Assessment of EU-Funded Projects in Serbia

799 views

Published on

Assessment of EU funding in Serbia with a focus on CIP, FP7 and IPA projects.
The assessment provides in-depth analysis of the current status via case studies, process and stakeholder analysis and a broad list of recommendations.
The publication also provides a concept of a project office (functional unit that handles all services related to EU funding) which is used as a model for companies and business organizations alike.

Published in: Business
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
799
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
9
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Assessment of EU-Funded Projects in Serbia

  1. 1. Published by: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia - Bureau for the Cooperation with the EU Vojvodina ICT Cluster supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Program for Private Sector Development in Serbia ACCESS December 2011 3/45
  2. 2. Author: Jürgen Kappenmann, Consultant Contributions by: Bernd Kleinheyer, Consultant Milana Sredojevic, Assistant 4/45
  3. 3. Acknowledgements The publishers wish to thank the many individuals at the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society, Ministry of Finance, Serbian EU Integration Office, National Agency for Regional Development, the Improved SME Competitiveness and Innovation EU-funded Project, GIZ / ACCESS and last but not least the Bureau for the Cooperation with the EU at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Vojvodina ICT Cluster who contributed their valuable time, knowledge, advice and resources to the creation of this policy paper. Special thanks are owed to Djordje Lazić from Belit d.o.o. and Bratislav Stoiljković from CIM Grupa d.o.o. for their time, efforts and outstanding insights for the creation of the case studies. 5/45
  4. 4. Publishers Serbian economy is faced with big challenges in terms of accession with European Union (EU) and doing business on its market. In its efforts to help Serbian enterprises, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS) founded in 2005 a Bureau for the Cooperation with the EU. Numerous concrete activities in the form of advisory and information meetings concerning the rules for doing business with EU and economic cooperation are only the first steps of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia’s engagement to facilitate this important work to its members. CCIS provides services to business community, developing powerful infrastructural support and provides help for making it capable for integration into a single market and its survival on it. The mission and objective of the Bureau is to take an active role in the creation of an improved business climate in Serbia in order to accelerate harmonization with EU standards. In such way, enterprises are obtaining necessary support for adjusting their business strategy with the European, regardless of the activity they are engaged in, so as to be prepared for secure and open business deals with economic entities in the country and abroad. The most important task within the European integration process is to create an education program that will upgrade the level of knowledge of Serbian businessmen on key issues: acquis communautaire, fulfilment of obligations stemming out of the Stabilization and Accession Agreement (SAA), European standards, trade issues etc. For further information on the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the Bureau for Cooperation with the EU please visit www.pks.rs Vojvodina ICT Cluster is a recognized partner in the development and application of new ICT products and services with high profit potential and an important partner in the development of individuals, companies and regional businesses. The mission of Vojvodina ICT Cluster is to create conditions for ICT development through coordination of our and our partners’ efforts toward a strong positive influence on social and business environment. To our members, the cluster serves as the platform for cooperation and provides a portfolio of services, such as building capacities and competitiveness of its members through training and education at the Cluster Academy, building links with the education system, creation of new business opportunities, access to new markets, lobbying activities etc. The cluster also has an important role in building tighter bonds in the triple helix Business – Education – Government. For further information on the Vojvodina ICT Cluster please visit www.vojvodinaictcluster.org. 6/45
  5. 5. 1 Contents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Contents .................................................................................................................................... 7 Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 9 2.1 Scope .............................................................................................................................. 9 2.2 Objectives ...................................................................................................................... 10 Executive Summary ................................................................................................................. 11 Case Studies ........................................................................................................................... 12 4.1 Procedural Method ........................................................................................................ 12 4.2 Belit d.o.o. Case Study (CIP ICT-PSP) .......................................................................... 13 4.3 CIM Grupa d.o.o. Case Study (FP7 SME) ..................................................................... 16 Support Structures & Findings ................................................................................................. 20 5.1 Procedural Method ........................................................................................................ 20 5.2 Evaluation Studies and Research.................................................................................. 20 5.3 Structures, Roles and Services ..................................................................................... 22 5.3.1 Overview Involved Organizations ............................................................................. 22 5.3.2 Network of FP7 National Contact Points .................................................................. 23 5.3.3 Activities and Services Offered by FP7 NCPs .......................................................... 24 5.3.4 CIP NCPs ................................................................................................................. 24 5.3.5 General Service Provider ......................................................................................... 25 5.4 Case Study Specific Findings ........................................................................................ 25 5.5 Findings and Suggestions ............................................................................................. 28 Development of the VOICT Project Office ............................................................................... 37 6.1 VOICT Project Office as a Model ................................................................................... 37 6.2 Central Competence Centre .......................................................................................... 37 6.3 Executive Summary of the Business Plan ..................................................................... 38 6.4 VOICT Project Office Services Portfolio ........................................................................ 39 6.5 Case Studies (IPA I and MoERD).................................................................................. 39 Concluding Outlook ................................................................................................................. 40 7.1 White Paper(s)............................................................................................................... 40 7.2 Evolvement of EU Funds and Financial Framework 2014-2020 .................................... 41 Abbreviations ........................................................................................................................... 42 Terminology ............................................................................................................................. 43 Annex: List of Interviewees ...................................................................................................... 44 7/45
  6. 6. Charts Chart 1: Assessment Scope ...................................................................................................................9 Chart 2: Generic Concept Process .......................................................................................................10 Chart 3: Creation of Case Studies ........................................................................................................12 Chart 4: Process Model Case Study ....................................................................................................12 Chart 5: Overview Procedural Method Support Structures...................................................................20 Chart 6: Overview Involved Organizations ...........................................................................................22 Chart 7: Process Overview Project Office ............................................................................................37 Chart 8: VOICT PO Competence Centre..............................................................................................37 Chart 9: Executive Summary Business Plan VOICT Project Office ......................................................38 Chart 10: VOICT Project Office Service Catalogue (Excerpt)...............................................................39 Chart 11: Basic Concept White Paper(s) ..............................................................................................40 Chart 12: White Paper Overview ..........................................................................................................40 Chart 13: Evolvement of EU Funds ......................................................................................................41 Tables Table 1: Evaluation Studies and Research...........................................................................................22 Table 2: Case Study Findings ..............................................................................................................28 Table 3: Abbreviations..........................................................................................................................42 Table 4: Terminology............................................................................................................................43 Table 5: List of Interviewees .................................................................................................................44 8/45
  7. 7. 2 Introduction Observers agree that the absorption of EU funds in Serbia is limited and the general environment for doing so has to be improved over the coming years before EU accession. At the same time, it is agreed that there are significant differences and results when it comes to specific programmes. Regarding participation in the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research (FP7), the results are good, especially academic institutions show a very good track record, so are the results for the absorption of IPA Components I and II funds. In contrast, so far overall participation in the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) is low and the results, with a few notable exemptions, far from being satisfactory. Yet one characteristic feature is common to both programmes, CIP and FP7 alike, and that is the very low participation and meagre success rate of Serbian SMEs. So the primary goals of the two co-publishers, the Bureau for the Cooperation with the EU of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Vojvodina ICT Cluster, are two-fold. Firstly, with this policy paper “Assessment of EU-Funded Innovation and Research Projects in Serbia” a basis for a common understanding of the status quo of support structures is created. Secondly, an open and constructive dialogue between all parties involved is initiated. Accordingly, the perspective from which these processes and support structures offering information and services to SMEs are assessed is one of SMEs and BMOs (representing SMEs) when addressing matters related to EU-funded projects, i.e. the demand side. This endeavour, as will be seen in greater detail in the single chapters, comprises three core elements, namely success stories of two Serbian SMEs, Belit d.o.o. and CIM Grupa d.o.o., and interviews with the key stakeholders and support structure representatives. Plus, in this aspect the Assessment even reaches beyond pure analysis, the development of a model concept for a project office is included. The target groups of this policy paper are in the first place decision-makers and members of BMOs and R&Ds, ministries and national / regional institutions and agencies. And, last but not least, Serbian SMEs and their staff. That is to say the demand side and supply side alike. Yet the Assessment contains a wealth of information for any reader generally interested in the subject matter. 2.1 Scope Securing a clear focus the following scope has been defined: • EU-funded projects (focus on CIP and FP7, basics of IPA), • Via the concept development for the VOICT Project Office also national innovation projects awarded by national bodies, • Support structures for CIP and FP7 projects to SMEs and R&Ds offered by public and private organizations. Steering Processes Strategic Level CIP EIP IPA FP7 ICT-PSP Cooperation Ideas Components I & II People Capacities Components III-V Support Structures Chart 1: Assessment Scope 9/45
