On October 15, 2023, Center Science and Innovation for Development (SCiDEV) hosted the panel “The prospects of mobility driven Research and Innovation: How to strengthen Western Balkans integration into European Research Area?” part of the 2023 Civil Society and Think Tank Forum of Berlin Process, bringing together representatives from civil society organizations, universities, research centers and other stakeholders in Westerns Balkans and European Union. The panel was directed towards reflecting on how to strengthen the integration of the region into the European Research Area, ensuring the Western Balkan countries not only align with but also actively collaborate with their European peers in pioneering progressive initiatives.
Mr. Elvin Gjevori, Director General of the Parliamentary Institute of the Assembly of Albania, moderated the panel discussion, which started with a keynote by Mrs. Albana Tole, the Deputy Minister of Education and Sports in Albania on behalf of the Minister of Science and Sports, Mrs. Ogerta Manastirliu. Ms. Blerjana Bino, SCiDEV’s Executive Director, underlined core messages and recommendations on strengthening mobility-driven research and innovation in the region, resulting from the Thematic Working Group on Mobility. Ms. Lisa Cowey, Knowledge Transfer Senior Expert, Member of TWG on Mobility, underscored the importance of access to research infrastructures throughout the #WB6 and the need for increased visibility and accessibility within the region, as well as the importance of sharing experiences and best practices through maximizing human capital and resources. Mr. Bernhard Fabianek, Senior Expert for the Western Balkans at the Horizon Europe Association Unit in DG Research and Innovation, appreciated the work done by civil society organizations and the valuable contribution in informing EC work in the region. Speaking of mobility-driven research and innovation as the key tool to move forward and meet new demands of technological developments, Ms. Sanja Damjanovic, Scientists, GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, underlined the need to deal with brain drain, make evidence-based policies and ensure a wide-open dialogue with the business sector and the civil society.
In continuation, Mr. Lucian Brujan, Berlin Process Coordinator for Education, Science and Innovation, German Academy of Science Leopoldina, raised attention to the strategic aspects of the Berlin Process, particularly on the importance of fully associating the WB6 with the EU programs and frameworks in research and innovation. To provide an overview of the smart specialization strategies (S3) in Albania, Ms. Linda Pustina, Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Albania and Head of the Albanian S3 Team, highlighted the progress made and how S3 interrelates with mobility-driven R&I. In conclusion, the final remarks were delivered by Mr. Anastas Mishev, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University. He focused on the importance of accessibility, openness, and open science, emphasizing connectivity and regional cooperation while calling for continued support for regional collaboration and allocating regional funds for research and innovation.
As reflected by the work of the TWG on Mobility and this panel discussion organized within CSF 2023, research innovation and knowledge transfer in the WB have the transformative potential of accelerating sustainable growth and convergence of the region’s economies with the EU. This potential can be attained only if the pressing challenges of R&I and mobility-driven innovation in the Western Balkans are addressed timely to catalyze regional cooperation and facilitate integration into the EU, including the European Research Area.
This panel discussion drew from findings of the thematic working group on mobility led by SCiDEV in the framework of the CSF2023 and reflected on how to strengthen the integration of the region into the European Research Area, ensuring the WB6 not only aligns with but also actively collaborates with their European peers in pioneering progressive initiatives. Consequently, the commitment from the WB6 Government and the EU to finance and bolster the R&I ecosystem is decisive for sustained economic growth, societal resilience, and accelerating the integration into European frameworks.
Read the full summary report here.
Watch the full panel discussion here.
Learn more about CSF2023 here.