skip to main content skip to main navigation

New Initiatives for a New Decade of Success at SEEU Tech Park

SEEU Tech Park has been around for a decade, so we talked with Gogo Rafajlovski, COO of the organization, about their past challenges, current activities, and future plans.

With 700 Accelerator and Early Stage Investors Academy, SEEU Tech Park is starting a new chapter in their development and taking a more active role in shaping the startup ecosystem in North Macedonia.

We had the pleasure of talking to Gogo Ragajlovski, COO of the SEEU Tech Park and one of the participants of the Peer Exchange Meetup in Zurich in 2022, about the challenges and successes, current programs and academies, and plans of the organization.

SEEU Tech Park has been here for a decade now. What would you say is its most significant accomplishment so far?

Indeed, this spring, we'll be turning ten, and it's been quite a journey. We started as a small University hub and became a well-recognizable startup supporter in North Macedonia and the region. But, for me, the two most significant accomplishments that we've reached are: 1) building a small-but-strong startup community outside the capital of Skopje, mainly in the city of Tetovo and the wider Polog region, and 2) operating as a for-profit entity and promoting the sustainability concept – showing that even in the Balkans, you can build and run a startup support organization on a commercial basis.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? Is it ongoing? How do you manage it?

Working with over 100 startups so far, we have faced different challenges in different timeframes: organizational, legal, financial, interpersonal, regulatory, institutional, and every other type and form you can imagine. But progress & innovation always win, and we're glad that we have overcome most of the key obstacles in our everyday actions. For example, one of the significant challenges for us back in the day was access to finance and scaling up opportunities that we provide to our clients. There is visible progress in these fields, but there is still much to be done.

Tell us more about 700 Accelerator - what is it? And what impact do you aim to have on the Macedonian startup community?

The 700 Accelerator is our newest program, which can help entrepreneurs get 100 days of training, mentorship, networking, and investments. It is designed to guide, coach, and grow ambitious early-stage technology entrepreneurs and effectively grow their startups from the tech, digital, or green/circular industry. We plan to support 6-10 startups in each batch in the next 3-4 years and co-invest up to 40.000 euros per startup alongside external investors, from national and international business angels, VCs, to the corporate sector. The significant impact will be accelerating approximately 20 high-potential startups and co-investing around 1M euros, with a particular focus on women, young people under 40, and vulnerable groups. 700 Accelerator will help them grow internationally by providing access to markets, people, networks, and growth capital, alongside our excellent infrastructure like scalable office space, co-working areas, labs, and similar. I am confident that this program will be a success.

You've been collaborating with the Swiss EP team and experts for a long time. What was the most fruitful outcome of our collaboration?

The Swiss EP team has been with us from the beginning. I think of our relationship as best friends – we've grown together, helped each other, and been there in good and bad times. Friends are there so one can rely on them no matter what, and that is precisely what Swiss EP has been for SEEU TechPark. We've received much help in promotional and PR activities, expert exchange, and the Peer Exchange in Switzerland. They have the best local & international team, and we couldn't ask for a better partner!

Can you tell us more about your new initiative with the early-stage investors' community?

The story behind the early-stage investors' community began a couple of years ago, with several investors approaching us, recognizing the potential of SEEU TechPark's startups and wanting to invest in them. The only problem was that they needed to learn more about startup investments. So we started slowly educating them from the basics to have them on board as potential future investors. Fast forward to last year, we introduced our plan & program to the EBRD office in North Macedonia. In partnership with them, we officially started the "Early Stage Investors Academy" in our country. This program aims to educate the first batch of approximately 20 investors and give them tools, international know-how, case studies, and technical help to start co-investing with us in the next generation of Macedonian startups. The first cohort finished their education at the end of December 2022, and we plan this academy to be hosted annually and open for future investors as well.

Where do you see SEEU Tech Park in the next five years? What is the first thing you plan to do to get there?

Our goal for the next five years is to be recognized as one of the critical institutional startup supporters and co-investors in the Macedonian and regional ecosystems. That's why we are heavily investing in startup services and infrastructure. For example, we're currently preparing the new “700 Accelerator Hub” – a multifunctional 800m2 co-work & office space that should be operational this year. The next generation of entrepreneurs & investors will have their beginnings here and get the chance to give back to the same community years later.

We're looking forward to seeing it. Good luck Gogo, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us.