Building the Future of Innovation in the Balkans

Building the Future of Innovation in the Balkans

These extraordinary founders' innovation journey has only just begun!

July 21, 2023

One of the most exciting emerging regions in the world is building its innovation future! GIST Innovates: The Balkans is underway, working to connect 13 extraordinary innovation teams from throughout the Balkans with transformative startup training.

With an industry-leading LEAN startup curriculum developed by the program implementers and experts at Arizona State University’s  Melikian Center,  J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute and Colleges of Engineering and Health Solutions. These founders will continue their venture development education over 10 weeks, all the while fostering connections with experts and investors in the U.S. and performing rigorous customer discovery for the U.S. market. Each team is paired with a US-based mentor with relevant expertise who helps them conduct customer discovery in the US market. This program represents the latest effort by the GIST Initiative to empower this dynamic region, building off of deep relationships with GIST’s Innovation Hub network, key strategic program partners and industry leaders like ICKosovo, without whom this program would not be possible.

The program opened on July 10 at Innovation Center Kosovo with three exciting and packed days of I-Corps workshops, where teams learned about venture development concepts as varied as customer discovery, hypothesis development, the business model canvas, and developing their value propositions. On Thursday, the teams refined their presentations and took the next step in preparing for 10 weeks of venture development training and mentorship.

This is only the beginning of their transformative journey, as we look forward to these innovators having even more exciting opportunities on the horizon, including bringing their innovations to America and pitching on a global stage at the December 2023 Venture Devils Demo Day at ASU in Greater Phoenix, AZ! 

We have been continually inspired by the vision for the future of science and technology innovation in this region presented by the participants in this program, and we’re sure you’ll be too! 


Learn more about these incredible participating teams:

AI-Try | Kosovo
AI-Try's goal is to bring trust to the online market, and make online shopping a fun, positive experience for all of its users. Using artificial intelligence and image generation technology AI-Try will determine your perfect size and fit, and then realistically generate an image of you wearing that piece of clothing, acting as your virtual mirror. It also has a recommendation system tailored to your style preference, and you can even zoom into the material! 

API Inhaler | Kosovo 
Utilizing beehive air, API Inhaler provides inhalation therapy for respiratory problems and allergies. Bees, through their movement and work, produce aerosol inside a hive. This aerosol is beneficial for a variety of human ailments. Other Api inhalers with forced ventilation can damage the microclimate in the beehive. Through sophisticated tools, using API Inhaler for beehive air collection makes the process easier and less stressful for the bees.  

Axiom | Kosovo

The innovative approach behind AXIOM is the use of advanced technology and expert analysis to provide a comprehensive and actionable assessment of a user’s cybersecurity posture, while also making the process of understanding and addressing potential security risks as user-friendly and accessible as possible. The tool uses a combination of automated testing, machine learning algorithms, and expert analysis to quickly and accurately identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities in an organization's systems and networks. 

Brummell Motorcycle Blazer | North Macedonia

The Brummell Blazer is an innovation that will disrupt the motorcycle gear industry transforming it to meet the needs of the modern world. For the first time ever, motorcyclists will be able to arrive at their work, meeting, or at any other event both suited up and protected at the same time. In the U.S. nearly 5k motorcyclists die annually for not wearing suitable motorcycle gear. The Brummell Blazer is a perfectly engineered piece of equipment that looks like an elegant blazer from the outside, but has the same features of a motorcycle jacket from the inside. It is an officially certified piece of gear according to the latest and strictest regulation for motorcycle equipment in the world, EN17092, as motorcycle equipment with Class A level of protection (urban gear). 

Caltrackr | Kosovo 
Caltrackr is an innovative food scanning and nutrition tool that has, since 2021, accumulated more than 130,000 users across 171 countries and been nominated for several international awards, including winning the Bronze Award in the 2021 Davos Digital Business awards. The app helps users on their fitness and health journeys to understand what they eat better than ever before. Through a simple and user-orientated nutrition diary and calorie tracking experience, Caltrackr integrates effortlessly into the daily lives of all people. 

Designer Hats | North Macedonia

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, but we can reduce waste by creating sustainable products. Mirjana Josifoska is the first Macedonian designer hat brand prioritizing sustainability by locally sourcing and ethically producing their products. Made from textile waste, deadstock fabrics, and natural materials, our hats and hair accessories are perfect for reducing waste. By using as little as 30 cm of fabric to produce a hat, we are able to minimize our environmental footprint. As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, we are working on developing another business model: a subscription-based rental service for accessories and clothing. This will be the first subscription-based clothing rental service in the Balkans. 

SciVenia | North Macedonia 

SciVenia is an integrated solution for scientist networking and event organizing. It is a web application that aims to centralize all processes for scientific event implementation including applications, payments, and scientific networking. 

