Several EU programs are open to applicants from Serbia and the most important programs for the Serbian ICT sector were:
- Horizon Europe, as the successor of EU 7th Framework Programme for Research 2007-2013 (FP7) and Horizon2020.
- Interreg Europe helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy.
- Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises – COSME
- Danube Region Strategy
- Erasmus Plus, Program for education, youth and sport
The ICT sector is one of the most dynamic and promising sectors in the Serbian economy. This is reflected in the comparatively high number of applicants for EU funds.
In order to support SMEs in this sector to take advantage of the available EU programs, VOICT teamed up with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ, to build an internal service and competence unit with the capacity to successfully apply for respective EU programs. This unit was named simply Project Office. Its services and know-how are available to VOICT members and external clients (non-members) alike.
The objective in setting up the Project Office (PO) is to support VOICT in four different areas:
- Enhance the service portfolio of the cluster to increase attractiveness to current and future members.
- Support its clients to gain access to EU programs and build a knowledge base on this subject.
- Strengthen the linkages between the research and business communities.
- Reduce the dependency of VOICT on bilateral donors by generating projects for the cluster itself.
In its activities, the PO collects as much information as possible on the challenges and opportunities for SMEs presented by EU programs available in Serbia and the respective application procedures. This information is utilized to enhance the programs themselves and the framework conditions in Serbia.
To summarize, the PO has two separate functions:
- Service provider to SMEs
- Dialogue partner for government, EU, and other donors
In order to ensure the sustainability of the intervention, the approach was built on an elaborated business plan and business case, i.e. the costs of the unit should be covered by fees from its services and other income of the unit.
The demand for the services and work of the VOICT PO can be categorized in two groups:
- Internal Beneficiaries / Clients
- External Beneficiaries / Clients
- Companies (Serbian and international)
- Other clusters (Serbian and international)
- Successful projects (creating business opportunities for members rather than the PO via the supply of IT solutions)
- Local (public) self-government bodies (focus on e-government, ICT solutions etc.)
- Public utility companies
Service Portfolio & Catalogue
The PO developed the following service catalogue, which provides, together with the pricing model for each service, the binding basis on which all services and training sessions are offered and charged. Of course, these services are free of charge or with a minimal charge for VOICT members, while at the same time are offered commercially to third parties.