Event review: 1st co-design workshop in Montenegro

This event brought together esteemed participants of the quadruple helix, and it was focused on presentation and discussion of the future scenarios on the possibility of valorization of the space

Mar 31, 2022

This event brought together esteemed participants of the quadruple helix, and it was focused on presentation and discussion of the future scenarios on the possibility of valorization of the space of the saltworks “Bajo Sekulić” in Ulcinj, Montenegro.

Date: 18.03.2022

Location: Hilton Hotel, Princess Jelena Hall, Podgorica

Organisers: Science and Technology Park Montenegro, The Association “Knowledge, Education and Science – Zona”

Who attended the event?

The total number of present participants, including the project representatives, was 41. All of them were different representatives from the academia, government, business support organizations, industry and non-governmental organizations, in particular from the University of Montenegro and the University of Donja Gorica, representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and the Directorate for Digital Economy and Technological Development, the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro and representatives of the Municipality of Ulcinj. In addition to the abovementioned institutions, non-governmental organizations that are actively dealing with the issue of Ulcinj Saltworks attended the event.

What happened at the event?

The whole event took place according to the planned Agenda and it was on local language.

Introduction to WBC-RRI.NET, Adam Brandstetter-Kunz, Radivoje Drobnjak, Jovan Mirković

The event opened with a video inclusion and an introductory speech by Dr. Adam Brandstetter-Kunz, representative of the European Science Foundation.

After the introductory speech, the participants briefly introduced themselves. Radivoje Drobnjak (STP MN) and Nikša Bulatović (ZONa) introduced them to the WBC-RRI.NET project implementation. They presented the importance and the main goals of this project because Montenegro is a small country and how important such projects can be for the countries of the Western Balkans and especially for Montenegro.

The overall introduction was completed with presentation of  previous activities and activities planned in the future in Montenegro.

In his presentation, Prof. Jovan Mirković (ZONa) paid significant attention to the concept of RRI and its important role.

Presentation of future scenarios, Nikša Bulatović, Tanja Rakonjac

Big vision: Saltworks will be operational at the end of 2024 within full capacity with introduced all topics that makes sustainability possible, such as:

  • Stable Economic situation – this means Saltworks developed cooperation with big buyers from the region and wider, but also cover the entire Western Balkan market.
  • Tourism is developed in different areas (health tourism, scientific and education tourism) and promote the Saltworks as a national reserve;
  • Greater cooperation among key actors is set up;
  • Scientific community is involved in Saltworks operation.

Participants were presented with 3 most likely scenarios that can be played in Saltworks Ulcinj.

Future scenario 1: Sustainable production

  • Full operation by the end of 2024;
  • The complete sustainability is ensured.
  • Capacities for the production is enough to cover the entire market of the Western Balkans region;
  • In the national level, Saltworks cover all the needs for the salt.
  • Multidisciplinary approach in potential valorization;
  • Using modern technology;
  • High level of digitalization in business operation brings new investors and makes business more reliable for investment.
  • Involvement of all key actors-Dialogue between all actors of the quadruple helix is established.
  • Cultural tourism, health and especially ornithological tourism are developed, and scientific and educational tourism as well.
  • Science community contributed in rebuilding salt production following relevant national and EU regulation for environmental protection and sustainability.
  • Saltworks become an area with lot of opportunities for affiliated SMEs development.

Expected results:

  • Finding a strategic partner;
  • Creating direct benefits for the local community;
  • Market brand development and market positioning;
  • Valorization of tourist potentials;
  • Creating a scientific engagement for innovative and development projects

Future scenario 2: Technological progress without power

  • Saltworks has great potential for fostering innovation and employment. The government shows low interest in the valorization of the Saltworks;
  • By the end of 2024, production in the Saltworks is fully digitalized and will open new markets, but stakeholders are refusing to innovate in technology;
  • In the event of a new crisis situation (COVID-19), QH actors may consider other issues as a priority;
  • Even if the first steps are taken, dialogue between all the actors of the quadruple helix cannot be established due to different interests;
  • Saltworks has access to EU funds, but does not find them attractive enough;
  • Stakeholders do not recognize the importance of joining forces on the market;
  • Modernized production provides opportunities for foreign cooperation;
  • Significant funds have been invested in innovative research, but researchers are working according to traditional models;
  • This scenario predicts that the saltworks could have a major impact on the Montenegrin labor market.

Future scenario 3: Saltworks without salt

  • Saltworks has no plans to invest in digital solutions in the next few years, or at least until 2024;
  • The IT sector provides a rich but fragmented offer of digital solutions, which are not always tailored to the specific needs of the saltworks;
  • Low availability of bank loans;
  • The started projects of valorization and preservation of the saltworks have not been fully implemented because low digitalization prevents researchers from conducting innovative research projects;
  • The public sector is not interested in the valorization of the Saltworks, except that there is interest in the IT community to create digital solutions for the saltworks;
  • Decision-makers at the national level are reluctant to consult with decision-makers in the saltworks.
  • Poor access to digital connectivity and high quality internet infrastructure, and low digital skills of employees.
  • Low digitization prevents researchers from conducting innovative research projects and connecting with other actors

Open discussion and voting on the most objective scenario

STP MN and ZONa teams encouraged the participants to take part in an open discussion. Representatives of the University and the Office for European Integration emphasized the importance of such projects, their implementation and further development in all institutions, as well as raising awareness of the importance of Responsible Research and Innovation. In addition, they stated that it is extremely important that this project touched on the possibility of valorization of the “Bajo Sekulić” Saltworks in Ulcinj. All participants agreed that there is potential for changes in the R&I system but that there is a need for all stakeholders to actively work together in Montenegro.

After the discussion, the participants voted for the most favourable future scenario,voting was on the paper.  

Future scenario 1 – voted by 11 participants;
Future scenario 2 – voted by 7 participants;
Future scenario 3 voted by 7 participants.
There were a total of 8 invalid ballots (each scenario was not filled in or there was filled in all the 3 of the scenarios).

When it comes to invalid ballots, participants voted for all 3 scenarios, or thought that the real development would be between two scenarios. They said that the most difficult thing for them to vote was to separate what they wanted to happen from potential possibilities, or that there is a need to look some other aspects to make a decision. Also, the comments were that they could not decide on the ideal scenario, so that the ideal and most probable would be the one with the elements of each of the 3 proposed. Some of the comments were in line of The first scenario is ideal, not realistic. The second and third ones to some extent depict the situation and set goals that can be realized in some way by 2024 and Scenarios depend on legal issues, property, localities. It is not realistic to expect some of this to be achieved by 2024, but that a more realistic time frame needs to be set for the same scenarios.

As the most objective scenario, the stakeholders preferred the 1st scenario: Sustainable salt production, with a high degree of involvement of target groups and a high degree of digitization.

The activities supporting the achievement of the selected scenario will be co-designed at the second workshop in Montenegro.

Take a look at the presentation 1, presentation 2 (in local language) and agenda of the event.