Serbia is one of the first countries in the region to adopt the so-called innovation imperative – the idea that successful participation in the world economy based on knowledge implies the ability to adapt and improve technological and research capacities based on cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Active since 2011, the Innovation Fund is a pioneer in the institutional implementation of this imperative - primarily by increasing the capacity of start-ups and available resources for their growth. The Fund is thus part of a broader state innovation strategy.
The vision of the Fund is to, as a key state actor in the development of Serbia's innovation system, contribute to the country's economic development by supporting innovation, strengthening the link between science and economy, establishing new and strengthening existing companies with innovative potential, through various financial instruments.
The Fund's mission is to support the development of innovation through appropriate financial, technical and advisory support instruments, in order to empower innovative enterprises and strengthen the link between research and development on the one hand and the business sector on the other, respecting the highest ethical, financial and business standards and practices.
The Fund aims to improve the links between science, technology and the economy and contribute to encouraging the development of innovative entrepreneurship by:
- supporting innovative entrepreneurship, especially in the early stages of development;
- connecting scientific research organizations and private companies for the development and commercialization of innovations;
- enabling new products, technologies and services to enter the market;
- establishing long-term institutional support of the state for innovative entrepreneurship in cooperation with international financial institutions, organizations, donors and the private sector.
The European Union's support to the Fund, since the beginning of its operational work in 2011, has given a crucial impetus to the financing of innovation in Serbia and the strengthening of links between the research and private sectors. So far, more than EUR 64.8 million have been allocated from the IPA funds for the Fund's programs. At the same time, one of the priorities of the Government of the Republic of Serbia is to improve the competitiveness of science, research and innovation in the function of economic development, which is reflected in providing greater funds for financing innovations through the Fund, especially from 2018.
The Innovation Fund has established an independent management structure with a developed system of international project auditing and a reputable Expert Commission consisting of international and diaspora experts with many years of experience in running technology companies, scientific research, commercialization and investment in innovation.
From the beginning of the work until today, through the Innovation Fund, EUR 50 million have been approved for 352 innovative projects, EUR 4.9 for 919 innovation vouchers and EUR 2.33 million for support in technology transfer. In total, slightly more than EUR 52.8 million were approved. More than 4,750 applications were submitted to all public calls.
By encouraging innovative entrepreneurship and strengthening the link between science and economy, the Innovation Fund, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, with the wholehearted support of the European Union and the World Bank, will make great efforts to create a positive environment to support the economy based on knowledge.