  8. 8. The overview highlights the three levels of this scope: • Strategic Level with the general steering processes, • Operational Level with the two main programmes (CIP and FP7) and, • Support Structure Level providing information and support for the main programmes. A generic process model as outlined below was used throughout the policy paper: Project Selection Data Collection Concept Development Analysis Implemen tation Evaluation Chart 2: Generic Concept Process 2.2 Objectives Translating the primary goals into concrete objectives, this policy paper provides a brief and compact overview on the following, in plain language: • Documentation of two CIP and FP7 case studies taken from the ICT sector, • Documentation of the status quo of the support structures for EU-funded innovation and research projects in selected programmes in Serbia with their generic processes and procedures, • Documentation of the status quo of the interaction between public and private sector bodies and organizations in Serbia, • List of findings and suggestions as a basis for a Public-Private-Dialogue on the subject-matter, • Model for a project office for business associations and • Outline of the future focus and settings of CIP, FP7 and IPA. 10/45
  9. 9. 3 Executive Summary The mixed picture regarding the participation and results of Serbian applicants in some of the key EU instruments for the improvement of competitiveness, innovation and research (CIP and FP7) provides the backdrop for this Assessment. Following their primary goals, the co-publishers compiled a brief and compact overview of the status quo of support structures offering information and services on the CIP and FP7 programmes to SMEs and R&Ds. The corresponding findings and suggestions open up the basis for a public-privatedialogue between the stakeholders. The core subject of this dialogue is to improve the participation of Serbian SMEs (in cooperation with R&Ds) in these programmes and to systematically secure better success rates in the due process. The core findings and suggestions indicate some of the main issues, challenges and fields of activity which can be addressed in such a dialogue: • As the two success stories from the Serbian ICT companies Belit d.o.o. and CIM Grupa d.o.o. show, successful SME participation is not the result of a systematic approach by public and private sector organizations but rather of self-initiative taken by single companies. Support structures do have their role and function but their impact is limited. Certain services, like assistance during the development of project proposals, are much sought after but are hardly covered at all or left to private sector providers, often outside of Serbia. • The capacities of single support structure providers are in some cases described as insufficient; especially trainings and education are mentioned. These structures offer a wide range of information and services, mainly built on the NCP network. A common understanding and task description is not (fully) implemented. • One key finding concerns the understanding of the demand side´s needs regarding all aspects of the application and implementation of EU-funded projects. There is no systematic or specifically designed assessment evaluating the SMEs and R&Ds needs. The creation of such an assessment is strongly suggested as the basis for specific actions. • The main difficulties and challenges single applicants are facing, are lack of information, experience, finance, consortium building support and project proposal development. • SMEs´ familiarity with funds and procedures is estimated in differing ways. Some estimate that knowledge as such is good, while experience and willingness to get engaged is limited. It can be assumed that familiarity is on a high level only with companies already involved; with all others the picture is completely different. Therefore the need for awareness raising measures in general, promotion of open calls and delivering knowledge related to application procedures via different information channels is an ongoing effort to be made. • The preparation and implementation of the Info Days on some EU programmes is a key example of how stakeholders do or do not cooperate and how the interests and needs of the demand side are taken or again not taken into account. Here, room for improvements is more than evident. • On the steering level it became apparent that there is a lack of strategic approach and coordination on the government´s and stakeholders´ side when it comes to EU-funded programmes. Although decision-makers might recognize the importance of the subject matter, wide-spread priority setting and consistent implementation, as seen in many other countries, is missing or incomplete. • Private sector structures like BMOs are so far not or not fully involved in the processes relevant to SMEs but often used as (one-way) communication channels between the public and private sector stakeholders. Instead, these organizations should have the possibility to provide decision-makers with the perspective of entrepreneurs and companies at any stage of the process. Systematic and institutionalized private-public-dialogue schemes are one instrument in this context. The model of the Vojvodina ICT Cluster Project Office with its core components of service provider and competence and dialogue partner show how a BMO can address all aspects of EU and national projects in its own organizational structure and member service portfolio. 11/45
  10. 10. 4 Case Studies In a first step, the Assessment derives its findings and suggestions from the screening and evaluation of a number of selected specific project proposals (ICT and others) and their application procedure up to the point of submission of the proposal. 4.1 Procedural Method The primary focus of the ICT case studies is to select, screen and evaluate two EU-funded project proposals (CIP ICT-PSP and FP7 ICT). The national (MoERD) and IPA proposals are, to a lesser extend and detail, covered by case studies done by the VOICT Project Office. The procedural methodology behind the case studies is to evaluate two historical (but still running) projects which are excellent success story examples of Serbian companies in the ICT industry. The single steps and elements are listed below: Chart 3: Creation of Case Studies For the case studies a process model, as described below, including five sub-processes and underlying support and information processes was developed and used throughout all documentation. The case studies were created through research of available documents and websites and interviews with company representatives, which were done along a questionnaire built on this process model. Chart 4: Process Model Case Study The two case studies are BECA with Belit d.o.o. (CIP ICT-PSP) and ReFLEX with CIM Grupa d.o.o. (FP7). In the Support Structures chapter a table with the main findings from each process step is listed. 12/45
  11. 11. 4.2 Belit d.o.o. Case Study (CIP ICT-PSP) Brief Project Description1 BECA: Balanced European Conservation Approach – ICT services for resource saving in social housing EU Programme: The Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme Area: Theme 1 - Low carbon - ICT for a low carbon economy and smart mobility Total Cost: € 5.55m (EU contribution € 2.70m) Project Reference: 270981 Execution: from 01/01/2011 to 31/12/2013 Project Status: Running Contract Type: ICT-PSP PB Pilot Type B No. of Consortium Members: 19 Consortium Members’ Countries: Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Serbia The BECA project addresses the need to reduce energy consumption in European social housing by a very significant amount, to meet overall emission reduction targets. To reduce peak and overall demand for energy and water across EU social housing substantially, BECA will develop a full set of innovative services for resource use awareness and resource management. Balance is achieved by addressing not only energy but water, by including all key energy forms - electricity, gas and heating and by including strong activities in Eastern Europe as well as the rest of the EU. Social housing organisations in seven European countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Serbia) and their partners are cooperating in the project to provide ICT-based energy management and energy awareness services directly to social housing tenants and service operators. Services will be piloted by approx. 5,000 social housing tenants across seven sites in seven European countries. Sustained reductions in resources use are to be achieved through usable ICT-based services directly to tenants, as well as by effective monitoring and control of local power generation and, for district heating, the full heating delivery chain. Intensive work will be addressed to optimising services for tenants and maximising impact on resource use behaviour. Service requirements will be investigated with tenants and staff, and service prototypes based on initial use cases will be subject to user testing within the first year of the project. Results are used to finalise service design in a second iteration of use case definition and service specification lasting some eight months, cumulating in implementation of operational services at all the seven pilot sites. Pilots at sites will operate for at least 14 months; lead sites will be identified to being operation early and provide example solutions to others. The consortium, led by social housing providers and public authorities, includes global ICT and service providers and distribution network operators working with local consultants and specialist advisors to carry out all steps in service implementation. Consortium Members in Serbia BECA Project Related Competences Organization2 Short Introduction Belit d.o.o. (Belgrade Information Technologies d.o.o.) Belit was founded in 2000 focusing mostly on the domestic market, providing its customers with innovative software solutions in the field of finance, as well as design and implementation of public registries. Belit has substantial experience in EU projects, until recently mainly IPA. In 2011 Belit has been officially registered as an Innovation Centre. University of Belgrade, Faculty of Mechanical Engeneering Beogradske Elektrane (Belgrade IT/software technical knowledge, connections and IPA project experience Faculty of Mechanical Engineering is a public educational institution with over a century long history. Its EU funds related experience so far has been mostly FP7 and Tempus related. Technical knowledge, project experience and network and connections Beogradske Elektrane is a public utility company in charge of heating over 2.5 million square meters in Technical knowledge 1 See www.beca-project.eu and http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/apps/projects/factsheet/index.cfm?project_ref=270981 2 For details see www.belit.co.rs/; http://www.bg.ac.rs/eng/memb/facult/techn/en_masinski.php; www.beoelektrane.rs 13/45
