NEAR Launches Balkans Regional Hub to Incubate Web3 Talent and Projects
Fostering Regional Hubs around the world is an important part of NEAR Foundation’s mission. Fresh off the Kenya Regional Hub launch, the foundation has reached another milestone in the Regional Hubs strategy.
This week, NEAR is excited to announce the launch of the NEAR Balkans Regional Hub, which will accelerate onboarding of Web3 talents and blockchain projects in the Balkans. The Balkans Regional Hub is only the latest, though certainly not the last, node Borderless Tech Associationin the NEAR Foundation’s ongoing efforts to globalize and democratize the Web3 industry.
Web3 growth and talent in the Balkans
The Balkans is home to an incredibly talented and tech-savvy community. NEAR Balkans will tap into this deep pool of talent and creativity, accelerating the development of new Web3 projects and skills throughout the region.
Beyond the region’s deep developer talent pool, the Balkans is also home to a growing community that includes startups and established businesses. Even before the hub’s launch, the Balkans had a number of Web3 success stories, attracting investor and global VC attention.
Taken together, the region’s talent and startups made the Balkans an ideal node in NEAR’s Regional Hub network.
NEAR Balkan’s mission
Established in partnership with the , NEAR Balkans provides the local community with tools and support to begin building on the NEAR protocol. The hub will be a resource for developers and entrepreneurs looking to educate themselves about the technology, and to expand the NEAR ecosystem.
NEAR Balkans will also serve as a funnel for NEAR Foundation Grants. These grants will be made available to developers, entrepreneurs, and Web2 businesses with promising and innovative ideas for Web3 apps.
The Balkans hub will also guide founders, developers, and community members throughout their journey. Beyond funding and education, NEAR Balkans will facilitate partnerships, mentoring, and incubation for both individuals and teams. The hub will also focus on launching new products from its innovation lab. The aim is to inspire the region’s entrepreneurs, and showcase why building in a more decentralized and democratized way is the future.
The Hub will drive activities and cover the following countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.
The NEAR Balkans team
The NEAR Balkans Hub features a team of more than 15 Web3 experts and blockchain enthusiasts. Team members come from a variety of backgrounds, including business, education, product labs and more.
Collectively, the NEAR Balkans team members will leverage their Web3 experience in managing projects in the Balkan region. These efforts are crucial in driving the NEAR ecosystem’s growth, not only in the Balkans but also globally.
“We are dedicated to bringing the best of education and opportunities for companies and individuals interested in Web3 through strong local support across our Balkan region, which is full of creative, technical and business talents,” says Ida Pandur, General Manager of NEAR Balkans. We are looking forward to forming strong partnerships with teams, businesses and universities to bring the mission to execution.”
An inspiring launch in the Balkans
Since coalescing six months ago, NEAR Balkans is officially launching on a high note. From Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia and Sofia, Bulgaria, the hub is lively base of developers, entrepreneurs, and students participating in a number of activities, from meetups to hackathons and internships.
The hub has also launched several products on NEAR from its innovation lab, focusing on Web3 arenas such DeFi and NFTs. One such project is Electrocoin, the company behind Bitcoin Mjenjacnica, one of the biggest crypto exchanges in the region. Electrocoin enables customers to transfer money from crypto to fiat and vice versa. The app will also allow users to pay their bills and invoices.
Another project, CircuitMess, is building innovative DIY STEM toys for kids, and are currently at work on NFT integration. CircuitMess wants to equip children with the skills to build on Web3 today.
The NEAR Balkans hub includes regional ambassadors, who attend meetups and share valuable information and contacts to anyone interested in learning or building on NEAR. There are tentative plans to hold 3 to 5 meetups a month across different Balkans cities, as well as two live hackathons in the coming months.
Much like the NEAR Ukraine Regional Hub, NEAR Balkans is able to reach a large pool of developers. The hub is particularly focused on leveraging this talent pool for its Web3 education efforts, including workshops and collaborations with regional universities. It is also funneling students from a variety of backgrounds into the NEAR Certified Developer program.
NEAR Balkans is only the beginning of what will be a long and prosperous journey of Web3 innovation in the region.