The conference “Nordic-Serbian Partnership for Green Business and Industrial Processes” under the auspices of the Embassy of Finland, jointly organized with the embassies of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in Serbia, was completed in the Niš Science and Technology Park. The conference discussed green and sustainable business, how to improve production processes, incorporate circular economy principles, digitize business and at the same time increase productivity and efficiency, while consuming fewer resources. This is the fourth, and at the same time the last, conference organized within the initiative “Nordic Green Project – Sustainable Solutions for Serbia” jointly implemented by the Nordic embassies in Serbia
The opening of the conference was attended by representatives of local self-government, business associations, the academic community, as well as the ambassadors of Finland, Kimmo Lähdevirta, and Norway, Jørn Eugen Gjelstad.
“The manufacturing industry in Serbia needs to introduce new solutions in order to improve its efficiency, environmental sustainability and be competitive at the European and global level.” Efficiency is key, as labor and energy costs are rising, and the demand for sustainable products and solutions will increase over time. Immediate action and a change in the approach of local companies is needed,” said Finnish Ambassador Kimmo Lähdevirta, opening the conference in Niš.
“It is an exceptional honor to host Nordic ambassadors in Serbia and experts from these countries, whose experiences we can learn a lot from.” This conference is an excellent opportunity to raise the awareness of our companies about the green transition as a chance for the development of new startups, but also for the development of innovation and the startup ecosystem. Serbia has undergone enormous reforms in the structure of the economy, and the largest number of current investors, as well as an increasing number of technology companies, contribute to the green transition. The community of the Niš Science and Technology Park currently has over 50 high-tech companies, mostly related to IT. We recognized the opportunity for the development of the community and new companies in the CleanTech area, launched initiatives such as membership in the EIT Climate KIC, development, and implementation of the Green Startup School, and hackathons to solve problems in this area with the aim of further progress”, said the director of the Science and Technology Park Niš Milan Ranđelović.
“The experience that the Nordic countries bring to Serbia, which is on its way to the European Union, is very important for Niš. Given the fact that we have so many renewable energy sources, but we have not actually managed to use them, such as geothermal energy, solar, and wind energy in this part of Serbia, I think that the Nordic examples of good practice really can help us. Especially since Sweden holds the Presidency of the EU now, and I think that in the next six months, we have a really good chance to use, and of course, their ability to help us in all this. It is important to say that a year and a half ago we talked about how the construction of a wastewater treatment plant should start in Niš. Now we can already boast of this very valuable investment, which is financed from EU funds, of 85 million euros, because the collectors are being extensively worked on and we will be one of the cities in Serbia that purifies water”, said the mayor of Niš, Dragana Sotirovski.
After the welcome speeches, two-panel discussions with Nordic and domestic experts in the field of green business were held at the conference. The first discussion entitled “Green transition and trends – Nordic experiences and local practices” brought together representatives of local self-government, the scientific and business community: Milan Ranđelović, director of the Science and Technology Park Niš, Dušan Radivojević, director of the Office for Local Economic Development Niš, and Ninoslava Zvicer, EHS manager, Grundfos; who, in a conversation with an expert from Finland, Toni Mattila, manager of the sustainable production program, Business Finland, exchanged experiences and knowledge in the field of the green transition. On the second panel, whose topic was “Green business – Finnish experiences and local practices”, representatives of Finnish companies (Danijela Ošap, director of quality, ecology, development, and continuous improvement, Umka cardboard factory/KappaStar Group, Ivana Đoković, director of the business unit, Lindström Serbia, Marijana Pokorni, technical advisor, Valmet Serbia) presented their experiences and best practices in green business. The conference was concluded with a final presentation by Norwegian Ambassador Jern Eugen Jelstad.
The goal of the “Nordic Green Project – Sustainable Solutions for Serbia” initiative and the conferences held is to raise the awareness of key local partners about the importance of the green transition, as well as to transfer Nordic experiences and knowledge in this area. The green transition is an excellent opportunity for new investments, the creation of new jobs, and the strengthening of the local market and business.