NALED: ‘A key obstacle for innovators in Serbia is funding’

“One of the main obstacles for innovators in Serbia is financing, especially in the initial phase of product or service development,” said the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED).

More than 100 innovators provided input on how to improve the innovation ecosystem at three round tables organised in Niš, Novi Sad and Belgrade.

The analysis of the current situation in innovation and the process of digital transformation, presented by NALED during the Month of Innovation, shows that Serbia’s budget allocations for research and development are only 0.89% of the gross domestic product (GDP), which is two and a half times less than the EU average, where the budget allocation is 2.19%.

Private sector investments, which accounts for only 0.36% of GDP, is also half of what the private sector invests in the new EU member states and 1/4 of investment at EU level. “Because of this, but also because of insufficient information out there, 9 out of 10 innovators in Serbia self-finance their innovative product or service and up to 80% of them do not apply for support programmes, while only 1% uses alternative sources of financing,” NALED adds.

As a solution to this problem, the proposal is to increase budget allocations, the number of funds available for financing at an early stage of development, mainly through grants, as well as a the state having a greater in reducing the investment risk for alternative sources of financing through co-investments or guarantee schemes.

NALED states that there is room for improvement in cooperation between science and business because data show that the number of researchers in Serbia is twice lower than the EU average and is mainly concentrated in the higher education segment, while the private sector employs only 2% of researchers in Serbia, compared to 46% in the EU.

“Only 3% of corporate innovators are engaged in innovation activities in cooperation with the academic community. In order for Serbia to become competitive with developed countries, it is recommended to reward all forms of academic cooperation with business, introduce industrial doctorates modelled on leading innovation countries, as well as techno-entrepreneurship courses at technical faculties,” NALED said, underlining the importance of championing innovation.

Analyses show that only 2% of innovators in Serbia have applied for a patent and that the number of registered patents per million inhabitants is only 50, which is almost five times lower than the EU average, where it stands at 230.

(N1, 09.12.2021)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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