News archive - EUREKA Expanding Towards the Western Balkan Countries

Slovenia, from July 2007 till June 2008 takes over the reigns of EUREKA, the European network for market-led research and innovation. The priorities of the Slovenian Chairmanship are: preparation and adoption of a new strategy for the future of the EUREKA network, strengthening the network’s position within the European Research Area, expanding EUREKA towards the Western Balkan and developing a communications strategy to effectively promote the results of EUREKA and its projects with demand for European innovation.

This is the first time that Slovenia has held the EUREKA chair, and it comes at a very opportune moment. “Our ambition is to combine the advantages of the EUREKA Chairmanship and the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union (in the first part of 2008) along with the cooperation with the EUREKA network and the European Commission, making a significant contribution to the European research and innovation policies,” said Ales Mihelič, head of the EUREKA Group of High Level Representatives during the Slovenian Chairmanship.
In accordance with Slovenia’s priority regarding the enlargement of EUREKA´s geographical boundaries to the Western Balkans countries, they wish to establish contacts with industrial high-potentials both in research and development. For EUREKA this enlargement to the Western Balkan region is a natural development. Croatia (since 2000) and Serbia (since 2002) have already been EUREKA members. Other Western Balkan countries have a status as cooperating EUREKA NIP countries (NIP - national information point status is a preparatory period for application for full membership) or have declared an interest in creating closer relations.
During the first EUREKA meeting held under the Slovenian Chairmanship, in Maribor, October 2007, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia joined as a cooperating NIP country. Ales Mihelič says “We are delighted that one of the key elements of the Slovenian EUREKA Chairmanship programme - the widening of EUREKA’s frontiers into the Balkans - is happening so early in our term.
EUREKA Chair has established initial contacts with Montenegro and Albania received EUREKA NIP status in 1993. Some research organisations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, involved in EUREKA project activities together with neighbouring companies from the Western Balkans, should also be on track.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research organisations from both Croatia and Serbia have already participated in 15 EUREKA finished projects with a total budget of 6.9 million euro. At present almost 100 Croatian and Serbian enterprises and organisations are participating in 45 EUREKA running projects with a budget of 19.1 million euro. In 2006 the Croatian company EcoEngineering won the EUREKA Lynx Award which annually honours a fast-growing, high-tech SME that has recently brought a successful innovative venture to the market via participation in a EUREKA project.
The economic potential of the Western Balkan countries has taken further steps in the process of market-oriented reforms. Substantial progress has been made in the area of privatisation of SMEs but they need additional and increasing input from transfer and use of new technology. From this point of view, EUREKA, due to its characteristics, creates a bottom-up principle including simple conditions for preparation of projects and call procedures, and unbureaucratic conditions for successful cooperation between industry and research organisations. Slovenian Chairmanship is appropriately moving EUREKA network opportunities to the Western Balkan countries.

Information provided by:
Svatopluk Halada
Andrej Cvelbar

Article published in eJournal fall/winter 2007.

Entry created by Elke Dall on December 17, 2007
Modified on December 17, 2007