RO2019EU “How to better respond to European aspirations of the young generation in the Western Balkans”, 28-29 May 2019

We are honoured to be partners of the European Conference “How to better respond to European aspirations of the young generation in the Western Balkans” – part of the Romanian EU Council Presidency – and moderate the panel “Supporting the next generation of young innovators. Entrepreneurship and startups, Technology/ICT, Science: examples and best practices in EU & the WB”

The panel was moderated by Veronica Stefan – Founder Digital Citizens Romania and included the following panellists:
➡️Ambassador Wieslaw Tarka, 2019 Western Balkans Summit, Poznań Coordinator, MFA Poland
➡️ Hendrik Bosshammer, Project Manager, OECD
➡️ Radu Puchiu, Open Government Partnership Envoy

The panel was followed by 7 inspiring stories from EU and WB: Vlad Măcelaru, ClarK/Romania; Sanja Gardasevic,; Dragan Vujovic, Innovation Fund of Serbia; Marko Gregovic, BRODOTO CEO and Founder/Croatia; Darko Sokovic, Executive Director, Propulsion, Serbia; Dorin Boerescu,

The conclusions of the event include:

✅Creating a regional Network of Young Innovators!

✅A multi-stakeholder approach is necessary in order to ensure a sustainable environment for entrepreneurship and innovation. Governments, academia & business sector need to work together and commit to joint strategic objectives.

✅Entrepreneurship is a real opportunity to strengthen the Western Balkans region and the wider South East Europe. The young talent available and expertise in the IT sector have the potential to boost the economies in the region and generate long-term social and economic growth.

✅Emigration does not only have negative effects: the high-educated diaspora should be seen as a resource, also in the perspective of a possible return to their country.

✅The importance of digital skills and media literacy but also the digital divide between rural and urban areas as a challenge.

✅What it takes to be a successful young entrepreneur: skills, passion and enthusiasm, not to be afraid of failure, critical thinking, empathy, lead by example; focusing on the product first and second on the marketing, have a good team, management skills but also a bit of luck.

✅Entrepreneurship is equally an opportunity to respond to the brain drain phenomenon. In this context, the efforts to regain the lost human capital need to be complemented by new incentives for the youngest generation: access to innovation & research opportunities, facilities to start a business, a culture open to entrepreneurship and risk taking – among others.

✅Stronger cooperation in the region, as well as between the EU and WB, is highly important. Due to the rising power of Internet and new technologies challenges are similar everywhere, thus, adopting common solutions and standards can accelerate entrepreneurial initiatives and allow them to be competitive in a global market.

✅A successful innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem needs a series of key ingredients: a proper legal/public policy framework, sustainable funding, investments in new digital skills – necessary for the work of the future, a culture where failure and risk taking is encouraged.

✅Going beyond the existing young talent, the WB & wider SEE region needs to focus on increased efforts that can support its competitiveness through:

❇️investments in human capital and specialised STEM (science, technology, education & math) skills

❇️support for business as well as social innovation

❇️offering access to cross-border expertise and networks

❇️addressing the digital divide and ensuring that there is no citizen left behind.

✳️Building on the efforts of this conference and in anticipation of future initiatives, a network of Young Innovators could be established. The network can act as a real platform that enhances the cooperation in the region and offers tailored opportunities on relevant topics.

The conference “How to better respond to European aspirations of the young generation in the Western Balkans” is organised by Ministerul Afacerilor Externe/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romania-Western Balkans and Regional Cooperation Division.