Bregu: We want to encourage young innovators around the region

Bregu: We want to encourage young innovators around the region

SKOPJE/ SARAJEVO, December 16 (FENA) – The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is hosting the first Western Balkans Butterfly Innovation & Business Forum dedicated to innovation and doing business taking place in Skopje.

“On average, only 1 or 2 out of 100 caterpillars make it to become butterflies. Similarly, between 90% and 95% of start-ups worldwide fail within their first five years. A great idea means little without focused efforts, perseverance, and adequate incentives. There is no innovation and creativity without failure. We want to encourage smart and creative youngsters in WB to take the risk and try,” said Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Majlinda Bregu, at the opening of the first Western Balkans Butterfly Innovation & Business Forum in Skopje today.

Western Balkans ranks behind EU on the Global Innovation Index (scoring between 50th to 84th position). Small, almost undetectable improvements can make a difference over the years. Many impressive improvements can be found in food production, tourism, creative and manufacturing industries in the WB. Successful innovative companies are an important transformation tool for our region bringing new values.

“We are happy to share with you some innovative success stories from our region over these two days. The Butterfly Innovation & Business Forum is not a one-off event. It is designed as an annual rotating event to take stock of the most exciting innovation endeavors over the last year and help boost the regional innovation ecosystem. In January 2022 we will launch the first regional Butterfly Innovation Award designed to encourage the young innovators from universities around the region. Success is often a lonely road, but we will be glad if we can help you on that road,” concluded Bregu.

The Butterfly Forum, organized by the RCC in cooperation with the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), is all about innovation success stories from the region. It is structured to feature a wide range of participants spanning from high-growth globally recognized companies to small, early-stage innovative initiatives adding visibility to their efforts and networking with potential investors.

Besides the RCC Secretary-General, the Forum opening remarks were given by Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General Research & Innovation at the European Commission, Jean David Malo, Director of the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), and Fatmir Bytyqi, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs of North Macedonia.

Despite its enormous potential, innovation cannot thrive on its own. According to the Balkan Barometer, only 1 in 5 enterprises in the region received financial support for their innovative activities in 2020. On average, WB 6 invest less than 0.5% of GDP in Research & Innovation.

Moreover, the Western Balkans’ businesses experienced subdued innovation activity, as only 16% introduced a new product in the past 12 months. Western Balkans has improved innovation performance in recent years, yet innovative efforts in the future should be more focused on sectors and activities with a strong added value. More specifically, sectors that have been identified by the region’s governments within the Common Regional Market Action Plan and Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, stated the RCC.