  12. 12. Heating Company) Belgrade. Production and delivery of the heating water is coming from eleven heating sources. Case Study Information Channels The Serbian consortium members were informed about the call via the CIP Info Day organised by the Serbian MoERD and the former MoTIS and PKS, which took place at the PKS premises at the beginning of 2010. This initiated formation of the team consisting of the three Serbian partners. Not long after that, thanks to its previous connections and history of cooperation, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering was contacted by the Centre Internacional de Metodes Numerics en Enginyeria Barcelona, Spain. The Spanish partner introduced the project idea which was already partly developed as well as other potential consortium members. After those initial contacts were made, the consortium was formed and the project development and proposal writing process started. Project Preparation Consortium work organisation - The consortium was formed along the seven pilot-sites in seven countries. Partners on these seven pilot-sites were organised in seven ‘sub-groups’. Each ‘sub-group’ involved, was in charge of developing their part of the project proposal, and so was the Serbian group. What was crucial for the quality and coordination of all consortium members was substantial experience provided by the Project Coordinators. Serbian ‘sub-group’ work organisation - Jointly, the three Serbian companies evaluated the call and later on worked on the project proposal development with their relevant competences as described above. External experts were not involved at this stage, or any other stage of the application process. Consortium members’ communication and coordination – Officially, there were at least five meetings among Serbian partners in the phase of project preparation, but there was also constant formal and informal communication. Besides these meetings, Serbian partners were in contact with foreign partners via e-mail and phone. The meeting where all the partners finally (physically) met was a kick-off meeting after the project was approved and implementation started. The milestone for exiting the project – At this phase it was set by the assessment of the technical feasibility of the project in Serbia. Once this assessment came to a positive conclusion, the project was further developed. Project Proposal Writing Consortium work organisation – As already said each ‘sub-group’ was in charge of writing the project proposal part dedicated to its pilot-site. Serbian ‘sub-group’ work organisation – All Serbian partners were involved with their specific expertise in the project writing process. Like mentioned above, a project writing expert was not hired, having in mind previous experiences in project writing and project management partners already had. From Belit’s side, Djordje Lazić as the Project Manager was delegated for these activities. Consortium members’ communication and coordination – Serbian partners were constantly in contact with the Consortium Coordinator and other partners via e-mail and phone. On the Serbian side, Belit could be described as leading partner in charge of organisation of the paper work and formalities. Apart from the previously mentioned five meetings of the Serbian partners during the phase of project preparation and development, there were about another five meetings during the proposal writing as well as constant informal communication via e-mail and phone. The milestone for exiting the project – At this phase, it was the first project proposal draft, which was evaluated by the Serbian partners and on which was decided that project has potential for success. Evaluation Although the application process was successful, Serbian partners had an evaluation meeting to discuss the project application process and derive respective conclusions. The partners concluded that they have dedicated a lot of time to administrative issues as well as documents gathering, paper work etc. The time spent on administrative issues was partly caused by the situation resulting from the Serbian Government reshuffle. Another factor was that many of the documents needed, had to be prepared for the first time and lack of specific CIP related experience caused extensive time spending. 14/45
  13. 13. During the second project proposal that Serbian partners also did together (and which is now positively approved), experience from the first project proposal preparation process was very useful. Previous joint work resulted in improvement of the team coordination and communication. Also, some of the documents already prepared could be used in the second application process and know-how gained, helped fostering the process of obtaining new ones. All of the above mentioned, decreased time needed for project proposal preparation. Financing Rules and regulations of the CIP programme clearly state that the funding of the project is split between the EC fund (50%) and winning consortium (50%). Therefore, organisations within the consortium have to use their resources to finance one half of the total budget. Each of the pilot-sites had its own budget within the project. This means that each of the sub-groups in the consortium was responsible for its part of the budget. Further on, each of the partners was responsible for budget lines coming from its involvement. Belit states that financing was not a problem for them, especially since they are completely aware of the importance of R&D and positive impacts these activities might have for the future development of the company. Human Recourses & Previous EU Funds Experiences Belit does not have a specific strategy for dealing with EU-funded projects exclusively, but its corporate strategy clearly defines EU-funded projects as a part of the core business. The company is directly involved in implementation of EU-funded projects since 2003. In 2007 the department for international projects was founded in order to follow various opportunities, establish and maintain business contacts, write proposals and carry out all the tasks in managing and supporting projects. The department consists of a certain number of employees who have gathered significant experience in EUfunded projects as experts. In 2009 Belit decided to focus more on innovation projects. The work in this field resulted in Belit being officially registered as an Innovation Centre at the MoES in 2011. The focus of the Innovation Centre is the development and implementation of new ideas and technologies and coordination of networking activities with the academic sector. The number of Belit’s full time employees is 20, but the company regularly contracts about ten full time free-lancers. When it comes to this project three persons from Belit were involved. All of them had already a certain EU funds experience and their involvement was not 100% dedicated to project issues only. Already mentioned Djordje Lazić, Project Manager from Belit, approximately dedicated 4060 working days on the project preparation and project writing activities. The same goes for other two project partners and personnel involved on their side. Support Structures National public support structures - When it comes to national support structures (organisations) Belit kept good communication with state bodies responsible for the CIP and CIP ICT-PSP programmes which are MoCMIS (former MoTIS), MoERD and the PKS. More precisely, they mostly communicated and relied on the help from NCPs in responsible ministries: Zorica Marić, MoERD; Stefan Lazarević, at that time MoTIS, Maria Šola (MoES) and Nataša Kecman, PKS. Communication channels used were participation in Info Day events and workshops, e-mail communication, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Their support mostly came in terms of advices on application procedures and Belit is generally satisfied with the support they provided. Organization of the Info Day events and other work seminars which provides valuable information related to the programme and best practices is highly appreciated by Belit. Private support structures – There was no external expert hired during any of the phases of the application process. Belit and other Serbian partners have sufficient experience to handle the application process by themselves. EU support structures – Belit is aware of various supporting organisation within the EU structures as well as specific events organised by them (e.g. scheme or call specific events - Brussels Info Day) which are very useful for networking. What lacks in order to fully exploit their potential are financial means. Websites providing information – Belit knows and uses available local and EU websites which provide information on CIP and other EU programmes. Yet information on different aspects and support mechanisms available is spread over too many different sites which render information gathering and research difficult and time consuming. 15/45
  14. 14. 4.3 CIM Grupa d.o.o. Case Study (FP7 SME) Brief Project Description3 ReFLEX - Reinforcing Flexibility of SMEs by dynamic business process management EU Programme: FP7-SME-2010-1 Total Cost: € 1.4m (EU contribution: € 1.073.167) Project Reference: 262305 Project Type: Collaborative project Execution: from 01/04/2011 to 31/03/2013 Project Status: Running Contract Type: Research for the Benefit of Specific Groups – Research for SMEs No. of Consortium Members: Seven Consortium Members’ Countries: Serbia, Germany, Macedonia, Greece, Slovenia The goal of the ReFLEX project is development and implementation of an open-source software solution which will support the planning and management process for SMEs’ rolling parks, through application of state-of-the-art technologies. Achieving business flexibility is a necessary condition for the business development of SMEs. ReFLEX project is aiming to perform a research on the new model for the description of dynamic business processes, and to develop an ad hoc BPM solution tailored to the needs of SMEs which will help them REspond more quickly to changing customer requirements than their larger and less agile competitors, and be more FLEXible, thus providing them with clear benefits and making their smaller size an advantage. Consortium Members in Serbia BECA Project Related Competences Organization4 Short Introduction CIM Grupa d.o.o. Niš CIM Group was established in 1991 and is operating in the fields of management systems, business process improvement, excellence models, and software integration. CIM Group offers consulting services and innovative software products aimed at helping organizations continually improve process performance. CIM Group has significant experience in EU projects, mainly FP6 and FP7. Coordinator; partner in seven previous FP6 and FP7 projects; R&D and Management Services provider; BPM technology supplier Faculty of Electronic Engineering, University of Niš The Faculty of Electronic Engineering is a state institution of higher education with almost half a century long history. The Faculty has substantial EU funds related experience, mainly FP7 related. R&D provider; EU project experience; software engineering expertise Investgradnja d.o.o. Leskova GP „Investgradnja“ ltd. was established in 2004 which operates in the fields of construction and specialised construction works. Investgradnja maintains extensive rolling stock and a major mechanical park, including all necessary tools for building, assembly and execution of construction works. BPM software developer and user; certified in a diversity of QM systems 3 See www.reflexforsmes.eu 4 For details see www.cimgrupa.eu/; http://www.ni.ac.rs/en/index.php/faculty-of-electronic-engineering-.html; 16/45
