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(updated 03/05/2022)

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Belgrade to get Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution, February 2022
7 February 2022 
 
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic attended today in Geneva the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Serbia, the first of its kind in the Western Balkans.
 
The agreement was signed at the headquarters of that forum by Director of the Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment Mihailo Jovanovic and Managing Director and Head of the Forum's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Jeremy Jurgens.
 
The centre in Serbia will be the 16th in the network of centres of the World Economic Forum in the world and the first in the region of the Western Balkans.
 
 
The new centre will start operating on 1 March and will function as a non-profit organisation and a platform for public-private partnership and cooperation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while the focus of work will be on artificial intelligence and bioengineering.
 
This centre will work within the Serbian government’s Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment and will cooperate with scientific institutes, state institutions and the private sector.
 
The signing of this document was also attended by founder and Executive Director of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab and President of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende, with whom Brnabic had previously met.
 
Addressing the press, Brnabic pointed out that this agreement is the result of many years of joint work between Serbia and the World Economic Forum. We started talking in 2018, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, then 2020 hampered us a bit, but we continued to plan in 2021 and here we are today, she said. According to her, the centre will be focused on the development of artificial intelligence, biomedicine and biotechnology, and on the ways in which digitalisation can raise the productivity of companies and the entire economy.
 
This is what further leads to higher salaries, a better standard of living, as well as to an economy that is mainly based on knowledge, creativity and innovation, Brnabic emphasised.
 
Today, we have received great recognition for everything that Serbia has done in the field of digitalisation, development of high technologies and paradigm shift – from an economy that was based on labour-intensive investments to digital development.
 
That is why this agreement shows that Serbia has been recognised as one of the leaders in the economy and IT industry in the last six years, the Prime Minister pointed out and assessed that this is the announcement of the beginning of an even closer cooperation between Serbia and WEF. She added that they will have a joint meeting with the 16 WEF centres for the fourth industrial revolution in the world every month, at which they will talk about what each of them is doing, since each has a different focus.
 
That is how we will hear what everyone is doing every month, learn from each other and I am sure that the centre in Belgrade will be one of the best, the Prime Minister said. According to her, this gives us visibility, the opportunity to further establish Serbia as an investment destination, a country good for living and investing in new technologies and knowledge.
 
Jovanovic said that the ecosystem formed around the centre will use the infrastructure of the National Platform for the Development of Artificial Intelligence, the Centre for Genome Sequencing and the future bioeconomic centre – BIO4 Campus.
 
Izvor/Foto: Tanjug
 

Cooperation between the startup community of Israel and Serbia, January 2022
The Innovation Department of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in cooperation with the Representative Office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in Israel held a Tech7 Webinar on Monday, January 17, 2022, starting at 10 am, where programs for the startup community of Serbia and Israel were presented.
 
The event was attended by representatives of relevant institutions from Israel and Serbia, which contribute to the improvement of startup ecosystems, such as: Tech7, Yazamut 360˚, Israel National Cyber ​​Directorate, Bar-Ilan University, Office of the Prime Minister - IT and Entrepreneurship Team, Ministry Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, Science and Technology Park Niš, Science and Technology Park Čačak, Science and Technology Park Novi Sad, Digital Serbia Initiative, Regional Chamber of Commerce Niš and Business Club Naissus.
 
The goal of the event was networking, as well as to exchange the experience and make new business opportunities in the startup ecosystem of these two countries. The event was interactive, where the participants, in addition to the opportunity to get information about the work of these institutions from Israel and Serbia, had the opportunity to present their business and initiate potential cooperation.
 
The introductory words were given by Bojana Krstić, the Head of the Innovation Department of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, who pointed out that this is the second event that connects institutions from Israel and Serbia. The initial event resulted in numerous interconnections, and was aimed at the BIO4 Campus - headed by the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia - and the possibility of cooperation with the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials of Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Such events will soon become a practice – because of the common goals and values ​​of these institutions.
 
Continuing the above, Aleksandar Nikolić, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Serbia in Israel and Director of the Representative Office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in Israel, referred to numerous opportunities for business development, emphasizing the connection and potential for cooperation between twin cities - Niš and Beer Sheva, and focused of talent recruitment and funds.
 
Mihailo Vesović, Director of the Sector for Strategic Analysis, Services and Internationalization of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, expressed words of support for organizing of the meeting between the two countries for a second time, and stressed the great potential for cooperation between representatives of present institutions.
 
