Round table “Cityscapes of Opportunity: Smart Strategies for Business Attraction in the Balkans”

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On October 12, 2023, in the packed congress hall Constantinus Palace in Niš, Serbia, UR-DATA project event attracted a vast number of stakeholders and general public, around the discussions on unlocking business potential in Western Balkans and local economy. This occasion gathered prominent business leaders from the region in the panel “Unlocking business potential of the Western Balkans”, who were unanimous in the conclusion: “The economy of our country and the structure of the region rely more on traditional industries that do not use qualified workforce, and it is necessary to find a way to make the best possible transition to creating added value”.

After the welcome speech by professor Jelena Stanković, coordinator of the UR-DATA project, and professor Tadija Đukić, dean of the Faculty of Economics, UR-DATA SAB member and the president of the Fiscal Council, professor Pavle Petrović addressed the audience. He pointed out that the future growth of Serbia and the surrounding countries will depend crucially on whether they will be able to move from traditional to high added-value industries and thus ensure economic progress.

“One of the things that is important for us to succeed in this is the environment for the domestic private sector and small and medium-sized enterprises. It is clear that the rule of law, the absence of corruption, and strong institutions are key to economic success”. On the other hand, it is necessary to provide incentives so that more investments are directed to the processing industry, but also to advanced industries”, concluded Petrović.

Panelists Lidija Leković, CEO of LE-CO d.o.o., Saša Cvetojević, CEO of Insako and MBE Adriatic (Mailbox Etc), Budimir Raičković, president of the Association of Managers of Montenegro and president of the Association of Managers of Southeast Europe, Saša Petrović, Senior Sales Management at INCEPTION d.o.o. and Dragijana Radonjić Petrović, vice-president of the Association of Serbian Economists, agreed that the region has a chance, but only with united forces.

“The key is to connect and act like that, and the more we limit ourselves, the more difficult it will be,” said Lidija Leković, general director of LE-CO d.o.o.

Saša Cvetojević, CEO of Insako, MBE of Adriatic (Mailbox Etc), co-founder of the Sinteza clinic and co-owner of GameHub TV emphasized that smart regulation is key. Budimir Raičković, president of the Association of Managers of Montenegro and president of the Association manager of Southeast Europe agreed and explained that this region has exceptional prospects, but we need to have a high-quality service for citizens and the economy.

“The chance for both Serbia and Croatia is this region, and when we talk about investments, I don’t divide them into domestic and foreign, but those that bring new technologies, create new jobs. We are part of Europe and Europe has an interest in being in this market”.

For Saša Petrović, Senior Sales Management of INCEPTION company, it is crucial to find, build and implement one’s own ways within the imposed limit and regulations and to emerge in a way that would be the most acceptable for everyone.

Dragijana Radonjić Petrović, vice-president of the Association of Serbian Economists, concluded that the path to Europe is the only direction, but also that Europe as a continent is losing its competitive advantage.

“Europe is a continent that has been overcome and without significant changes that lead to less bureaucracy, there is no return ticket”.

As part of the event, a second panel was held on the topic “The City of Niš: Fostering Local Growth with Corporate Stewardship” gathering experienced local entrepreneurs: Jelena Preradović Stevanović, manager for sustainability and external engagement of SEE at the Philip Morris company, Vladimir Živaljević, Co-owner and Board Member at E- recycling, Akvabutik, Aerogaga, Staroplaninska bukovača, Olivera Sinđelić, CEO Poliklinika Human, Business Development Director & Co-owner at Global Digital Clinic, Miloš Novićević, CEO Codeus, Co-owner at Global Digital Clinic and Goran Mladenović, director of NICAT.

On the margines of the event, networking activities and potential collaboration prospects took place at the venue after the discussions.