The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) presented the winners of the second online competition in the Western Balkans for the best digital solutions BALKATHON 2.0:
1. Rogert Lek and the team ‘HEST’ from Albania, with the idea of a digital market for trading fresh agricultural products, in the e-Entrepreneurship category - 10,000 euros;
2. Nenad Jovanovski and the ‘Bifrost’ team from Serbia, with the idea of machines for producing eco-sustainable and affordable disposable packaging. It will contribute to reducing pollution with plastic polymer products, in the green cities category - 10,000 euros;
3. Sanela Pajazitović and the ‘Pick Up’ team from Montenegro, with the idea of providing taxi transport services, in the smart cities category - 10,000 euros;
4. Aleksandar Kovač and the team of ‘E-clinics’ from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the idea of creating an online platform for making appointment schedules easier and faster for both patients and healthcare professionals, in the e-health category - 10,000 euros;
5. Ilir Asllani and the team of ‘Kosovo Digital Association’ from Kosovo, with the idea to offer patients faster, closer and cheaper health services regardless of distance, a special Young Rising Star award - 7,000 euros;
6. Katerina Klimovska and the team ‘ISLAA’ from Northern Macedonia, with the idea of a digital platform for connecting small businesses, a special Women’s Power award - 7,000 euros.
All winners will have the opportunity to realise their idea in the Western Balkans and present it at the 4th Digital Summit of the Western Balkans in Montenegro, hosting this year’s summit.
“I congratulate all the winners who showed that young people in the region are innovative and creative. I am convinced that we will become better with your contribution because the future is not coming tomorrow; it has already begun. We are all still confused from time to time and do not know in which direction to go. That is why we are glad that ideas such as Balkathon and Futourismo competitions, Digital Summit, Youth Laboratory, diaspora initiatives are not isolated activities. They are a part of comprehensive human resources strengthening programme that we are working on as part of the vision of a common regional market,” said Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Majlinda Bregu.
“Last year, we started to practically support innovations, entrepreneurship and youth to show and nurture the motivation and creative potential of our region. We were pleasantly surprised that you tried again and presented even more innovative and creative digital solutions from all parts of the Western Balkans only four months after the Futrourismo competition. These initiatives are important to offer young people opportunities and give them a chance to be involved in regional and European programmes. The Balkans should be a place where young people can be creative and have every opportunity to live,” Bregu added.
At the opening ceremony, Tamara Srzentić, Minister for Public Administration, Digital Society and Media, said that she was “delighted with the innovativeness of solutions from all six economies of the Western Balkans”. She stressed that the only way to achieve significant change in our region was to act together as a team.
Michela Matuella, the Acting Director of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, expressed support for the event and congratulated the Regional Cooperation Council on recognising the importance of the region’s innovative potential.
“The European Commission is pleased to support such an event as part of an initiative for a common regional market. Last year clearly showed us the importance of digitalisation. The initiatives such as these are an excellent tool for young and creative people to come together and find innovative solutions to the challenges that our societies face,” said Matuella.
The Balkathon 2.0 competition started on 5 May 2021 with an open invitation to all interested citizens, start-up companies, entrepreneurs, students, digital innovation centres, science parks, universities and small and medium enterprises from the Western Balkans to apply with an innovative idea in the field of smart cities, e-health, green cities and e-entrepreneurship.
Out of 90 candidates with 90 ideas, 37 teams with over 120 members were shortlisted. They had the opportunity to work with mentors. In contrast, 12 teams that entered the finals had the opportunity to present their ideas to an expert jury that decided on six winners.
The closing ceremony of the Balkathon was broadcast live on the Regional Cooperation Council’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Balkathon is a regional competition funded by the European Union and implemented by the Regional Cooperation Council. It aims to invite all interested young people, start-up companies, entrepreneurs, students, digital innovation centres, science parks, universities, small and medium enterprises, and others from all Western Balkan economies. They are invited to propose and develop innovative digital solutions in response to the everyday challenges in our lives.