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Interview: Mr. Marko Radović, One of the key organizers of SEE Mobility 2021 - the only international fair on the Western Balkans for transport technologies and services,

Interview: Mr. Marko Radović, One of the key organizers of SEE Mobility 2021 - the only international fair on the Western Balkans for transport technologies and services,
photo: SEE Mobility 2021/SEE Mobility 2021
17 / 08 / 2021

Today, we are extremely pleased to present our interview with Mr. Marko Radović - One of the key organizers of SEE Mobility - the only international fair on the Western Balkans for transport technologies and services, to be held biannually.

Mr. Marko Radović is an economist with multiple years’ experience in improving the business environment in Serbia. He gained experience in business sector by working for Serbian Association of Employers from 2010, working as economical analyst and research manager. He specialized in wage issues, as well as public finance and their effect on the economy, including taxation policy, fees and charges and parafiscal charges.

As an employee he took an active part in a large number of campaigns whose objective was to improve the business environment: Changes to the Labor Law, Law on Author and Related Rights and Law on Financing of Local Self-Government. He took part in formulating the position of Serbian Association of Employers while amending the Law on Value-Added Tax and Law on Payment Deadlines in Commercial Transactions, both in 2012. Since 2013 he is actively participating in minimum wage negotiations as a representative of the business sector.

Also, he is a co-author of a large number of publications dealing with conditions for doing business, and business expenses.

Today, the world is experiencing a difficult economic situation, how do you work in this difficult time?

The pandemics really did have a sudden and far-reaching effect on the entire business sector, and we are not an exception. Social distancing and travel restrictions did prevent us from holding many of our usual activities, and schedules were disrupted with postponement and cancellation of major industry events, such as InnoTrans in Berlin.

We cooperated a lot with partner organizations from Europe gathered in ERCI, the European Railway Clusters Initiative, and created programs that would help fill the gap that appeared. Together, we launched a series of webinars covering many different aspects of the railway industry – from policy, future developments and projects, to innovative products and solutions for a number of problems you face when thinking about railways. Working with regional ministries we provided a channel for them to communicate information about their planned and future projects to the local companies. And together with our partners from the UK, Rail Alliance, we organized the first Southeast Europe-UK Rail Summit, an event that drew significant attention and kickstarted a lot of activities and networking possibilities in the future.

So even though some of the plans were stopped, new opportunities appeared. ERCI webinars provide an excellent channel to communicate information to a wide European audience and we are sure to continue them after the situation normalizes and various restrictive measures are canceled. Virtual events will help broaden the scope of events, engaging even more potential audiences. All in all, even though the pandemics had a serious effect on us all, I still believe they did help us grow and establish some things which will provide valuable services to the industry in the years to come. 

Considering that the pandemic made it difficult to hold such events, how did you manage your tasks?

I talked about how virtual and online events are a good thing. With that in mind, we still believe that nothing can truly replace physical interaction and networking opportunities provided by large international events. So we are very very excited to hold another SEE Mobility as a physical event.

Of course, holding such an event in the time of pandemics will be a major challenge. The current situation, however, is positive for us. Local measures in Serbia do allow such an event to be held. Belgrade, in which SEE Mobility will be held has the majority of its population vaccinated. Travel is allowed, with certain documents depending on the country you come from, but these rules are now stable and are something you can plan on.

Naturally, there are risks, and we all know it is possible that the situation might change in the upcoming period. We are fortunate enough to work with partners from a local venue who are aware of the situation, as are the exhibitors and visitors. Thanks to our partnership we are able to reduce the risks for exhibitors to a minimum degree.

And of course, the health and safety of our attendees is our main priority. Again I have to thank our partners for the support which will help us not only keep track and fulfill the legal requirements of holding such an event, but also create a safe environment for all of us who attend.

Do you expect the number of participants and guests of the event to be more than in previous years?

Honestly, I think that is difficult to achieve, not only for us but for all events that will happen in this period. SEE Mobility has seen constant growth in the past, but the current one does pose challenges both on macro and micro levels that we cannot influence.

What I can say is that it defiantly attracted more attention and interest than the previous years, and that interest is more geographically widespread. For example, we have a lot of interest from the UK. However, whether that interest will transfer into participant or visitor numbers, I cannot say as it depends on the situation and measures both here in the region, and in the other countries.

Despite that, I am positive that SEE Mobility will grow, and that interest will translate into a larger number of participants, if not this time, then in the upcoming years. Railway activity in the region is growing, and the opportunities are there. We have opened new channels and a lot of innovative companies are eager to present themselves and find partners in this market. We have the support and interest of local ministries, national railways, and agencies that are eager to see firsthand the innovations and new possibilities for technological advancement. And there is a growing number of local private companies seeking to support the event, recognizing its importance.

All in all, I am a careful optimist for this year. But even if the numbers do not grow this year, I am very positive about the future. SEE Mobility has earned its place on the events map, as a place where you can come to present yourself to the right, carefully select an expert audience, and make good connections with the most active local companies. It is the event in the whole of Southeast Europe region, and I am strongly optimistic about its future.

If we consider the slogan of the event “The new acceleration for the Western Balkans” what are the prospects for the development of Serbian companies in this initiative?

As a railway cluster for Southeast Europe, we are not only thinking about Serbia but the entire region and all the countries of Former Yugoslavia. And what we see in the entire region is the large, long-awaited investment in the railway network. This development does not mean just internal development, but also developing connections to the railway networks outside the region. Slovenia is building and developing its connections with Austria, Croatia and Serbia with Hungary, and so on. When this investment cycle is done, the Balkans will be the most integrated it has ever been.

And this integration means you become a part of the larger European railway network, and that means introducing new technology in order to stay compatible. ETCS and modern signaling and safety solutions are a thing we need to keep in mind when building our railway lines now. And global industry went a step forward – we now think of aspects such as cybersecurity, use of sensors, artificial intelligence… A lot of advanced concepts are surely making their way into the industry. And let’s not forget about hydrogen-powered trains, which might soon be a very real thing.

This technology is also coming to the region, and it is important for local companies to get acquainted with it. We are very proud of our partnership with Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education of the University of Birmingham, who are developing many innovative solutions for the railway industry and are going to showcase their work at SEE Mobility. It is an opportunity for local companies to get acquainted with modern technologies in a focused environment, and establish connections with foreign partners that will help them adapt their own products and jointly work on creating new innovative products through joint ventures and partnerships.

And last but not the least, it is also an opportunity for local companies to promote their own activities. We have some high-quality companies that are competitive on a global level who will gladly present their products and services. We have interesting partners from MIND Park, a high-tech industrial park for railway companies, and NELT, the first private intermodal terminal in the region, who will present the facilities and opportunities they provide inside events to the fair. All of this shows that SEE Mobility is an event that creates business opportunities, chances for new developments, and advancement – truly an accelerator that Western Balkans railways need.