Improved SME Competitiveness and Innovation Project in Serbia
EU funds 3 mln EUR project to support Serbian development
03. December 2010. | 11:52
The EU funded Project Improved SME Competitiveness and Innovation (ICIP) was today presented at the Business Base Fair.
The Project is funded by the EU to a value of EUR 3 million and implemented together with the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, the National Agency for Regional Development through a consortium led by GFA Consulting Group. ICIP is supporting the development and competitiveness of the SME sector for both existing and new Serbian business.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) employ a million people in Serbia accounting for 98.8% of the total number of enterprises and nearly 70 percent of the employment. SMEs also represent 66.6% of turnover, 33% of the gross domestic product and 50.5% export, 60.9% of import and 58.7% of investments. They are the backbone of development in market economies and countries in transition.
SMEs, with their capacity for rapid adaptation to changes in the market contribute to the increase in GDP, exports, a dynamic economy and its competitiveness. The SME sector has a particularly important role as a steady source of new employment and contributes significantly to the balance of regional economic development.
The overall goal of the ICIP is to provide support to the development of the SME sector and enhance their competitiveness within existing and future business endeavours through two major components. Firstly, the projects provides high quality business support to SMEs in all regions of Serbia.
Secondly, the project also provides SMEs with support and information from national and EU funded programmes on how to become more innovative. The final aim is to help SMEs become more competitive and innovative so that they can create more job opportunities which in return will foster the Serbian economy and improve the standard of living of the Serbian citizens.
In order to reach the goal the Project will contribute to the process of grouping knowledge capacities by pulling together regional sources of knowledge and innovation capacities to promote innovation. This process enables SMEs to realise their development potential and competitiveness and establishes cooperation with international research and industrial partners. The regional element of the project contributes to the Government's strategy of applied regional innovation development.
Katarina Obradovic-Jovanovic, Chief of the Section for SME Development Policies within the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, has emphasised the relevance and potential of the SME sector in Serbia and stated:
“By the implementation of ICIP, the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development is supporting two very important European documents: the Small Business Act for Europe on the improvement of business environment for small and medium enterprises, and the Strategy EUROPE 2020 related to the development of Europe as the most competitive and most dynamic global economy. In addition, ICIP is based on the Serbian Strategy for Development of Competitive and Innovative Small and Medium Sized Enterprises for the period 2008-2013 which defines medium-term priorities and directions of development of small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship in Serbia. The aim of the Strategy is to create a framework for sustainable, international competitive and export-oriented sector of small and medium enterprises in compliance with the principles of entrepreneurial economy based on knowledge and innovation.”
Jose Antonio Gomez Gomez, First Counsellor of the Delegation of the EU to the Republic of Serbia, has said that since the official start of the ICIP, extensive research and workshops had been conducted in order to collect relevant data, exchange information and adapt the Project to the actual needs of SME in Serbia and contribute in an optimal way to their business improvement.