This week, a couple of meetings took place in Belgrade with the Romanian delegation. The aim of these meetings was the improving of international cooperation in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) and education, within Pupin’s Challenge project. The meetings took place on September 26, 2022. on multiple locations. In this return visit to Serbia by the Romanian delegation, the number of meetings and locations increased.
The Romanian delegation was represented in front of the Timiş County Council by: Adrian Lupuc – Public Manager, Kosmin Mirisan – Executive Advisor in Project Management and Dan Diakonu as a representative of Timiş County as advisor to the President of Timiş County and in front of the Polytechnic University.
Host for the Faculty of Organisational Sciences were: Sandra Jednak – Vice Dean for international cooperation, Dušan Barać – Vice Dean for Digitization and Ana Milićević – Program Manager, Research and Development Center.
The meeting was opened by Vladislav Petković – the coordinator of Pupin’s Challenge and the initiator of this regional initiative. He thanked the attendees, the hosts for hosting this entire gathering and the guests from Romania who responded to the invitation and came for a return visit.
The subject of this meeting was to determine the possibility of cooperation and the possible use of funds from available funding sources, such as the Interreg IPA CBC program, as well as other available programs for project financing.
Dan Daikonu thanked for the invitation and greeted all the participants and presented some information about the Polytechnic University. The University was founded in 1920, now it has 10 faculties as well as over 13,500 students, 25 departments and almost 700 people in the teaching staff, as many as 25 research centers within the University, which provide sources of funding for its own development. The university cooperates with numerous universities in Europe, in both Americas and Asia, with over 190 cooperation agreements directly or within the framework of EU programs. He mentioned the significant investments they have had so far, as well as big plans and new investments in the coming period.
Kozmin and Lupuc introduced themselves and thanked for this second, return visit and meeting on behalf of Timiš Okrug. They pointed out that such meetings are valuable in terms of a proper assessment of potential partners in cross-border cooperation and other projects.
Vice Dean for International Cooperation Sandra Jednak greeted the guests and gave a brief overview of the University of Belgrade with over 200 years of tradition and over 100,000 students, 342 study programs and 31 faculties and the host of this meeting – the Faculty of Organizational Sciences with 50 years of existence, which is part of the University of Belgrade.
Recognized by the Government of the Republic of Serbia and received a new modern building with an investment of approximately 8 million Euros. Currently, the faculty has over 6,000 students, 19 departments, 26 study programs and a teaching staff of over 170 people. Every year, there is great interest in enrolling at FON.
According to the new accreditation for studies at FON, there are two basic programs: Information Systems and Technologies and Management and Organization with 6 majors each. There is cooperation with several faculties and universities in the country and abroad, as well as a joint master’s degree with Middlesex University from London. Over 50 contracts. FON participates or has participated in Erasmus +, Horizon 2020, EuropeAid, EU Council and US AID programs. Over 1300 contracts with companies and 5 international and national conferences such as the SymOrg international symposium. Over 14 student organizations such as Aisec, Fonis and others function at the faculty.
After this detailed presentation that shows the excellent potential of FON, Ana Milićević – program manager of the Research Development Center – IRC addressed us. She presented the diverse work of this center and the good communication with student organizations like Fonis, which organizes the Hackathon, supported by college. There are innovation projects supported by companies. One of the planned projects is a joint hackathon with the University of Varaždin from Croatia. One of the ideas that is starting to be implemented is bringing in additional activities from the business world. Other faculties also come to the competition, and the prize fund is provided by companies. There are various programs within the IRC, such as the development of student start-up companies. And the faculty itself is planning further investments in this direction.
The meeting took place in a working atmosphere where common interests and new ideas were recognized.
The goals on which there is agreement are the planning of the future visit of the FON delegation to Timisoara with tacit activities that can be implemented and projects in which they could participate. The public will be informed about this in a timely manner. And, next year Timisoara is the European Capital of Culture, so these activities will have additional media attention.
