Promoting business innovation and digitalisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Project description

Title: Innovation and digitalisation in SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relationships Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (MoFTER)
Overall term: 2019 to 2021

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Context

Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are unaware of the potentials for innovation and digitalisation that could help improve their competitiveness. They lack the relevant skills to develop innovative ideas and implement them on their own. The IT sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a pioneer in this respect and offers innovative services and products. However, to date, it has mostly served clients abroad. Local SMEs are not being sufficiently targeted as potential clients. The same goes for the business ecosystem for start-ups. While it does help young people with IT skills start businesses, it does not sufficiently enable them to provide their services to local SMEs for the purpose of generating innovations and implementing them in cooperation with companies.

Objective

The prerequisites for innovation and digitalisation in SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina have improved.

Approach

The project uses the dynamics of IT companies and digital start-ups to spread the spirit of innovation and to bring digitalisation to SMEs, especially in traditional sectors such as trade, wood processing, metal processing, agriculture and tourism. It provides support to SMEs in developing strategies for innovation and digitalisation, and also provides assistance in the implementation of specific projects. Public actors are also involved at the relevant administrative levels, and they are provided with access to consultancy services in order to create the framework conditions within which SMEs can be encouraged to be more innovative.

The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relationship of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the political partner. The relevant ministries and institutions such as clusters, chambers of commerce, Association for Digital Transformation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hubs are the implementation partners.

Results

There are three main areas of activity in which the project had a focused impact and has achieved first results.

1. SMEs have gained sector-specific knowledge of opportunities for innovation and digitalisation. More than 500 SMEs were addressed through different activities, such as organising and supporting sector-specific events, sharing best practices, an info campaign by the Center for Digital Transformation (CDT), and more than 450 B2B meetings scheduled.

2. Service providers now offer new or improved services for innovation and digital IT solutions to SMEs.

  • Covid-19 crisis-related webinars, trainings, digital events and materials, which included a total of 37 online events involving more than 1,400 unique participants (more than 570 domestic SMEs and entrepreneurs).
  • Online school for processing companies as a Target School for production managers holding six educational modules with 36 participants (12 SMEs).
  • Virtual business-to-business (B2B) events, including the B2BIT Gatherings 2020, which was the first virtual matchmaking event in Bosnia and Herzegovina between processing companies and IT professionals. More than 120 participants and about 100 SMEs were involved and 42 B2B meetings took place.
  • The "B2BiT“ matchmaking platform was organised to address SMEs’ digital needs and local IT company solutions with presentation of best practices. More than 30 SMEs registered.

3. New public policies and instruments to support innovation and digitalisation in SMEs have been developed.

  • Education and transfer of knowledge through training on the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of principles of Small Business Administration (SBA) based on the OECD methodology; 10 modules took place with 22 participants as well as a virtual study trip to the incubator PISMO (CRO) with 14 participants

Last update: May 2021

Vizual B2Bit

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