FITD will involve the science more intensively in the development of Macedonian innovations!


Interview with Festim Halili, Director of the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development. A man who comes from the academic community, with a great sense of the importance of research and innovation in the economic development of the country. An additional challenge for him is the motivation of young people to enter entrepreneurship and innovations, as the safest ticket not to leave the country!


What is your personal goal and vision for the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development?

I will immodestly say that the Fund is a leading institution in our country for supporting small, micro and medium enterprises and we will continue to justify that epithet by increasing the opportunities for companies. We are aware that in this period of global economic crisis we will face many challenges, but I believe that with my team we will successfully overcome them. Our focus is on the preparation of the First Strategy for Artificial Intelligence in the country we are working on, as well as the preparation of the Law on Innovation Activity. Through the support instruments we will do our best to cover the companies that have quality projects and contribute to the society and the state. This year also, the public calls for technological development, Startup 4, Commercialization of innovations, investments in accelerators, etc. are planned. However, our goal is to strengthen relations and partnerships, especially with the World Bank, UNDP and the Embassy of the Republic of Switzerland in North Macedonia. We have already met with all of them and made outlines for future joint cooperation.

Does this mean that all the current instruments of the Fund remain or maybe there will be some change?

We strive and follow what is current in the country and what is required. We are researching the market and according to those analyzes we will have thematic challenges. For example, in the field of artificial intelligence, we have supported seven companies so far, and one of them – Codwell is currently working on creating the first AI (artificial intelligence) digital assistant for state aid in the region. It will be used for the needs of state aid programs, and will be implemented in FITD, Investments and Export Promotion Agency and the Directorate for Technological Industrial Development Zones.

The fund continues to work on investments in innovation infrastructure, digital and innovation hubs, laboratories, accelerators and new mentoring programs. This means that our goal is not just to fund companies, but to be the entity that trains companies and mentors these programs. Within each public call we have info sessions in different cities, through which we inform potential applicants who are interested in our calls and programs.

In its portfolio, FITD has so far supported over 780 projects with an investment of about 87 million €, of which 50 million € were support from the Fund, and the other part co-financing from the companies themselves. Also important is the fact that as many as 56%, or 392 supported companies are startup companies mostly founded by young people.

This year we want to encourage more research. As part of the Fund, we want to establish a research center, through which we will connect more strongly with the academic community that will research the so-called hot topics, ie the topics that are most current. Let’s say energy efficiency because we know that now we have an energy crisis in the country. I also shared that idea with the Ambassador of Switzerland to help us connect with the ETH University in Zurich which is one of the best universities in the world. The idea is to create a bridge of communication with them and joint teams to explore certain topics. There will be results from those researches that can be published in scientific journals, conferences, etc.

Read the whole interview on the link: