In the next couple of years, The European Innovation Council (EIC) will allocate a budget of over 10 billion euros to innovative technologies and thus become the largest investor in that area. The message of the First EIC Regional Info Day, which was held in Belgrade, is that these funds are intended for the innovators dealing with new technologies anywhere in Europe, including Serbia.

The event was a unique opportunity for innovative startups and small and medium size enterprises from Serbia and the region to receive important information directly from the representatives of the European Innovation Council, as well as the experts from the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA), about the sources of funding available to them and the process of applying for the EU funds, exchange experiences with successful grantees and learn more about the technique of presenting ideas.

The representative of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Martin Klaucke, believes that no one doubts anymore that innovation is at the heart of creative competition, creating jobs and having the necessary knowledge to meet the challenges of our time in the field of digital transformation.

“That is why this topic is high on the EU’s agenda in terms of funding,” Klaucke said. “We supported innovation funds from the very beginning, more than 10 years ago with 47 million euros, and with over 1,000 projects,” Klaucke added.

Milun Trivunac, special advisor to the President at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIS), says that the research conducted by the CCIS has shown that the companies that use innovations invest in new technologies every day and use the creativity of their employees achieve much better results, higher productivity and greater growth.

“Today, when we discussed the potential that the EIC gives to researchers, innovators and smaller companies, we talked about Serbia’s preparation to become a full member of the EU,” said Minister for European Integration Tanja Miščević.

The minister thanked advisor Trivunac and pointed out that everyone from the  Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is not only a strong supporter, but also a partner in the European integration of Serbia.

Keith Sequeira, Head of governance and coordination unit of the of EIC and SME Executive Agency, expects that there will be many companies and many innovators from Serbia who will apply to the EIC Accelerator Programme. It is one of the instruments intended for the development and promotion of revolutionary innovations which have the potential to create new markets or bring about changes in the existing ones.

Assistant Minister for Innovation, Technology Transfer and Technological Development Vladimir Radovanović stated that more than 42,000 people work in the technology sector in Serbia. “More than 3,000 engineers graduate every year. We have 44 specialised IT courses in secondary schools and programming is a compulsory subject for all students over the age of 11. Also, we have artificial intelligence programmes in our higher education system,” says Radovanović.

The European Union’s support for innovation and competitiveness in Serbia is worth more than 200 million euros for the period from 2014 to today. The funds intended for this sector are used to encourage the quality of science, innovation and connections with European and international scientists and entrepreneurs, thereby increasing the competitiveness of the Serbian economy. Since 2014, Serbia has been a beneficiary of the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – Horizon Europe.

The EU encourages the development of science and innovation in order to create the technological preconditions for the development of competitiveness and economy throughout Europe. For the citizens of Serbia, the EU enabled the use of common research space and training in the EU countries, which made Serbian scientists more visible to the European and world scientific community.

The support of the European Union is carried out in cooperation with the Government of Serbia. The European Union is a bigger donor for the development of Serbia than all other international donors combined. Donations from the European Union are used for the development of Serbia.

Photo: Tanjug