Not long ago, it would have been far-fetched to cast Serbia as a location for research into virtual reality, eHealth or artificial intelligence. This summer three new laboratories opened at the Innovation center of the School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Belgrade where young, talented Serbian researchers can push the boundaries of these most advanced scientific fields in their own country.
The new labs are the latest chapter in the development of the Innovation Centre, which was established in 2006 as a spin-off company within the University’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering. The aim was to connect science and industry in order to produce the most advanced electrical engineering and information technology innovations.
The new labs “are fitted with the most advanced sensor systems and computer equipment, enabling novel scientific research and projects based on the most sophisticated technological concepts,” said Ilija Radovanovic, deputy director of the Innovation Centre.
This valuable equipment, which will be used to study virtual reality, eHealth and biomedical engineering, industrial automation and control, was financed by the European Investment Bank, the EU’s Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, the Council of Europe Development Bank and the Serbian government.
“By investing €200 million in the research and development sector in Serbia, we are proud to see such astonishing results in our joint efforts to prompt Serbian innovation, economic competitiveness and advanced technologies,” said Dubravka Negre, Head of the EIB Regional Office for the Western Balkans. “We have recognized the importance of encouraging talented young people at the start of their career to channel their ideas through a system of professional support that allows them to pursue their career in their own country.”
Connecting talents, knowhow and creativity
The most significant aspect of the Centre and its new laboratories is a multidisciplinary approach, allowing the development of end-user solutions for specified projects and purposes.
“This multidisciplinary approach is possible in research environments only, where science is applied for addressing industrial and social demands,” says Radovanovic. “In this way, we foster young professionals who are capable of applying their creativity and knowhow in addressing the most current scientific and technological challenges on a global scale.”
Since its establishment, the Innovation Centre has been involved in over 150 projects in collaboration with national and international science and research institutions, as well as representatives of industry.
“In the future, the Innovation Centre will continue its mission of connecting talents, knowhow, experience, ideas and creativity,” Radovanovic says, “building an environment beneficial to the development of new innovative projects, research and solutions, as well as the professional competencies of our engineers and researchers.”
New competences for a new age
These kinds of investments and projects have put Serbia on the global innovation map. Today, many international companies and universities engage experts from this Innovation Centre to conduct research for their products that are potential market innovations. Young scientists from the Innovation Centre of School of Electrical Engineering can, therefore, find the same professional opportunities and challenges as elsewhere in Europe.
The applications of new findings from these laboratories are many—from software, healthcare and medicine to games and the sports industry, marketing and education. The Innovation Centre is currently developing technological innovations based on Industry 4.0, which focuses on the digitalisation of industrial processes, and Society 5.0, a concept that aims to balance economic advancement and social development.
“We are open to new scientific and commercial collaborations, the extension of our partner network, and exchange of knowhow in all innovative areas such as artificial intelligence, information technologies, the internet of things, biomedical engineering, virtual reality and so on,” Radovanovic says. “On top of that, our laboratories will be at the disposal of engineers, researchers, students, institutions, companies and start-ups that strive to propel new scientific research and develop their innovative ideas.”
The new labs show that Serbia is embracing new technologies and leaving its mark on this new innovative and collaborative era of science and industry.