A grant scheme aimed at fostering applied research partnerships between public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) from Kosovo has been launched on 8 September 2022 at the Innovation and Training Park (ITP) Prizren.

The funding scheme with an overall financial volume of 200.000 Euros, will award grants of up to 50.000 Euros to each of the most innovative research ideas submitted. In addition to the financial support for the projects, workshops and comprehensive training courses are to be offered to further raise awareness and expand expertise related to research and development (R&D) activities, as well as to facilitate the forging of new university-industry partnerships in this field. While this capacity development program is expected to commence in October of this year, the deadline for submission of the joint project proposals is at the beginning of December 2022.

This activity is part of the Digital4Business project, which is jointly financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and being implemented in the framework of GIZ’s Digital Transformation Center in the ITP Prizren. The implementation of this activity is facilitated by EduTask.

The launching event was attended by representatives from Kosovo’s government institutions, the European Union Office in Kosovo, the German Embassy in Kosovo, public and private HEIs, the private sector and individual experts.

Addressing the event, Mr. Mentor Arifaj, Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade welcomed the launching of the grant scheme, saying that activities like the one held today are key in bringing new synergies and building partnerships in the innovation ecosystem, which will lead to strengthening of the cooperation among the public and the private sectors, academia and organizations of civil society. He said that the promotion of innovation among all industry sectors is a priority of his institution.

Ms AnnaCarin Platon, Head of the Political Section and Deputy Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, said the EU remains committed in supporting Kosovo in developing research and innovation ecosystems and outputs, also through EU funding programs like Horizon Europe to which Kosovo has been recently associated. Ms Platon added that she was looking forward to the new university-business partnerships and tangible outcomes of this grant and encouraged especially Kosovo’s business community to take advantage of this opportunity to establish a deeper level of trust and experience to the joint research and development project with Kosovo’ HEIs.

Ms Vera Baumann, Head of Development Cooperation at the German Embassy, emphasized that the German Government remains committed in supporting digitalization and innovation in Kosovo, in particular via the Innovation and Training Park (ITP) Prizren – as one of many successful examples of cooperation between Germany and Kosovo. She called on universities and the business community to take advantage of the grant scheme and establish a basis for further cooperation in the future.

The Project Digital4Business commenced work in February 2022 and will run until end of January 2024.

Details of this activity were presented by Mr Benjamin Cornils, Coordinator of the component, who said even though business-university research partnerships are globally on the rise, Kosovo currently still misses this momentum. Therefore, he said, “it’s our aim with the activities and the grant scheme we launch today, to contribute to a positive change in this regard, that the full potential of such partnerships for Kosovo’s social and economic development can be much more leveraged in future.”

The component Digital4Business commenced work in February 2022 and will run until end of January 2024.