  15. 15. Case Study Information Channels Due to previous participation in FP6 (3 successful projects & one failed application) and FP7 (five successful projects) that had generated a proven network, CIM Grupa had good access to call information, partners’ profiles and EU policies on R&D and innovation. Before launching the project, it had conducted its own background checks on EU policy-shaping, stakeholders and applicant landscapes. This knowledge had been obtained by drawing on capable partners from previous consortia, by attending project conferences and by sharing the workload of monitoring calls with approved partners. In this, factual information search from useful web sources (CORDIS, wbc-inco.net) was combined with informal fact-finding mostly at conferences. CIM Grupa found that stakeholder meetings where horizontal communication was possible were the key to successful applications. CIM Grupa did have the necessary resources in terms of travel budget and manpower but acknowledges very much the fact that other SMEs are unlikely to be in this position. Monitoring developments outside the consortium was parallelized with building the technological focus of the project. Ideas for projects were carried forward or recycled from previous projects so that a common stream could be roughly maintained. Regular meetings put an emphasis on continuity and mid or long-term perspectives of technologies. Specific partners matched this technological debate by call information they had easy access to. Project Preparation The project was prepared with a partner line-up emerging early on from previous projects shared by the partners. The Faculty of Electronics of the University of Niš was brought in by CIM Grupa so that the consortium could enjoy the proximity benefits Academia can offer. CIM Grupa emerged as an obvious consortium leader for a number of reasons: • The FP7-SME call that was targeted, eventually required an SME to be in the lead • CIM Grupa had previously worked closely with consortium leaders on other projects and acquired the necessary management know-how • CIM Grupa had the necessary resources in manpower (all the more because project management overheads are 100% fundable by the EU) The mostly longstanding partnerships brought into the consortium had been formed considering a number of factors: • R&D expertise and technological focus of the partner • Complementarity of skills and resources (some partners are technology leaders, some are management experts, some are familiar with the political and administrative environment) • Geographical location (partners should be easy to reach in terms of on-site technology implementation) and spread out (Southern European or WBC-only projects are rarely approved) • Integration of a partner from a big EU member state (esp. Germany, UK, France) Previous experience: On previous projects, CIM Grupa had acquired partners through proactive communication and socializing at stakeholder workshops, stating clearly its technological focus but also focusing precisely on benefits they could offer possible partners. With this attitude even large multinationals became interested in co-operation. CIM Grupa has partnered on different FP projects with, for example, Thales, SAP or France Telecom. On ReFLEX, the main role of CIM Grupa as a consortium leader was to define a roadmap and to organize communication between the partners. This was done through meetings and teleconferences. Frankfurt airport was found to be a convenient meeting location as all partners could easily get there. On previous projects, CIM had learned that the specific mix of systematic (roadmaps, milestones, deliverables) and ‘creative’ approaches differed from one project to another. With REFLEX, too, the preparation process had its swings and adjustments. Although CIM Grupa pushed for work to be delivered along the roadmap the focus of meetings had to be constantly (re-)negotiated. Phases of open debates on technology had to be narrowed down to delivering milestones. No golden recipe – there are plenty of management models at hand - seemed to work but plain compromising between heterogeneous work styles was found to be a must - ‘the truth is on the pitch’. In this process, CIM Grupa’s 17/45
  16. 16. role as a deadline and deliverables watchdog meant that the company became obviously less involved in technological issues but focused more on project management, on which the learning curve has considerably risen with the REFLEX project. The focus and substance of the project did change over time but the consortium kept focusing on what it wanted to do rather than on what was possible under a given programme. Technological issues were checked against calls rarely vice versa. Proposal Writing Consortium work organization: Moving from debating and concept building to processing the paperwork required, apart from straightforward drafting skills, resources and management tools such as • a minimum time budget of three months • delegating tasks within CIM’s organization in a way that allowed long-term capacity building • managing idea and project ‘chunks’ of previous proposals so they could be re-used as cornerstones • familiarizing timely with electronic submission tools CIM were in the lucky position to have been part of long-standing consortium, which allowed them shortcuts unavailable to newcomers. The main drafting workload was on CIM who had to ensure timely delivery of partner contributions (organizations’ data, finance, technology process, project deliverables etc). CIM tried to keep the drafting process manageable from the early days of the application on. All partners physically met and worked together and last-minute drop-ins and drop-outs were avoided. With the usual reminding, pushing and shoving all milestones were delivered on time so that the drafting process could be considered effective. Challenges encountered concerned the use of electronic submission tools mandatory on EU projects, financial information and the diversity of legal obligations (tax, accounting) in different countries. Evaluation After a period of full immersion the challenge was to step back and understand the perspective of the reviewers. The ReFLEX experience was that • the 2-stage evaluation process was helpful (getting a chance for improvement, i.e. making use of the learning incentive) • the main criticism reviewers made was about workload distribution within the consortium • the score obtained was 12/15, i.e. above threshold level and midfield (but lower than the topof-the-league 14/15 that a project CIM Grupa had previously participated in). Interested parties commented that this was the maximum result a first-time coordinator could hope for, especially considering the fact that it is coming from Serbia which has had only one coordinator beforehand and even this one was from Academia. CIM had previously failed only one out of nine applications. For as much as CIM welcomed the two-stage review process it regrets the lengthy evaluation period this creates. On previous projects this had a negative impact on the lifecycle of the technologies to be developed in a fast-moving environment. Financing Finance was one of the bigger headaches in the drafting process. The difficulties encountered concerned less the complexity of the overall financial information required but the integration of data from diverse national sources. As tax laws are far from harmonized throughout the EU each SME partner which is to invoice within the consortium, came under specific national tax regulations. Parallelizing the validity of clearance from tax obligations was a major issue. National issues in Serbia concerned finding reliable information on tax status from certain state institutions (who were shifting responsibilities among each other without proactive problem-solving) and modalities of bonus payouts to be awarded for successful acquisition of EU projects. Also the diverging accounting standards in some elements between Serbia and the EU made additional accounting cycle necessary. 18/45
  17. 17. The enormous workload arising from these disparities was fortunately matched by the full funding the EU allows for project management costs. Matching funding provided by partners was mainly in kind (labour, equipment/depreciation and supplies) with EU funding supposed to cover mainly labour, travel and some overheads. As each of the partners is individually liable for the appropriate spending of the budget received, co-ordination consisted mainly of data sourcing, costing and contract management. All partners including CIM were able to provide their matching funding quota. Previous projects had taught CIM Grupa to plan for extra liquidity bridging eventually delayed payment of ‘tranches’ by the EU. Auditing had to be prepared in time by selecting an appropriate auditing company. Each consortium partner receiving the funds above the specified EU threshold will opt for an accredited audit company CIM tends to contract audits with the top 10 listed EC audit companies with local presence in Serbia. Human Resources CIM Grupa is currently assigning four staff members with the tasks related to the project. These staff members keep on covering other responsibilities though. Directors were in charge of the EU project and directed the drafting process themselves. As CIM Grupa looks at EU projects as a cornerstone of its future business the policy is to gradually involve more permanent staff in EU projects (up to eight) and to add EU assignments to staff members’ diverse duties so that EU projects are run as transversal issues that are not assigned to a specific unit of the company. Support Structures On the ReFLEX project no outside consultant was hired as this was thought to slow the ownership and learning progress. CIM attended, however, specific trainings on EU projects offered by renowned organizations in Brussels and elsewhere. The national network of Contact Points for FP7 is seen as the main source of support on the national level, as for procedures, factual information and early feedback. It was unable though to provide all the specific information or guidance on project management or tax and bonus issues. The most effective support came from inside the partner network where the specific mix of skills and knowledge often allowed accessing critical information quickly and effectively. 19/45
  18. 18. 5 Support Structures & Findings 5.1 Procedural Method The procedural method of this main chapter (see chart below) is the evaluation of already available related studies and materials, websites and the information coming out of the two main case studies and the expert interviews in regard to the status quo of support structures in Serbia. Taken together, this led to general assessments and concluding lists of findings (case study and experts separately) and suggestions. Due to this approach and the clearly defined scope of these assessments and analysis the findings and suggestions are based on the described sources and only reflect issues addressed during the research. Assessment Case Study Project Selection Data Collection Analysis Available Studies and Research Structures, Roles and Services Case Study Findings Expert Interview Findings Overview Suggestions Chart 5: Overview Procedural Method Support Structures 5.2 Evaluation Studies and Research Study Title Author, Organization Overview Content Absorption Capacity of Serbia for Use of EU Funds: Practical Lessons from Slovakia Ivan Knezevic, European Movement of Serbia, The Pontis Foundation and The Center for Democracy Foundation Based on the practical experiences of EU Member States from the fifth enlargement (2004 and 2007), and particularly experiences of Slovakia, study is dealing with analysis of the administrative infrastructure in the pre-accession period describing it as a precondition for satisfying absorption once the country becomes an EU member. Number of recommendations are listed especially in regard to the:      Absorption pacity of Cathe Publisher: Centre for Strategic Economic Administrative capacities for EU funds management at national, regional and local level, Professional and qualified staff, Inter-ministerial coordination, Timely project and strategy implementation, Civil society involvement in monitoring and securing transparency. Focusing on Autonomous Province Vojvodina the study provides 20/45
  19. 19. Autonomous Province of Vojvodina for the Use of EU Funds Studies “Vojvodina – CESS”, Government of AP Vojvodina For publisher: Mag. Valentina Ivanić Team of Authors: Daniela Vukov, Maja Sokić, Đula Ribar, Tijana Đurđev, Stana Pajković, Andrija Pejović following:     Statistical data on EU absorption (especially CARDS and IPA), Strategic documents and plans, Results of a comprehensive survey on EU absorption capacity done on the personnel of the local-self governments on the territory of APV, Recommendations deriving from the results of the above mentioned survey focusing mostly on strategic planning and documentation, HR, coordination and cooperation between various support organisation and co-financing. A Handbook on Financial Cooperation and European Union Supported Programmes in Croatia Central Office for Development Strategy and Coordination of EU Funds, 2009 Determinants of the Increasing EU Funds Absorption Capacity in Romania George Georgescu, PhD, Senior Researcher, Institute of National Economy Study presents the example of Romania in the early postaccession period and this country’s failure to attract EU funds at least at the same extent to the national contribution at the community budget, registering a net expenditure as an EU member. Study deals with determinants of increasing EU funds absorption rate which are related, among other, to the availability of internal resources for projects co-financing, adequate administrative capacity at central and local levels, appropriate inter-institutional coordination and public-private partnerships, high skills and motivation of human resources working in operational programs and intermediary bodies. EU Funds: Absorption Capacity and Effectiveness of Their Use, with Focus on Regional Level in the Czech Republic Markéta Šumpíková, Jan Pavel, Stanislav Klazar (The paper is based on an original research for the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic, via the project No 402/03/1221) Paper focuses on the Czech capacity to absorb the EU Structural Funds. Even though the functioning of the SF cannot be measured in countries which are in the pre-accession phase some indications about the functioning of the future system as well as certain recommendation can be deduced from Czech Republic experience. Besides statistical data, study provides general information and recommendation regarding EU funding supply side. Topics covered are: Author: WBCINCO.NET (incl. different contributors as listed in the document) The objective of this report is to add to the common understanding of the national innovation system in Serbia and to map the Serbian innovation infrastructure and stakeholders. Innovation Infrastructures Serbia Authors: Slađana Novota, Ivana Vlašić, Rumiana Velinova, Kiril Geratliev, Olga Borissova Study gives a comprehensive and easy to absorb overview of various EU funds related topics, such as: available funds, especially for candidate countries, focusing especially on IPA as well as funds available after the accession and practical advises on how to benefit from the EU funding, develop a project proposal and successfully manage project.       Macro-economic absorption capacity, Financial absorption capacity, Administrative absorption capacity. Programming, Implementation, Monitoring and evaluation. The report identifies and describes innovation-related     government institutions, programmes as well as innovation infrastructures like Technology and Innovation Centres, Clusters, 21/45
