Cross-KIC: Circular Economy in Western Balkans


The Western Balkans is one of the regions in Europe which is most heavily affected by climate change. The Western Balkan countries are now taking action to take a holistic approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop the circular economy, instead of focusing on individual actions. Developing the Circular economy is also a pivotal tool for the achievement of the European Green Deal – to which all the EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities are contributing to, but from different perspectives.

About the Cross-KIC programme:

EIT Manufacturing, Climate-KIC, RawMaterials, Health, Food, Digital and Urban Mobility, have joined forces in a Cross-Knowledge and Innovation Community (cross-KIC) initiative aimed at bolstering collaboration and enhancing the circular economy approach in the Wester Balkans region. Together, they will be exploring their learnings around a green and circular economy as an umbrella approach to boost the economy in a post-COVID world, but also enhance capacities and foster knowledge-sharing in the Western Balkans.

This programme carries out a series of activities, to widen regional outreach, and connecting and engaging local actors, such as:

Systems mapping
To establish a stronger presence in the region and truly understand local the local stakeholder network and their needs, the project will conduct a thorough stakeholder mapping. The aim is to get a clear picture of what the current ecosystem looks like, and where, how and who is involved in specific value chains. We will also be exploring synergies and overlaps in interests, activities, and stakeholders through a broader green, circular economy approach.

Citizen engagement
The engage a wider audience, the project will organize co-creation sessions with consumers and local businesses will be organized. These sessions yield ideas of new products addressing specific requirements of consumers that are subsequently introduced to the market by the local companies. The Labs are co-creation sessions carried out by a relatively coherent group of consumers in a joint, physical place and limited in time, focused on ideation/development of new product concepts. The sessions will be adapted to the challenges of the circular economy in Western Balkans connected to new food packaging concepts.

Education and capacity-building
Both inside and outside lecture halls, higher education institutions need to promote the circular economy by inspiring new visions for our societies in terms of sustainability and circular growth. Build capacities of High Education Institutions (HEI) that have specific connection through education and/or research to Circular Economy to offer innovative and entrepreneurial activities to strengthen and make more attractive the offer. This activity will connect to the HEI initiative.

Entrepreneurship – Pre-Jumpstarter
Start-ups are another essential pillar of the activities, as startups act as forerunners and catalysators for technological innovations and adoption of new technologies. To give a boost to innovators from the Western Balkan region and help them get the necessary support for turning ideas into a successful business, three pre-Jumpstarter trainings have already been carried out in Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, in cooperation with local partners. The idea behind the pre-Jumpstarters is to educate and upskill potential participants, so that they are more aware and better equipped to participate in the Jumpstarter Accelerator program.

The engagement of several KICs and this holistic, cross-stakeholder approach truly demonstrates the interest of the EIT and KICs to join forces and strengthen the innovation ecosystem to promote Circular Economy across the Western Balkans.