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The EEN regional conference brought together a number of entrepreneurship experts from Southeast Europe

Foundation for Management and industrial research together with the regional partners from Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized the two-day conference “SEE Regional Conference 2022 Enterprise Europe Network”, which brought together about a hundred representatives of partner institutions from the region from 13th till 15th December 2022 in Zagreb, Croatia.

The goal of this traditional event was to improve cooperation among regional partners and consortia of EEN, improve the quality and capacity of services. At this meeting, the participants had the opportunity to exchange experiences and improve cooperation in order to develop the small and medium-sized business sector more effectively and to raise the level of competitiveness of Southeastern Europe on the European Union market.

In the introductory part, participants were addressed by Natalia Martinez Paramo, head of the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EISMEA), and then Šime Erlić, state secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds, greeted the participants.

On this occasion, the FINNO online platform was presented – a unique digital tool developed by partners from EEN regional centers. The platform enables direct interaction between companies and advisors from Southeast European countries who provide personalized services on internationalization, access to financing and commercialization of innovations.

In just three clicks, entrepreneurs can choose a consultant from Southeast European countries – an expert in the field of internationalization, innovation support or growth with experience and resources who can help them develop their business.

In his interesting lecture, Gordan Lauc from the Croatian biotechnology company Genos d.o.o. he summarized his company’s experiences with financing from European funds and how they continuously invest the obtained funds in the scientific community. The company Genos was declared the best research institution in Croatia according to the World Bank’s research in 2019.

In the second part of the conference, two panel discussions were held with many interesting participants. The first panel, moderated by Andrea Meleš, assistant head of the Department at EISMEA, dealt with the topic of the European Innovation Council (EIC) and its support for entrepreneurship. Panel participants were Keith Sequeira, head of the EIC and EISMEA management and coordination unit, Ana Barjašić, founder and executive director of Connectology and member of the EIC board, Igor Milek from SPIRIT Slovenia and Tomaž Karčnik from the Slovenian company BioSistemika, who shared his successful experiences with applying to the EIC program. The conclusion of the panel is that it is necessary to improve the advisory services of support institutions, including EEN advisors, in order to increase the number of quality applications and the success rate of the EIC program.

The second panel discussion was held where it was discussed how European Digital Innovation Centers (EDIH) and Digital Innovation Centers (DIH) will provide support to entrepreneurship in the region along with the European Entrepreneurial Network. The panel was led by Siniša Marčić from the Council for Regional Cooperation (RCC), and the following participated in the panel: Maja Sušec, operations coordinator of the Digital Innovation Hub of the University of Maribor, Mateo Ivanac, head of the Department for Innovation, Boris Golob, director of the STEP Ri science and technology park at the University of Rijeka, one of the partners of the EEN Croatia consortium, Bojan Ćudić, head of department from the Development Agency of the Republic of Srpska, and Boris Antić, professor at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad.