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COVID-19 Response: Macedonian Tech Community Uplifts Digital Transformation and Demonstrates Social Responsibility  

Seems like the world has turned to the digital as a solution to not just control the spread of Covid-19, but as a way to adapting the delivery of social services and economic activities into a Corona-induced mode of operation. North Macedonia has been no exception. From the first few weeks, Macedonian tech companies launched a plethora of tools ranging from contact-tracing mobile apps to digital platforms for medical and other sectors, in addition to e-commerce and (pro-bono) digitalization solutions. ICT sector has never been more important for the Macedonian economy.

North Macedonia was ahead of all other Western Balkans countries to launch the first Balkan contact-tracing app to tackle the spread of the virus. Skopje-based software company Nextsense developed StopKorona! smartphone app and donated it to the Macedonian government. The app, downloaded more than 5,000 times on its first day, was Nextsense’s contribution to the collective efforts in the fight against the global pandemic. Soon after, the Government of Hungary launched the VirusRadar mobile app, also developed and donated by Nextsense. In the eye of the crisis, the company developed one more digital solution for the Macedonian health sector. Applauded by the public, ePrescription, a paperless and real-time tracking of medical prescriptions, is expected to put an end to the inefficient medical bureaucracy in the country. Following examples from other countries, another Skopje-based tech company – GDI, launched a map with a real-time dashboard of Corona cases in North Macedonia to  better inform authorities and the public.

In the times of crisis, the ICT sector showed a high level of social responsibility by extending solidarity to not just the state authorities and the public, but to other business sectors directly impacted by the crisis.

StartUp Macedonia mobilized ICT startups, and with FITR support launched TechPack, a platform offering initial pro-bono assistance to SMEs from other sectors to digitalize their work. Two more platforms that emerged during this period were, an aggregator for e-commerce and Ways2Help, a matchmaking platform for charities and individual donors. Both came as a contribution by local tech professionals and companies. IME promoted these platforms and is interested to further support matching with companies from targeted sectors to boost their growth and adaptability to the crisis and beyond.

Covid-19 has accelerated overall digital transformation. And the relatively young ICT sector has demonstrated maturity and social responsibility not only to tackle the immediate threat posed by Covid-19, but also to scaffold sustainability and efficacy of other societal and business aspects in the country. IME’s further efforts lean towards supporting the software industry as a well-proven tool for increased productivity, efficiency and innovation and facilitating industrial transformation towards a knowledge-based economy.