"SME100" Expo 2023 Development of People ↔ Development of SMEs"

Conference-exhibition on the potential and needs of SMEs for contributing to the sustainable development of Serbia

Summary: The second annual one-day conference with an exhibition (Expo). The conference aims to support the development and collaboration of leading domestic SMEs, selected based on clearly defined criteria of excellence, through the exchange of useful experiences and best practices. It also aims to highlight the potential of these companies to contribute to the sustainable development of Serbia. The focus will be on the necessity, opportunities, and possibilities to strengthen the human resources base and organizational capacities of SMEs, adapting to the radical changes that are shaping the global and Serbian economy. SMEs will share knowledge on digitalization and business „greening,“ as well as improving corporate/financial management. Special attention will be given to the need for securing appropriate talent for their further development. Additionally, CEVES will present the „MSP Barometer,“ a tool for measuring the progress of SMEs in Serbia and the transition time in implementing initiatives to support them, while also sending messages to decision-makers regarding necessary development policies. In the exhibition section, MSP100 will be presented through individual panels, with a particular emphasis on talent acquisition and retention strategies. Selected companies from the partner ecosystem, support providers, and services will also be showcased based on MSP100 recommendations. The exhibition will include a smaller trade fair section, which will be designed based on interest at a later stage. This year’s MSP100 Expo also offers a bonus feature—a free training on green transition prepared and conducted by the EBRD, scheduled for September 29th in the same venue, available to all pre-registered interested companies.

Participants: The „MSP100“ participants are selected based on pre-defined criteria related to their contribution to the competitiveness, innovation, and sustainability of the Serbian economy, along with high growth and productivity performance and ethical business practices. Participation is free and by invitation only, with the selection process conducted by the CEVES team. The previous year’s list of „MSP100“ is supplemented with new firms that meet the criteria and recommendations provided by the previous year’s MSP100 for strong, similar, advanced, and ethical companies (subject to verification of meeting minimum quantitative requirements). Exceptionally high-quality organizations within the MSP ecosystem, firms involved in knowledge and capacity development for SMEs, consultants in the fields of digitalization, finance, marketing, HR, and providers of other professional services will also participate.

Guests: Representatives from government institutions, business associations, the international community, large companies, media, the banking sector, NGOs, experts, and the local community will be invited to attend.

Conference Agenda:

Component I – Plenary Panel, 1,5 hours: Presentation of the SME Barometer and discussion of the challenges that the next period brings and the policies necessary for the SME sector to overcome them.

Introduction of the MSP Barometer: The MSP Barometer will be presented during the session. The MSP Barometer is an instrument updated annually by CEVES, which provides an assessment of the state of the SME sector in Serbia, as well as the „transition time“ in implementing policies advocated by MSP100.

  • Assessment of the SME Sector: CEVES monitors the development of the SME sector based on the measurement of the Index of Competitiveness and Innovation of SMEs in Serbia (IC&I) (developed with the support of the project „Big Small Business“ by USAID). This index evaluates the development of the SME sector in Serbia annually, with a focus on their competitiveness and innovation. CEVES conducts this monitoring primarily through an annual survey of 1,500 companies and information derived from its Business Intelligence program.
  • Transition Time in SME Policies: The basis for policy assessment is a series of initiatives identified by MSP100 at the MSP100 Expo 2022 conference held in June. In addition to tracking progress in the identified initiatives, the Barometer will include new recommendations derived from the ongoing dialogue that CEVES maintains with SMEs.

The discussion will involve representatives from MSP100, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS), experts, and decision-makers involved in relevant policies.

Component II — 3 Parallel workshops each 2h

  1. From digital product development to integrated digital production and operations monitoring – ERP, MES, and product design in the digitization of advanced SMEs in the manufacturing industry – sharing experiences about different steps and phases of SME digitization.
  • Presentation of the best practice examples
  • Discussion
  1. Safeguarding and enhancing company value – Addressing the financial challenges brought by the economic crisis – corporate/financial management.
  • Presentation of best practice examples
  • Discussion
  1. Green Transition: An Introduction to What Awaits Us – Regulations, Trends, and Opportunities for Business Greening.
  • Presentation of best practice examples
  • Discussion

Component III – Plenary Panel, 1,5 hours: Amidst a Global ’Shortage’: How to Attract, Develop, and Retain Talent?

This panel will address the acute challenges faced by SMEs in Serbia regarding securing the skilled workforce necessary for their success. After presenting international and Serbian labor market trends and the factors shaping them, available strategies for talent recruitment, retention, and development will be discussed, along with ways to maximize the potential of available talent and increase productivity.

Within the panel, experts and representatives of Serbian SMEs will showcase good examples of different solutions to the challenges of talent recruitment, retention, development, and increasing the productivity of available personnel. The panel will conclude with recommendations for Serbian decision-makers, which CEVES will convey and advocate for in the future period.

Exhibition Section Elaboration:

Within the exhibition section, the MSP100 will be presented through individual panels (each company will have its own panel according to a predefined structure), with the main focus on company development from the perspective of employee relations, finding and retaining suitable staff, and employee development for business growth purposes. Part of the panels will be dedicated to MSP100 2023 – Ecosystem – partner companies identified by the MSP100 themselves, who assist them in becoming and remaining champions. The exhibition will also feature the MSP Barometer, showcasing the progress made with the implementation of the initiatives from the first MSP100 event in Kragujevac in June 2022, as well as the methodology for selecting MSP100. Depending on the companies’ interest, the exhibition may also include a trade fair section (up to 20 companies that apply first will have the opportunity to showcase their products, technologies, and innovative solutions).

"SME100" Expo 2023 Development of People ↔ Development of SMEs"


September 28, 2023, Nova Hala, INMOLD, Požega

10:00 – 11:00

Registration – Walk through the exhibit

11:00 – 11:30

Welcome speech and Introduction

11:30 – 12:30

Panel I: Presentation of the SME Barometer and discussion of the challenges that the next period brings and the policies necessary for the SME sector to overcome them

12:30 – 12:45

Coffee break

12:45 – 14:45

Component II — 3 Parallel workshops

14:45 – 16:00

Lunch break

16:00 – 17:30

Panel II: In the general ‘talent shortage’: how to attract, develop, and retain talent?

17:30 – 18:30

Artistic evening with a rakija bar