News archive - The EIT: A strong track record of delivery in the Western Balkans

Since 2018 the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has built and strengthened its core role as Europe’s well-established one-stop-shop for innovation and is becoming a global innovation leader delivering world-class solutions to societal challenges, creating jobs and improving people’s lives. It increases Europe's competitiveness, its sustainable economic growth and job creation by promoting and strengthening cooperation among leading business, education and research organisations. In just over ten years, the EIT has overcome the fragmented European innovation landscape and established itself as the largest pan-European innovation ecosystem.

These are delivering tangible solutions to pressing global challenges, as well as, substantial global and European socio-economic impact, including well over 2,000 start-ups supported and 6,000 jobs created. Some of Europe’s major scale-up success stories from the past ten year, including, Northvolt, Climeworks, Tado, Skeleton Technologies, Navya, Konux and Lilium Aviation were all powered by EIT accelerator programmes. 

The inclusive way of contributing to Europe’s sustainable economic growth and competitiveness by reinforcing the Member States’ innovation capacity is reflected in the share of EIT funding allocated to EU-13 partners (8.3% as compared to 4.8% in Horizon 2020 as of 2018).

EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities in the Western Balkans

EIT Climate-KIC in the Western Balkans

In Serbia

The EIT Climate-KIC has established a hub in Serbia in 2016 with the aim of nurturing and further developing the nascent clean-tech ecosystem in the country (these activities are relevant for the priorities “A European Green Deal” and “An economy that works for people”).

The hub is part of the EIT RIS strategy of the KIC. Main partners are the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, Start-It, the Climate Innovation Hub (CIH) and CIREKON.

The KIC runs a number of activities in Serbia, that encompasses education, support to innovation and support to business creation and development. In particular:

  • “Pioneers into practice” program, which aims at connecting climate change organizations & professionals to learn practical skills in systems innovation: in 2018, 18 Serbian pioneers, 4 international pioneers, 5 host companies took part to the initiative.
  • “RIS accelerator”, which supports the growth of clean-tech start-ups: in 2019 it provided support to 9 Serbian start-ups; 3 of them (i.e. FreonFrog, SmartCat, Food Group MSP) managed to secure investments (from other investors) to support the development of their business.
  • “ClimateLauchpad”, which aims at turning green ideas into a successful start-up: in 2018, 22 Serbian teams submitted their applications, 12 have been selected to participate to the training. The 3 national finalists participated in the Semi Finals in Edinburgh; 2 teams were invited to pitch in the Theme Awards.
  • “Climathon”, aiming at finding solutions to the climate challenges identified by cities through the collaboration between citizens and local research and industrial partners: in 2018, in collaboration with UNDP, the KIC ran the Climathon in 5 cities (Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac, Zajecar and Sabac). The experience was so successful that it was repeated in 2019.
  • “Academy for Circular Economy (ACE)”: it aims at fostering the implementation of Circular Economy principles and tools in SMEs that delivers goods or services. In 2018, 27 Serbian companies were trained on practical tools that help to develop innovative ideas in order to start a transition to a more circular business model. In 2019, the Academy was continued, developing a fully-fledged business model for the activity.
  • Innovation projects: in 2020, EIT Climate-KIC is supporting 2 innovation projects in the field of circular economy, in particular: one project focused on a novel approach to transform the food waste value chain into a circular system; another one focused on the raising local capacities in Western Balkan countries to build an eco-system for circular, climate-related innovations.

Future Cities of South East Europe Initiative

Cities face an enormous challenge in becoming healthy places to live, while reaching net-zero emissions in just a few years. They are also places where multiple systems intersect, making fast change complex but possible. EIT Climate-KIC is forging relationships with the most ambitious city mayors and municipalities, who are ready to design portfolios of innovation options to unlock a wholesale transformation.

The Future Cities of South East Europe Initiative (SEE), is a collaborative initiative led by EIT Climate-KIC and addressed to Križevci (Croatia), Maribor (Slovenia), Niš (Serbia), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Skopje (North Macedonia), to deliver on the ambitious mission of: “An inclusive, prosperous and zero-carbon transformation of 15 city neighborhoods in 5 cities in South East Europe, making these into some of the best possible places in Europe to live, work and visit by 2025”.

Activities focus on: air pollution, energy efficiency (retrofit, heating and cooling), mobility, waste management, support in leveraging financial resources to implement the actions. The planning and implementation of KIC’s actions are co-created with the local communities, to ensure focus on local priorities and long-term collective ownership.  The KIC provides the core coordination for co-creating and implementing ambitious actions across the community.

Work within the Future Cities of SEE started recently. At the moment, EIT Climate-KIC has run catalyser sessions in the region, aiming at exploring how to arrange the work with each city. In parallel, exchanges of experience, ideas and best practice approaches started between all five cities. Next steps are:

  • the creation of the city-KIC team
  • the identification of the cities priority action areas
  • the development of a strategy and action plan for each city
  • the implementation of the action plan activities.

