Responsible Research and Innovation in the Western Balkans

The Horizon 2020-funded project WBC-RRI.NET presents the current state-of-play in relation to the portfolio of activities in a newsletter.

WBC-RRI.NET is a project funded by the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon 2020 that aims to embed Responsible Research and Innovation in Western Balkan Countries. WBC-RRI.NET consists of 13 partners from 8 countries and addresses 4 region-level and 1 country-level ecosystems: Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia, Republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the City of Skopje in North Macedonia, Kune-Vain-Tale Lagoon in Albania and the Country of Montenegro.

The RRI ‘anchor’ initiatives, specific interventions that touch in-depth on specific RRI keys and territorial features in each WB territory, are described below.

Embedding RRI in Western Balkan Countries: Enhancement of Self-Sustaining R&I Ecosystems


Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Serbia

🗝️ Public Engagement & Open Access

WBC-RRI.NET territory anchor at ICT workshop on Smart Specialisation Strategy in Serbia (4S) 

The Smart Specialisation Strategy is a vital component of the WBC-RRI.NET project, while also being a key document adopted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia to drive the development of a knowledge-based society. A new Industrial Policy Strategy from 2021 to 2030 is currently underway to replace the latest strategy and policy document in the Republic of Serbia.

In November 2022, an ICT workshop was held where the WBC-RRI.NET project was presented. The workshop was attended by 30 representatives of the academy, industry, civil sector, public administration, clusters, and associations who were divided into 4 working groups. Through this public-private dialogue which was carried out in parallel with the 4S, the working groups collaborated and exchanged findings to make the Strategies work better in the future strategic framework of the Republic of Serbia. Also, the findings of the entrepreneurial discovery process have been used in the development of Industrial Policy Strategy, which is in its nature, horizontal, while the 4S follows the principle of specialization and focuses on areas where competitive advantages are identified. 

Improving the competencies and motivation of researchers to cooperate with the business sector that is able to develop products for the market is also one of the priorities of the Strategy.

Presence of WBC-RRI.NET at ICT workshop on Smart Specialisation Strategy in Serbia, November 2022

Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina

🗝️ Ethics & Science Education & Open Access

WBC-RRI.NET territory anchor on Improving STEM education: Ideathon "Innovative ideas for better quality of life"

In January 2023, WBC-RRI.NET through synergies with other grants and actors launched an IDEATHON "Innovative ideas for better quality of life", seeking for creative and innovative solutions to societal issues in the areas of waste management, urban planning, or climate change by using the responsible research and innovation approach and concept, as part of the collaborative activities of the University of Banja Luka (UNIBL) with United Nations Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP BiH) through their Accelerator Lab. 

A total of 96 secondary schools across the Republic of Srpska have been invited to organize teams of students guided by professors and apply for Ideathon through the UNDP BiH's Open Innovation Platform, designed to promote innovative thinking and empower innovation ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ranking of the teams is based on: online voting of the wider community (30%) and evaluation of the jury (70%).
The three winning teams are presenting their ideas tomorrow, April 28, at the public event "Engaging Science with and for Youth" in Banja Luka. Valuable prizes are provided through specific grant of the Ministry for Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society of Republic of Srpska, as well as sponsorship from socially responsible companies, but also receiving additional education and training by UNDP BiH. 

The collaboration between various stakeholders highlights the significance of working together toward enhancing science education and fostering innovative ideas.

Activities are supported by:
Ministry for Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society of Republic of Srpska
Ministry of Education and Culture of Republic of Srpska
UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina

IDEATHON "Innovative ideas for better quality of life".
University of Banja Luka is seeking for ideas, visions and solutions for a better future.

Skopje Region, North Macedonia

🗝️ Science Education & Gender Equality

WBC-RRI.NET territory anchor on the future of education: STEM, Gender Equality and Green Innovations

Education is crucial for responsible research, scientific and innovative pursuits, as well as inclusivity. Through the WBC-RRI.NET anchor initiative, the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MASA) and the National Center for the Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning (NCDIEL) are trying to enhance the science education in the country and to shape a more sustainable and equitable future.

