On March 17th 2023, the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro organized a round table “Development of the blue economy in the Adriatic-Ionian region/ Perspective of Montenegro”, as part of the implementation of the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) activities in the area of Blue Growth in Montenegro. The participants of this event were representatives of the Ministry of Science and Technological Development, IEC Tehnopolis, as well as representatives of the companies Boka Adriatic, B solutions, Madona Bella, Sea Stars Kotor and Herceg Novi Water and Sewerage.
The round table was opened by Ms. Ana Filipović, a representative of the Chamber of Economy, who said: “The process of entrepreneurial discovery in the area of Blue Growth should take advantage of the diversity of macro-regional economic and innovative assets by finding complementarities at the levels of the macro-regional value chain”.
After the introductory remarks an expert Ms. Branka Žižić, presented the stages of public consultation in Montenegro during the Entrepreneurship Discovery Process. The key findings of the survey are that business entities from the area of the Blue economy integrate international standards well in their operations (71% have adopted quality management). Also, respondents believe that the Blue economy is a development opportunity and that capital investments pay off quickly. The respondents recognized legislation and regulation, quality of suppliers, limitations of clients/customers themselves and access to finance as limits for the development of the Blue economy. Factors that limit the growth of organizations, according to the survey participants, are access to finance, barriers to entering new markets and education/skills of employees. According to the opinion of the interviewer, the opinions of the respondents are a significant input for creating the direction of further development of the Blue economy in Montenegro.
Also, the results of the meeting with the focus group were presented, where drivers, barriers and opportunities for Blue development were identified. It was established that international and especially INTERREG projects have been an important driver for modernization and innovation of the activities of Blue economy in Montenegro. At the meeting with the focus group it was concluded that creative industries and crafts based on Mediterranean traditions are significant regional potential, both as manufacturing business and as a tourist offer (e.g. wooden shipbuilding) and that there is a good level of cooperation between the business actors and universities (e.g. fishing and waterborne traffic). The governance structure is generally assessed as a weak link for blue growth in Montenegro, but within it recently has been assessed as progress governance structure of the national Smart specialization strategy as an effective tool how to provide support for legislative changes needed for innovation development.
As barriers, the focus group recognized the fact that Blue economy field is not recognized appropriately from the level of the national government, causing a low interest of institutions, weak support schemes and unfavorable legislation. Also, weak resources in the maritime transportation, low investments in the existing capacities, low number of expert staff, underdeveloped transport infrastructure, low level of networking with foreign public administration and exchange of know-how in the maritime transportation field, especially for innovative and advanced management systems, low level of research in the field of blue economy, low valorization of international projects. It was pointed out that legislation across all the fields is complicated and the procedures are time-consuming, without one-stop-shop points. As the most problematic the spatial planning legislation was listed.
Development of aquaculture (open waters or closed) with streamlined procedures for investments, ferry transport as an alternative to road traffic in the Bay of Kotor, promotion of new development opportunities in areas of protected natural resources, movement of tourism development towards the concept of small scope and maximum possible effect, development of infrastructure for the electrification of the power supply of ships in ports, better cooperation of state institutions and small service providers are identified as opportunities for development in the area of the Blue economy.
After the presentation of the findings, a lively discussion developed among the participants of the round table, which provided clarifications, as well as additional justifications for certain findings of the survey, by placing them in the context of specific situations that business entities in the area of the Blue Economy face on a daily basis.
The BlueAir project is financed under the Interreg ADRION program, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the IPA II Fund.