Representatives of Tech7 (Harel Ram, Omri Yitro Dai, Daniel Martin and Itay Harel) presented the course of development of their organization from 2011 to 2019, pointing out all the factors that contributed to the improvement of infrastructure and the overall business organization. Tech7 encompasses innovation, entrepreneurship and the high-tech community, as well as startup, scale-up and senior-level development programs for companies. Cooperation with investment funds and business angels was underlined, and Mexico and Vietnam was mentioned as foreign partners, while cooperation with partners around the world is welcome. Also, cyber security was pointed out as a topic that will be significant in the coming period. Future activities will require the support of all actors, from the Government to the private sector, in order to provide the community with adequate solutions that include industry, startups, pilot programs and the wider company market.
 
Or Santo, a representative of the Yazamut 360 Entrepreneurship Center, attended the meeting and expressed interest and openness to the participation and contribution of this center in future activities.
 
Doron Lieberman, a representative of the INCD (Israel National Cyber ​​Directorate), stressed the importance of cyber solutions to be supported by the Government, as well as the important role of the private sector.
 
After presentations held by representatives of the institutions from Israel, the floor was given to domestic institutions that contribute to the development of startup ecosystems.
 
Milan Ranđelović, Director of the Science and Technology Park Niš, presented in detail the most important activities and plans of this institution. It is interesting that Niš is also a twin city with the Israeli city of Beer Sheva, where the headquarters of the Tech7 organization are located, which - as both sides hope - will influence future cooperation. Comparing the systems and opportunities they provide, Ranđelović offered concrete proposals on common points, encouraging colleagues from Tech7, but also participants from Serbia, to initiate further steps.
 
Mirko Pešić, Director of the Science and Technology Park Čačak, presented the most important activities and expressed readiness for cooperation. It is interesting that NTP Čačak consists not only of IT companies, but also companies that have physical products. Also, cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Serbia since 2020 has been singled out as an important factor.
 
Vladimir Todorović, a representative of the Science and Technology Park Novi Sad, in addition to being open for creating joint initiatives, singled out the Institute for Artificial Intelligence as an important current activity.
 
The presentations were followed by an active discussion where the present representatives of the institutions exchanged opinions and experiences, and initiated cooperation with the aim of finalizing as soon as possible.
 
In the final part of the meeting, it was proposed to form a working group on the topics discussed at the meeting, where science and technology parks and other relevant institutions would take part. Also, on this occasion, the science and technology parks were invited to attend the Dubai 2020 Expo exhibition in early March, so that they could make personal contact at the event and begin the realization of cooperation.
 
The Innovation Department of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the Representative Office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in Israel plan to host similar meetings in the future and give their contribution to the improvement of the startup community of Serbia and Israel.
 

Mission Innovation 2021
Photo by Bar Cohen
 
 
 
Perhaps the best way to describe the Mission innovation seminar is to compare it to the „Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon“ game.
 
As a diplomat of „general practice“ focused on bilateral political relations and without any experience in innovation and startups, it’s fair to say that Mission:Innovation enriched my knowledge of the Startup Nation by and large.
 
It helped me understand and grasp the Israeli innovation ecosystem, the way it’s structured, its key players, the role of state institutions, multinational companies, and academia, relations between them, and the interaction between the local ecosystem and European ecosystems and economies. Having learned that, it was much easier for me to map the ecosystem of my own country and its approximate position within the European ecosystems. Some of the lecturers with a long history in the local Startup industry shared their experiences, wins, and failures. These lessons can be beneficial for my country’s present-day ecosystem and its future development. The diplomatic innovator’s compass practice and the Country branding workshop gave me know-how and necessary tools to present the needs, interests, and comparative advantages of my country and the best way to pursue them vis-à-vis Israel and the international community in general.
 
In addition, the Mission Innovation seminar was quite timely organized because it happened just a month before the official opening of the Serbian Economic and Innovation Office in Jerusalem (Nov 2021). Brand new knowledge and contacts from startups, government institutions, and academia are great support for our coming activities with Israeli partners.
 
However, as I’ve said earlier, as a traditional diplomat, I enjoyed the other layer of Mission:Innovation - the game of Six degrees of the EIT Hub Israel. The Hub, indeed. It gave me great insight into the Israeli way of communicating, networking, thinking, doing business and taking risks. In other words, the seminar, the way it had been organized, led, and executed, showed the power of networking and collaboration. In a week, around a hundred people (from the Faroe Islands to the Negev) from different backgrounds met, spent time together, exchanged ideas, brainstormed, made friendships and business connections. They learned about each other. As it’s a great seminar on the Israeli innovation ecosystem, it is also a cultural boot camp that offers European diplomats tools to understand and deal with Israeli colleagues and their complex society and culture.  
 
 
 
Dushan Vujovic
Counselor
Embassy of Serbia to Israel
 
M:I Generation 2022 - contact EIT HUB Israel
 

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