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“IT creates new development opportunities” panel held in Podgorica

“IT creates new development opportunities” panel held in Podgorica
Published date: 24.08.2020 15:28 | Author: Ministry of Science

Ispis Print

Montenegro has the potential to be competitive on the global market when it comes to the IT sector, and the Government’s support measures strive to make it a new strong, export-oriented industry, Minister of Science Sanja Damjanović said.

During the “IT creates new development opportunities” panel, held at the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, minister Damjanović said that the goal of the Government was to strongly strengthen the innovative economy, where IT sector and digitalisation had a crucial role to play.

“We must not wait any longer, because we are all aware of the dynamic development and changes arising from the application of new technologies and the needs of new generations, where Montenegro must not be left aside”, the minister said at the panel organised by the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, Association of Montenegrin Managers and their ICT and digital transformation committees.

Ministry of Science

According to her, the key component of the third set of measures (for Covid-19 recovery) is the financial package of EUR 30 million, earmarked for the period until 2024, in direct partnership between the Government, the domestic sector and with the participation of foreign direct investments (FDI).

“These measures aim to make the IT sector a new strong industry with high export potential, to make IT sector and digitalisation the catalysts for the development of innovative economy, and to utilise IT sector to strengthen our traditional strong industries, in the function of digital transformation Montenegro” the minister said, adding that Montenegro was the first candidate country in the EU accession process to adopt a smart specialisation strategy.

Ministry of Science

“We worked on the document for more than two years, through synergy of the academic and the business sector. This is a national development strategy by EU standards”, Damjanović said, adding that ICT sector should serve the function of increasing the competitiveness of traditional economic sectors.

“We have established a modern legislative framework and should now jointly work on the creation of high-quality human resources, within an effort to accelerate the digitalisation of Montenegro”, the minister continued.

According to her, the Law on Innovation Activities and the Law on Incentives for Research and Innovation Development, which have been passed in the Parliament recently, enable Montenegro to create new opportunities and a broad spectrum of incentives.

“The creation of start-ups has been supported, along with employment in that area, and tax exemptions have been introduced when investments are made in start-ups. Furthermore, we developed this law ourselves and have not copied it from other countries”, Damjanović added.

As a result, she believes, we can expect an increase in the number of start-up companies, number of employees in the technology sector, and in foreign investments, which will make Montenegro an attractive destination for IT sector development.

“By the end of next year, we will also have a Science and Technology Park (STP), which will form the foundation of the innovation ecosystem”, Damjanović concluded.

President of Digital Transformation Committee of the Association of Managers of Montenegro and a member of the ICT Committee of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, Vladan Tabaš, said that in IT sector they believed that the fastest way for Montenegro to further develop was through digital transformations.

“The need to digitally transform our society is increasingly debated. Although some efforts have been made in this direction, no significant steps have been taken that could make a strong digital impact on our lives”, Tabaš said, adding that until a few years ago, there was no clear view on the topic, despite the existence of various strategies.

“During this quarantine period, a large number of systems have adapted to the use of digital technologies, and we have had quick adjustments, but this must not deceive us. We are at the beginning of the road and have to work intensively on the promotion of these ideas”, Tabaš indicated, assessing that the level of digital skills needed to be raised to a higher level and that awareness of society as a whole needed to be changed.

“The fact is that until recently, the IT sector has not been perceived as a great development opportunity. We know that the Montenegrin sector knows a lot and can present strong and important projects in Montenegro, but the current capacities remain modest and cannot fully support the sustainable digital transformation of the country, Tabaš continued, explaining that the IT sector needed planned, organised and systemic support in that direction.

“We need an IT sector development strategy. This document should address the strategic approach to the development of the sector, i.e., provide for planning and increasing the number of IT students, incentives for employment in the IT sector, public-private partnerships and involvement of as many local IT companies in the implementation of IT projects in Montenegro as possible. In addition, the IT sector should be viewed as an export-oriented sector in the future”, Tabaš explained, adding that that work needed to be done quickly on the sectoral development in order to respond to the future tasks.

Furthermore, Tabaš stated that there were no reliable statistics on the number of IT companies, because the sector was treated as part of the ICT domain.

“By reviewing the registration codes of activities, it was determined that in 2018, 790 companies submitted statements of accounts that had an IT prefix or suffix in the registration, with 828 such companies last year. Out of that, 275 reported an income of EUR 0, while 783 companies had five or less employees”, Tabaš added.

Speaking about the project of establishing an e-commerce support centre for micro and small enterprises, the director of STP, Velibor Bošković, said that it would be a high-quality solution to support all those companies that do not have sufficient knowledge and experience.

“The number of transactions on the internet is growing, but in Montenegro it is at a sub-average level compared to developed countries. We have considered the ways in which the state should launch a joint project in order to adequately solve this problem and increase the number of companies that offer their services through e-commerce solutions”, Bošković explained.

Director-General of the Directorate for Investments, Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Fund Management in the Ministry of Economy, Radosav Babić, said that the crisis confirmed the importance of the IT sector and the high degree of digitalisation in the private sector and the entire state administration.

“The government responded to the crisis caused by coronavirus quickly through three sets of economic measures. Over the course of a couple of months, we have paid out EUR 42 million, processing more than 37 thousand requests and supporting more than 15 thousand companies”, Babić stated, adding that the administration responded to the task successfully, as well as that the private sector actors were ready and utilised an online app, with no physical contact, to successfully complete their applications and receive subsidies in just a few days.