Several EU programs are open to applicants from Serbia and the most important programs for the Serbian ICT sector were:
- Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises – COSME
- Horizon 2020, as the successor of EU 7th Framework Programme for Research 2007-2013 (FP7)
- Danube Region Strategy
- Erasmus Plus, Program for education, youth and sport
However, the number of Serbian applications to EU programs and the respective success rate vary from program to program. In particular, SMEs are struggling to access the available funds. Serbian SMEs are often not aware of the availability of these support programs and administrative burdens and challenges in the application process are (or are regarded as) rather high. At the same time, support structures for this process dedicated to SMEs are lacking.
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. Yet one of the major challenges for SMEs in the sector is the lack of institutionalized support structures. VOICT is one of the few business support organizations in the sector that is genuinely providing support and services to its members.
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
- VOICT members
- 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.
Overview of Project Office activities – list of international and national projects, along with status and financial data:
19DA-SPACE – Open Innovation to raise Entrepreneurship skills and Public Private Partnership in Danube RegionDanube Transnational Programme. ERDF, IPA, ENI
|#||Project Title||Source of Funding|
|1||CIRENE – Cross-border ICT Research Network||IPA CBC HU-SRB|
|2||CompComp – Computer Industry Competency Based Cross-border Business Building||IPA CBC HU-SRB|
|3||PPP4BroadBand – Tackling the “Broadband Gap” in SEE Rural areas through PPP model||IPA SouthEastEurope (SEE)|
|4||ICT ICE – ICT Innovation Clustering and Entrepreneurship||IPA SouthEastEurope (SEE)|
|5||ConnecIT||IPA CBC CRO-SRB|
|6||CHET – Cooperation Hub for Engineering Technologies||IPA CBC CRO-SRB|
|9||Center of Excellence||USAID|
|10||E-parliament – the way to improving democratic processes||SIDA|
|11||DBE – Digital Business Ecosystem||FP7|
|12||ED4ICT – European Bridges for the ICT Entrepreneurship Experience Sharing||FP7|
|13||KA3 – Sustain the COMunity Knowledge through the ICT / ICT.COM||Life Long Learning Programme|
|14||Enterprize-University partnership – towards better employability – ENTE||TEMPUS|
|15||STudent EnterPrize University Project – STEP UP||TEMPUS|
|16||Fostering students’ entrepreneurship and open innovation in university – industry collaboration – iDEA Lab||TEMPUS|
|17||FRACTALS – Future Internet Enabled Agricultural Applications in Balkans||FP7|
|18||KATANA – Emerging industries as key enablers for the adoption of advanced technologies in the agrifood sector||Horizon2020|
|19||DA-SPACE – Open Innovation to raise Entrepreneurship skills and Public Private Partnership in Danube Region||Danube Transnational Programme. ERDF, IPA, ENI|
|20||BLOCK.IS – Blockchain Innovation Spaces builds an open and collaborative cross-border, cross-sectoral innovation ecosystem in three sectors: agrifood, logistics and finance.||Horizon2020|
|21||Project for newly established innovative clusters in 2010||MoERD (Ministry of Economy and Regional Development)|
|22||Development of 6 curricula for Cluster Academy||MoERD|
|23||Improvement of existing video surveillance system for the city of Novi Sad Pilot project||MoERD|
|24||Preparation and printing of VOICT’s promo material for CeBIT||Vojvodina Government|
|25||PO capacities raising, Information system development for communication between VOICT’s members||Vojvodina Government|
|26||Co-financing of VOICT’s contribution in 2 running IPA HU-SRB CBC projects||Vojvodina Government|
|27||TV Informatics||Digital Agenda|
|29||Studiraj IT||RNIDS 4PI|
|30||Co-financing approved EU projects, improvement Project Office performance, support competitiveness growth via support to clustering||Vojvodina Government|
|31||Compilation of feasibility study for connecting VOICT members via fiber optic infrastructure of the City of Novi Sad||NARD (National Agency for Regional Development)|
|32||DanubeIT conference and B2B meetings||Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications|
|Overal funds in of all of the projects||€14,429,597.18|
|Funds for Vojvodina ICT Cluster||€604,252.99|