Towards "archipelagos of excellence": Interview with Sinisa Marcic

Sinisa Marcic is Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

What do you consider to be the major common challenges for R&I in the Western Balkans?

A set of closely linked factors have caused the current state of affairs in the field of R&I. First, practically all economies in the Western Balkans are small and vulnerable to internal and external pressures. There is a lack of understanding that R&I is the key driver of globally competitive economies in the age of exponential changes. It is unclear to some decision-makers how R&I can contribute to socio-economic development. Consequently, the entire Western Balkans has low investments in R&I by public and private sector compared to the EU average. Notwithstanding some “islands of research excellence” that thrive throughout the Western Balkans, our research capacity is rather limited. We need ways to connect those “islands of research excellence” into an “archipelago of research excellence” that is difficult to ignore. Though many researchers cooperate with colleagues from abroad, a closer regional cooperation could be more effective and useful, in particular to researchers in an early career stage. Regional cooperation could reinforce partnerships, boost scientific productivity and international visibility. Furthermore, collaboration with industry is also rather limited, although some examples of good practice show it is possible and can be commercially very attractive. 

From the perspective of your country, what are the most important R&I policy initiatives to counter the challenges you mentioned?

The Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of Srpska – soon to become the Ministry of Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society – employs a number of financial and non-financial tools aimed at boosting scientific excellence. Our key policy measure in the forthcoming period will be the Smart Specialisation Strategy of the Republic of Srpska that will identify up to five competitive fields we should focus on in the near future. 

In your view, what role does regional cooperation play to counter R&I challenges?

Regional, and more broadly, international cooperation is the essence of modern science. It enables researchers, practitioners and policy-makers alike to step out of the comfort zone, challenge traditional ways and expand horizons. Regional cooperation enables access to knowledge pools that are not always easily available including useful networks of contacts.    

Where do you see R&I in the Western Balkans ten years from now?

The Western Balkans is facing a number of challenges, from slow economic progress, to low institutional effectiveness, to unclear EU future and population decline. On the other hand, the proximity of the EU borders is an important advantage we should exploit more wisely. If the region finds a way to harness the existing human potential and expertise coupled with sustainable exploitation of considerable natural resources, there is a reason to be optimistic. If it fails to focus on mutual understanding and closer cooperation in all fields, the future prosperity may be hindered.

 

Country
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Geographical focus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • WBC
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Admin WBC-RTI.info on December 18, 2018
Modified on December 18, 2018