Increasing demand for the involvement of information and communication technologies (ICT) in life sciences in reaching their full potential have been recognized in Montenegrin research community as an opportunity to contribute to the overall economic development of the country. This is supported by the fact that there is huge room for use of latest ICT technologies in agricultural and food production sectors, which are strategic developmental priorities of the country.

Thus, BIO-ICT aim is to boost the application and use of latest ICT technologies in the areas of sustainable agriculture, monitoring of the crops, forest and water/sea ecosystem, development of techniques for controlling and reducing air pollution, analysis and standardization of food products, control of land quality, and improvement in the public health area.

There are several project objectives set to meet the overall identified needs:

  • to develop new scientific approaches and methods for improving products and services in life sciences (primarily agriculture, health and ecology);
  • to strengthen interdisciplinary research in Montenegro, which will be done by including four Registered Scientific Research Institutions (RSRI) in the BIO-ICT;
  • to strengthen cooperation with international research entities, which will be done by including two  International Scientific Research Institutions (ISRI) in the BIO-ICT;
  • to establish cooperation with private sector in Montenegro by including two national commercial entities in the project, and
  • to improve our potential for creating commercial innovations through the commercialization of knowledge and intellectual property.

Through reaching these objectives, BIO-ICT will establish strong links within the knowledge triangle:  education, research and innovation, providing opportunities for building research base of national RSRIs, where young researchers will jointly work with experienced researchers on a wide range of interdisciplinary research topics and provide technological solutions to the companies involved. It will go further in commercialization of the research and generated Intellectual Property (IP), thus attracting new resources and enabling sustainability of the work achieved.

Fifth semi-annual period was research and innovation intensive. Research activities converged towards innovative and commercial ones, enabling further integration of BIO-ICT systems developed on multidisciplinary grounds.

Research activities continued, not neglecting socio-economic aspects. Further shift towards innovation and commercialization was evident. Sustainability plan was adopted, and external evaluators reports used as basis for its improvement.  NCEs were more involved, both through enabling in-situ research at their facilities, but also through active participation in Agromar component of Bioportal.  – online market of their products, tested during this reporting period. Also, first benefits of BIO-ICT services to NCEs productivity in terms of labour reduction came.

Scientific sustainability was enabled through establishing cooperation and implementing joint activities with different institutions from Montenegro, and mapping new H2020 calls that we are targeting in the period to come. 

Preliminary request for no-cost extension of the project was submitted to the Ministry of Science and first feedback received.

Coming to publishing activities, within the period 3 research papers were published/accepted for publication in SCI list journals, and 2 papers in non-SCI journals were published. We presented 14 papers at prestigious international conferences, and one paper in a national conference. Patenting activities were intensive, and out of 5 submitted national patent applications, 4 were approved, fifth is pending. PCT application was further developed.

Cooperation with ISRIs continued, again in terms of joint PhD supervision, publishing and participation at scientific events. Also, we planned the activities related to commercialization, with envisaged participation of ISRIs.

Human resources management continued as planned. In addition to renewal of part-time contracts, we engage one new full-time technician, for strengthening IoT group and are publishing other Calls for Experts, on PostDoc level. Capacity development activities continued, either through training or through presenting BIO-ICT scientific and innovative achievements, as well as through training.

Work on 5 MSc and 8 PhD thesis of BIO-ICT young experts continued.

Procured equipment has been largely put into practice, adding to scientific, but also innovative activities of the project. Laboratories were renewed, and are now completely operational. Some small pieces of equipment were procured during the period.

Dissemination activities continued. In addition to significant international conferences, we participated at the celebration of UNESCO Science day and SmartTech fair. One promotional film was made, and also, RTCG1 broadcasted a special show dedicated to BIO-ICT. Work on transforming IT Žabljak Conference into a recognized international event continued, through obtaining IEEE sponsorship. The 2017 event will be enhanced in terms of paper review and quality and student-dedicated sessions, turning them into hackathon, and giving students opportunity to gain hands-on experience on some of the activities conducted within BIO-ICT.