Interview with WBC-RRI.NET representative of Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina

As the WBC-RRI.NET project is approaching its end, POLICY ANSWERS asked project partners what the main activities of their region were, what impacts these had and how they have contributed to the development of the region. They also shared their thoughts with us on how the overall impact and contribution of the RRI activities to the WB region could be further enhanced. Here are the answers of WBC-RRI.NET´s representative from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Name: Anđela Pepić
Institution: University of Banja Luka
Region: Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina

How do the activities conducted in your region contribute to the development of the Western Balkans?

Western Balkans is highly interconnected and economies within the WB region are mutually dependent, and so are our research and innovation ecosystems. Let’s take a culinary wording to explain how the activities in this region (or any other) contribute to the development of the Western Balkans: if we would consider WB region as a meal, let’s say a stew, and each of the economies (or even regions) within the WB are ingredients, then each ingredient that is fresh and good contributes to making the whole stew even better. Now, returning to the more academic language: through promoting the RRI principles application in STEM education in secondary schools, or embedding the ethics, open access, science education and gender equality into the grant schemes, and enhancing the open science at universities, we are contributing to the development of R&I ecosystem in the Republic of Srpska, which can have a spillover effect to other regions and economies within the WB region, thus contributing to its overall development.

If possible, outline those main activities that have been performed in your region with the most significant impact.

Through the WBC-RRI.NET ‘anchor’ activities implemented in Republic of Srpska, we have managed, through close collaboration with relevant ministries to embed some of the RRI keys in their grant schemes. Ministry for Scientific and Technological Development and Higher Education of the Republic of Srpska has introduced ethics and open access as one of the award criteria in their research grants scheme, while Ministry of Economy and Entrepreneurship of the Republic of Srpska in its grant scheme for incentives for small and medium enterprises introduced amendments including ethics, gender equality and STE(A)M education, demonstrating a commitment to aligning the investment incentive framework with RRI principles. In addition to that, the University of Banja Luka (UNIBL) continued its efforts in promoting and applying open science by upgrading its digital repository which enables for greater sharing of research results as well as improved visibility of outputs produced by UNIBL researchers.

Based on your experience within the project, could you please mention some approaches that might enhance the overall impact and contribution of the RRI activities to the WB region?

Knowledge and experience sharing within the project through the mutual learning and open dialogue, engaging stakeholders from the very early phases in the co-design of the ‘anchor’ activities and to certain extent in their implementation, is definitely a recipe for further enhancing the WB region-wide embeddedness of RRI into the ecosystem: from practical implementation in research and innovation activities to policy making processes.

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