SARAJEVO – Four digital innovation hubs (DIHs) from Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with ”Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH” (GIZ) in the framework of the EU4DigitalSME project that is financed by the European Union and the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ).
The establishment and support to DIH service development is one of key activities of the EU4DigitalSME project. The purpose is to contribute to the establishment of an ecosystem for digitalisation, automation and innovation at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The supported DIHs will ensure a state-of-art platform for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises in the improvement of their business processes, but also their structure and final products. By providing a wide scope of services to SMEs, such as tailored and specific digital solutions, DIHs will become a bridge between digital innovation and the business sector.
The selected DIHs that function as partnerships led by one of the institutions are: LabHUB – Sarajevo, led by the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST), IDEMO HUB – Banjaluka, led by the Innovation Centre Banja Luka, Digital Storm HUB – Sarajevo, led by the company QSS d.o.o. and Industrial HUB – Tuzla, led by the company Industrial Automation d.o.o.
The consortium comprising the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST), 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) with the initiative ”LabHub” is one of the four future DIHs that will be part of the development programme and aim to bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to EU standards of competitiveness and successful operations. As a result, the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST) will become part of a global initiative for the digitalisation of economic processes.
Professor Vjekoslav Doljan, PhD, the Rector of the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST), believes that it is crucial for Bosnia and Herzegovina to build innovation capacities as the only way to overcome the middle income trap.
”The loss of labour force and shrinking population or buyers can be overcome only by increasing the productivity and exports. The Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST) is one of the few institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina that have recognised this and will focus on this with the assistance of the European Union and the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ). With the assistance of GIZ, we will engage in efforts to expand this oasis to the largest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina by supporting and establishing innovation labs, increasing the number of start-ups and attracting venture capital”, said Domljan.
IDEMO HUB, which is a consortium consisting of the Innovation Centre Banja Luka (ICBL), the Development Agency of Republika Srpska (RARS), the Enterprise Development Agency (EDA), the Chamber of Commerce of Republika Srpska, and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering – University of Banja Luka, was established for the purpose of providing support to small and medium-sized companies in the field of metal and wood processing and IT sector. The establishment of this DIH will make it possible to test business ideas before investments, adopt new knowledge and skills, ensure networking among all relevant actors from Republika Srpska with the economy and DIHs throughout the European Union and improved access to investments.
Drago Gverić, Head of the Innovation Centre Banja Luka, believes that the local innovation ecosystem is characterised by a ”weak” digital innovation focus of export-oriented SMEs and an obvious lack of cooperation with the IT sector as a service provider and meso institutions that support innovations, growth and development of the business sector.
”DIH IDEMO intends to gather all relevant participants for the purpose of creating a digital innovation ecosystem with a special focus on the wood processing and metal processing sector. The mission of DIH is to provide services in the following areas: testing before investments, improvement of skills and knowledge, establishing contact with potential investors and opening up a regional perspective through networking with other EU digital innovation hubs”, says Gverić.
QSS d.o.o. from Sarajevo established Digital Storm HUB together with the association ”FabLab”. In the framework of the EU4DigitalSME project, it will receive the support to create and stimulate an ecosystem of digital innovations and encourage SMEs to invest in digitalisation in order to improve their market agility and competitiveness.
Digital Storm HUB is a continuation of the successful cooperation between FabLab and QSS, which started in 2015 in the field of digitalisation projects focusing on cloud solutions, data safety, and intellectual property protection, says Isan Selimović, Head of QSS d.o.o. Sarajevo.
”Our goal is to make Digital Storm HUB a leading regional competence centre and service provider in the field of digital innovation and transformation of small and medium-sized companies. We are happy to be part of the EU4DigitalSME project and we believe that the expertise and our innovative services will be helpful for all companies that wish to offer their solutions in the domestic or foreign market”, says Selimović.
Eva Näher, Programme Manager at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, believes that this will ensure access to digital tools for all small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
”Digital innovation hubs play a key role in the provision of support to businesses on their path towards the digitalisation and innovation of their products and business models. We are therefore glad to support several such initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to promote these topics and improve the competitiveness of the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, says Näher.
Contributing to an increased use of digital technologies and digital innovations will lead to improved performance and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises and relevant service providers in the local, regional and international market.
”Small and medium enterprises are key drivers of economic growth and development and the support in the field of digitalisation will help SMEs to be more competitive in the local and international markets. The funds allocated to support for the green and digital transition in the framework of the EU Pre-Accession Instrument (IPA) amount to around 50 million EUR and the support focuses in particular on small and medium-sized enterprises. Small and medium-sized enterprises must fully use innovative technologies, skills and services, not only to be able to grow in a sustainable manner, but also to survive in the economy of the future”, says Stefano Ellero, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The value of the project ”EU4DigitalSME” amounts to a total of 6.1 million EUR. The EU provided 5 million EUR and the Federal Republic of Germany provided 1.1 million EUR. The project lasts until 2024.