Unlocking the potential for regional collaboration in the ICT domain in the Western Balkans

Publication article | | RADOVANOVIC Nikola; REID Alasdair; JEVREMOVIC Aleksandar; GERUSSI Elisa

The Western Balkan economies are carrying out the Smart Specialisation process by following the Smart Specialisation framework for the EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region, with the support of the Joint Research Centre. One of the crucial stages of the process is to identify priority areas for intervention, where the policy instruments and measures for Smart Specialisation should be targeted at. As the economies of the Western Balkan region advanced through the process, it has been observed that some of the priority areas identified in their respective Smart Specialisation efforts are mutual to the entire region. The analyses that led to the identification of such priority areas revealed that not only common priority areas are being identified, but also particular strengths and challenges that the economies are facing for using their full potential are likely to be similar. As these Smart Specialisation process were coordinated at the national level, it was important to share such strengths and challenges, as well as main characteristics and drivers of the identified priority areas for the benefit of the entire region. For this purpose, the Joint Research Centre launched the series of thematic workshops addressing these common final or preliminary priority areas. The second such workshop was targeting discussion on the ICT priority domain and was held on September 26 and 27. This report provides main findings from the thematic workshop on the ICT priority area. It elaborates on the main elements of the ICT as priority domain in each Western Balkan economy, builds on the available studies and analyses of the potential of this domain and provides the results of the discussion that was initiated on strengths and challenges for further development of this area by the key stakeholders from the Western Balkan economies and relevant international experts. The findings and recommendations from this report can be used for further policy making in the ICT area by the authorities in the Western Balkans. They also provide important information that can offer ways to tackle relevant challenges in the ICT domain and boost collaboration efforts in the research and innovation area in the Western Balkan region and beyond.


Smart Specialisation has gained traction in the Western Balkans. In the last four years, all Western Balkan economies made progress in developing their first Smart Specialisation strategies. This development led to revealing preliminary or final priority areas in most of them, highlighting few potentially common ones for the entire region. This is the case with the ICT area which so far appeared in all finalised Smart Specialisation strategies as well as in the final analyses that provide priority areas that should enter the strategies. Having in mind that the Smart Specialisation-related documentation aim at providing justification for selecting priority areas, as well as thorough analysis of their potential for national economies, there was a need to identify common niches for collaboration in research and innovation efforts and to highlight the challenges that the economies are facing concerning exploiting their full potential in the ICT area. This report highlights main challenges and opportunities that were emphasised during the discussion. The report also gives an expert overview of the context and provides recommendation for facing these challenges and promoting collaboration in the Smart Specialisation priority area of ICT for the benefit of the entire region.

Unlocking the potential for regional collaboration in the ICT domain in the Western Balkans.pdf
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