Serbia and Montenegro are slowly but surely edging closer to EU membership than ever before, and the EU is supporting their bid through numerous initiatives on many levels. One of these is the EU-funded project 'Increasing research excellence, industrial utilization and education of the public by reinforcing National Centre for knowledge-based materials in Serbia and Montenegro' (Vincent). the initiative helped establish the National Research Centre for multifunctional materials, representing an important discipline in science and physics. The Serbian Ministry for Sciences and Environmental Protection also invested heavily in the project which represents a prototype for other future research and development centres in the country. the new centre sought to play a more active role on a European level in developing new multifunctional knowledge-based materials with novel characteristics. The project aimed to upgrade human resources and equipment at the Centre to modernise research in the country, strengthen cooperation with the European scientific community and increase mobility among scientists. It also aimed to support the socioeconomic needs of the region by strengthening research in nanomaterials and nanotechnologies in general. the project focused on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), industry and universities, among others, and looked at combating the 'brain drain' trend by educating and training young experts. Many of the project's goals have been realised through conferences, seminars and workshops. These events have also encouraged exchanges and mobility of experts. the results of the Vincent project are expected to lead to the production of novel materials that will spur the region's competitiveness and open the doors of collaboration with the EU in various important fields.