The integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union is still a major political and economic endeavour aimed at guaranteeing stability and development in the region. Cooperation in research and innovation has been stimulated as a valuable tool to facilitate such integration. 

The Western Balkan countries are facing a challenging framework concerning their research and innovation (R&I) systems. Considering the fragmented scientific landscape, the heterogeneous capacities and the structural deficiencies in the R&I sector, a transformation process of the Balkans towards a knowledge-based and innovation-dominated economy is necessary.  

However, there is a strong potential for R&I system improvement. WBCs have prepared national strategies and carry out activities for the strengthening of their R&I capacities. Association of the Western Balkans to the EU Framework Programmes has contributed for many years to the motivation of researchers and to the enhancement of research capacity. Figures show that participation in Horizon 2020 has improved significantly. 

Technopolis Group is working on an EU-funded project based on the support of the Steering Platform (SP) of R&I for the Western Balkan countries. Its aim is to support the operation of the SP on R&I for the WBC which serves to facilitate the interaction with EU member states. More precisely it acts as an information exchange on national development and discusses European multilateral and regional issues on Science and Technology policies. 

The overall aim of this service delivery is the integration of the WBCs into the European Research Area by integrating them into existing EU knowledge networks and by supporting R&I capacity building for an effective participation in the EU’s Framework Programmes. Thus, this service delivery shall contribute to the EU-Western Balkans Strategy, and especially to the Action Plan in Support of the transformation of the Western Balkans under Supporting socio-economic development. The delivery will also support the flagship ‘Initiative to Support Reconciliation and good Neighbourly Relations’. 

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