EIT RawMaterials activities in the Western Balkans

EIT RawMaterials is active on several fronts in the Western Balkans. This region is naturally endowed with primary and secondary raw materials deposits and residues, therefore has been targeted as a focus region by the KIC since the inception of its activities. In Western Balkans the KIC runs knowledge triangle activities along the whole raw materials value chain (exploration, mining, recycling, substitution of critical raw materials, design of products and services for the circular economy, resource efficiency).

EIT RawMaterials established also a RIS Hub for the Western Balkans in order to further support the development of KIC’s activities in this area.

Main KICs’ activities in Western Balkans countries consist in:

Innovation support activities:

  • Assessment and creation of an inventory for the Western Balkan Mineral Register for primary and secondary mineral resources (WB countries involved: Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia, Serbia);
  • development of a public mineral intelligence system to support authorities (on national, regional or local level) in their decision-making process and to facilitate industry to invest in Northern Macedonia;
  • roadmap and innovative service for the zero waste extraction of metals (Cu, Ag, As, Au, and REE) from mining tailings (WB countries involved: Northern Macedonia);
  • development of an innovative critical raw materials (CRMs) substitution technology for public authorities' vehicle catalysts (WB countries involved: Serbia);
  • sorting and separation of non-radioactive materials from radioactive Phosphogypsum which can be further processed into radiopharmaceuticals (WB countries involved: Serbia);

Education & training activities:

  • university based educational and experts’ supported training program in Kosovo Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the field of innovative exploration developments;
  • Industry & University collaboration for creating an education program where students, academia and industry professionals from all over East and South East Europe learn from each other creating innovation in mining (WB countries involved: Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro);
  • pupil engagement program in raw materials (WB countries involved: Bosnia and Herzegovina);
  • DIM ESEE: education program on innovative mining: in 2019, 186 Master and PhD students, academia and industry employees participated to the courses.
  • University Business Cooperation Capacity Building Program in the field of Raw Materials (WB countries involved: Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro);
  • support to entrepreneurs and highly qualified mechanical engineers aiming to run their own businesses in maintenance engineering related to raw materials operations (WB countries involved: Bosnia and Herzegovina);
  • Encouraging Girls to Study Geosciences and Geo-Engineering (WB countries involved: Serbia).

Business creation activities:

  • Jumpstarter: Business idea competition, in order to provide support to the creation of new start-ups: proponents were mainly students; 30 teams from different WB countries have been supported in 2019 (around 100 teams supported from 2017 to 2019).
  • ESEE Dialogue Conferences, aiming at promoting mineral sector and entrepreneurship in East & South-East Europe regions (WB countries involved: Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro).

EIT InnoEnergy in Western Balkans

EIT InnoEnergy has a RIS hub in Serbia through which it runs its programmes aiming at supporting students, innovators and start-ups and link them with the rest of the KIC ecosystem.

KIC’s activities focus on its relevant thematic fields: energy storage, smart and efficient buildings and cities, renewable energies, smart electric grid, energy efficiency, energy for circular economy, energy for transport and mobility, nuclear energy.

In Serbia, the KIC runs activities in the field of business creation & growth and support to innovation.  In particular:

  • “Primer”: it is a pre-acceleration programme for early-stage start-ups in the field of energy. In 2019, 8 Serbian teams have been selected and completed the programme.
  • “Highway”: it is the acceleration programme of the KIC, focused on providing support on 4 key dimensions: product, market, people, finance. During 2019 Hub Serbia has been actively scouting for startups that could be a part of Highway. 5 proposals from Serbia have been received and evaluated. One proposal (“Optimus Power” proposed by SmartCat: development of a software which improves efficiency of HVAC systems) was positively assessed and has accessed the Highway.
  • “Boostway”: it is the support programme for the growth of scale-ups, offering also financial resources of up to EUR 150 000. During 2019, 2 Serbian start-ups applied but the KIC decided not to invest on them for the time being. One proposal (FreonFrog, which developed a product that improve the performances of cooling systems) will be reassessed in 2020.
  • “PowerUp! Competition”: it is a challenge event for start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs from Central and Eastern Europe and which developed innovative products in the fields of energy, smart technologies, mobility. In 2019, 31 total applications were submitted for the Country final in Belgrade (29 from Serbia, 2 from Montenegro). A Serbian company (SmartCat) took part to the final in Krakow.

EIT Digital in Western Balkans

EIT Digital established its ARISE Venture Programme focused on the Eastern and Western Balkans, which in 2020 celebrates its 3rd edition. The programme, a two-stage competition, supports the establishment of deep-tech-based ventures by teams coming from those regions. 

As a result, the Venture Programme 2018 and 2019 editions saw the creation of six start-ups by teams from Serbia (3: Gradoid, Saifer, Hotspoter), Bosnia-Herzegovina (2: Ordex and Portal) and Macedonia (1: Klimo), which benefited of the support in incubating the idea and a Final Cash Prize after successful evaluation of their applications.

In addition, all EIT Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Education Activities are open to participants from Western Balkans. As an example, the EIT Digital Challenge 2019, the competition for Digital DeepTech scale-ups, received applications from 33 different countries, including an application from an Albanian scale-up.

Source: EIT

Geographical focus
  • European Union (EU 28)
  • WBC
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Admin WBC-RTI.info on July 8, 2020
Modified on July 10, 2020