CONNECTO 2023: Strengthening the economy through cooperation between the academia and SMEs

The CONNECTO 2023 Conference was held at the INTERA Technology Park in Mostar on July 25, 2023. It gathered domestic entrepreneurs and members of the diaspora for the purpose of intensifying the cooperation and achieving better linkages and movement of people and ideas. In addition to this, this year’s CONNECTO focuses on the cooperation between the academia and small and medium-enterprises. The CEO of the INTERA Technology Park, Vedran Šimunović, emphasized this fact in his introductory remarks: ”This year, in addition to a focus on the diaspora, we are also focusing on the production sector, engineers, production, export and networking between SMEs and the academia”.

The importance of such cooperation lies in the sharing of know-how and resources, which stimulates innovative solutions that will have a positive impact on the economy and society in general. The synergy between the academia and business companies has the potential to create a basis for sustainable development and long-term success in facing the challenges of the digital era.

In her press statement, Eva Maria Näher, GIZ Programme Director, spoke about the importance of the CONNECTO Conference and announced the launching of an innovation voucher scheme that aims to promote the cooperation between the industry and the academia: ”The issue of innovation and use of state-of-art technologies is extremely important for small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We therefore very much appreciate the CONNECTO Conference, since we believe that it can support such efforts. Digitalisation and innovation, as well as the cooperation between the academia and the private sector, are key issues. For this very reason it is important that the meeting between representatives of the diaspora and domestic companies is taking place here. INTERA is one of the key players in this ecosystem and were are therefore launching another project together, the Innovation Voucher Scheme. Different businesses can apply for it in order to get help with the development of their innovative ideas’‘.

The Innovation Voucher Scheme is part of the BOOST project that is supported by 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 Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ. This project launched a Public Call for SMEs during the conference. SMEs will be able to apply with their innovative projects and obtain direct support through cooperation with the representatives of the academia and digital innovation hubs.

Marin Čuljak, Advisor to the Mayor of Mostar, Gilles Rebattet, a representative of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eva Maria Näher, GIZ Programme Director, and Dobrila Boba Vukmanović, a representative of USAID, attended the CONNECTO 2023 Conference and spoke before the audience. In addition to this, the conference enabled the participants to listen to interesting presentations and discussions. Particularly significant topics included the importance of the diaspora for the economic development, including an example from Ireland that was presented by Kingsley Aikins, as well as panels about the production sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the importance of the cooperation of the academia and the industry.

Overall, the CONNECTO 2023 Conference successfully promoted the cooperation between the academia and economy and laid the foundation for further investments and business relations with the diaspora, which will strengthen the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the whole region. The INTERA Technology Park has proven to be an important partner in the field of digitalisation. It is also supported by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany in the framework of the project Covid-19 Investment Response/EU4BusinessRecovery.Within this project, INTERA and the Chamber of Commerce of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are implementing the RECOOPER project that aims to support the recovery of the tourism sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina and brand Herzegovina as a digital nomad destination.  


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