GIST Innovates the Balkans 2023

What is GIST Innovates The Balkans?

GIST Innovates The Balkans is a ten-week pre-accelerator training program modeled after the Lean Startup methodology. We will coach teams about how to apply the Lean Startup entrepreneurship methodology and how to do effective customer discovery for problem/solution fit of participants’ ideas. By the end of the program, teams will have completed at least 40 interviews with target customers, gaining valuable insight on how to shape their product for maximum impact. The program will provide innovators with the training, mentoring, and resources they need to build their entrepreneurial skills and bring their ideas to market. The program will provide opportunities for teams to connect with mentors in the US and provide opportunities to interact with U.S.-based investors and companies.

After the training, teams may have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors at the Venture Devils Demo Day and visit ASU.


Important Dates

This program accepted 12 teams (2 members per team). 

  • Application window: 15 December 2022 - 15 March, 2023 
  • 10-week training program: Summer 2023
  • December 2023 Venture Devils Demo Day at ASU in Greater Phoenix, AZ

GIST Innovates The Balkans Kicks Off

The program has officially kicked off in Pristina, Kosovo at program partner and GIST Innovation Hub, Innovation Center Kosovo. Learn more about the program's goals and the participating startups. Read more about the close of this program



GIST Innovates The Balkans Partners

balkans partners


About the Implementer

GIST Innovates the Balkans is administered by Arizona State University (ASU). ASU is a public research university that is committed to access, excellence, and impact at scale. In 2022, for the eighth year in a row, ASU was named No. 1 among the nation's most innovative universities by U.S. News & World Report. ASU is one of the fastest-growing research enterprises in the U.S. and a national leader in bringing innovations to market. It is currently ranked #4 by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) among universities for U.S. patents issued and ranked #4 for startups generated. ASU is the lead university of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Hub: Desert and Pacific Region building on its experience as an I-Corps Site since 2016.

One of the core tenets of ASU’s vision is the pivotal role universities can have to maximize the impact of use-inspired research through entrepreneurship. Over the last ten years, more than 180 startup companies based on ASU intellectual property (IP) have been created, which has generated over 1300 jobs and raised nearly $1B in funding.

Meet the Program Team

● Visar Berisha, Associate Professor
College of Health Solutions & Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University (ASU) Berisha has a history of STI entrepreneurship success, including co-founding a VC-funded ASU startup.

● Ji Mi Choi, Director, NSF I-Corps Hub: Desert and Pacific Region
Choi is the Project Director of the ASU-led, NSF-funded I-Corps Hub and previously served as Vice President, ASU Knowledge Enterprise and Founding Executive Director of the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute. She serves in various capacities for numerous start-up organizations and boards.

● Zachary Holman, Associate Professor
Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University Holman leads entrepreneurship training for the College of Engineering and has successfully co-founded several start-up companies.

● Eusebio Scornavacca, Professor
School for the Future of Innovation in Society, College of Global Futures, and Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University Scornavacca has extensive experience developing digital entrepreneurship curricula as well as multinational, cross-disciplinary, inquiry-based learning projects with start-ups around the world.

● Denise McKenzie, Academic Associate | Lecturer
J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation, Arizona State University | Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California (USC) McKenzie provides instruction for the NSF I-Corps national program, works with founders and teaches the Lean Startup methodology at USC and ASU, and has 20 years of experience as an engineer and a patent litigator.

● Uranik Begu, Executive Director Innovation Centre Kosovo
Begu has led implementation of externally-funded training programs in Kosovo and the Balkan region.

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