The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is pleased to announce the launch of its first joint hub in North Macedonia set to take regional innovation to the next level and provide local entrepreneurs, innovators and learners with innovation support!

The EIT Community will boost innovation in the Western Balkans region by opening the first joint regional hub in Skopje, North Macedonia. By connecting regional actors, innovators, and partners to Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem, the new EIT Community RIS Hub – the first of its kind, will strengthen cooperation among leading business, education and research organizations while increasing the region’s competitiveness and sustainable economic growth. The new Hub is part of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) programme designed to tackle Europe’s persistent innovation divide.

The new hub is being launched today at the Center for Technology Transfer and Innovation in Skopje, North Macedonia, with local stakeholders and distinguished guests.
Fatimir Bytyqi, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Economic Affairs said: ‘Given their expertise and presence across Europe, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology is uniquely positioned to support us in increasing our innovation capacities and creating stronger synergies among regional partners. I look forward to seeing new ground-breaking technologies emerge and new opportunities for entrepreneurs in North Macedonia.’

Nektarios Tavernarakis, Chair of the EIT Governing Board added: ‘We are delighted to open the EIT Community’s first joint hub in North Macedonia. Because of the region’s talent pool and economic strengths, particularly in smart agriculture, and information and communications technologies, the Western Balkans is an important region for the EIT Community. We aim to increase access to EIT opportunities through the new hub and to strengthen the innovation capacity of North Macedonia. We anticipate many success stories to be born here and scale towards the European market.’

The newly opened hub in North Macedonia will represent all the EIT’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) and focus on attracting and engaging an increasing number of Macedonian participants into EIT Community activities. The hub will provide innovators with a centralized source of information on all services and opportunities provided by the entire EIT Community, both locally and more widely. Additionally, it will spearhead the EIT Community’s engagement with local authorities, including providing policy support and expertise as required.

At today’s opening of the Center in Skopje, Marton Herczeg, Head of the Innovation Ecosystem Unit, EIT, explained that the EIT unites a huge network of about 2000 companies, 1000 higher education and research institutions and 300 cities, regions, and non-governmental organizations, through training new generations of entrepreneurs, developing innovative products and services and strengthening start-ups and scale-ups. According to the data presented, in North Macedonia during 2021-2022, 800,000 euros were invested within the framework of the EIT grant, 5 ventures were created and supported, and more than 1,300 participants were engaged in EIT educational activities and trainings.

The Rector of the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Skopje, Prof. Dr. Nikola Jankulovski referred to the Smart Specialization Strategy of North Macedonia, which is in the finalization phase and should provide a modern approach to economic development, especially in Smart Agriculture and Food Processing with high added value, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, Industry 4.0, and Sustainable Materials and Smart Buildings. “We are ready to put our whole capacity at disposal for the implementation of this Strategy and to contribute, not only with our scientific and research potentials, but to also contribute to a wider social context. In that respect, we have already made serious steps for the development of study programs and research infrastructure that would contribute to the development of national capacity in the implementation of the Strategy”, Jankulovski said.

As the state aims to increase economic growth, it is important to develop competitiveness in its private sector through knowledge and innovation, and smart specialization should create a skilled workforce capable of innovation and generating higher income and economic value, said Orce Simov, vice president of the Union of Chambers of Commerce of Macedonia. “We hope that in the upcoming period, the EIT will accelerate and increase the number of innovations through its activities, thus ensuring greater added value, competitiveness, and profitability for companies in Macedonia. We expect that cooperation between business entities, educational institutions, research institutes, and organizations will be strengthened to achieve the goals. We expect a quick adjustment of the necessary legislative regulations to the newly emerging global conditions”, said Simov.

The EIT has appointed Mr. Aleksandar Stamboliev as a National Secretary to lead the operations of the new hub. He brings over 20 years of experience in the start-up and technology field, and is currently the CEO of BAU Accelerator, committed to helping technology start-ups scale globally.

The launch of today’s hub North Macedonia is the first of such regional hubs to open with more planned in the next three years to provide the EIT Community with a strengthened on-the-ground presence across the whole of Europe. Stay tuned for the EIT Community Day event happening in Nicosia, Cyprus on the 14 June, where the EIT will announce the calls for establishing similar innovation hubs in Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro and Ukraine. All interested organisations are encouraged to apply to shape the EIT Community RIS Hubs in their respective regions.