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Strengthening the strategic cooperation between the EU and Western Balkan region in the field of ICT Research

Exploitable results

SCORE is a Specific Support Action that addressed the need for well-defined future research and development priorities that will enhance scientific and research cooperation between the Western Balkan region and the EU. SCORE addressed specifically the thematic area of Information Communication Technologies (ICT), which corresponds to one of the ten themes of the FP7's Cooperation Programme. The key method employed within the SCORE project for the development of the country specific Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs) and the Policy Paper was a broad consultation process. Consultation has only recently been recognised as an essential element of public policymaking in the majority of OECD countries where legal, policy and institutional frameworks are still under development. In the Western Balkan countries, employing consultation with stakeholders in policy making is at a primary stage. SCORE aimed to contribute to the development of a consultation culture in priority setting and policy-making within the region. The consultation process was implemented in two main phases: an expert consultation phase and an open consultation phase. Four country-specific thematic ICT workshops were organised in October 2008 that contributed to the realisation of the third and fourth objectives of the project (i.e. to transfer EU research results to the Western Balkan ICT R&D communities and to assist the development of EU-WB R&D networks). The aim of these workshops was to provide the participants with know-how on the current EU research developments and state-of-art technologies in the identified regional ICT R&D priorities, identified through the consultation with ICT stakeholders. A second aim was to contribute to the formation of liaisons between the participants and the EU research experts in the selected ICT priorities with the multiple function of: (1) facilitating the exchange of useful insights and information and opportunities for the build-up of potential partnerships (2) rendering EU researchers more aware of the research potential in the Western Balkan countries (3) disseminating the preliminary results of both the Strategic Research Agendas and policy paper so as to stimulate the public debate and obtain feedback from the participating stakeholders on what the Western Balkan countries could further undertake in order to enhance the EU-WB research collaboration. The key results of the SCORE project are the Policy Paper and four country-specific ICT SRAs. The SRAs include an overview of the ICT R&D environment per country, followed by the identification of key barriers to ICT research and what could be done to address these at a country level. The main part of the SRA is dedicated to the presentation of the identified ICT R&D priorities per country including specific R&D objectives and areas. The priorities in each SRA are grouped into two categories. - ICT R&D priorities with a high level of attractiveness and high level of readiness: these are priorities for which the country has the appropriate capacity and resources to pursue research and development and at the same time are considered to be attractive. They are suggested as feasible priorities in the short-to-medium term. - ICT R&D priorities with a high level of attractiveness and low/moderate level of readiness: these are priorities that are considered attractive for the country however the level of readiness and capacities is currently moderate. As such they are suggested as long-term priorities for the country. The attractiveness in both types of R&D priorities is determined by the extent to which a given priority addresses specific socio-economic needs (demand-driven) or technological opportunities (supply-driven). The SRAs were the key input for the development of the Policy Paper. The Policy Paper 'Shaping EU-Western Balkan cooperation in the field of ICT Research & Development in the period 2008-2013: Priorities and Recommendations' is the key/defining result of the SCORE project as it synthesises the main findings of the consultation process at a regional level. The Policy Paper addresses decision-makers both within the Western Balkan countries and the European Union. Western Balkan decision-makers include policy makers / governmental officials related to the field of ICT / ICT research, decision-makers in the academia universities as well as top-level management of the ICT private sector. EU decision-makers primarily targeted in this paper are policy-makers related to the field of ICT R&D.