About Us

The Action supports the Government of Albania in achieving key objectives in the field of economic development, namely, to accelerate the transformation into a more innovation-driven and knowledge-based economy, unlocking its human capital, entrepreneurial as well as research potential and thereby increasing its competitiveness.

The specific objective of the Action is to increase maturity and exposure of the Albanian start-up and innovation ecosystem, and its stakeholders. This objective is pursued through activities in four main outputs

Project Details

EU4Innovation is funded by the European Union, with additional support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The project has a budget up to 11,750,000 EUR (EU contribution: 10 Mio. EUR; German contribution: 1.2 Mio. EUR; Swedish contribution: 550,000 EUR). The programme is implemented by GIZ Albania and Swedish Embassy Tirana.

The Albanian start-up and innovation ecosystem is nascent and ranks among the lowest entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe. In the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), Albania was placed 87 out of 137 analysed economies. The business dynamics, not only considering start-ups but also micro and small enterprises are below the regional and EU average. Albania lost 4 positions in the 2019 Global Competitiveness Index ranking compared to the previous year (scoring 83 out of 137 countries). Thus, seemingly continued pre-COVID Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth did not lead to increased country competitiveness.

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EU4Innovation strategizes its actions along the start-up life cycle.

EU4I activates

4000 potential entrepreneurs
reached

PRE-IDEATION

EU4I as promoter

The pre-ideation program
is systematically intertwined
with all EU4I communication
activities.

EU4I engages

300 potential start-ups / entrepreneurs supported

IDEATION

EU4I as co-creator

We provide access to networks,
promote participation and drive
demand

EU4I incubates

100 start-ups have one MVP
/ prototype /
product / service

VALIDATION

EU4I as capacity builder

We develop internal
capacities of local ISO-s.
We take on a new role in
the field of Horizon Europe as
capacity builder and facilitator.

EU4I accelerates

30 start-ups are in business

GROWTH

EU4I as accelerator

Capacity building for ISOs to carry out
due diligence for start-ups, investor
relationship-building and sustainable
ISO business models.

EU4I scales & invests

5 tech scale-ups receive financial support

SCALE & INVEST

EU4I produces a pipeline of investment ready start-ups

We offer policy support to GoA, financial support for selected tech scale-ups and match a selection of the best tech start-ups with international investors.

A caption for the above image.

Waste prevention and gas reduction, Tirana Municipality and GIZ Albania start the implementation of the Circular City Labs project

The Municipality of Tirana and GIZ Albania officially signed the Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in efforts to support Albania’s green/digital transition, developing green and digital solutions for sustainable urban challenges, with a focus on the capital city, Tirana.

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Dr. Irina Kausch

Programme Manager

Irina has overall responsibility of the Action, working for more than 30 years in development cooperation and within GIZ since 2006. She loves to work abroad, to manage big teams and challenging projects. Her focus is on employment promotion, adult qualification and private sector engagement for a more green and digital Albania in the near future.

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Sebastian Berwanger

Project Manager

Sebastian is passionate about sustainable business, digital transformation, innovation and brand management. With GIZ since 2015, his focus is on sustainable economic development in Asia, Africa & South-East Europe. He is a fan of rapid prototyping, pragmatic & agile solutions with the potential to leapfrog Albania.

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Michael Oos

Project Manager

Michael is passionate about new business ideas and their impact on economy and society. During his more than 10 years with GIZ, he worked in China, Germany and Africa on various topics related to Private Sector Cooperation. He is a fan of practical solutions applied in the real-world and loves to mindmap.

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Valbona Dervishi

Position

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Patrik Fetahaj

Advisor for Ecosystem Development

Patrik is an experienced entrepreneur, with a solution-driven mindset, committed to enhancing the Albanian start-up and innovation ecosystem by providing high-quality support for developing ecosystem stakeholders’ capacities. In his role within EU4Innovation, he is actively involved in developing effective start-up support programs, improving access to finance, expanding internationally, and encouraging stakeholders to cooperate.

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Gerti Rrotani

Advisor for Linkages

Gerti is driven by a passion for innovation and emerging technologies. He is a solution-oriented individual interested in exploring cutting-edge solutions to solve complex problems. With a background in innovation management, he is dedicated to harness the power of technology to drive positive change and create a better future.

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Iris Panariti

Advisor Access to Finance and Grants

Iris is responsible for the management and coordination of all interventions under the Access to Finance portfolio including all grants process, ensuring best coordination of activities, resources, and information for project effectiveness. She has amassed a wealth of knowledge and expertise in project development, implementation, financial management, and monitoring across various technical assistance projects for prominent organizations such as SDC, UN Women, UNDP, Terre des Hommes, and the World Bank.

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Valbona Koci

Advisor for Quadruple Helix Promotion

With a background in urban studies, experience in public administration, private sector and academia prior to joining GIZ, and advanced cooperation skills, Valbona puts efforts towards a structured engagement of quadruple helix actors: academic institutions, private & public sectors & CSOs; aiming at fostering exchange, promoting and strengthening the Albanian start-up and innovation ecosystem.

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Elona Xhaferri

Advisor for Horizon Europe

Elona has more than ten years of program management experience in the development sector. As Advisor to Horizon Europe, she facilitates technical assistance to increase participation in the EU framework Programs in Research & Innovation and the EU Funding Program on Digital Technology by engaging academia, the public & private sector, and civil society.

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Marjola Xhelili

Advisor for Strategic Communications

Marjola has extensive experience in brand strategy and marketing communications, with a long career across diverse sectors, including telecommunications and media sectors, as well as international organizations. Within EU4I, Marjola is dedicated to championing and promoting the Albanian start-up and innovation ecosystem, harnessing efforts both domestically and on the global stage.

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Elda Beqiri

Advisor for Communication, Monitoring & Gender

Elda is a creative person with a background in Architecture, Design and Painting. Since 2020, she has supported the EU4I project to communicate through content creation and design. Moreover, Elda is the focal person for monitoring data and adding the gender dimension within the interventions of the project.

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Paola Zhamo

Junior Advisor for the Circular City Lab Project

With an academic background in Urban Climate and Sustainability, Paola is passionate about finding sustainable solutions for urban challenges. By combining her hands-on personality with her interest in environmental topics, she joined GIZ Albania and is currently working for the Circular City Lab project.

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Klid Saraci

Financial Specialist

Klid oversees financial, procurement and other admin-related operations in the project. He has extensive experience in administration, finance, and operational management acquired from over 30 years of working in the financial industry both in Albania and internationally. He has a BA in accounting from the University of Tirana and holds a master’s degree in Public Management from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Karola Jasini

Office Manager

Karola is a skilled professional with extensive experience in higher education and public administration. After finalizing her studies in Human Resources, she is currently working as Office Manager for the EU4Innovation team. Karola is pleased to support fostering innovation and progress within GIZ Albania.

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