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Western Balkans Process – 3rd Joint Science Conference

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Conference of the national stakeholders of the education and science systems in the framework of the Western Balkans Process

Date: Wednesday, 14. to Friday, 16. June 2017
Location: Institut de France – Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca 10 Rue Alfred de Vigny, 75008 Paris, France

Turn Ideas into Action: Growth, Convergence and Cooperation in Southeastern Europe require Forward-Looking Investment in Junior Scientists and in Higher Education, Research and Development.

The 3rd Joint Science Conference of the Western Balkans Process was organised jointly by the Académie des sciences – Institut de France and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, with the kind support of the Embassies of Germany and Italy in Paris and of the PERFORM Platform (funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation).

The conference brought together national academies of sciences and arts, rectors’ conferences, research organisations and distinguished scientists and science managers invited ad personam, from 13 participating countries of the Western Balkans Process. The programme also featured a dialogue with the Paris-based embassies of the involved countries and a discussion panel with high-level representatives of the European Commission and the French and Italian Governments.

Building on the work of the past three years, the conference focused on two topics:

1. Investing in Junior Scientists: Proposal for a Funding Mechanism
The group of heads of state and government formulated in the Final Declaration of the 2016 Paris Western Balkans Summit the following request to the platform of the Joint Science Conference: “to propose [by summer 2017] funding mechanisms for excellent young researchers from the Balkans, allowing them to gain experience abroad and to create their own laboratories of excellence.”

Consequently, the stakeholders achieved consensus on a formal proposal to establish the Western Balkans Research Foundation in Trieste, Italy. The concept is based on a blueprint prepared by an international Expert Group chaired by Professor Donald B. Dingwell ML (Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, past Secretary-General of the European Research Council).

2. Education and Innovation for Jobs and Growth
Under this topic, the intention was to formulate recommendations for optimising the link between education, skills, innovation and jobs for smart growth in the Balkans. Smart growth means more societal inclusion, more jobs, higher labour productivity and more value-added business – all knowledge- and technology based. This covers issues such as curricular reform, bridging the skills gap, university-business cooperation and the creation of innovation ecosystems.

The stakeholders agreed to establish an Expert Group to elaborate a Western Balkans Action Plan for Smart Growth. The Group will involve representatives from academia, higher education, research, business as well as international financial and development institutions. The Action Plan is expected to be elaborated until the next Western Balkans Summit in the United Kingdom.

The results of the meeting were summarised in a Joint Statement, which was inserted into the Trieste Western Balkans Summit of 12 July 2017.

Joint Statement

Contact

Lucian Brujan
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Speaker of the Western Balkans Process – Joint Science Conference
Tel.: +49 (0)345 – 47 239 – 836
Fax: +49 (0)345 – 47 239 – 839
E-Mail: lucian.brujan@leopoldina.org

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