Advancement of digital trends and market competitiveness in BiH with the support of the European Union and the German government

Forum digitalnih inovacijskih habova (DIH Forum) prvi put na Maker Faire-u

The first Digital Innovation Hubs Forum (DIH Forum) was held in Sarajevo this weekend, as part of the Sarajevo Maker Faire, which is also the first initiative of the Centre for Digital Innovations (DIH) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Sarajevo Maker Faire, which was visited by about 12,000 visitors and innovation enthusiasts during the weekend, is among the world’s largest family-friendly festivals of invention, creativity and technology, where all digital innovation centres presented their activities in Sarajevo.

“Digital and green transformation is one of the priorities, but also a prerequisite for the entry of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Union. It is a process that improves capacities and creates new jobs, and increases the GDP. It is important to provide financial support to the digital technology sector in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to join European programs and participate equally in the digitalization of Europe. It is also important that the institutions support the digital and green transformation, so that Bosnia and Herzegovina does not fall behind in the integration process”, said Stefano Ellero, head of Cooperation in the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who also opened the DIH Forum.

The EU4DigitalSME project established four digital innovation hubs (DIHs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (two in Sarajevo, one in Tuzla and one in Banja Luka), with the aim of developing digital technology in order to increase the competitiveness of domestic goods and services on the market, which would result in new jobs, economic growth and development. DIHs are of vital importance for Bosnia and Herzegovina because they enable small and medium-sized enterprises to develop skills, stimulate innovation and attract investments by mastering the possibilities of digital technology. An important moment is certainly the establishment of a platform for cooperation, whereby Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a competitive player on the global market.

The establishment of digital innovation hubs and the establishment of a digitalization ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina are jointly financed by the European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ) through the project Innovation and Digitization of small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU4DigitalSME.

 “I am glad that this Faire has attracted all generations. This is very important, in order for digitalization to develop as efficiently as possible in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The idea of this project is to implement a long-term digitization program. This is very important because many are afraid of new possibilities, even though they open the way for innovation and new solutions. This is a great opportunity to not only develop digitization skills, but also to find potential investors. People in the business need to know how to get involved before they enter the market, and this is a great opportunity to raise a business, which gives small enterprises access to the international market, gives them new opportunities and offers interesting partnerships. Thanks to this, companies can develop some of their products and services, and GIZ is here to support Bosnia and Herzegovina and anyone who wants to digitize their business”, said Eva Naher, program director at GIZ.

In the digital age we live in, more than 50% of the world’s population has internet access. In our country, this number is much smaller, but it is growing rapidly. This means that we have an extraordinary opportunity to use digital technology for economic growth, social progress and innovations. This was the topic of the round table, with Drago Gverić from DIH “IDEMO” from Banja Luka, Miralem Bulić from DIH “Industrijski centar” in Tuzla, Nedim Čelebić from DIH “its4Health” and Isan Selimović from DIH “Digital” from Sarajevo, as speakers.

Digitization also brings challenges that are primarily reflected in the gap between advanced and less advanced groups. Therefore, cooperation is important so that everyone who participates in the digital world and on the market has equal opportunities. In addition, cyber security is also very important so that all participants are protected from cyberattacks. This was pointed out by speakers from developed European countries, where digital technologies and innovations have been developing for years.

In addition to the best models in practice that were presented from digital innovation hubs from Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banja Luka and Mostar, the DIH Forum was an opportunity to hear experts and leaders in the field of digitization from Romania, Slovenia, Italy and Austria, who shared their knowledge, previous experience and presented how to deal with these challenges and use the possibilities of digitization for the purpose of common socio-economic prosperity. The general conclusion of the Maker Faire Sarajevo was that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a prospective area and that with current resources and new experiences, and with the help of EU projects, through DIHs supported by the German government, an ecosystem for digitization can be created that will trace the country’s path to the European market.

“Digital and green transformation can progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We transfer knowledge and skills to make our system more efficient. We have applications, but we do not have sufficiently developed infrastructure and research capacities to create new businesses. In our country, most research is done in the industry, but many companies develop only certain sectors. Today, 70% of the industry is being innovated and digitized, but educational and institutional management are lagging behind. Statistically speaking, we discovered that only one out of five people in our country is ready to do something innovative at work”, said Edin Škaljić, founder of the Sarajevo Maker Faire, in his speech.

The project “Innovations and digitalization of small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, which includes the EU4DigitalSME project creates a favourable environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to successfully implement digitalization and innovation transformations. Through access to innovative technologies, skills and services, the project supports the creation of a favourable business environment for the technological transformation of SMEs and start-up companies in competitive sectors. The “EU4DigitalSME” project is worth 6.1 million euros, with the EU allocating 5 million euros and the Federal Republic of Germany 1.1 million euros. EU4DigitalSME, together with the “Go Digital in Bosnia and Herzegovina” project, is part of the larger EU4SMEs program for the digital transformation of SMEs financed by the European Union with 14 million euros.


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