Digital innovations are a way forward for companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as highlighted during the Forward Conference in Banja Luka.
The Forward Conference, organized by the Innovation Centre Banja Luka (ICBL), took place on December 2, 2022. The conference was held in the premises of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Banja Luka and it gathered multiple experts and enthusiasts in the fields of digitalization and technology from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Czech Republic.
This year’s Forward Conference focused on the regional perspective of the digital economy primarily because of its impact on the development of the Western Balkans. The focus was on digital innovation and how it can help with opportunities to strengthen competitiveness of SMEs. The role of digital innovation hubs (DIHs) as policy instruments to strengthen digitalization efforts was especially highlighted. Through panel discussions, participants from public and private organizations and SMEs shared relevant experiences and lessons learnt on digitalization requirements and opportunities
Mr. Drago Gverić, director of Innovation Center Banja Luka (ICBL) that traditionally organizes this event, said that this conference puts into focus regional perspective of digital economy, mainly due to the effect it has on the economy and the fact that is strengthens the companies. Representative of the Republika Srpska Government, Denis Tokanović, stated that the Government has ensured significant funding support for digitalisation process and that it is of key importance to build infrastructure for data sharing.
Representatives of science and technology parks, development agencies, DIHs and other actors from the region participated and discussed how projects and companies that develop new products and processes can be financed, especially through various projects and partnerships. Panellists also compared businesses practices from the EU and the world to the ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina and gave suggestions to the local companies on how to stand out from the crowd and improve.
Three recently formed digital innovation hubs (DIH Idemo, DIH Digital Storm and DIH Its4Health) presented themselves at the event in the separate discussion panel.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) project manager Eva Näher of “Innovation and Digitalisation in SMEs in Bosnia and Hercegovina” also spoke about the relevance of the project, which aims to support the digitalization of small and medium enterprises in the country through digital innovation hubs. The project is financed by the European Union and Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by GIZ. It’s worth noting that Innovation Centre Banja Luka is the lead partner of the DIH IDEMO, which is one the DIHs supported by the project.
Visitors also got to hear from media professionals, project managers and public relations experts, all of which had ample experience when it comes to the topics of digitalization.