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NEAR Protocol launches Balkans Hub, the first major blockchain ecosystem in the region

Near Balkans launch,
Image credit: NEAR Balkans at Sofia Crypto Meetup
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NEAR Protocol, one of the world’s largest blockchain technology ecosystems, launched the NEAR Balkans Hub, which is the first major blockchain hub in the region. It will aim to accelerate the development of the web3/blockchain open source ecosystem.

The initiative is a result of collaboration between Borderless Tech Association and the NEAR Foundation. The Balkans Hub is also one of the many projects and hubs that are planned by the Borderless Tech Association, which provides non-repayable grants, financial aid and scholarships for scientific research in the field of new technologies.

NEAR is a decentralized development platform built on top of the NEAR Protocol, which is a fast, public, shared, developer-friendly, proof-of-stake blockchain, with backers such as Coinbase ventures and a16z.

“This is the first time that such a large blockchain ecosystem will have a serious localized approach and we are very much looking forward to accelerating Web3 in the region through education, hackathons, certifications, project development support, and funding,” Ida Pandur, general manager of NEAR Balkans, tells The Recursive.

Next to Bulgaria, the Hub will also cover Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Since its launch, the NEAR Foundation has been committed to decentralizing the network as part of the larger effort to build a fast, secure, and scalable blockchain, the organization added.

Facilitating innovation, educating the market and showcasing the potential of Web3

NEAR Balkans Hub will have a focus on three key points. Тhe first will be to inspire and facilitate innovation with project development through partnerships with teams, companies and organizations across the Balkans.

“NEAR Balkans will guide and help companies in the region develop projects and easily apply for fast grants and other types of funding. Some of the first collaborations in the region include companies such as Electrocoin and CircuitMess,” NEAR Balkans hub said in a statement.

The second key point will be to educate the market and showcase the potential for web3 for development across the Balkan region with local or global impact. 

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According to NEAR Balkans Hub, this will be done through a series of meetups, hackathons, university partnerships, official certifications for developers and business professionals, media collaborations and conferences.

The third key point will be the acceleration program for startups which is in plan to be launched in 2023.

According to Luka Sucic from the Borderless Tech Association, the organization is excited to be bringing one of “the most prominent and fast growing web3 ecosystem to the Balkans, with a goal to accelerate the growth of this area in the region“.

As Pandur says, NEAR Balkans Hub will be dedicated to bring the best education and business opportunities for companies and individuals interested in web3 through a strong local support.

“We are looking forward to forming strong partnerships with teams, businesses and universities to bring the mission to execution. We invite all the developers, companies and teams interested in collaboration and learning more to contact us.“ Pandur added.

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Bojan is The Recursive’s Western Balkans Editor, covering tech, innovation, and business for more than a decade. He’s currently exploring blockchain, Industry 4.0, AI, and is always open to covering diverse and exciting topics in the Western Balkans countries. His work has been featured in global media outlets such as Foreign Policy, WSJ, ZDNet, and Balkan Insight.