News archive - [Event Review] Unveiling Serbia's Smart Specialisation Strategy and exploring the role of incubators, accelerators and S&T Parks in delivering sector specific support in the Western Balkans and SEE

In October 2019 the European Commission's Joint Research Centre organised a conference to present the Serbia's Smart Specialisation Strategy (4S) together with the opportunities and challenges for sectoral specialisation of Science and Technology Parks (STPs), Accelerators and Incubators in the broader region of South-East Europe.

The two-day event was co-organised together with EU4TECH Western Balkans, a project funded by DG NEAR, and the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The conference took place on 15 and 16 October at the Science Technology Park Belgrade.

The first day focused on Smart Specialisation Strategy in Serbia and its priority domains such as Information and Communicaiton Technlogies, creative industries and food for the future.

On the second day, participants discussed the role of Science Parks and incubators in the Western Balkans and South-East Europe regions can play in supporting emerging Smart Specialisation priorities. 

Find here the presentations and recordings from the conference

Below you can read a short overview of the information provided on the Smart Specialisation strategies in the WBC:


Since the start in early 2017 and the core phase for the EDP (Entrepreneurial Discovery Process), which started with 6 preliminary priority areas, the final strategy will be released in 10/2019 (3 priority domains and one horizontal domain). Beside the good foundations for ownership of the overall S3, possible challenges include the involvement of many persons that do not know the process, the missing practice for evaluation despite the available monitoring scheme (developed with support from the World Bank), or the expectations to the EC for the support of the implementation of tools and instruments. Here, the dedicated support activity of the ISF for the contribution to tools and instruments through missions could be a possible contribution.


A scientific council chaired by the Prime Minister includes all relevant actors (main function is the funding coordination). The S3 strategy was concluded and internally agreed onto be publishable in ME in June 2019, and was sent to JRC for approval. The EDP identifying 3 vertical and 1 horizontal priorities was considered to be complicated and challenging. A core challenge includes the lack of data especially on NUTS 3 level (the process still motivated future participation in the CIS 2021).  Broad ownership and participation process was implemented and 4 priorities (vertical/horizontal) were included. A council for S3 was established. Challenges include the need for financial resources to implement identified measures/instruments, possibly also coming from IPA 2021-2027.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

No specific information was provided during the process, for the moment the BiH Federation is not entitled to start with the S3. The interest in some entities exists but the complicated governance structure needs more time to agree on next steps.

North Macedonia

With expert support the mapping of economic and research capacities was/is in the focus (Expert: Hugo Hollanders). 19 Sectors including 11 manufacturing sectors were identified and the link of industrial policy and innovation policy is considered high on the agenda. Currently the focus on instruments is important. The regional issues identified include the necessity for a value chain approach and the necessary decision to join selected thematic platforms for exchange and further input and better coordination.


The inclusion of bordering countries is challenging. Four sectors for analysis were selected including agriculture and ICT. Currently the analysis is finalized, however no details were reported at the conference.


It was reported that a national team for S3 was established, the data challenge is eminent and necessary data is widely missing. Still, a closer look on the innovation ecosystems is high on the agenda. Better communication of the research sector with business actors is a core issue towards a better aligned STI system and for the provision of a better and more collaborative STI system.


General findings: the focus of the discussion merged towards the exploitation of opportunities with the thematic platforms along the S3 for the countries, the use of IPA / DG NEAR for S3 implementation (in IPA III or multi country IPAIII) and common priorities in the region and what might be cooperation opportunities. The discussions also included the positioning options via the global markets and the position of the WBCs, data sharing options and possible benefits thereof were discussed, as well as monitoring and evaluation as a challenge for the S3 and the instruments and measures

Future governance challenges that were identified include questions such as: How to coordinate funding among ministries? How to contribute with evaluations? How to contribute to S3 and align i.e. CoEx or S&T parks with S3 priorities? How to communicate the benefit of S3 to the public?

Coordination with “other” funders i. e. the World Bank, the streamlining of existing support schemes with S3 priorities, as well as possible investment frameworks through enterprise/SME support and increasing access to capital/loans or guarantees were debated. The role of education was widely left out together with HR and along S3 implementation, but the link of S3 and Horizon Europe participation was included in the discussion. The role of the S3 implementation or process achievement for the EU Accession is unclear.

At the end of day 1 the following summary was presented by the MESTD host discussing the core points addressed (beyond the above):

  • Commitment and resources in the S3 process also from the EU side is important
  • Need for continuity and timely support to fulfil promises is essential
  • Cooperation along value chains is deemed necessary
  • Mix of funding and instruments is highly important
  • Risk taking is necessary but must be done carefully
  • Evaluation and monitoring needs to be developed in practice
  • The better use of existing resources and cooperation with EU institutions is considered highly relevant for the success of the S3 implementation
  • Link to education and other strategies for HR provision is a core component for any related change in the knowledge economy
  • As a link to the forthcoming opportunity: SDG challenges and the link to S3 were also mentioned

On day 2, with a focus on Science and Technology parks and incubators, the core findings of relevance included:

  • A focus on specific value chains is a productive way of co-development of research and business.
  • Financing instruments also including IPA/DG NEAR resources or WB projects can provide good solutions.
  • Regional needs can also differ i.e. employment aspects for investments are a core target for some regions.
  • Open innovation concepts can be explored for their potential in the region, currently the understanding of the concept is limited
  • Soft landing options need to be explored (and the role of ST parks can be important
  • The role of diaspora for processes can be further explored
  • On the example of UA “Transformation roadmaps” were presented as a used concept
  • Voucher schemes were presented that used EBRD funds
  • Thematic focus needs to be integrated in evaluation criteria to ensure focus i.e. for “Green innovation Vouchers”
  • In Serbia currently experiments with venture capital funding were started, but no legal framework exists

Related links:

Official Conference source


Geographical focus
  • Serbia
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Admin on November 18, 2019
Modified on December 5, 2019