Belgrade, February 2, 2015 - The Serbia Research, Innovation and Technology Transfer Project was launched today at the auspicious seat of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Belgrade. Audiences were addressed by Aleksandar Belic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, H.E. Michael Davenport, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, and Tony Verheijen, World Bank Country Manager for Serbia.
The joint project of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, the European Union and the World Bank is financed with €2.5 million Euros from EU's pre-accession funds until July 2018. The project builds on the successes of the ongoing EU-funded Serbia Innovation Project, which has helped to establish the Serbia Innovation Fund. With an EU grant of 8.4 million Euros, the Innovation Fund has successfully supported 53 innovative startups and technology-intensive enterprises in the period 2011-2014.
The new Serbia Research, Innovation and Technology Transfer Project will help the Ministry and the Innovation Fund to further boost research and development (R&D) and innovation in Serbia and to pilot a system of technology transfer in order to foster a knowledge based economy.
Experts from the World Bank will support the Ministry to create a national R&D and Innovation Strategy, an Infrastructure Roadmap and Action Plan. The overall goal of this new strategy is to transition away from a focus on quantity towards higher quality research outcomes. Future innovation and research policy should be integrated, evidence-based and take into account the existing and potential assets of the Serbian research community and the emerging needs of the business communities both in Serbia and abroad.
Another aim of the project is to help the establishment of Technology Transfer Facility at the Innovation Fund that will build on the capacity building efforts previously financed by EU and other donor programs. The Technology Transfer Facility will engage international specialists to assist research institutes in Serbia to commercialise their ideas in cooperation with technology transfer offices in Serbia.
Finally, the project will also support the design of a new grant scheme to boost R&D cooperation between industry and research organisations in Serbia. The World Bank will facilitate a consultation process with industry to design the new grant scheme. The collaborative grant scheme will be implemented by the Innovation Fund and is expected to be launched in 2015. The grants will be funded by the EU and the Government of Serbia with an additional 4.4 million Euros.
Ultimately, as emphasised by the representatives of the EU Delegation, the Ministry and the World Bank these project activities are meant to strengthen the international positioning of the Serbian economy by reorienting Serbian research toward the needs of industry both at home and abroad and to make the research sector more competitive on European and international markets, which in the long run should lead to job creation and economic competitiveness.