Gordana Danilović Grković, Acting Director of Science Technology Park Belgrade

Problems are Challenges for Youngsters

I worked in science for a long time and am fascinated by the scientific research sector, the abundance of knowledge that exists there, conceived technologies, methods, prototypes etc. That is really our wealth. That’s what the world calls ‘potential for innovation’, and in all analyses our best rating is precisely in that part. Where we lag behind the rest of the world is in the commercialisation of innovation

Gordana Danilović Grković

And that’s precisely where there was, and still is, a huge challenge – how to convert that potential into development and, in parallel, give young people a chance to realise their ideas, establish their own companies and achieve success here in Serbia. The launch of the work of the Business Technology Incubator of Technical Faculties in Belgrade 11 years ago represented the first major, completely pioneering step, in a building attic that leaked, without the support and a budget, for us to prove that it can also be done in our country.

We learnt from the best – from Israel, from members of our diaspora who gave us their trust and launched their start-up companies here… It was difficult to position the Incubator, to struggle for it, to find the financial resources required for infrastructure… However, it was simultaneously wonderful, because we became quickly convinced that our young people wish for and are capable of a lot. That carried us further – their energy, faith, first victories and conquering the world from Belgrade!

And thus that success became my career. I gradually came to the realisation that this is exactly what motivates me – raising something from scratch, no matter how difficult that might be. My father used to say that there’s nothing you can’t do – it’s just a matter of how much you are willing to devote yourself to that.

I’ve never viewed my career as though viewing an ambition or a goal, my daughter was born in the ‘90s and those difficult years practically shape you, to fight moving forward with no going back. And all those years that we missed out on in terms of development due to isolation left us hungry to learn how others do it and to do it here.

We are practically obliged to do everything – not what we can, but what we must – in order for the energy of these young people to result in market success, because their success represents the success of our entire society

And so we developed the Science Technology Park Belgrade – to compensate for those several decades of lagging behind the rest of the world in developing such instruments of regional development and to repay those who had the vision to start constructing this beautiful complex on Zvezdara Hill during the late 1980s.

In partnership with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the City of Belgrade and the University of Belgrade, we laid new foundations in the support of innovation, as a way of proving that a knowledge-based economy can also grow in the conditions of our country.

This then also became a spiral of development, of struggling; a centre for bringing together young people where everything bubbles with ideas and technologies. As everything grows, so does our responsibility to introduce the necessary business knowledge and enable the right contacts. We are practically obliged to do everything – not what we can, but what we must – in order for the energy of these young people to result in market success, because their success represents the success of our entire society.

I’m eternally grateful to everyone, primarily my own team, but most of all to the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which recognised us, believed in us and enabled us to master the necessary knowledge and skills, not only to compensate for the backlog in this domain, but also to enable us to monitor the latest trends.

This learning and development process is exceptional and we want to share it with everyone who shares the same vision and goals. We now have unique knowledge and a model in our hands and can already see a strong future network of technology parks in Serbia, in order to motivate others to feel the energy of young people and innovation.

This, of course, isn’t easy, but those are young people, and they see a challenge where everyone else only sees a problem… And that’s real power. Our aim is to improve every day, to know and be able to do more than yesterday, which is also my personal motivation and there is so much more to learn and do.