In January 2023, more than 100 teachers and principals from over 25 secondary schools in North Macedonia took part in a workshop titled “The Future of Education: STEM Education, Gender Equality and Green Innovations in Vocational Education and Training”, focusing on the development of the Macedonian educational system. The workshop encouraged a discussion and exchange of experiences about the representation and motivation of women to participate in science and education with a focus on STEM disciplines, the role parents have in motivating the students to participate in STEM activities, as well as the current gender balance in these STEM disciplines. Teachers were motivated to express their opinion from professional, but also personal points of view. In this manner, the participants in the workshop were encouraged to discuss the teacher-parent-student relationship, but also the parent-student relationship for those teachers who are parents.

The future of education should be based on the development of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), gender equality and development of green competences among the young population.

Workshop “The Future of Education: STEM Education, Gender Equality and Green Innovations in Vocational Education and Training”, January 2023

Kune-Vain-Tale Lagoon, Albania

🗝️ Public Engagement (Open Science) & Governance

WBC-RRI.NET territory anchor embraced by the Mayor of Lezhë in joint workshop with Polis University 

Co-PLAN, together with the Albanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment, are well underway in implementing the citizen science initiative in the Kune-Vaini lagoon of Lezhë, which aims at mapping and assessing the ecosystem services through a participatory approach.

In February 2023, researchers from Co-PLAN were invited by the Mayor of Lezhë to present preliminary findings of this research to representatives from the municipality staff and the local community. The presentation was anchored to a workshop organized by Polis University, under the support of NASRI (National Agency for Research and Innovation), titled ‘Spatial Solutions for the Post-Pandemic Climate-Neutral city, Lezha and Kune-Vaini lagoon’. Polis University shared the work that was done during an integrated PhD program, in terms of resilient community development; sustainable infrastructure; and socio-ecological cohesion. The Co-PLAN team presented some findings from the Total Economic Value survey, conducted with households within the lagoon, to co-assess the ecosystem values. Following, a discussion was fostered among participants about the future development scenarios of the coastal area/protected area of the municipality, and the ways into which the presented development scenarios can be implemented through horizontal collaboration and bottom-up participatory approaches, including more citizen science activities.

Both the Mayor of Lezhë, Mr. Pjerin Ndreu, as well as the rector of Polis University, Mr. Besnik Aliaj, emphasized the importance of the collaboration between academia and local governance in addressing the target of climate neutrality for the municipality by 2050. 

Representatives from Co-PLAN and Polis University joining synergies in conducting research on the Municipality of Lezhë, February 2023

Country of Montenegro

🗝️ Public Engagement & Governance

WBC-RRI.NET territory anchor potential for research and innovation “Ulcinj Saltworks”

Ulcinj Saltwork, located on the Montenegrin coast, as a historic salt-producing site, has a significant cultural and environmental value, as well as potential for economic development through the exploration of research and innovation opportunities. 

In December 2022, Science and Technology Park of Montenegro together with ZON-a has organised a meeting with representatives of The Innovation Fund and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (IEC) Tehnopolis in order to discuss the research and innovation potential of the Ulcinj Saltworks. Some of the potential research and innovation opportunities at Ulcinj Saltwork may include studies to determine the optimal techniques for salt production, as well as the environmental impact of these methods, additional research to explore the site's potential as a tourist destination, or to investigate the cultural, health and biodiversity significance of the site. The Innovation Fund and IEC Tehnopolis have expressed a strong interest in supporting these research and innovation activities at Ulcinj Saltwork, which could be instrumental in advancing the knowledge and understanding of this natural habitat, and in promoting its economic potential.

There is significant potential for research and innovation at Ulcinj Saltwork, and there is strong interest in supporting these efforts from organizations such as the Innovation Fund and IEC Tehnopolis. By leveraging these resources, individuals and organizations may be able to unlock the full potential of this site and promote its economic, cultural, and environmental value.

Meeting about the research and innovation potential of the Ulcinj Saltworks, December 2022

Would you like to delve deeper into the anchor activities?

Discover more about the target territories and the anchor activities here
The project organizes a variety of engaging events to help spread awareness and facilitate discussion. The WBC-RRI.NET team is open to collaboration with anyone looking to expand their knowledge and get involved in promoting responsible research and innovation.

Follow us!

Follow our activities through our website and social media channels. We will make sure to enrich your knowledge with interesting content and inform you about RRI activities in accordance with your preferences.

For any further information, do not hesitate to contact

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101006279
Geographical focus
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary
  • General

Entry created by Elke Dall on May 22, 2023
Modified on May 22, 2023