  20. 20.     Needs of the Republic of Serbia for International Assistance in the Period 20112013 Government of the Republic of Serbia, European Integration Office Technology and Science Parks, Business Start-up Centres, Technology Incubators and other related organizations. The document provides useful and detailed information, divided by sectors (Rule of Law; Public Administration Reform; Civil Society, Media and Culture; Competitiveness; Human Resources Development; Agriculture and Rural Development; Transport; Environment and Energy) aiming to built basis for planning, programming and the improvement of effectiveness of development assistance, in line with national strategic framework and priorities, based on the three-year programming. Within the ‘Competitiveness Chapter’, which is most relevant for this Assessment, focus on SMEs is obvious and following topics are covered:      Description of the sector and recent developments Strategic framework and sector priorities Measures for implementing sector priorities Programming of international assistance Forecasts and future challenges Table 1: Evaluation Studies and Research 5.3 Structures, Roles and Services 5.3.1 Overview Involved Organizations The following chart presents a brief and simplified overview of the main organizations (stakeholders) involved in supporting SMEs in regard to EU-funded projects in Serbia. These organizations, with their changing roles, responsibilities and tasks depending on the programme they are based on, are the core network of actors and service providers for the (support) structures SMEs and R&Ds can address in Serbia. The connections between the single organizations display, without indicating hierarchical relations or claiming completeness, some of the interfaces, interactions and cooperation between them. = NCP EC & EC Deleg. European Level Ministry EduSc Ministry ERD Ministry CuMeIS NARD Ministry Finance PKS SEIO SIEPA National Level RDA BMO R&D PK Regional Level App. App. App. Applicants Chart 6: Overview Involved Organizations 22/45 App. App.
  21. 21. These organizations are operating on four levels, from European over national and regional to the single applicant. The European Commission (representing the CIP, FP7 and IPA Programmes) and the EC Delegation in Serbia constitute the European level. The Serbian national level is firstly built on several ministries and the Serbian EU Integration Office with their specific tasks and responsibilities in each programme. Also on the national level are NARD (as the implementation agency for the MoERD and coordinator of the EEN Serbia), the PKS with its Bureau for the Cooperation with the EU and SIEPA. The regional level includes the 17 RDAs and the three Provincial and 16 Regional Chambers of Commerce. The R&D sector comprises the Serbian universities with their specific faculties and a number of R&D institutes. Finally, BMOs like clusters and associations belong to this level. Last but not least there are the applicants which are usually organized as consortia. These consortia usually comprise organizations from different levels, e.g. companies, a faculty or institute and sometimes the BMO uniting them. That is to say that these organizations from all levels are eligible to apply for EU projects depending on the specific programme. Additionally, the Enterprise Europe Network Serbia and the NCPs are structures combining several organizations and persons across different organizations. EEN, itself supported by the CIP EIP Programme, comprises NARD, PKS, SIEPA, the Universities Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis and the Institute Mihailo Pupin. EEN Serbia was established in June 2009. After the implementation of the first phase the second phase for the period 2011-2012 is currently being conducted. The Serbian financial contribution in the EEN programme amounts to 400.000,00 EUR (for two years) which is about 47% of the total budget. The coordination body is NARD. The Serbian NCP network is described in more detail in the next sub-chapter. 5.3.2 Network of FP7 National Contact Points In General Definition of a National Contact Point: a person nominated by the national authorities in Member States and Associated Countries to provide assistance to potential FP7 participants in their countries according to this document, an appropriate translation reflecting the concept of NCPs should be found for each national language 5. NCPs are national structures established and financed by governments of the EU member states and the states associated to the framework programme FP7. The NCP systems in the different countries show a wide variety of architectures, from highly centralised to decentralised networks, and a number of very different actors, from ministries to universities, research centres and special agencies to private consulting companies. This reflects the specific environment and conditions in each country. There are 18 thematic networks within the overall Network of Contact Points. These correspond to themes found in FP7 and operate on a Europe-wide basis6. In Serbia Historically, based on growing interest and better understanding by companies, the reach of the NCP network has been extended from a mere university perspective to private businesses, SMEs and business organizations. By doing so, following an integrative approach, the network was widened to other line ministries and the PKS which significantly improved visibility. The current Serbian NCP structure is a network of small units (one or few persons) recruited and contracted through the hosting organizations. This network of 33 NCPs covers hosting organizations from different ministries (MoES, MoCMIS), universities (Belgrade, Novi Sad) and the PKS to research centres and institutes (Institute of Physics, Research Center WBC). The Serbian NCPs are coordinated by the National NCP Coordinator located at the MoES. 5 See “Guiding principles for setting up systems of National Contact Points (NCP systems) for FP7”, EC document “12/12/2007/European Commission DG RTD A1” 6 For more details see http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/get-support_en.html 23/45
  22. 22. On the basis of practical requirements and as there is no specific budget for NCP structures, NCPs are recruited and paid as regular employees in these organizations and cover the NCP work as additional tasks to their regular job description. Agreements with the EU and hosting organizations specify general responsibilities (e.g. participation in EU decision-making and information events, passing on EU information etc.) yet without an accurate job descriptions nor benchmarks or terms of reference. Most of them cover their role part-time only due to budget restrictions. The work of NCPs is not directly funded by the EC but travel and accommodation expenses for participation in NCP meetings in Brussels are covered by EU funds. All other costs are covered by the Serbian government budget. 5.3.3 Activities and Services Offered by FP7 NCPs In General As the NCPs are national structures, the type and level of services differ from country to country. In general, the following basic services will be available in accordance with the Guiding Principles7 agreed by all countries: • Guidance on choosing thematic priorities and instruments, • Advice on administrative procedures and contractual issues, • Training and assistance on proposal writing, • Distribution of documentation (forms, guidelines, manuals etc.), • Assistance in partner search. In Serbia NCPs offer personalised advice and support to applicants, based on the specific topic they are assigned to such as Ideas, Bio, Health, ICT, Mobility, Transport, INCO, Environment, Energy 8 etc., through • Provision of up-to-date information from the EU level and NCP network to companies and R&Ds, • Creation and update of databases on different issues, • Organization of Info Days, • Individual (face-to-face, via phone or e-mail) communication with applicants in Serbian, • Consortium building and • Networking. Other NCPs cover cross-cutting issues like “Legal and Financial”, “Regional” and “SME”. Additionally, NCPs provide expert information to their own organization and other public and private sector bodies on their specific subject matter. 5.3.4 CIP NCPs Since CIP is centrally managed by the EC, the Regional administrations are not involved in the management of the CIP. At a regional level, additional information on the CIP can therefore be obtained from the EEN. There are also CIP National Contact Points specialized on ICT. Currently endeavours (there are two CIP ICT NCPs in Serbia 9) are undertaken to implement a wider network of CIP NCPs built on the model of FP7 NCPs. The FP7 NCP network is cooperating in many 7 8 9 See footnote on FP7 NCP Guidelines For more details see http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ncp_en.html For more details see http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/ict_psp/contacts/ncp/index_en.htm 24/45
  23. 23. ways with this CIP structures (line ministries, universities and EEN). In 2010 a first attempt was made to develop a common action plan for joint activities of EEN and FP7 NCPs. 5.3.5 General Service Provider There are a number of general CIP and FP7 service providers, like IPR helpdesk, Ideal-ist and WBCINCO.NET, which offer free-of-charge services and support to applicants. 5.4 Case Study Specific Findings This sub-chapter outlines the key findings and features of the two Case Studies based on the process and topic logic applied during the interviews and documentation. Positive Findings Critical Findings Information Channels BECA Case Study BECA Case Study  Information about the call was delivered via the Info Day at the PKS and this initiated formation of the Serbian sub-group of partners.   Already existing connections among Serbian partners were basis for their cooperation on this EU project. In terms of search for international partners it seems that the approach was not proactive; instead Serbian partners were approached by Spanish partners the Faculty cooperated with in the past.  None of the support organisation helping with the partners search was contacted.  Previous cooperation with foreign institution was a trigger to include Serbian partners in the consortium. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study  Network of previous partners used as information pipeline.  Noticeable costs of travel at information sourcing stage.  Recycling and remodelling previous project components.   CORDIS and wbc-inco.net websites. Considerable extra investigation outside pure call terms required (applicant landscape, competition, risk of overlaps).  Project meetings allowing horizontal communication. Project Preparation BECA Case Study BECA Case Study  From Belit´s perspective the project idea was introduced only after the call was opened and initial contacts with the partners were made; some of the other members of the consortium unsuccessfully applied for FP6 funds with the similar idea before and were then looking for suitable partners to try again within this CIP call.   Decision-making, call evaluation and project idea development was jointly done by all three Serbian partners.  Serbian partners had previous experience with cooperation among each other which helped with their work and communication.  Serbian partners were in constant formal and informal communication with each other as well 25/45 Communication among Serbian partners was rather informal due to the fact that they’ve known each other from before; if the ´sub-group´ would have included members not familiar before a more elaborated project management and communication system is suggested.
