Ana Grujović, Director Of The Swiss-serbian Chamber Of Commerce, SSCC:

Dual Education – Among The Key Factors

The SSCC’s Conference on Dual Education, to be held in October 2018 in Belgrade, will be the next stage of the continuing Swiss-Serbian dialogue with a view to contributing to the sustainable and systemic development of the new education system in Serbia

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia are dynamic, diverse, well-developed and include numerous bilateral agreements, as well as excellent cooperation within the framework of multilateral organisations. Here we discuss new investments and plans with Ana Grujović, Director of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber.

How many companies are today gathered within the Chamber and what is their structure?

– The SSCC will be marking five years of its work in March 2019. Over the last four years, approximately 70 companies decided to support the SSCC and join our Association as member companies. We strive to build a strongly connected SSCC community and are sure that new companies will also be joining the SSCC in the next year.

SSCC membership is comprised of businesses of various types and sizes, with the economic sectors represented including agri-food, ITC, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, construction, distribution, HR services, consulting and others. Small to medium-sized businesses comprise the majority of our membership. Larger companies, such as Nestle, Roche, SIKA and Ringier Axel Springer, are also among our members.

How much has the growth of Chamber membership affected the growing interest among Swiss companies in connecting with Serbian ICT companies contributed to the growth of membership in the SSCC?

– We have recently observed that Swiss firms, and especially those from the IT sector, have been showing growing interest in the Serbian market. Since Serbia is becoming an attractive destination for shared services investments, many Swiss firms have recognised this potential by developing their innovative products and services on the Serbian market. This trend clearly confirms that the IT sector and innovations play an increasingly significant role in the development of new business relations between companies from Switzerland and Serbia.

Among SSCC members from the ICT sector, we are happy to mention the following companies: Sky Express d.o.o., Inter- Venture, Zuehlke Engineering, Consulteer d.o.o. and IT Werke.

Which gatherings organised by the Chamber are the most attractive for membership?

– Last year, in line with the decision of the SSCC Board to increase members’ visibility within the SSCC network and maintain regular communication with member companies, the SSCC introduced a new format of internal events: “SSCC members reunions”. These networking events are an opportunity for SSCC members to present their corporate activities, boost their business’s image among the SSCC community and also network.

This year we’ve introduced so-called “Expert meetings”. The first one took place in June 2018, with Dr Gabrijela Grujić, Assistant Minister at the Serbian Ministry for Education, Science and Technological Development, as the expert-guest of honour. The purpose of the meeting was to share the experiences of SSCC members related to recruiting skilled workers, to identify key issues to be addressed during the SSCC’s Conference on dual education, which is planned for October 2018, as well as to encourage actions needed to better align the local education system to the needs of the economy.

In which ways does the Chamber promote the Swiss VET system?

– Dual education is one of the key factors of the economic success and competitiveness of Switzerland. In order to promote the Swiss Vocational Education and Training System (VET) and its importance to the further development of Swiss-Serbian economic relations, as well as of the Serbian economy, we are organising the “SSCC Conference on Dual Education”, which will be held in October 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia. The Conference will take place as part of the continuing Swiss-Serbian dialogue, with a view to contributing to the development of the new education system in Serbia in a sustainable and systematic way. In addition, the SSCC’s expert meeting on this topic was already held, in June this year, as mentioned hereinabove.

We strive to provide maximum networking opportunities to SSCC members, so that they can expand their network of business clients and partners

The SSCC has provided a notable contribution to the promotion of innovation and innovative ecosystems. Which of the Chamber’s activities could you mention in this area?

– In line with its mission to contribute to the further development of Swiss- Serbian economic relations, the SSCC organised the conference “Innovations: the driving force of Swiss-Serbian economic relations” at Belgrade’s Science Technology Park (STP) in November 2017.

Keynote speakers included Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Montenegro, H.E. Philippe Guex; Serbian Minister of Innovation and Technological Development, Nenad Popović; and Dr Olivier Küttel, Head European Public Affairs, EPFL.

Panel participants discussed the importance of cooperation between research institutions and private enterprises, and the need to develop carefully selected policy actions that will support innovation-driven development of the most promising economic sectors in Serbia, such as the agri-food and ICT sectors. Moreover, the role of digitisation as a means of furthering innovation was stressed.

How much has cooperation with other chambers and the creating of conditions for networking enriched the Chamber’s work? Which forms of cooperation are most popular among members?

– I am very happy to confirm that the SSCC established cooperation with other bilateral chambers of commerce operating in Serbia. In May 2018, the “International Networking Reception” took place and gathered members of 11 bilateral chambers/business associations. In this way, we strive to provide maximum networking opportunities to SSCC members, so that they can expand their network of business clients and partners.

In addition, the SSCC successfully organised Speed Business Meetings in cooperation with AHK Serbia and CANSEE in April 2018.

Which other activities would you like to single out?

– For academic purposes, the students of FHNW School of Business from Olten, Switzerland, visited Belgrade in April 2018. The SSCC had the pleasure of welcoming them and launching this study trip with a kick-off meeting held on 2nd April 2018. The meeting included presentations about the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Serbian market and the economic relationship between Switzerland and Serbia.

The purpose of this meeting was to allow students to gain insight into how to do business in Serbia. The meeting was opened by Mr Marcel Hirsiger, of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, and the discussion was focused on the opportunities and challenges related to doing business on the Serbian market, Swiss-Serbian economic relations and the SSCC’s role and activities, among other things.

The SSCC had the pleasure of welcoming the students of FHNW School of Business from Olten, Switzerland and launching their study trip to Belgrade with a kick-off meeting in April 2018