The current process for event implementation requires that scientists consult, maintain, or update different platforms for a single scientific event: a publication management website, event-specific website, event registration website, etc. SciVenia’s solution unifies all these processes into a single platform, thus reducing time spent on menial tasks. 

SignAvatar: AI Speech to Sign Language Translator | Serbia

SignAvatar believes that everyone deserves equal access to communication. That's why they’ve developed a revolutionary software that uses AI to translate speech into Sign Language, making it easier for the hearing world to communicate with the deaf. Their NLP technology is integrated with Human-Centric Machine Learning algorithms that enable their systems to understand human emotions, preferences, and sentiments. By using cutting-edge technology to break down language barriers, they are empowering deaf individuals to participate more fully in society, build better relationships, and achieve their goals. SignAvatar has the potential to revolutionize the way sign language interpretation is done, with its ability to be used in a variety of settings including not just in TV production, but in public institutions, online conferences, and virtually anywhere where audio/video is used. 

Soil Rebirth | Bosnia & Herzegovina

Soil Rebirth enables the transformation of industrial residues from coal mines, quarries and sawmills into high-quality fertile soil, solving the problem of the degradation of fertile land, as well as the increasing need for food and fertile land globally. Our solution enables the production of fertile soil not only without additional degradation of natural soil (unlike all existing producers of fertile soil), but also the possibility of growing and high yields of organic food without the use of fertilizers, delivered in pressed form, which enables cost-effective transportation to distant destinations. Our competitive advantage is a patented solution based on thirty years of experience in research and work in the reclamation of degraded land of the local Pljevlja coal mine. The solution has been awarded multiple times in the region (Gold Medal Tesla Fest innovation festival) and globally, and is constantly improved and practically impossible to copy. 

Solar Tower | North Macedonia

Photonyca is on a mission to solve Concentrated Solar Thermal (CSP). Deploying the latest cutting-edge technologies, they are on target to reinvent and commercialize the next generation of Solar Power Tower technology. Their goal is to design, manufacture, and build the first concentrated solar thermal power plant based on high-temperature ceramics, air cycle as primary heat transfer cycle, and fixed bed thermal energy storage. The goal with commercializing this technology is to finally make CSP competitive with natural gas and solar PV. Their technology is based on eight years of research and they have successfully developed, built, and tested the first component, which is a full-scale prototype heliostat. 

Task ‘N Go | Macedonia

This company is developing a tracking and automation platform, Task ‘N Go, that offers increased productivity for companies in the service industry by enriching legacy projects and task management tools. The tool is intended for the users of existing, and future, task and project management tools. The first platform for which Task ‘N Go is offering automation is Microsoft Azure DevOps, a platform with over 150 million users. By working closely with Microsoft Startup Founders Hub on the tool’s development, the company’s subscription, billing, and payment gateway are going through Microsoft. The company just received its first investment from Business Accelerator UKIM. 

The Brand Pack (Skins Agency) | Kosovo 
For VPs of Marketing that need a strong brand, the Brand Pack is an ecosystem that combines Skins Agency, a psychology-backed brand strategy, and the brand asset creation and management tool, to provide a single ecosystem hosting the brand strategy research, execution, and scaling. Unlike other brand asset management tools or agencies, the Brand Pack provides a comprehensive ecosystem from research to final marketing collateral. Currently, both: Skins Agency and function separately. Skins Agency has built its proprietary psychology-backed brand strategy and has already served +100 customers in 12 countries. is at an earlier stage. It has +300 users, with roughly 12 weekly active users. During GIST Innovates the Balkans they will work on testing, iterating and integrating the two. The ultimate goal is to find product market fit and prepare for scaling. 

Treesury | Serbia

Recent disruptions in global supply chains and soaring energy prices caused prices of agricultural inputs to triple, further increasing the entry barriers in agriculture, and hindering farmers' access to funding. With a core team consisting of successful serial entrepreneurs, seasoned executives of large multinationals and fintechs, an experienced software architect and a PhD specializing in AI in Agriculture, the idea of Treesury is to crowdfund agricultural production on fully-managed smart farms, using tokenized securities. For every token issued, Treesury plants one hazelnut tree. The funding collected through a security token offering (STO) will be used for establishing farms, procurement of infrastructure, equipment and agrochemicals, hiring workforce, and operating expenses, while the token-holders will receive a share in farm profits. To ensure liquidity of the assets, token trading is facilitated through Securitize, a regulated alternative trading system (ATS). Eventually, once scaled enough across different crops and geographies and through third party tokenization, Treesury intends to create their own ATS dedicated to agriculture, generating revenues from agricultural produce, nature-based CO2 offsetting, tokenization of third party farms, and token trading.

Learn more about GIST Innovates: The Balkans!

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