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Discussion: Data-Driven Innovation in South-East Europe

On December 4th, the Institute of Economics in Serbia, together with other research institutes and think-tanks from South-East Europe, and with the support of Google, organized in Zagreb a discussion on data-driven innovations in the region. Practitioners, researchers and senior government officials from Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania and Slovenia took part in the event, exchanging information on good practices from their countries.

Prof. Dragan Sagovnovic, Director of the Institute of Economics in Serbia and Mr. Dionisis Kolokotsas, Public Policy Manager at Google – Greece, opened the discussion, underlying that data-driven innovations can bring new economic and social benefits and foster regional collaboration in South-East Europe.

Dr. Todor Galev, senior expert at ARC Fund, presented their experience in using open public data for design and implementation of national policies in Bulgaria. The novel approach, based on socio-economic analysis of integrated data, collected from several public registers, was applied in two particular cases – to underpin the feasibility study for the construction of public-funded broadband network in rural regions of the country and for assessing the relationships between the workload of courts with socio-economic factors on micro-level. The main challenges, faced in both cases, were highlighted by Mr. Galev as being common for the use of open public data in Bulgaria in general:
  • Lack of interoperability and integration between the administrations’ information systems / datasets;
  • Lack of standardized classifications / definitions and technical standards;
  • In most cases, only ‘single record use’ is technically allowed through the administrations’ online platforms, and data are not accessible as structured databases;

The participants expressed the common understanding that the world has entered the era of leveraging data to create new products and services, to make business processes more efficient and to reduce costs, which creates both exciting opportunities and new challenges for all aspects of society.


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