  24. 24. as the Project Coordinator.  Substantial experience provided by the Project Coordinator was crucial for the quality of the project proposal and coordination of all consortium members.  There was no communication with other foreign partners except for the communication with Project Coordinator and all the project partners were introduced to each other only after the project was approved at the kick-off meeting; this way cost effectiveness was increased. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study  Continuity of partnerships and topics/technology areas carried forward from previous projects.  Diversity of partners’ work styles, schedules and organizational cultures.  Previous ‘junior’ years as a partner preparing for coordinator’s role.  Having to compromise on roadmap and proven management approach.  Careful and practically oriented selection of partners. Proposal Writing BECA Case Study BECA Case Study  Each ‘sub-group’ was in charge of writing the project proposal of the part dedicated to its pilotsite.   Previous experiences in project writing and project management is an asset.  Constant communication with Consortium Coordinator was crucial as well as constant communication among Serbian partners. Except for the communication with the Project Coordinator and communication among Serbian partners there was no communication with other consortium partners. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study  Managed to obtain all relevant information from partners in time.  Handling the EU’s electronic submission tools.  Administrative workload especially on finance.  Learned to narrow down open debates to deliverables required for the application.  Locating information on specific issues like tax and national bonuses.  Organized communication practically and effectively.  Losing impact on R&D content as a coordinator. Evaluation BECA Case Study BECA Case Study   A lot of time was dedicated to administrative issues as well as documents gathering, paper work etc.  Many of the documents needed had to be prepared for the first time and lack of experience caused extensive time spending. Evaluation meeting was organized even though the project was approved in order to clearly define positive and negative work aspects and conclusions useful for the implementation of the project as well as future application processes were drawn. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study   2-step process allowing learning and improvements. 26/45 Delay in project implementation (app. 75 days) due to lengthy evaluation and EU’s internal pro-
  25. 25. cessing. Financing BECA Case Study BECA Case Study  According to the rules CIP is based on 50% of the budget being covered by the EU; the other half needs to be covered by applying consortia.   Each of the pilot-sites had its own budget within the project.  Each of the partners was responsible for budget lines coming from their involvement.  Importance of R&D and positive impacts these activities might have for the future development of the company compensates for the expenses caused by involvement in EU-funded projects such as this one. Regardless of the quality of the idea, consortium partners have to be able to cover 50% of the total budget which might be a problem for organisations coming from the economy such as Serbian where illiquidity is very common. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study  Full funding of project management costs by EU possible.  Diversity of financial information had to be harmonized (tax, accounting systems).  Selecting suitable auditors and communicating with them.  Additional accounting circle required due to some elements of diverse accounting standards.  Information on specific issues hard to locate, being ping-ponged between some state institutions.  Having to deal with new partners’ internal finance departments.  Having to budget for extra liquidity due to eventually delayed EU payments Human Resources & Previous EU Fund Experience BECA Case Study BECA Case Study  Belit’s corporate strategy clearly defines EUfunded projects as a part of their core business.   Belit has EU projects experience since 2003 and therefore its employees have gathered significant experience in this field.  In 2007 a department dedicated to international projects was founded in Belit; this department is in charge of following various opportunities, establishment and maintenance of business contacts, writing of proposals and carrying all the tasks in managing and supporting projects.  Belit was officially registered as an Innovation Centre in 2011.  Three persons from Belit were involved in this specific project with about 40-60 working days dedicated to BECA project. Involvement in EU projects proposal writing and execution is time consuming and therefore might be too expensive for a company with a small number of employees. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study   EU projects are managed as a transversal issue 27/45 None
  26. 26. in the company.  Gradual build-up of competence and capacity for EU projects. Support Structures BECA Case Study BECA Case Study  National public support structures used were responsible ministries and NCPs; they provided advice on application procedures.   Communication with them was conducted via Info Days, workshops, phone, e-mail and face-to-face meetings; Belit is generally satisfied with the support they provided. Events in Brussels such as workshops and info days, even though very useful, are often too expensive to attend; it would be helpful if state bodies would have funds to support SMEs in visiting these events and participating in similar activities.  There is no qualified forum where Serbian organisations could share their experiences and knowhow in regard to the EU projects.  The Info Days could be more dedicated to networking, best practices presentation and direct communication between potential applicants and support structures.  The Serbian Government reshuffle caused a lot of extra efforts since it lead to changes in the responsibilities in ministries in charge of EU funds absorption which were not always clearly defined or known to staff.  Information on EU programmes is spread over many websites which renders information gathering and research difficult.   Private support structures were not involved in any of the project phases because Serbian partners had enough experience to handle process on their own. EU support structures were not used even though Belit and partners are aware of them. ReFLEX Case Study ReFLEX Case Study  NCP support on terms, rules and procedures (‘theory’).   Carefully selected private trainings outside Serbia were useful. State institutions reasonably helpful but not proactive; sometimes contradictory information. Table 2: Case Study Findings 5.5 Findings and Suggestions This chapter summarizes in a very compact way the core combined findings from the research and assessments done, ranging from the case studies, over available materials to the expert interviews. As a starting point a general look at the absorption of EU funds in Serbia on the macro and micro level. Macro Level • Absorption of FP7 is widely seen as good with plenty of examples to underline this point. CIP participation in Serbia is still limited by the fact that CIP is applicable in Serbia only since 2009 but especially ICT-PSP already shows some very good results. For example, in the last ICTPSP call 18 Serbian organization/companies applied out of which 12 were successful (very high success rate of 66%). As a result Serbia received a five times higher amount from the ICT-PSP programme than was paid to the EU as contribution for the participation in this programme. As for the details on CIP and FP7 the responsible line ministries provide up-to-date data. • When it comes to IPA absorption is around 95-97%. This is due to the fact that there are huge needs on the Serbian side in the fields covered by already available by IPA Components I and II. 28/45
  27. 27. • In Regional Potential calls Serbian applicants have reached very good results (especially in calls dedicated to the WBC region) and created centres of excellence in the due course. • Changes in the GovRS led to reformation of the former Ministry of Science and the former Ministry of Science and Technological Development and distribution of their former competences and jurisdictions among newly formed MoES and MoCMIS, Digital Agenda and others. Since these ministries were in charge of CIP ICT-PSP and FP7 the effect on the absorption and number of applications remains to be seen. Micro Level • It could be said that the greatest difference among sectors and applicants and in their capacity to absorb EU funds is previous experience. Therefore the following statements can be made: o o Academia is very successful in FP7 absorption since they already have substantial experience in FP6. o NGO sector is very successful since project application procedures are a regular part of their work. o • Public bodies are very good with a lot of experience (especially IPA). It seems that the MoERD could be pointed out as one with the highest success rate. This can not only be traced to the Ministry’s abilities and capacities but also to a great extend to the fact that it covers a huge spectrum of sectors and fields and therefore is eligible for a great number of programmes and calls which increases chances to get financing. Other sectors that could be pointed out as more active and successful are ICT, energy, transport, environment, nanotechnology and agriculture/food processing. The award of the EU candidate status will open up new funding opportunities for Serbian companies (e.g. IPA Components III to IV). This should again increase interest on all sides of the table. The suggestions added in the right column in the following table are based on the materials and the observations, assessments and conclusions gathered during the drafting of the policy paper, including suggestions put forward by the interviewees. Findings Suggestions Familiarity with Funds and Procedures  SMEs and BMOs in Serbia are still, with some notable positive exemptions, on a very basic level concerning information, experience, networks etc. in regard to the CIP and FP7 programmes and EU-funded projects in general.  As the access to information sources on these programmes on the EU and national level are often time consuming and complex more emphasis has to be put on easy understandable informational material on the specific situation in Serbia. A successful model could be the creation of a “National Handbook on EU Funds” as implemented in other countries. The R&Ds are, especially in regard to FP7, much more advanced.  IPA applicants and beneficiaries are mostly the line ministries and they are very well informed about funding opportunities.  When it comes to CIP and FP7 potential applicants (SMEs, BMOs and Academia) there is need for much more information on the programmes as such as well as on the specific calls, not to mention lack of knowledge and information on procedures. There is therefore great need for awareness raising measures on EU funds in general, promotion of open calls and provision of trainings on CIP and FP7 (application procedures etc.) for public and private sector representatives alike.  Newcomers often, righteously, describe participation as demanding in terms of proposal development and writing and management. 29/45 BMOs such as chambers of commerce, business associations, clusters etc. should be much more engaged and active in this matter. The example of the VOICT Project Office described below shows how BMOs can organize not just their and their members’ participation in EU projects but also how they can provide expertise and lobbying from the private sector and SME perspective.
