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20 Years of the French- Serbian Scientific Partnership

Celebrating the strong and enduring scientific partnership between France and Serbia, here we highlight the thriving bilateral collaboration in innovation and research

France and Serbia have long maintained strong and enduring cooperation in the sciences. In April 2024, the third edition of the Serbian-French Innovation Forum was held to promote partnerships between various French and Serbian entities, including research promotion centres, clusters, start-ups and colleges. This year’s forum, hosted at Belgrade’s Palata Srbije and attended by Serbian Science and Innovation Minister Jelena Begović, attracted over 300 entrepreneurs, researchers, students and directors of key organisations in Serbia. The forum focused on biotechnologies and renewable energies.

In an effort to further enhance collaboration on innovation, the French Embassy has launched two additional programmes. The first, “Energy 2030” hackathon, brings together students from top engineering faculties to foster their entrepreneurial spirit. The second programme, “Mission France”, allows the best Serbian start-ups to explore the French market during VivaTech, Europe’s leading tech event.

Through these initiatives, the Embassy aims to engage new audiences and promote the “France Excellence” scholarships for Master 2 students, alongside the “IT makes S(ci)ENCE” programme. This programme facilitates 15-day research visits to French laboratories for Serbian researchers, aiming to identify common research areas and develop Franco-Serbian scientific projects in priority fields like energy, AI, biotechnologies and therapies. France has also long supported scientific exchange programmes, allowing many Serbian researchers and practitioners to spend extended periods in French research centres, thus enhancing scientific knowledge and collaborative efforts in both countries. Notably, numerous Serbian oncologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, historians and nuclear scientists have benefited from these exchanges, further strengthening bilateral ties.

French Ambassador Pierre Cochard and Minister Jelena Begović emphasised that the Pavle Savić Programme is an excellent way to develop researcher mobility and a stepping stone for participating in larger projects

On 31st January 2024, the French Embassy and the Serbian Ministry of Science, Technological Development and Innovation commemorated the 20th anniversary of the “Pavle Savić” scientific bilateral cooperation programme at the French Ambassadorial Residence. This programme, named after eminent Serbian physicist Pavle Savić, has become a cornerstone of bilateral cooperation, co-funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Serbian Ministry of Science, Technological Development and Innovation. During the most recent call, 20 projects were selected, with the next call for new scientific projects scheduled for this spring.

The Pavle Savić Programme fosters scientific exchanges between research laboratories and scientific communities in both countries, enhancing their participation in European programmes and networks. Since its inception, 173 projects have been funded, with approximately 40 mobilities annually. This programme has created robust partnerships that often continue beyond a project’s conclusion.

French Ambassador Pierre Cochard and Minister Jelena Begović emphasised that the Pavle Savić Programme is an excellent way to develop researcher mobility and a stepping stone for participating in larger projects.

Ambassador Cochard also noted the annual scholarships awarded by the French Government for Master 2 and doctoral studies under dual mentorship, as well as short-term visits through the “IT MAKES S(ci)ENSE” programme. Around 20 Serbian researchers will visit scientific institutes in France during this year.

Following addresses by Ambassador Cochard and Minister Begović, four scientists that lead projects under the scope of this cooperation shared their experiences with the forum audience. Aleksandra Kolaković from the Institute for Political Studies, Marija Vidović from the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, Jasmina Grbović Novaković from the Institute of Nuclear Research, and Tijana Milićević from the Institute of Physics spoke about their work and the benefits of this collaboration.

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