The scope of the Danube ICT Clusters’ Sustainable Cooperation for Smart and Inclusive Growth project was to identify and describe an approach that would bring closer the IT industry to the local and regional business eco-systems. This initiative stems in the belief that near-shoring and BPO services, although profitable, are not sustainable on long term and for the preservation (and ideally, the increase) of economic and social benefits, the IT&C industry needs to find new business models. One option is product development and services tailored to the local, regional and macro-regional eco-systems. A first step in this direction is the elaboration of a Strategic Action Plan for cross-industry collaboration. As a starting point and fundament for our initiative, we decided to implement a set of two questionnaires, one directed towards IT&C companies which are members of the BBS ICT Network, and one directed towards clusters (and business associations) from other sectors / industries.

The resulting Strategic Action Plan, containing 7 seven prime priorities and 2 flagship projects, is the result of the efficient collaboration between ICT economic clusters from different countries of the Balkan region, as well as between SMEs from these clusters in order towards the development of technologies in emerging cross industry sectors. The focus of the developed document is on smart agriculture, also known as agriculture 4.0, based on information collected from several countries in the Balkan region. Stakeholders include ICT companies, related ICT cluster initiatives, as well as cluster initiatives from other economic sectors.

For the foundation of the strategic action plan, the information has been collected from the major dimensions of a competitiveness diamond, regarding the firm strategy, structure and rivalry, demand conditions, related and supporting industries and other factor conditions. During the implementation period of surveys applied within this project at the macro-regional level, specialists have reached the conclusion that long term focalization on ITO and BPO business is not a sustainable strategy.  At the same time, a need for smarter public policies and human resource incentives which should be put in place in order to support ICT clusters was revealed.

The connection between ICT and agriculture is one of the important emerging cross-industry sectors, as conditions related to climate change and population growth will determine a significant rethinking of the agricultural sector. Smart agriculture is an emerging sector with high potential to grow in the Balkan region.

Funded by the European Union and Danube Strategy Fund START, the project was coordinated by ICT Cluster Bulgaria, implemented in cooperation with Cluj IT Cluster from Romania, Montenegrin IT Cluster and Vojvodina ICT Cluster from Serbia, and benefited from the contribution of the Balkan and Black Sea ICT Clusters Network founding members.

About the Balkan and Black Sea ICT Clusters Network

The Balkan and Black Sea ICT Clusters Network is a bottom-up initiative that reunites some of the most important cluster initiatives in the ICT sector from this macro-region. Currently the Network includes 17 organizations from all countries in the Balkan and Black Sea Region. Our aim is to create new business opportunities for cluster members, to open new markets and to build bridges for cross-border and cross-industry collaborations.