  28. 28. Support Structures Organizations in the Field and Their Capacities  These are the main organizations/departments in public bodies: o o o o o o MoERD MoES (with Project Coordination Unit), MoCMIS + Digital Agenda SEIO NARD (in its role as implementation agency for MoERD) PKS - Bureau for the Cooperation with the EU (plus the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce, two provincial chambers, and 16 regional chambers) As seen before some of these are part of EEN, one of the major service providers for the CIP programme.   The issues the sufficiency of available capacities and cooperation among involved bodies and organizations need further assessment in quantitative and qualitative perspectives.  There is a need for future education and training of current employees in the support structures, which should be a continuous process having in mind on going changes in EU programmes and application procedures. Private sector support  While the MoERD is the responsible coordinator for CIP in Serbia, so is the MoES for FP7.  General issues Generally, with some few exemptions, capacities have been described as not sufficient in many dimensions, i.e. staff availability, time contingents, training and education, funding etc. Yet, as often clearly-cut job descriptions, service portfolios and scope of work are not defined, known or available an assessment on this matter remains difficult and can only be based on the personal impressions and self-evaluation of the staff involved. For specific issues like training and education the demand is raised by all and seems an assessment shared by all studies and interviews.  There is no database of private support structures like consultancies offering proposal writing services in Serbia. NARD is in the process of certification of their services as well as private bodies’ services, which then, if certified, would become a part of a database and offered to various potential applicants. Therefore NARD bases these activities of connecting applicants and experts/consultants on its ten years experience and familiarity with all the players in Serbia in this field. However, this database will be built as soon as the certification process of services providers is implemented according to criteria set among others by NARD. NARD is thus shaping the offering experts and the markets as such along this certification process. Others know from their experience some consultancies and name them on an ad hoc and informal basis (it has to be clearly stated that this is not done by all named organizations).  The above listed organizations are also involved in IPA programming and DIS (which is not part of 30/45 Since public supporting organisations and institutions do not offer support regarding project proposal writing (only quick checks of ideas), private organisation offering those services on commercial basis are most often needed in this phase of the application process; therefore a database would have significant added value for applicants.
  29. 29. this evaluation). NCP Network (FP7 and partly CIP)  For the detailed findings see chapters 5.3.2 to 5.3.4 above.  As hardly any NCP was aware of the Guiding principles for setting up systems of National Contact Points (NCP systems) for FP7 or was familiar with its content, it is suggested that a ‘national guideline’, following the European Guiding principles, of basic principles, minimum services, recommended tasks and compulsory/recommended characteristics is developed. This guideline should then be publicly available for applicants to they can understand what kind of support and services they can expect.  The NCP should given sufficient time contingents to fulfil their tasks as outlined in the described national guideline which usually goes hand in hand with setting priorities in the hosting organizations.  The coordination regarding NCPs’ efforts needs further assessment but improvements seem necessary.  There is need and initiative from MoERD side towards the establishment of a more developed network of CIP NCPs. The widening and close cooperation with FP7 NCP structures is suggested to improve visibility and common activities. With the introduction of the Horizon 2020 concept (see Concluding Outlook) in 2014 a merger has to be implemented anyway. Strategic Planning and Coordination  CIP and FP7 are not perceived as priorities by all line ministries (the degree varies strongly) even though these are EU programmes where SMEs and other private economic organisations could directly benefit from.  It seems like most of the organizations do not have a strategy on EU matters translating general documents regarding EU integration and EUfunds absorption from the national level in an organization-specific strategy but are rather basing their efforts on ad hoc decisions. Some of them do have action plans but often there is no (strategic) planning document which describes the specific work programme for the year.   In many meetings and discussions during the research period it became clear that there is a lack of strategic approach on the government´s side when it comes to EU-funded programmes. Although decision-makers might recognize the importance of the subject matter, wide-spread priority setting and consistent implementation, as seen in many other countries, is missing.  Existing private sector structures like BMOs should not just be used as, often one-way, communication channels between the public and private sector stakeholders. But instead these organizations should have at any stage of the process the possibility to provide decision-makers with the perspective of entrepreneurs and companies. Systematic and institutionalized private-publicdialogue schemes are one instrument in this context. The shifting of priorities concerning CIP and FP7 is here just one example. On the national level an annual action plan is setup for the implementation of the CIP. This process, which includes the most important stakeholders (like NARD and regional agencies, Serbian Chamber of Commerce and a network of Regional Chambers of Commerce, Belgrade Chamber of Commerce the Universities of Novi Sad, Belgrade and Niš, Institute Mihailo Pupin, and selected BMOs), is initiated by the responsible line ministry (MoERD) and is conducted via 31/45 One concrete example in this context could be the involvement of BMOs in the CIP and FP7 programming and prioritising processes, where an earlier involvement of the potentially main beneficiaries of this programme could provide a very positive impact. So far only line ministries have
  30. 30. been included here. two phases. While the first phase is organized in the form of a meeting where only a few of the important stakeholders participate, the second one invites feedback from other (private sector) stakeholders and is therefore addressed to a much wider public. The result of this process is to decide which calls for the coming year are most suitable for Serbia and should be most advertised.   The establishment, along the Austrian model, of a group of dedicated professionals dealing with FP7 issues and NCPs which monitors, matches partners and projects and disseminates the experience of winners and models of good practice along technologies on local and international level was suggested to improve coordination. EEN provides a platform where some limited coordination and common planning is implemented. Demand Side’s Needs  There is no systematic or specifically designed assessment of demand side’s need when it comes to support structures. Some organizations derive information from surveys done in another context.  Usually a needs assessment is done on the basis of personal experience and informal feedbacks through conversations with (potential) applicants and participants of the Info Days and other events.   Proper, i.e. systematic and target group specific, assessment of needs is missing and should be the basis for all further steps in regard to support structures. Without this assessment and derived focus any format of activity will (partly) miss its target. Involvement of the target group(s) is necessarily the first step in this process. There is a strong need for a much deeper knowledge and understanding on what does the demand side (potential applicants) need in terms of: NARD conducts a yearly survey on a random sample of 3,300 Serbian companies. One of the eight segments of that survey is dedicated only to the assessment of the innovation capacities and needs in Serbia. However, the questionnaire does not specifically refer to EU programmes. o o o o ICIP also did a survey on modernization, innovation, business development, market development etc. on a sample of 37 random companies plus a group of regional chambers. o o Information on EU calls and application procedures, Trainings and education, Most attractive calls for Serbian applicants, Problems faced before and after the application procedure starts, EU absorption capacities and Innovation potential. Data Available  Currently there is no such thing as a public database of Serbian applicants (successful or unsuccessful). FP7 NCPs collect their own data which is then included in R&D databases.  A public database of all those who applied so far, successfully and unsuccessfully, would be of great help for all those who are considering to apply.  Such a database would also help foster exchange of experiences and knowledge, consortium building and the promotion of best practices. The ideas mentioned by some are indicating in the right direction and should thus be supported by national as much as international organizations. Statistical data on CIP and FP7 absorption is generally not transparent and publicly available.   First ideas are considered in some organizations in regard to setting up programme specific databases like a CIP ICT-PSP database. Services Offered  For the services offered by the FP7 NCP network see chapter 4.3.  Generally most of the public organizations mentioned above are offering the following: o  Information on calls and programmes via e-mail, websites, and free of charge participation in Info Days and workshops, 32/45 Information on calls is perceived by applicants, often related to limited experience on their side, as too complicated and general. In this sense it would be extremely useful if an ‘easy to digest’ and ‘tailor made for a specific sector’ overview of a promoted call would be offered, with very practical advises (so to say tips) of how
