodestly, we want to feel proud that we have contributed to it with our own knowledge and skills. In the meantime, we are working on it.

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