EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 7 Knowledge Society, PA 8 Competitiveness of Enterprises, PA 9 People & Skills, PA 10 Institutional Capacity & Cooperation
Submitted by: PA 7
The Danube Tech Valley Initiative (DTVI) will be a leading open, voluntary, and inclusive platform facilitating bottom-up cross-border interactions and initiatives among diverse stakeholders in the Danube Region including, among others, local and regional governments, research institutes and universities, start-ups, and corporations. The primary goal concerns bolstering and accelerating the innovation potential of the Danube Region through this cooperation.
To this end, lessons learned from prior Danube initiatives should be heeded: it is vital that the DTVI benefits from existing best practices, initiatives, structures, and programmes and actively seeks out ways to bridge and connect them. There is, in fact, untapped value in opening up existing nationally defined start-up associations (other entities) and promoting cross-border links. The DTVI, importantly, is not oriented towards replacing existing cross-border initiatives in the region or competing with them but rather providing a “horizontal platform” that will connect and link them.
- To create a leading open, voluntary and inclusive platform facilitating bottom-up cross-border interactions and initiatives among diverse stakeholders in the Danube Region.
- To boost the innovation potential of the Danube Valley Region by laying down foundations for a regional innovation ecosystem.
- To enhance the innovation performance of the Region by mutual cooperation in areas where cooperation leads to synergies without creating in-region competition.
- To provide a horizontal platform connecting existing start-up associations and innovation initiatives, both national and cross-border ones, with the aim of maximising their impact and providing mutually beneficial effects.
- To strengthen the main innovation ecosystem pillars in the region by developing specific projects and initiatives for each of the following pillars: financial capital; human capital; markets; regulatory framework; support systems and culture.
Need and (expected) impact
The DTVI is taking place at a critical juncture for European policymaking. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has initiated a new geopolitical era, with the Kremlin’s extraordinary use of force spurring Europe to transition away from its energy dependence on Russia. Russian aggression in Ukraine has placed an unprecedented global spotlight on the Region. It, furthermore, underscores the heightened potential for the region to leapfrog and emerge anew as a centre for innovation, a magnet for international capital, and a laboratory for cross-border collaboration, mutual assistance, and intensified exchange of skilled labour.
This geopolitical backdrop follows two years of turbulence fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The moment presents a rare historical opportunity for Europe – and particularly the Central and Eastern European (CEE) Region – to broadly transform its growth strategy to achieve greater sustainability and prosperity.
The impetus is especially pressing for much of the CEE Region (Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia) – as these countries have attained middle-income status over the past couple decades. Yet innovation remains key if they are to further unlock their international competitiveness vis-à-vis global economic rivals and lay down the foundations for more sustainable and smarter future economic growth models.
The GLOBSEC benchmarking tool, the CEE Strategic Transformation Index, and other indicators feature comprehensive metrics spanning: education and conditions, human capital quality, number of researchers, citations, knowledge-intense firm share, and innovation outcomes such as patents and designs, and access and volume of financial capital are the identified priorities. The aggregate results of these indicators speak uniformly and attest to the region’s laggard performance on innovation vis-à-vis other European regions. The DTVI, to this end, is seeking to further reinforce progress herein at the regional level.
At this stage of the initiative, two countries are cooperating on the project: Slovakia and Austria have manifested their support of the initiative by a Joint Statement of the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, and GLOBSEC on the Danube Tech Valley Initiative from 3 June 2022. The respective governments of Austria and Slovakia have declared their will to cooperate on the implementation of the project as well as to encourage the participation of other governments of the Danube Region states. Down the line, the goal is to involve in the DTVI platform another six countries: Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, and Serbia.
GLOBSEC, a Bratislava-based think-tank, is a longstanding advocate for close cooperation and integration of regional economies. As the creator of the project, GLOBSEC has a dedicated team for the initiative. The DTVI is led by its Steering Committee composed of public officials, policy experts, innovators, financiers, and third and private sector leaders from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. Intellectual and financial partners for the DTVI will include leading regional financial institutions, international organisations, governments, and firms.
Besides, the DTVI enjoys political backing from the Slovak and Austrian Prime ministers, lending it legitimacy and political capital at the highest levels of government. GLOBSEC intends to support the objectives of the Slovak and Austrian governments through developing and implementing, in close cooperation and consultation with these governments, a four-year partnership programme in both countries (via the DTVI).
Budget and Funding
The project aims to be funded by a combination of public and private funds. For the moment (as of June 2022), the project has benefited from private funding of EUR 50.000 and is in the process of finalising financial support agreements from both the Austrian and Slovak Governments. The project team is actively seeking out funding opportunities from other national and international (European) funding programmes, such as Interreg (one application submitted in early 2022, another planned for next call), Horizon Europe, etc.
Given the nature of the project, there is no fixed budget for the whole duration. The budget for 2022 is EUR 150.000.
Further information & Contact
Dr. Katarína Cséfalvayová Danube Tech Valley Initiative | Executive Lead GLOBSEC Policy Institute, Mobile: +421 907 574 941, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org