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Supporting an Innovation Agenda for the Western Balkans - Tools and Methodologies

MATUSIAK Monika; KLEIBRINK Alexander; ANDONOVA Elena; BODEN John Mark; CETL Vlado; DIUKANOVA Olga; DOSSO Mafini; DUSART Jean; GKOTSIS Petros; GNAMUS Ales; KLEIBRINK Alexander; KOTSEV Alexander; LAVALLE Carlo; MANDRAS Giovanni; MATUSIAK Monika; RADOVANOVIC Nikola; RAINOLDI Alessandro; SLAVCHEVA Milena; VESKOVIC Miroslav; HOLLANDERS Hugo; NDUBUISI Gideon; OWUSU Solomon; RADOSEVIC Slavo

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Albania Albania

Facts & Figures                                                                            

  • Population (2017): 2.9 million (WB)
  • GDP per capita in PPS (2018): 31 (EU28=100) (Eurostat)
  • 126th largest economy in the world in 2017 (WB)
  • Global Innovation Index 2019: 83/129 (WIPO)
  • Global Competitiveness Index 2019: 81/141 (WEF)
  • Gross domestic expenditure on R&D in % of GDP (2017): n/a (Eurostat)
  • Government effectiveness score (-2.5 to 2.5; 2017): 0.08 (World Bank)
  • Scientific/technical journal articles per million inhabitants (2016): 66.44 (World Bank)
  • Ease of Doing Business score 2019: 69.51 (World Bank)

Albania registered in the Smart Specialisation Platform (S3P) in November 2017. Albania's smart specialisation process is currently being prepared with assistance from DG NEAR and the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The S3 process will follow JRC's methodological framework for smart specialisation in the EU enlargement and neighbourhood countries.

In 2018, Albania formed an S3 Working Group that is currently coordinating further steps in preparing the collection of data and the entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP). A road map for the S3 process has been drafted and the mapping process is being prepared with TAIEX support. Albania's smart specialisation process will be organised at the national level but take a regional perspective by looking at the development state and potential of each of Albania's 12 counties (qark).

The National Strategy of Scientific Research, Technology and Innovation 2017-2022 was approved in 2017 and is implemented by two agencies, the National Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation (NASRI) and the Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA). Albania is an associated country to the EU's science and innovation framework programme Horizon 2020, meaning that legal entities from Albania can participate under the same conditions as legal entities from EU Member States.

Albania is among the non-EU countries that have initiated their S3 process development (Source: JRC)
 

In April 2018, a comprehensive training on S3 with the focus on the entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) was organised in Ljubljana. Participants were presented with good practice examples and trained on how to prepare the EDP and its major steps, what challenges to expect, and how to overcome them.
In July 2018, a well-attended awareness raising event took place in Tirana. The event was funded by UNDP and co-organised by JRC. Presentations covered main steps in the S3 process and overall challenges with a special focus on mapping.

In November 2018, a TAIEX workshop on smart specialisation took place in Brussels. During the workshop, good practice examples from the EU and the Western Balkans on how to organise the mapping process and the EDP and how to monitor smart specialisation were introduced.

Albania is covered by the Technology Transfer Capacity Building in the Western Balkans (EU4Tech) project funded by DG NEAR. This project aims at enhancing technology transfer, contract research, management of science parks and incubators, financial instruments for technology transfer, and investor readiness.

Currently, a quantitative mapping of the country's scientific, innovative and economic potential is taking place. After the quantitative mapping, the qualitative mapping is expected to be carried out with support from DG NEAR and JRC.

On NUTS-3 level, the country consists of 12 counties called qarke. The qualitative mapping is likely to consider the qark level to reveal the strengths and weaknesses and to inform the EDP.

The mapping process will be confronted with challenges in procuring the quantitative data needed because fine-tuned statistical data is not available in every case. During the quantitative mapping phase, therefore, new and innovative ways of measuring and assessing the economic, scientific and innovative potential of regions and sectors will have to be developed and applied.

The entrepreneurial discovery process will start after the mapping phase that was recently begun, and is expected to include stakeholders from across the country's region to ensure that the resulting RIS3 will take into account a regional perspective.

The S3 process in Albania is led by the S3 Working Group whose work is coordinated by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth. The same institution will have important role in the implementation of the RIS3. To ensure the effectiveness of RIS3 implementation, an action plan complementary to the strategy is supposed to be prepared by the Albanian S3 Working Group. The action plan will include various instruments and action lines for the support of targeted priority areas.

Inter-agency cooperation will be important for the efficient implementation of the RIS. In particular, since NASRI implements research-oriented policies and AIDA implements policies directed at private-sector innovation, there is a need for ensuring the coordination between these two agencies (OECD). The EDP can serve to align the work of these and other agencies and stakeholders.

The draft strategy is planned to be finalised by the end of 2020.
 

Below, expert assessments of Albania's R&I system and policies undertaken in October 2019 are given.

Note: Scores for each of the 16 sub-dimensions are on a scale from 0-5; 0 = no information available

In Albania's S3 process, some challenges will have to be overcome. Recommended steps include the following ones:

  • Performing a thorough qualitative mapping exercise to compensate for a lack of data for the quantitative mapping;
  • Ensuring participation of stakeholders from the regional level during the EDP.
     

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