The eighth International Cooperation Forum, jointly organized by the Development Agency of Serbia and the Development Agency of Republika Srpska, took place on November 2nd and 3rd in the Scientific and Technological Park in Niš. The event, which brought together business leaders and entrepreneurs from various countries, focused on Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises, innovation, and investment
November 3, 2023, in Niš – Minister of Economy Slobodan Cvetković officially opened the International Cooperation Forum and underscored the Ministry's consistent support for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. This year, four grant competitions were announced, offering 3.4 billion dinars in non-refundable business grants, dedicated to women entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and equipment procurement.
Cvetković highlighted that this year's Forum went beyond its previous boundaries, uniting business leaders not only from Republika Srpska and Serbia but also from thirteen other countries. The event provided a platform for the exchange of experiences through various panels, all with the goal of improving the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises, determining future directions, sharing knowledge, and fostering innovation.
"It is of great importance for small and medium-sized enterprises to adapt their production processes, work quality, and procedures to the standards of large global companies. This adaptation is an additional means to access the global market alongside the local market," Minister Cvetković emphasized.
The Forum also featured addresses by Radoš Gazdić, Director of the Development Agency of Serbia, and Marica Berić, Deputy Director of the Development Agency of Republika Srpska.
The Director of the Development Agency of Serbia emphasized that the development of human capital and technological connectivity was a top priority for further economic growth, and Serbia is providing financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises to achieve this goal.
"Productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness are the current focuses, which involve the implementation of new production lines and technologies. To manage these effectively, human capital is essential", Gazdić added.
Serbia's leadership in the region in terms of direct investments was also emphasized, with 67% of all foreign investments in the region directed to the country, serving as a crucial pillar of the domestic economy.
"Attracting direct investments, both foreign and domestic, connecting small and medium-sized enterprises with large multinational companies, their further development, economic sustainability, and adherence to green transition rules are the three main guidelines that can provide results for the economy of the Republic of Serbia," Gazdić added.
Marica Berić, Deputy Director of the Development Agency of Republika Srpska, highlighted the significance of the International Cooperation Forum for Republika Srpska, a small economy aiming to connect with the broader region.
"The European Entrepreneurship Network, which hosts business meetings, is a key mechanism supporting our economy. Besides connecting entrepreneurs, the Forum also facilitates collaboration between development institutions and the identification of new directions for further cooperation. ", Berić said.
She emphasized the strengthening collaboration between Republika Srpska and Serbia, with Serbia being the most significant foreign trade partner and one of the most substantial investors in Republika Srpska.
The International Collaboration Forum served as a platform for the exchange of information and experiences, the promotion of support programs for the SME sector, and the establishment of new business contacts and future collaborations. The event proved to be the ideal place for nurturing existing business relationships and creating new ones, as well as an opportunity to bring together institutions, business environment creators, and representatives of the private sector.
The ninth forum is scheduled to be held in Republika Srpska in November of the following year, continuing the tradition of promoting collaboration and innovation in the region.
FOTO: TANJUG / DIMITRIJE NIKOLIĆ