Innovation and Training Parks are the new drivers of Economic Growth
Business Parks are moving away from the traditional setting towards a more entrepreneurial one, where businesses located on the site interact, support, and trade with each other. This is precisely what the Innovation and Training Park (ITP) Prizren offers — synergy between the private sector, vocational education and training institutions, and innovation activities. ITP Prizren strives to be a focal point in the Balkan region for innovation, business as well as skills development, and a source of innovative and successful ideas. The park is currently developing into a changing and boosting element for ICT, agro-food and creative industries by creating and managing a favourable business environment.
In the last two years, Kosovo’s economy was under continued pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is not the only obstacle that needs to be addressed. Having a low unemployment rate and inactive population, low informal jobs, particularly for women and youth, infrastructure improvements, higher human capital investment, and a better regulatory environment for businesses are some of the economic goals for Kosovo.Because development is often confined to the likes of infrastructure and human resources, ITP Prizren is an ideal catalyst for Kosovo’s economic development with a modern infrastructure, vocational and on-the-job training that foster and attract businesses of all scales and sizes. These and other services offered at ITP Prizren improve the work-life balance of people working in the park, increasing the site’s attractiveness and increasing the potential for formal collaboration between academia and industry.
In Kosovo, small businesses and start-ups are struggling to ensure that the products and/or services they offer meet industry specific needs and the global standards. Hence, the role of ITP Prizren- the German managed park becomes increasingly important for businesses, start-ups and training providers looking for an increase in productivity through the introduction of efficient logistics and supply chain solutions.
Furthermore, Kosovo’s current flow of FDIs is insufficient to achieve the desired economic growth. Most of the investments coming from the diaspora are oriented towards financial services, construction and real estate, and very few towards production sectors. The latest research shows that ICT, food, and energy sectors are growing and likely to attract new FDI. Therefore, ITP Prizren intends to attract diaspora investments in those areas, which in return will increase employment and productivity and create a more stable connection to global value chains.
A favourable business climate is fundamental to Kosovo’s economic prosperity; however, women face multiple difficulties opening and developing their businesses. Even though women represent almost half the population, they own only 13 percent of all businesses, mostly micro or small, in Kosovo. To meet women’s potential to create jobs through their business and boost economic growth, women entrepreneurs in Kosovo need to support underlying policy and regulatory constraints related to women’s share in industrial land, skills, and access to credit.
ITP Prizren is also creating a women-friendly business ecosystem through a “Women Empowerment through Digital Transformation” project, supporting women to reinvent their business models from traditional to digital. The project will enhance women’s ability to succeed in business: through general and very specific digital initiatives, training programmes and networking opportunities for business continuity. In total, 125 women were part of a five-day training session on topics with a digital angle, selected according to the private sector’s needs.
Businesses at the ITP have the unique opportunity to become positive drivers of the community, the economy, and the environment. In terms of community, the innovation and training park produces more employment opportunities, business retention and reduces development costs. In addition, it can serve as an economic stimulus for future investment in retail and housing. The environment refers to environmental, energy, and waste design and infrastructure principles that aim to preserve more for ecological circumstances. Lastly, in terms of the economy, ITP has put together services that help achieve the economic goals of Kosovo by creating a more sustainable, productive, and fast-growing business climate.
The vision of ITP Prizren is in line with the objectives set by the national development strategy plan of Kosovo: To foster employment, create better infrastructure, a safer environment for businesses, and promote foreign direct investment (FDI) through furthermore engaging the diaspora. The park is designed to promote innovation to further knowledge and boost labour productivity. ITP offers a number of shared resources, such as incubators, coworking spaces, digital centre programs, uninterruptible power supply, management offices, among others. All these factors could be an advantage to promote export activity and create a certain niche and competitive standpoint for the diaspora community and other foreign investors.