Sweden’s Result Strategy for Reform Cooperation with Eastern Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey, is on its last year of implementation. The first strategic area has a focus on enhanced economic integration with the EU and the development of market economy. Within this area the second indicated result is: “Competitive small and medium-sized enterprises make up a greater share of the economy.” The EU for Innovation (EU 4 I) programme in Albania is in line with this objective. The EU 4 I has been carried out since 2019. It’s funded by the European Union and by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development as well as SIDA. The programme aims at strengthening the eco-system for innovation and start-up promotion in Albania. The programme is implemented jointly by the Swedish Embassy in Albania and GIZ Albania. The Government of Albania’s priorities of the Competitiveness and Innovation sector in Albania are focused on strengthening the country’s competitiveness, improving the business environment and the capacity of small- and medium-size enterprises to cope with the competitive pressure of the global market forces. In this context, creation and growth of innovative businesses, support for access to finance, and increasing export competitiveness are essential.The objective of EU 4 I programme is to improve the innovation ecosystem with an emphasis on supporting start-ups and entrepreneurship. The programme contributes to gender equality by encouraging and supporting women-led new enterprises. 

Nordic Consulting Group will implement this evaluation by assessing the progress of the on-going project under “EU for Innovation” programme and the institutional set-up of the challenge fund. Finally, we will identify lessons learned and to draw conclusions to inform decisions on what a potential engagement from Sida/the Swedish Embassy in Albania, in a second programme phase, could look like.