North Macedonia hosted the International Conference on Smart Specialisation in the Western Balkan and Türkiye
On October 18 and 19, 2022, the Marriott hotel in Skopje was the chosen venue for the international conference “Implementing the Western Balkan Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport – Support to Smart Specialisation in the Western Balkans and Türkiye”. More than 100 participants attended the event including high officials, policy makers, innovation practitioners, representatives from start-ups and SMEs, as well as members of academia, business society and civil organisations from the EU Enlargement region but also from the EU member states. The conference started with opening remarks by Fatmir Bytyqi, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, coordination of economic sectors and investment of North Macedonia, Alessandro Rainoldi, Head of the Territorial Development Unit of the Joint Research Centre, and video messages by Oliver Varhelyi, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, and Stephen Quest, Director General of the Joint Research Centre.
The agenda included a diverse group of panel discussions that sought to elaborate on the benefits of the implementation of EU-style innovation policies, with particular focus on Smart Specialisation in the EU Enlargement region concerning the Western Balkan Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Some of the main findings from the recently finalised stakeholder dialogue within the Smart Specialisation process in the host country were highlighted during these discussions. They served as a lead in to following sessions that yielded the discussion towards identifying opportunities that enhance innovation in the common priority areas and boost collaboration initiatives within the region.
The conference finalised with a series of parallel sessions that addressed three significant topics; the challenges of Smart Specialisation implementation in South-East Europe, appropriate indicators for mapping and monitoring Smart Specialisation priority domains, and the role of start-ups and SMEs in defining priority areas. These dialogues brought together a diverse spectrum of stakeholders and practitioners and facilitated an open discussion on the topic of Smart Specialisation from the Western Balkans and beyond.
As the Western Balkan economies and Türkiye are determined to advance their process in Smart Specialisation, the Joint Research Centre will continue to support their efforts along the way in cooperation with other European Commission services.