SSCC Conference on innovations held on November 15th, 2017

Innovation is the key for Swiss-Serbian business relations

SSCC expects that Government will continue supporting the development of the innovation ecosystem, to attract more investors and contribute to producing more added-value products and services in Serbia

Belgrade, November 15th – In line with its mission to contribute to further development of Swiss-Serbian economic relations, SSCC organized a conference ‘’Innovations: the driving force of Swiss-Serbian economic relations’’ in the Science Technology Park (STP) Belgrade.

Keynote speakers included the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Serbia and to Montenegro, H.E. Philippe Guex;  Minister of Innovation and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, H.E. Nenad Popović; and Dr. Olivier KüttelHead European Public Affairs, EPFL.

In her opening speech, the President of the Managing Board of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce Mrs. Yana Mikhailova, emphasized the importance of innovations for the further strengthening of economic relations between Switzerland and Serbia. “We have recently observed that Swiss enterprises, and especially those from the IT sector, were showing growing interest in the Serbian market. Since Serbia is becoming an attractive destination for shared services investments, many Swiss firms have recognized this potential by developing their innovative products and services on the Serbian market. This trend clearly confirms that innovations play an increasingly significant role in the development of new business relations between companies from Switzerland and Serbia”, Mikhailova said.

The Serbian Minister for Innovation and Technological Development, Nenad Popović, said that the Government of the Republic of Serbia considers innovation and IT technologies development as one of the strategic priorities and also emphasized the key role of Switzerland in the field of innovation. „ In this way, we want to contribute to the digital transformation of the society, and to be able to that, we need an economy which is based on innovation, digitalization and knowledge of our engineers. Young engineers and IT experts are the basic resource for the digital transformation, and the Government is putting its efforts towards the complete digitalization and improvement of the legal framework for the further development of the national ecosystem” .

Swiss Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Philippe Guex, has underlined that innovation is the growth driver of Swiss economy and the key element for further development of the Swiss-Serbian relations, mentioning The Science and Technology Park Belgrade (STP) as an example: “It is the first institution of this type in Serbia and has become a key player in the innovation ecosystem – it creates high-tech products which are competitive in export markets.  I’m pleased to say that an extension of our support was signed a few days ago. With this support, Switzerland aims at helping to speed up the export growth which is crucial for the development of the Serbian economy”.

When mentioning Swiss-Serbian cooperation in R&D, Mr. Guex mentioned that so far, Serbian and Swiss research teams are cooperating in 22 projects worth over 250 million EUR within the ongoing Framework Horizon 2020, and that strongest cooperation until now is in the areas of research infrastructure and ICT.

Following the keynote speeches, Dr. Viktor NedovicAssistant Minister, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, presented the ”Strategy on Scientific and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia for the period 2016 – 2020: Research for Innovation”. During his presentation, Dr. Nedović presented the scientific research system of the Republic of Serbia, innovation performers, research programmes/projects, Innovation Fund and the first Science Technology Park in Serbia. According to Dr. Nedović, the vision of the National Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia for the period 2016-2020 “RESEARCH FOR INNOVATION” which adopted on 3 march 2016 (“Official Gazette of RS”, No 25/16) is the following: “Within five years, science in the Republic of Serbia will be based on a competitive system that supports excellence in science and its relevance to economic development, competitiveness of the Serbian Economy, and development of society as a whole”. Furthermore, Dr. Nedović emphasized six specific objectives that the Strategy defines, as follows:

  • Encouraging excellence and relevance of scientific research in Republic of Serbia
  • Strengthening the connections between science, economy and society to encourage innovation
  • Establishing an effective management system for science and innovation in the country
  • Ensuring excellence and availability of human resources for science and economy and social affairs
  • Improving international cooperation in the field of science and innovation
  • Increasing investment in research and development through public funding and encouraging the investments of the business sector in research and development.

To conclude, Dr. Nedovic stressed out that ‘measures and activities, including a timeline, tasks and bodies and organisational competence for the implementation of this strategy shouldbe specified in Action Plans and By-laws implementing the new Strategy. Action Plan should be adopted by the Government before the end of the year 2017’’. 

The world famous innovation hubs are all located in the vicinity of excellent academic institutions. Investing in young talented people and giving them the means and the freedom to excel, is probably the most sustainable way to boost innovation. That’s what we successfully do at EPFL in Switzerland,” said Olivier Küttel, Head of European Public Affairs at EPFL, who took part in the public-private discussion at the event, about opportunities and challenges related to encouraging and stimulating the creation and development of innovative companies in Serbia. 

Panel participants discussed about the importance of the cooperation between research institutions and private enterprises, and the need to develop carefully selected policy actions that will support innovation-driven development of the most promising economic sectors in Serbia, such as agrifood and ICT sector. Also, the role of digitalization as a means for innovation was stressed out.

Panel participants:

  • Dr. Olivier Küttel, Head of European Public Affairs, EPFL
  • Prof. Dr. Viktor Nedović, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia
  • Dr. Ana Govedarica, General Manager Roche d.o.o. Serbia
  • Mrs. Gordana Danilović Grković, STP Director
  • Mr. Mirko Đurić, CEO InterVenture Sourcing AG
  • Mr. Igor Bogićević, Executive Board member Initiative Digital Serbia