The EU Delegation and GIZ published a public call for technological innovation partnerships
The InnoDIGI/EU4DigitalSME team held a hybrid event during which the First Call for Project Proposals for Support to Innovative Technological Projects was published. The call is focused on public-private and private-private partnerships between the industry, associations, business networks and research and development institutions in order to achieve a technological transformation of SMEs and support their growth and application of their innovative solutions.
The call was announced by Gilles Rebattet, Head of Operations, Section for Economic Development, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eva Näher, GIZ Programme Director, and Snežana Tomašević, GIZ Grant Manager.
The public call is part of the efforts of the EU4DigitalSME project, which is co-financed by the European Union and Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ and aims to build the capacities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in providing support to the development of the private sector through innovation and digitalisation. The call focuses on a transfer of know-how and exchange of opinions with research and development organisations in the Western Balkans countries, and the total budget amounts to 700,000.00 EUR.
”Our slogan is – Together towards Innovative Business Models. What does this mean for Bosnia and Herzegovina? We are convinced that innovation and digitalisation will make the operations of small and medium-sized companies more competitive, lead to better partnerships, make them better, more resilient to crises, and, most importantly, they will create a favourable business environment specifically for small and medium-sized companies. In addition to the establishment of digital innovation hubs (DIHs) supported by GIZ, the cooperation between the private and scientific research sector is crucial for this part”, said Eva Maria Näher, GIZ Innovation and Digitalisation of SMEs in BiH Programme Director, during the presentation of the call.
More than 98% of all private companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina are small and medium-sized enterprises; they create around 68% of all jobs and have a share of around 62% in the total added value in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The SME sector is therefore of the utmost importance for the creation of jobs and generation of income. Most new jobs are created by export-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises, including those in the fast-growing IT sector. A contribution to an increased use of digital technologies and digital innovations will result in improved performance and competitiveness of both SMEs and the relevant service providers in the domestic, regional and international markets.
During the presentation of the public call, Snežana Tomašević, GIZ Grant Manager, pointed out that the goal of the digitalisation is the improvement of the SME ecosystem and strengthening of SMEs in order to make the digitalisation process as painless as possible. In this context, the Western Balkan countries are expected to cooperate.
‘‘We expect that the call will initiate cooperation between the private sector and the academia and anticipate that there will be at least 7 such cooperation projects. Also, we expect that at least 5 of these projects will establish cooperation with other Western Balkans countries, since our goal is networking. We believe that every of these projects will generate at least one innovative solution, which would ensure that companies are competitive, growing and open for innovation. Ensuring gender equality is part of the project and we expect that at least 30% of team members will be women”, added Tomašević.
While answering a question about the challenges faced by the EU in the context of investments in digitalisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gilles Rebattet, Head of Operations, Section for Economic Development, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, also pointed out that SMEs were a crucial part of this call.
”In this environment, SMEs are frequently facing similar challenges regarding development and digital transformation. They often have limited access to funds for these purposes. The digital sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina offers its services also abroad. However, the price of such services is too high for small enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is essential to involve the academia in the process of digitalisation and innovation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to achieve the best cooperation and development results. Such an effect may be achieved only if everyone joins their forces”, concluded Mr Rebattet.
It is important to mention that two digital info sessions will be held for potential candidates after the publication of the call, on February 14 and 16 2023 at 12:00. For more information about the call, please follow the website EU4DigitalSME.
The value of the ”EU4DigitalSME” project amounts to 6.1 million EUR, out of which the EU provided 5 million EUR, and the Federal Republic of Germany provided 1.1 million EUR. The project lasts until 2024 and is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Contact person: Mirna Mekić, Comunications Specialist, GIZ
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