The EU Delegation and GIZ opened a public call for partnerships in the field of technological innovation

The EU Delegation and GIZ opened a public call for partnerships in the field of technological innovation

The InnoDIGI/EU4DigitalSME team held a hybrid event to officially announce the First Call for Project Proposals to Support Innovative Technology Projects. The call is intended for public-private and private-private partnerships between industry, associations, business networks and research and development institutions in order to achieve the technological transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises, with the aim of supporting their growth and the application of their innovative solutions.

The invitation was announced by Gilles Rebattet, head of the operations section for economic development, natural resources, infrastructure at the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eva Näher, program director at GIZ, and Snežana Tomašević, grant manager at GIZ.

The public call is an effort of the EU4DigitalSME project, which is co-financed by the European Union and the Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ), and implemented by GIZ, to increase the capacity of BiH in supporting the development of the private sector through innovation and digitalization. The invitation is focused on the transfer of knowledge and exchange with organizations for research and development (Reasearch & Development) from the countries of the Western Balkans, and the total budget is EUR 700,000.00.

“Our slogan is – Together to innovative business models. What does this mean for Bosnia and Herzegovina? We are convinced that innovation and digitalization will make the business of small and medium-sized enterprises more competitive, will lead to better partnerships, will become better, more resistant to crises, and the most important thing for us is definitely the creation of a favorable business environment specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition to the establishment of digital innovation hubs (DIH) supported by GIZ, cooperation between the private and scientific research sectors is now key in this area,” Eva Maria Näher, director of the Program for Innovation and Digitization in Small and Medium Enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointed out during the presentation of the Call. GIZ.

More than 98% of all private enterprises in BiH are small and medium-sized enterprises; they make up about 68% of all jobs and contribute about 62% of the total added value in BiH. The SME sector is therefore of utmost importance for creating jobs and income. Most new jobs are created by export-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises, including those in the fast-growing IT sector. Contribution to the increased use of digital technologies and digital innovations will result in increased performance and competitiveness of both small and medium-sized enterprises and relevant service providers on domestic, regional and international markets.

During the presentation of the public call, Snežana Tomašević, grant manager, GIZ, pointed out that the goal of realizing digitization is to improve the ecosystem for small and medium-sized enterprises, and to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises in the most painless process of transition to digitization. In this context, he also expects cooperation within the countries of the Western Balkans.

“From the invitation, we expect cooperation between the private sector and the academy to be established. We expect to have a minimum of 7 projects of cooperation between the private and academic sectors. Also, we expect that at least 5 of these projects will have established cooperation with other countries of the Western Balkans, considering our goal of integration. We believe that each of these projects will generate at least one innovative solution, which would ensure competitiveness, growth and openness to innovation of companies. Gender equality will be woven throughout the story, namely we expect that at least 30 percent of the team members will be women,” Tomašević added.

When asked what are the challenges of the European Union in the context of investing in digitization in BiH, Gilles Rebattet, head of the operations section for economic development, natural resources, infrastructure at the EU Delegation in BiH, also emphasized that small and medium-sized enterprises are a central part of this call.

“In this environment, SMEs face similar challenges in development and digital transformations, often having poor access to money for these purposes. The digital sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina offers services that it markets on the international market, but for small companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, unfortunately, the fees for such services are high. In the process of digitization and innovation in BiH, it is very important to involve the academic community, in order to get the best result of cooperation and development. Only by joining everyone together can we achieve this effect,” concluded Mr. Rebattet.

It is important to note that after the publication of the Public Call, two online info sessions will be held for potential candidates on February 14 and 16, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. For more information about the Call, follow the EU4DigitalSME website.

The value of the “EU4DigitalSME” project is 6.1 million euros, of which the European Union provided 5 million euros, and the Federal Republic of Germany 1.1 million euros. The project lasts until 2024 and is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Contact: Mirna Mekić, Communications Specialist, GIZ

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