”We live in a country that is facing numerous challenges, including those related to pollution, insufficient river management and decreasing competitiveness of the economy and emigration of population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have a responsibility towards young people”, says Edis Arifagić, Head of the Research Department, while sitting at the state-of-art corner of the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST) that is celebrating its 20th anniversary of work with young people. ”Digitalisation and greening require a serious approach and we are aware of it.”
”Young people inspire every achievement at the University”, says Arifagić, who graduated in the USA, did his MA in England and decided to join the SSST team after almost 20 years of work at international organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and worldwide due to his wish to bring about revolutionary changes.
”We started cooperating with GIZ and we have a vision of what our country should look like. We are already working on this,” says Arifagić and adds that it was interesting to see that there are sustainable models that can also be transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Arifagić explains that during a recent visit in Munich with GIZ they met leading sustainability companies, including also ”Wittmann”, a wood industry company focusing on green and circular economy, whose complete business model is sustainable and whose energy comes from renewable sources and solar energy.
”The whole transport carried out by the company is based on electric vehicles. This company’s heating system uses only heat pumps. The company also manages waste in such a manner that the whole wood scrap is turned into pellets, which is then distributed to the community and used for heating purposes for the whole area in which the company is located. It is fascinating”, explains Arifagić and adds that this is a typical example of circular economy and sustainability that have been incorporated by SSST in its development and sustainability, digitalisation and greening strategy for the coming period.
In addition to the German company Wittmann, the visit also included the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
”It is a giant, both in educational and industrial terms. The university adopted a strategy entitled ”The State of the Future”, which is interesting, since its content points to a holistic process.
This means that there is no segment of functioning of the institution that has not been analysed from the perspective of sustainability, such as the maintenance of the building or energy efficiency of the building envelope – its facade, doors and windows and roofs. All buildings that are constructed must have a zero carbon footprint, which is unbelievable for us. This is something we are now proposing to our partners in Sarajevo, since we wish to transfer all the possible best practices to our university as part of the sustainable future strategy, but also do more than that.
In addition to the green agenda and sustainability, representatives of SSST also learned about the business model of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) during their visit with GIZ in Germany. The university is considered the leading entrepreneurial university in the EU and students developing new projects can be seen in all parts of the campus, irrespective of the sector – be it green economy, sustainability, medicine or anything else.
”This was extremely inspiring for us and we are trying to transfer everything we have seen to our processes that are implemented at the university”, says Arifagić.
Arifagić is of the opinion that the visit to the Fraunhofer Institute, a scientific research institute in Germany, has shown the role and importance of cooperation between the academia, business sector and government, which results in synergies and innovations that absolutely dominate in the sector of sustainability and green economy.
SSST has already started working on digitalisation models in cooperation with GIZ and the project Digitalisation and Innovation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU4DigitalSME, which is co-funded by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany. Together with the Institute of Metrology of Bosnia and Herzegovina (IMBIH), the Institute for Standardisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ISBIH) and Society for Medical and Biological Engineering in Bosnia and Herzegovina (DMBIUBIH), SSST established a consortium, ”Its4Health” hub, which aims to help Bosnia and Herzegovina achieve EU competitiveness and successful entrepreneurship standards.
The lab will offer a range of services to the country’s laboratory and testing facilities, aimed at bringing these facilities into the digital age. This will include support to data digitalisation and management in order to facilitate the use of big data, access to international certification regimes, reengineering of workflows, processes and structures, and lab automation, among others.
”One of the key obstacles in digitalisation and green transformation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the lack of a coherent national strategy. We do not have heroes of our society, the way this is the case with Germany. We have to shape our role when it comes to providing support to such processes. We want to set an example for others, for example at our campus, where electric vehicles will be used. We are trying to incorporate SDGs in the curricula. Our cooperation with GIZ at the hub ”Its4Health” aims to improve the medical and health sector that lack quality in our country. Also, when it comes to greening, we aim to avoid plastic being used for expendable medical supplies. Such an approach is more costly now, but is more cost-effective over the long term”, says Arifagić and adds that he sees SSST as part of the innovative ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina.