The team of Pioneers Festival – one of Europe’s leading startup and venture capital conferences taking place annually in Vienna – and the organizers of Balkan Venture Forum will together host the Finals of “Pioneers of the Balkans”, a special competition for entrepreneurs, startups and innovative SMEs from the Western Balkans region initiated by the World Bank Group and financed by the European Commission. The competition will take place in Zagreb, on 3-4 December 2015.

Following a call for applications and a roadshow through 14 cities in 8 countries of South-Eastern Europe, 584 teams from across the region applied. In parallel to Belgrade Venture Forum, on 12-14 November, all Semi-finalists pitched in Belgrade to interdisciplinary jury teams to secure their spot among only 50 finalists.

During the two-day conference, the 50 best teams that emerged from these recent Semi-finals in Belgrade, from among 349 participants, will have the opportunity to present their business cases on stage in front of an international audience composed of angel investors, venture capitalists, business leaders and media representatives. Another 50 entrepreneurs that were also ranked highly by the 70 jury members in Belgrade have been invited to attend as guests.

These 50 finalists will compete on stage for fame and EUR 250,000 in investments pledged by three international venture capital funds (conditional on due diligence). Since the semi-finals, these 50 “Best of the Balkans” startup businesses and innovators have been receiving individual presentation training by international coaches and will gather for a final day of practicing on Dec. 2nd at the headquarters of vipnet in Zagreb.

The best teams in the finals are likely to attract investment offers by some of the attending investors afterwards. Three independent venture capital funds – Speedinvest, J&T Ventures and Startlabs – have together pledged to invest at least EUR 250,000 in teams from the region on this occasion (conditional on due diligence). Besides these, also other European VC funds like Point Nine Capital and TechFounders as well as two of the best-known accelerator programs in the world – 500 Startups and Techstars – will be present at the conference.