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The extended EEN innovation support service for innovative SMEs in Serbia — EEN InnoS Journey

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EEN InnoS Journey (The extended EEN innovation support service for innovative SMEs in Serbia — EEN InnoS Journey)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

According to official data, 99.9% of the enterprises in Serbia are SMEs. SMEs in Serbia contribute a share of roughly 60% of employment and less than 50% of value-added, compared with the respective EU averages of 67% and 57%. Micro-firms make a particularly small contribution, providing only 10% of value-added, 11 percentage points lower than in the EU.
Regarding the movement of the total innovation index (SII-Summary Innovation Index), it can be concluded that the innovative performance of the Republic of Serbia indicates a certain increase since SII for the Republic of Serbia in 2016 was 64,2 compared to 46,8 in 2010. Also, the innovative performance in Serbia is still below the average of EU-28 (102 for the same year). However, regarding SII index for the period of 2010–2016 in the neighboring countries, it can be concluded that the situation in Serbia is more favorable compared to Bulgaria, Macedonia (FYROM), Romania and Croatia, but less favorable compared to Slovenia or Hungary .
In Serbia, as in other parts of the world, small and medium-sized enterprises show comparative advantage due to flexibility, i.e. rapid adaptation to changes in the environment, the entrepreneurship and the innovativeness. On the other hand, this group of enterprises has a problem with providing specific resources underlying the innovations, but also the problem of solvency, i.e. to fund innovative activities, which is typical for the economies with limited capital and restrictive investment policies, such as Serbia.
Additionally, business and technology incubators that represent one of the most successful methods for supporting innovations are located in the two largest cities in the country, Belgrade and Novi Sad. They carried out the largest number of projects funded by the state, through the relevant ministries, and therefore most of the funding has been directed to these two centers. Incubators provide support to SMEs in the initial phase of operations through reduced operating costs, access to knowledge, consulting and administrative services. They have become an instrument of economic development which is applied in developed countries. Bearing in mind their numbers in these countries, it can be concluded that the Republic of Serbia, with 30 of them, significantly lags behind not only the developed but also the transition countries (in the European Union there are over 900 business incubators, countries in transition have around 250 ).
Taking into account all this, the Enterprise Europe Network could play a crucial role in bridging the gaps of knowledge, resources and skills that could be essential for increasing the innovation capacity of SMEs, especially in experience and knowledge sharing, training and consultation EEN could provide assistance to managers and entrepreneurs in all phases of the development of new products and services, from concept to commercialization. The overall objective of EEN InnoS Journey is to increase the Summary Innovation Index of Serbia providing services that will help to foster innovation and drive a fast growth of the Serbian economy.
Lack of innovation management capacity is an important barrier for creating an economic impact (competitiveness, growth and jobs) from innovation activities in SMEs in Serbia. Therefore, the general aim of the project EEN InnoS Journey is to increase the overall market performance of high innovative Serbian SMEs, through enhancing their innovation performances.