Technology Transfer Initiatives in the Western Balkans

Technology transfer 2

Technology transfer in the Western Balkans is slowly picking up with more developed countries thanks to several valuable support initiatives in recent years .

The key goal of all actions featured below was to turn research generated in universities and research organisations into products or services ready for the market. In ideal circumstances, technology transfer (tech transfer, TT) should bolster the creation of university spin-outs (companies founded by university staff or students) and new jobs.

EU4TECH Project

The EU4TECH was an action supported by the European Commission between 2017 and 2020.

The overall objective of this action was to support and strengthen the tech transfer and innovation ecosystem in the Western Balkan economies.

The project adopted a holistic capacity-building strategy that covered all actors operating in the technology transfer and innovation ecosystem. Actors included academic institutions to early-stage investors to science parks to spin-out companies to policymakers.

Specifically, the EU4TECH’s purpose was to deliver concrete plans and practical initiatives in support of the technology transfer and research commercialization ecosystem in the region.

The project focused on five main activities:

Technology Transfer Training and Exchange of Best Practices

Improving the level of efficiency and sophistication of technology transfer offices (TTOs) and tech transfer professionals.

Contract research

Fostering and supporting the development of a collaborative relationship between research centres, universities and local industry.

Science Parks and Incubators

Understanding the role that can be played by Science Parks and Incubators in accelerating innovation in the Western Balkans and delivering a roadmap for the growth of this sector.

Technology Transfer Financial Instruments policy platform

Understanding what concrete measures could be put in place to facilitate the growth of technology transfer focused financial instruments.

Investor readiness training and matchmaking

Facilitating the growth and expansion of start-up companies through the provision of investor readiness support and matchmaking services between companies and early-stage investors.

The project was a full success. Interested innovation practitioners can find lots of useful outputs and documents.

However, the EU4TECH project proved that the regional innovation ecosystem is at very early developmental stages and requires additional support.

This is why the EC decided to support a follow-up to this action.

EU4TECH Proof of Concept

EU4TECH Proof of Concept programme (2020-2021) was funded through multi-country IPA. Its main purpose was to help fill a gap related to insufficient support to early-stage innovative initiatives in the Western Balkans.

It provided support to around 50 promising inventions in the Western Balkans to assist their access to the market. EU4TECH PoC supported two batches of projects, first in 2020 followed by projects in 2021.

The programme helped the selected teams increase Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and bring these technologies closer to the market. TRL is a measurement system for assessing the progress or maturity level of a given technology.

EU4TECH Proof of Concept helped build expertise and the practical skills to manage early-stage PoC activities and projects.

Proof of Concept refers to

  • the realization of a method or idea in order to demonstrate its feasibility or to verify that a concept or theory has practical potential;
  • evidence, typically deriving from an experiment or pilot project, which demonstrates that a design concept, business proposal, etc. is feasible;
  • a small exercise to test a design idea or assumption.

The project's focus was on providing support in six components:

  • Technology development and prototyping for commercial demonstration
  • Entrepreneurship support and mentoring
  • Intellectual property management
  • Market analysis
  • Business plan and business model
  • Follow-on funding support

from the technical feasibility & demonstration to market research and analysis and the attraction of business combined with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Technology Transfer Support Programme in the Western Balkans 

The Regional Cooperation Council's Tech Transfer Support Programme was implemented in 2021. It provided capacity building to the region’s Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) and facilitated regional TTOs' networking.

The region's TTOs built capacities through initial problem solving and strategic decision making. Each participating TTO identified a suitable TT model for their institution, considering their available resources and institutional needs.

More on this programme here.

Competence Centre on Technology Transfer

Another stream of support to the Western Balkans is offered through the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) Competence Centre on Technology Transfer. The JRC’s support of the region’s tech transfer is mainly in the form of capacity building actions.

Such actions usually focus on building skills in innovation. Its main target groups include universities (research organisations) and technology start-ups.

The Centre functions as a single reference point for expertise on technology transfer at the level of the European Commission. It supports EU policy development, from concept to implementation phase. Also, it helps deepen understanding and knowledge of technology transfer
through research and aggregation of results and best practices.