Digital Transformation Center Kosovo
Located in the Innovation and Training Park Prizren, the Digital Transformation Center Kosovo is a hub for promoting the digital ecosystem and the digitalization of businesses. By building, strengthening and linking private and public sector capacities as well as research and training institutes, the future is being shaped here.
At a glance
Since its foundation in 2008, Kosovo is at an early stage of economic development and has made limited progress in developing a functioning market economy. Robust economic growth continued in 2019, but its outlook started to deteriorate rapidly in spring 2020, as the COVID-19 quarantine measures disrupted the financial flows with diaspora in combination with the difficult labour market situation and the lack of economic diversification.
Kosovo’s business sector is made up almost entirely of Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). They mostly operate in the distributive trade and manufacturing sector, but with a low level of integration into the global value chain. Kosovo’s SMEs, and thereby the general economic development, suffer from a lack of competitiveness, a very narrow production base and an uncompetitive level of domestic productivity as well as a high prevalence of corruption and an overall weak rule of law.
Even though Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe, its youth potential remains largely untapped; unemployment among youth (15-24-year olds) reached 61 percent. There are very few job opportunities for young entrants and considering the big diaspora, there are strong pull-factors out of the country that need to be countered. Skills mismatch on the labour market also represents a barrier for entering the world of work for young people. Regarding the economy’s digital transformation, it can be summarized that ICT businesses are not satisfied with the quality of employees which graduated from higher education institutions in Kosovo, as they lack many of the most critical skills highly demanded in industry.
Although, Kosovo made some limited progress with regards to the digitalisation of the economy, SMEs still struggle to thrive. This fact can be largely attributed to insufficient knowledge and financial resources, as well as barriers to organisational change, such as the absence of internal IT departments and in-house know-how.
To tackle these challenges, the Digital Transformation Center supports the local digital ecosystem, especially in the southern region, where the District of Prizren is located.
The Digital Transformation Center Kosovo bundles, supports and connects regional and national activities towards digitalizing the economy. For that, it focusses on long term sustainable economic development at the local and regional level. Its main beneficiaries are ICT and other innovative start-ups, SMEs, ICT training and research facilities; specifically targeting youth and woman. It will be deeply integrated into the structure and activities of the “Innovation and Training Park (ITP)” Prizren – a former KFOR camp – building upon its infrastructure, network and complementary vision. Working on different levels – from individual support and training measures, support of institutions and for political framework development – it strengthens and connects capacities of actors from the private, public, research and education in order to build a thriving digital ecosystem. Thereby, the Kosovar Knowledge-Economy can be enhanced on four pillars: strengthening institutions, skills, systems and infrastructure.
From the beginning, the Digital Transformation Center Kosovo will not limit its activities to a specific technology or one sector. Nevertheless, a focus will lie on fostering the ICT science- and education ecosystem and the digital and innovation business ecosystem. By collaborating with the ITP and establishing a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) Prizren, local SMEs and the technology ecosystem will be strengthened to advance on their respective digital transformation. The Digital Transformation Center will support its partners with the development of a “Smart Specialisation Strategy” which might help the country and region to find fields of (potential) comparative advantages in which to invest. Implementing this strategy will impact the focus of further activities of the Digital Transformation Center Kosovo.