“My Government” and BiH Competitive Advantage in Global World

“Dear Sir, Dear Madam, You have been identified by your government […]”

I was looking completely confused at an e-mail. Took a second look. Yes, it is an invitation to H2020 workshop (for people that are not familiar with acronym, it refers to largest European programme under title “Horizon 2020" which supports research and innovation across 18 thematic work programmes).

The first question that popped up in my mind was: which government? Being Lithuanian that lives in BiH for 10 years, I was slightly unsure. I hold Lithuanian citizenship, and no rights to vote in BiH. Even assuming I fall under jurisdiction of BiH due to my “permit to stay” in this country, “my government” is the one that protects me and allows me to participate in decision making processes. Or not?

This strangely formulated sentence sparked an interesting discussion with a friend which advocates for making governments obsolete and letting private corporations to take over governmental functions, such as handling passports, diplomatic relations, health insurance and social care. I strongly oppose the idea of “for profit” entities taking over governmental functions, but my friend had an interesting angle: why do we stick with area-bound territorial governments when we live in a global world? Shouldn’t we have a choice to be “global citizens” and allow large corporations to take care of us, reduce bureaucracy and administration burden and protect us better than all these weak governments of small countries? If you have ideas or arguments on this topic, please ping me @AisteLehmann, — I am curious to investigate it further.

The second question rose immediately after: H2020 workshop for me? After all, TIDEA is first organization to get H2020 project in BiH. I do have first-hand real experience with the programme, the new information system, application process and even project coordination. However, this aside, — you can always learn something interesting from people with 25+ years’ experience in the field. And I wasn’t disappointed.

What I found out during the workshop, was really interesting. For example, at H2020 predecessor, FP7 programme that run during 2007–2013, organizations from BiH participated in 36 projects, 5 projects were coordinated by local organizations. Out of these 5 projects, TIDEA coordinated 2.

Following these statistics, conclusion was made that there are too less organisations from BiH participating in this programme, and the average secured budget of €70k per organisation is the lowest in Balkans. In my opinion, the average budget allocation largely depends on the type of project: a million euros can be feasible for research project while €30k for communication and awareness actions is also very adequate. What we need to focus is not only getting “more projects”, but also strengthening local organizations to be internationally more competitive thus laying basis for better involvement in large scale research and innovation actions.

Besides strengthening research and innovation foundations, BiH organizations must focus on core weakness: networking. Which is easier said than done. Being present at conferences and actively hunting for the invitations to the project proposals require significant budget and HR allocation. Very few organizations in BiH can afford it. Another important notice was that European Commission will fund projects that have most potential to secure global competitiveness of European Union in specific sectors. However, to be able to compete for such projects, organizations from BiH must also gain a competitive advantage or at least be able to contribute in a unique way to international project consortium.

Such a competitive advantage cannot be gained without well planned strategic, consequent governmental support. “My government”, I am looking at you.

Originally published at www.tidea.eu.

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