At the end, Petković stated that the creation of such specialized projects can gain the attention of the public and the interest of companies and improve the environment. In this way, following the agendas for the digitization of the EU and the world, the Pupin Challenge was purposefully created so that it could be the bearer of activities, together with partners, and represent a regional bridge of cooperation and a future generator of activities in improving the information ecosystem of the wider Banat region.
The second meeting was held in Pančevo in the city administration building of the City of Pančevo. The hosts were: Žarko Dakić – City of Pančevo, member of the City Council for Local Government and Information Technology and Tatjana Medić – head of city project sector of City of Pančevo.
The meeting was opened by Žarko Dakić and he expressed the importance of such meetings and the development of international cooperation. He reflected on what was done in the previous period and highlighted the help provided to the Regional Talent Center and projects like Pupin’s Challenge. He also reminded us of the previous meeting and expressed satisfaction that the cooperation continued and the agreed return visit. The topic was the possibilities of financing the City of Pančevo and the region from the EU programs, as well as other possibilities of financing the improvement of the information ecosystem and the progress of the region.
Tatjana Medić, head of the city sector for projects with over 15 years of experience in this sector, told us that she is familiar with the current call, and that the last call the City of Pančevo participated in, was related to energy efficiency. In any case, the City of Pančevo has the capacity and experience to implement complex projects.
Petković stated that thanks to the joint action of Dakić and him, and in cooperation with the Center for Talents, they managed to secure the necessary professional staff and technique needed for the realization of the first Pupin’s Challenge and accompanying activities. One of the parties that helped was the Regional Development Agency “South Banat”, which we helped to “win” a valuable IPA project and where the project leader is Nenad Zarić, one of the founders of Circulation. Petković continues: “these activities have already been recognized, and I believe that this project is only at its beginning”, referring to Pupin’s Challenge. This approach certainly gives results and good experiences that should be applied to future projects.
Medić mentioned that they, like the City of Pančevo, are co-founders of the Center for Talents and that this can be a very good potential for the development of the City. The working meeting continued, where the future project, potential partners and work methodology were defined more precisely.
Dakić repeated the observations from previous meetings and pointed out that the current distribution and reproduction of knowledge in school institutions has a linear character, with many knowledges that are not modernized, so that the Center is ideal for establishing new standards in knowledge. The new programs will enable school children to meet applied informatics in a new functioning model, so that they can more easily decide on their own future model of education.
Lupuc pointed out that the benefits are multiple for any city in this type of project. The total value of the Interreg IPA Romania-Serbia program is almost 88 million Euros, and individual calls like this first one are in the amount of about 26 million Euros, and the maximum value per project can be 2 million Euros.
Mrs. Medić stated that this is the first time that someone has come with concrete proposals, experience and determination to realize a project like this. Petković summarized the above and said that the perfect candidate for the implementation of these activities is the Pupin Challenge and the Center for Talents, which need to develop activities like the HUB, that there is still a lack of equipment and space arrangement, as well as continuous improvement of the competencies of the Center’s associates and students. Lupuc agreed with that and pointed out that it can be a very good lever for development and a way to make it all work.
He told a brief history of the Center, which was founded in 1998, considering the significant results achieved since then and the competitive areas represented in the Center’s work with talented children. He introduced the guests in a cordial atmosphere to the extraordinary work of Mihajlo Pupin and his legacy that he left to the world. Cucić presented that year after year the Center expands with areas of work and activity and that the space in which it functions has long since outgrown and that now there is a lack of equipment and the adequacy of the rooms in which it functions. He also mentioned that the Center started to create new types of competition and cooperation in projects like Pupin’s Challenge. The Center cooperates with many faculties, institutes such as the renowned Mihajlo Pupin Institute, and secondary and elementary schools. Cucić pointed out: “We strive to find more concrete forms of financing and in this way continue to raise the level and area of education, camp work and infrastructural potential.” financing possibilities will significantly contribute to the improvement of the information and educational ecosystem.
After this meeting and a long and fruitful working day, the delegation from Romania concluded with pleasure that this was a very successful working visit.