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


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Serbia Serbia

Facts & Figures                                                                             

  • Population (2017): 7.02 million (WB)
  • GDP per capita in PPS (2018): 40 (EU28=100) (Eurostat)
  • Global Innovation Index (2019): 57/129 (WIPO)     
  • Global Competitiveness Index (2019): 72/141 (WEF)
  • Gross domestic expenditure on R&D in % of GDP (2017): 0.87 (EUROSTAT)
  • Government effectiveness score (-2.5 to 2.5; 2017): 0.19 (WB)
  • Scientific/technical journal articles per million inhabitants (2018): 646.2 (World Bank)
  • Ease of Doing Business score (2019): 48/190 (WB)
Serbia registered on the Smart Specialisation (S3) platform on November 4, 2015. The Smart Specialisation process in Serbia started in 2017, with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development taking charge of the coordination of the process by establishing an Inter-ministerial working group for the development of the Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). Under the guidance and support by the JRC and by thoroughly following the JRC methodological framework for smart specialisation in the EU enlargement and neighbourhood countries, Serbia has so far performed efficiently with the results of the process having been used as an example of the good practice in the region. Serbia has initiated the RIS3 adoption process in February 2020.
Serbian S3 team has undergone one-week training on S3 in Seville, Spain, in January 2017. This enabled the country's S3 team to take on the first steps of the S3 process and divide the tasks between its own operational and analytical teams. Substantial work of both teams supervised by the Inter-ministerial working group induced efficient mapping phase. In April 2018, a comprehensive training on S3 with a focus on the entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) was organised in Ljubljana. Apart from participating at the training, the Serbian S3 team agreed on the next steps of the S3 roadmap, including the EDP phase.
Mapping of economic, innovative and scientific potential in Serbia was finalised in November 2017 by Fraunhofer ISI. The analysis sought to identify potential S3 priority domains in Serbia, based on the regional perspective. The data has been collected with the support from the country's S3 analytical team led by the Institute Mihajlo Pupin. The analysis revealed several potential priority areas for the EDP phase, based on the division to following regions:
1) Belgrade: computer programming and ICT, R&D and technical consultancy, creative economy, and monetary intermediation;
2) Vojvodina: automotive industry, agricultural economy (including processing industries), petrochemical industry, plastics industry;
3) Šumadija and Western Serbia: agri-/horti-/silvicultural economy (including processing industries), automotive industry, textile industry, plastics industry, metal industry;
4) Southern and Eastern Serbia: agri-/horticultural economy (including processing industries), textile industry, rubber industry, electrical engineering.
Additional qualitative analysis has been carried out by the country's analytical team in order to validate the results of the mapping report.
The results of the mapping analysis were validated by the qualitative analysis through interviews and case studies, such as the Innovation Camp which was organised in December 2017 to discuss the main challenges and recommendations for the ICT industry in Serbia, as one of the strongest performers of the Serbian economy. Conclusions from these analyses led to the development of the framework for the EDP, which encompasses series of dialogues between various stakeholders with diverse background (private sector, public sector, academia, civil society, etc.) who will discuss selected priority domains in order to analyse them thoroughly and identify the conclusive list of priority domains. The EDP team as well as the EDP coordination team have been established for this process. The EDP has commenced in March 2019 and has been carried out with the support of other stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Economy, Chamber of Commerce, Public Policy Secretariat and other. It included several series of workshops in the country and was finalised in June 2019.

The S3 process in Serbia is led by the Inter-ministerial working group whose work is coordinated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The same institution will have an important role in the implementation of the RIS3. For the highest effectiveness of implementation, an action plan to the strategy should be prepared by the Inter-ministerial working group. The action plan should include various instruments and action lines for the support of targeted priority areas.

The expert consultation on the monitoring and implementation tools for Serbian RIS3 has been finalised in October 2019. Serbia initiated the adoption process of its RIS3 in February 2020.

Expert assessment of Serbian R&I system and policies undertaken in October 2019 is given below:

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

Source: Country expert evaluation workshop, 2019

Serbia is a frontrunner in the smart specialisation in the Western Balkans. The phases of the process which have been completed so far have been effective and can serve as an example of the good practice. It is necessary to:

- align the final strategy document with the findings from the EDP and mapping exercise;

- maintain high involvement of stakeholders in the continuous EDP;

- maintain evidence-based approach throughout the S3 process.

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