  31. 31. o o o o o   Support in networking and consortium building through EEN services and other means, Project ideas assessment, Advisory regarding professional project writing experts hiring, Advisory on project application, but only in terms of procedures, not on a tactical and project application content level, MoES financially supports the participation in the EC FP7 Proposers´ Day conferences. The services offered are free-of-charge and are addressed to companies (in general), SMEs and R&Ds (with the focus being organization specific). the project proposal should be developed to meet certain call’s aims and enhance chances of being approved for the funding.  Support to proposal writing is often mentioned as a service that cannot be delivered or offered to SMEs. It is strongly suggested that capacities for such services should be made available at selected BMOs.  Furthermore assistance to the evaluation of (unsuccessful) proposals is nowhere offered. This service is essential to improve the quality of future proposals.  The promotion of (Serbian) success stories, as seen with the BECA and ReFLEX case studies, should be another cornerstone of the service portfolio. It seems that only a limited number of (potential) applicants are aware of the services support structures are offering. Information Channels Info Days on CIP and FP7  Usually organised by the ministry coordinating a specific EU programme and other support structure organisations (i.e. other line ministries, NARD, PKS, EEN etc.).   Dedicated to the promotion of the respective programme in general (CIP, FP7, Eco-Innovation, ICT-PSP etc.) and a specific running open call which could be especially interesting for Serbian applicants.  This involvement inclusion of demand side´s view (SMEs, R&Ds and BMOs) and more interactive elements will help to improve the accessibility of the information and knowledge presented. Usual components: o o o o o o o overall introduction by (EC) expert, information on the specific call, practical and best practice presentations; Q&A sessions, assessment of project proposals presentation of awarded project in previous calls, printed materials (leaflets and brochures)  Participation figures vary but overall several hundred participants were documented. The invitations for the Info Days are among others based on the organizers’ company databases and website information.  It is strongly suggested that participants of Info Days are permanently involved in the evaluation of these events on a systematic basis.  The evolvement of the Info Day concept based on the systematic needs assessment could ultimately lead to abandoning the so far used format altogether. Instead a much more de-centralised format with big events reserved for the introduction of new operational programmes (e.g. Eco-Innovation) and a number of regional or local smaller events dedicated to the specific applicant, sector, company etc. structures and needs. Organized centrally in Belgrade and on the regional level (i.e. for Eco-Innovation in Sombor, Nis, Cacak). There are 7-8 FP7 Info Days planned for 2011.   Based on a systematic needs assessment (see above) Info Days have to be organized according to the needs of specific target groups. These target groups have to be more actively included in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of each such event.  The observation of a number of Info Days on different CIP programmes showed hardly any interactive elements with SMEs. The agenda was dominated by presentations of a rather general and unspecific nature which included no elements directly addressing SME concerns. One had rather the impression that the questions of single companies were not at the centre of attention but 33/45 Additionally, the focus of the Info Days has to be much more on the benefits for SMEs to participate in CIP and FP7.
  32. 32. a part to be put at the fringe of the agenda. The inclusion of Serbian success stories is certainly a good way to show the way ahead for other companies. Digital and Internet Based Information Channels  Most of the organizations involved in EU funds absorption in Serbia offer information via their websites or separate websites dedicated only to a certain programme (e.g. www.cip-srbija.rs, a FP7 specific is under development). Yet most of the websites were described and can be regarded as hardly user-friendly. Often a specific piece of information could not or only after time consuming search be found.  Again, the concerns and needs of demand side representatives should be included in the process of website development.  One possible solution is the creation of ‘One-StopShop’ websites which, if not possible to offer all information, would at least give directions how to obtain them.  In terms of content, information available is usually only ‘theoretical’. There is a huge lack of practical ‘tips’ and advices on how to write a project proposal and find a partner or consultant. The logic used to present and structure information is not consistent, even when it comes to different segments of the same website. Unfortunately this phenomenon can be observed with EU as much as Serbian websites. Especially for newcomers and applicants with limited experience the sheer number of different websites and the way information is presented constitutes a tangible obstacle.  Information on and announcements of calls or Info Days are promoted via e-mail address lists gathered by the organizing bodies.  EEN provides information on a daily basis.  Most importantly, information should be centralised instead of disseminated all over a great number of websites and user-friendliness has to be a overriding criteria for any new or updated websites in this context. There is a lack of information on support structures (public and private) available in Serbia. While FP7 NCPs seem relatively known within the R&D community, CIP information points and contacts only to a far lesser extent. Direct Communication  NCPs and other staff responsible or assigned to EU programmes seem to be well connected and are known to the active applicants in their respective EU programme.  In the FP7 context there are plans to directly inform and communicate with certain target groups like deans´ and directors` cabinets with the aim of spreading knowledge through their networks. Different ways of communication are used including phone, e-mail and face-to-face meetings. This leads to a certain number of direct and/or personal contacts with these applicants. These meetings are usually organized according to a specific need of an interested party and have more of an ad hoc nature. Difficulties and Challenges (Potential) Applicants are Facing Lack of Information  As described above potential applicants are or claim to be insufficiently informed about opportunities and procedures.   Support structure representatives find that the companies and other potential applicants are suf- 34/45 All of the suggestions made in regard to the information channels are applicable here.
  33. 33. ficiently informed about the funding opportunities but they are lacking experience and initiative to get involved in application procedures (see below). Lack of Experience  A great majority of companies are lacking not just EU project experience but also project management and project writing experience, EU funding is described as a complex topic.   One issues mentioned in this context is the language barrier as proposals and all documentation have to be handed in English. Already experienced companies stated that the best way of gaining experience is learning by doing and starting with minor roles in consortium and getting know-how from the more experienced. Both elements of this statement, starting with minor roles in consortia and learning from the experienced, are ways to balance the natural lack of experience for newcomers.  Outsourcing activities which an applicant might lack experience in is an option, but lack of finance is preventing them from doing so (see next paragraph). Lack of Finance  CIP and FP7 programmes are classical instruments of co-financing. While CIP offers maximum co-financing of 50% of the total project budget, meaning that applying consortia must be able to provide the rest of the funds elsewhere, FP7 allows grants of up to 100% (e.g. the Capacities programme).  Potential SME applicants in Serbia often can hardly provide the 50% share of financing by themselves and the necessary financial mechanisms (venture capital funds, guarantee funds, business angels, seed capital), where EIP financial instruments can be used, are not sufficiently developed in Serbia. There is no financial intermediary institution in Serbia which has signed contract with EIF which would enable them to provide financials to SMEs under favourable conditions.  Generally the (lack of) finance issues is evaluated and recognized by many organizations. But implementation in this regard is far behind the necessary level. Keeping this issue on top of the agenda for all decision-makers is therefore a must. Proper incentives and support mechanisms from public bodies as seen in many other EU countries are just one remedy.  Financial problems are not only connected to the co-financing issues, but also to the expenses of the project application development itself. It would be very helpful if the state would reimburse some of the expanses companies are facing or provide project writing support. In this case it would be essential that the procedures on which this support would be granted is clear and transparent. Examples in other countries such as Austria could provide helpful models. One proposal raised is the following scheme: o o As an incentive SMEs can get grants for a certain share of their application costs. If the application is successful the company can keep the full grant, otherwise 50% have to be paid back. Companies not even handing in an application have to give back the full grant. Consortium Building   Consortium building is usually based on already existing academic or business networks. Serbian companies prefer so far rather a consortium leader from an EU country that taking the responsibility themselves (yet successful exemptions are noted).  EEN as a matchmaking platform offers networking 35/45 The format of the Info Day could be modified in its timing and content to include further elements fostering national and international consortium building. A concrete 3-step approach for Info Days could be developed: o Information on the work programme for
  34. 34. and consortium building services through its work.   o Generally the involvement of SMEs and R&Ds in international platforms is very limited; SMEs are often unable or not willing to take up the additional workload of national or international networking. Cooperation between SMEs and Academia is at the very low level. o  As often companies are lacking finance to travel to the various networking events which are organised all around Europe (e.g. Proposers’ Day) state, support is missing but would be of great help.  Awareness of many organisations which are providing help in this regard (e.g. Ideal-ist) should be raised. Serbian public R&D institutions are predominantly involved in basic research activities and are not specifically interested in the market perspective of their research. The cause for this is twofold: on the one hand these institutions show hardly any interest or initiative to cooperate with the business community and there is no full understanding of the market potential of their findings. On the other hand public authorities hardly set any incentives to improve the situation or rather more foster basic research instead. the coming year, Support for consortium building on the basis of the relevant technology the work programme is focused on, Info Day with the information on the call as such and concluding consortium building. Project Proposal Development  Concerning project idea development there is a possibility to submit one page description of their project idea to be assessed by EC officials or other competent persons during Info Days.   Companies are not aware of these opportunities. Participation in EU projects like EUREKA and COST have been suggested as possibilities to gather experience in less demanding programmes before applying for more complex projects like FP7. Administrative Procedures  Paper work: lack of experience with project proposal writing, documentation acquiring etc. (the administrative burden EU projects bring).  Additionally, the fact that EU and Serbian auditing procedures not being harmonized causes further difficulties. 36/45

×