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


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Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina

Facts & Figures                                                                            

  • Population (2017): 3.5 million (WB)
  • GDP per capita in PPS (2018): 31 (EU28=100) (Eurostat)
  • 115th largest economy in the world in 2017 (WB)
  • Global Innovation Index 2019: 76/129 (WIPO)     
  • Global Competitiveness Index 2019: 92/141 (WEF)
  • Gross domestic expenditure on R&D in % of GDP (2016): 0.24 (Eurostat)
  • Government effectiveness score (-2.5 to 2.5; 2017): -0.48 (World Bank)
  • Scientific/technical journal articles per million inhabitants (2016): 143.81 (World Bank)
  • Ease of Doing Business score 2019: 63.82 (World Bank)

The Smart Specialisation (S3) process in Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently in preparation, following a recent decision by the council of ministers. The S3 process will follow the Joint Research Centre (JRC)'s methodological framework for smart specialisation in the EU enlargement and neighbourhood countries. The S3 team is currently being formed.

The general framework relevant for S3 in Bosnia and Herzegovina includes the country's governance architecture which includes the state level, the two entities (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska), and Brcko District. On the state level, the government approved its revised Science and Technology Development Strategy 2018-2022. The Republika Srpska has a Strategy and Policy of Industrial Development 2016-2020 that includes innovation policy measures as well as a Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development. A draft strategy for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was published in 2012.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is an associated country to the EU's science and innovation framework programme Horizon 2020, meaning that legal entities from Bosnia and Herzegovina can participate under the same conditions as legal entities from EU Member States.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the countries that have not yet initiated their S3 process development (Source: JRC)

The Republika Srpska registered in the Smart Specialisation Platform (S3P) in January 2018.

From 2013 to 2018, the Programme for Local Self-government and Economic Development (EU ProLocal) co-funded by the EU and implemented by German technical cooperation (GIZ) introduced participatory approaches of economic development on the local level and set up local action groups including municipalities and the private sector in four locations.

In April 2018, a comprehensive training on S3 with focus on the entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) was organised in Ljubljana. In November 2018, a TAIEX workshop on smart specialisation took place in Brussels.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 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.

The mapping process will be supported by technical assistance from JRC and start once the smart specialisation process is kicked off from the side of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The entrepreneurial discovery process will start after the mapping phase. However, since Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet begun its S3 process, the EDP cannot yet be scheduled with certainty. A particular task in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be to ensure the adequate participation of stakeholders representing all three ethnic groups, and in considering the two entities and Brcko District.

According to the OECD, Bosnia and Herzegovina's governance capacities in science, technology and innovation policy are marked by a lack of overall coordination and strategies and missing innovation agency. Competences in implementing measures of innovation policy are fragmented across line ministries as well as across governmental levels (state, entity, canton). The lack of a specific innovation agency for Bosnia and Herzegovina further weakens institutional capacities for designing and implementing measures of innovation policy (OECD).

The EDP may eventually offer a chance to improve coordination and alignment between government agencies and stakeholders from different territorial levels.

The Smart Specialisation (S3) process in Bosnia and Herzegovina has not started yet. The territorial level at which to design RIS3 and to carry out the EDP will have to be agreed upon prior to starting the process. In particular, the role of the entity level will have to be considered since implementation will to a considerable degree be related to competences attributed to the entities.

Below, expert assessments of Bosnia and Herzegovina'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 Bosnia and Herzegovina'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 possible lack of data for the quantitative mapping;
  • Coordinating stakeholders from the federal level and the two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska as well as from Brcko District;
  • Aligning policy priorities across policy areas and sectors.

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