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Western Balkans Regional R&D For Innovation

October 24-25, 2013

Zagreb, Croatia

With job creation stagnant and economic growth stalled, the Western Balkans region faces an intensifying need to create knowledge-based economies that can generate higher-value-added jobs and stronger growth.

In 2009 a Joint Statement was developed during a Ministerial Conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressing the interest of the Western Balkans region in developing a joint strategy on research and innovation. In September 2011, the World Bank and the European Commission signed an agreement to support the development of this Strategy. The resulting technical assistance is being financed through a Multi-beneficiary Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The Strategy identifies key priorities and is expected to serve as a framework for a collective effort to recommend policy and institutional reform that can promote the region's most urgent priorities of increasing innovation, growth, and prosperity.

Toward this aim of furthering the strategy, a high-level event is bringing together key stakeholders in Zagreb, Croatia on October 24-25, 2013 to endorse the Western Balkans Regional R&D Strategy for Innovation.

An overview of the Research and Innovation Sector in the Western Balkans.

The strategy for innovation in R&D in the Western Balkans

With job creation stagnant and economic growth stalled, the Western Balkans region faces an intensifying need to create knowledge-based economies that can generate higher-value-added jobs and stronger growth. Hoping to foster synergies among their similar interventions and build on a growing collaboration, governments from the seven economies in the Western Balkans developed a regional strategy for research and innovation. In line with the countries’ European integration processes and the goals of the European Union’s growth strategy “Europe 2020,” the overarching objective was to increase the impact of research and innovation on economic growth and employment opportunities.

The Research Excellence Fund will strengthen research capabilities in the Western Balkan countries and promote excellence by fostering collaboration between Western Balkan scientists and the region’s scientific diaspora.

The Technology Transfer Program will undertake three types of activities: (1) technical assistance to national technology transfer organizations, including help in creating them when needed; (2) matching grants for research-industry collaboration; and (3) advisory services and cofinancing for the development of science and technology parks.

The Early-Stage Start-Up Program will provide business development services along with a select group of financial instruments (pre-seed and seed financing) to nurture growth in technology-based start-ups in coordination with national initiatives and serve as a pipeline to the Western Balkans, other EDIF initiatives, and regional investors interested in later-stage financing.

The objective of the Western Balkans Innovation Strategy Exercise Facility (WISE Facility) is to promote policy stability and continuity of reform in the Western Balkans’ research and innovation sector. This sector-wide approach will ultimately help improve the quality of public expenditures on research and innovation and thereby increase the sector’s contribution to economic growth and job creation.

The program will finance selected Joint Programs of Activities. These will consist of a set of integrated activities that describes how partners will work to enhance complementarity and develop mutual specialization, building on strengths and reducing their weaknesses.

H.E. Spiro Ristovski, Minister of Education and Science of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Paulo Correa, the coordinator of the World Bank project which assisted in the preparation of the Western Balkans Regional R&D for Innovation Strategy

H.E. Rame Buja, Minister of Education, Science and Technology of Kosovo

High level delegation preparing to sign the declaration

 H.E. Sanja Vlahovic, Minister of Science of Montenegro

Members of the Steering Committee

H.E. Zeljko Jovanovic, Minister of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia

Goran Svilanovic, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council