Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been identified as one of the priority areas with innovative potential during the mapping phase of the development of the Strategy for Smart Specialization (S3). The development of S3 is part of Albania's obligations regarding the negotiation process for EU membership, specifically Chapter 20 "Enterprises and Industrial Policies" and Chapter 25 "Science and Research," as well as part of the Western Balkans 2021-2024 Action Plan within the Berlin Process. It is also a part of the EU's innovation agenda for the Western Balkans 2021-2027.
In this context, the National S3 Team, under the special guidance of Deputy Prime Minister Ms. Belinda Balluku, with the support of the Union of Albanian Producers and the Municipality of Tirana, organized a roundtable for the ICT - Start-Up sector on April 18, 2023, following the methodology of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), held at the TUMO center.
Approximately 35 representatives from various sectors (government, academia, business, civil society) participated in this event. Participants made valuable contributions by highlighting the sector's needs and possible solutions for smart development in ICT.
The meeting began with a welcoming address from Ms. Linda Pustina, Chair of the National S3 Team and Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister, and Ms. Florensa Haxhi, the moderator and expert of the National S3 Team, who presented the project framework, its importance, and the role of the EDP process in the Republic of Albania. The panel also included Mr. Arjan Ymeri, Executive Director of the Office, and Prof. Aleksandër Xhuvani, Polytechnic University of Tirana, a member of the National S3 Team.
During the discussion, the guests focused on:
- The rapid growth rates of the ICT sector.
- Opportunities for new job positions.
- The need for expanding the digitization process and simultaneously developing digital skills, which affect the demand and supply of digital products.
- The link between the education system and labor market needs, as well as the shortage of professionals.
- Global competition related to cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT).
- Financial support from the banking sector and state institutions.
- The academia-industry dialogue to discover ICT talents and offer short-term courses for specific ICT skills.
- The potential of the diaspora.
- Stronger collaboration among ICT companies, academia, and the government to address labor market needs, such as digital transition and ICT application in various economic sectors.
- The need for assessing ICT infrastructure conditions (broadband).
The discussions held during this meeting will serve as a basis for a national workshop in the ICT field.