Yesterday, a panel on the state of public policies supporting innovation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Banja Luka. In addition to an exchange of best practices in the region and our country, the panel resulted in recommendations on the improvement of the policy framework for the support provided to small and medium-sized enterprises. It was concluded that there was room for improvement in the field of innovation and that the competent ministries and development agencies were investing efforts to facilitate the process for entrepreneurs.
The ”Dialogue on Public Policies for Innovation” was organised by GIZ and OECD in the framework of the project ”Innovation and Digitalisation in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU4DigitalSME” that is co-funded by the European Union and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The event was opened by Donald Prohaska, GIZ Deputy Project Manager and Senior Advisor. Prohaska spoke about the joint activities with partners from the relevant national institutions regarding the improvement of the policy framework for the provision of support to small and medium-sized enterprises and pointed out that the project support was provided in compliance with the findings and recommendations of the last analysis of the quality of implementation of the EU SBA in our country provided in the OECD SME Policy Index – Western Balkans and Turkey 2022.
”One of the recommendations regarding the improvement in the field of innovation is related to the harmonisation of strategic priorities in this field and a coordinated approach to the development of innovation policies. This recommendation is also the key reason why we are cooperating with OECD in order to support the establishment of platforms that facilitate a higher level of communication and coordination among the relevant actors in the so-called innovation eco-system and ultimately lead to better innovation policies”, said Prohaska and pointed out that it is necessary to not only act in the field of innovation, but also other fields mentioned in the report.
Key challenges, such as the insufficient level of scientific and technological activities, constitute an obstacle for public innovation policies. On the other hand, the strengthening of the innovation system is a key pre-requisite for the future economic prosperity of both the entities and the whole country and its EU accession.
Best practices in the region and the country
Milena Kostadinović, Operations Manager at the Innovation Fund of the Republic of Serbia, pointed out that in case of the development of technological entrepreneurship, innovations could stem from all fields of research and development. Kostadinović presented the best practices of the Innovation Fund, such as: the introduction of a support programme, good management and transparency in the development and implementation of policies and support programmes, use of expert committees for the selection, a sector-specific approach to the development of innovation support programmes and involvement of the diaspora as an additional source of financial and expert support.
One of the conclusions of the discussion was that there was a lack of exchanges of experiences between the private and public sector, which is a major obstacle for the development of businesses and projects. Although companies and businesses do not possess sufficient information about the initiatives of the competent ministries that support the development of innovation and innovation projects, there are examples of best practices in our country. In spite of challenges and obstacles, the company Elas Metalexpert introduced an innovation-based organisational culture and produced an innovative and multi-functional device Explorer that can also be used by disabled persons.
Sanja Milanović, an HR innovation consultant from the company Elas Metalexpert, pointed out that the private sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina was facing numerous difficulties when it came to innovations, such as the exposure to the risk of cost-efficiency of investments, difficult access to know-how and limited financial opportunities. She added, however, that the Ministry of Economy and Entrepreneurship, the Chamber of Commerce and investment agencies (EDA, RARS, CIDEA) were investing significant efforts in facilitating the process of innovation introduction for entrepreneurs.
”I believe that there is room for improvement, when it comes to the linkage of innovative start-up companies and companies that need their specific knowledge and services”, said Milanović.
The panel on public policies is one of four panels organised by GIZ and the Regional Programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for Southeast Europe.
The project ”Innovation and Digitalisation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina” that also includes the project EU4DigitalSME is creating a favourable environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to successfully implement digitalisation and innovation transformation. By facilitating access to innovative technologies, skills and services, the project is supporting the creation of a favourable business environment for the technological transformation of SMEs and start-up companies in competitive sectors. The value of the project ”EU4DigitalSME” amounts to 6.1 million EUR. Out of this amount, the EU allocated 5 million EUR and the Federal Republic of Germany provided 1.1 million EUR. EU4DigitalSME and the project ”Go Digital in Bosnia and Herzegovina” are part of a larger programme EU4SMEs for the digital transformation of SMEs, which is funded by the EU with an amount of 14 million EUR.