From a military base to an innovation center

Once hosting military personnel, the Prizren spacious compound has now turned into a vibrant Innovative and Training Park, an opportunity for new start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Mehmet Gjata and Agon Sinanaj

PRIZREN, DECEMBER 2020– The well maintenance of the business park in Prizren is visible at the very entrance of the giant park. Everything is in order with many colorful buildings scattering around. The space does not resemble a military compound anymore which was operational for many years and served for the German soldiers under the command of NATO forces in Kosovo since 1999.

Reklama e sponzorizuar

The park has a vibrant spirit and it is close to the downtown of the historical town of Prizren. 

After the withdrawal of German soldiers who served under the KFOR command, a bilateral agreement between Germany and the Government of Kosovo was reached. The huge area with its infrastructure would be dedicated to creating an Innovative and Training Park, which is managed by GIZ Kosovo.

Years after, the staff working there immediately mentioned the value of the business park being in the heart of Prizren and having multifaceted activities.

 “The idea of the park is to unite all the actors within a space and to offer the development of sustainable businesses,” says Hans-Jurgen Cassens, the director of the Park.

Hans-Jurgen Cassens, the director of the Park

The camp is around 40 hectares,” says Edona Zogu, media officer of the park with a sense of pride.

 “However, it is not only the outdoors environment which makes it attractive but likewise the inside areas of these buildings are designed in the best way,” she continues.

Numerous renovations of the building are taking place and renewing the existing buildings are continuing to this day, explains Zogu.

Zogu further says that many Kosovar companies already settled in the park, exercising their activities.

The idea of the Innovative and Training Park, is unifying different companies and actors to reach a success in togetherness. Along with businesses, the University for Business and Technology, UBT, is also located there. Students have additional opportunities to be hired in a number of innovative start-ups in the camp.  The park also hosts a number of Civil Society Organizations who are helping the business community with their expertise.

The director of the Innovative and Training Park, says adamantly that all actors share a common environmental goal.

“To develop innovation and creative industries that do not pollute the environment are the criteria that we do not compromise here when businesses join us here,” Hans-Jurgen Cassens says.

Until now, start ups have expressed more willingness to join, particularly those in the IT sector. The conditions offered in the camp are solid and doable.

“The aim of the park is good education, quality employment, good salaries and opportunities, especially for youth,” says Cassens, who became director four months ago.

An additional value for the park is the stable supply of electricity as well as an internet connection with fiber optic cable and other solid infrastructure.

Muhamed Rexhepi, who is among the staff, sees a bright future at the former military base.

“We already have 5-6 companies that were settled here and due to the interest expressed, we expect that soonm many businesses and enterprises providing services will be located here,” he says, hailing the green spaces and recreation centres offered in the Centre.

A few meters far from the main office, the company “Maker Space” is located where youngsters from Prizren and beyond visit the company. 

Rexhepi says that during November, “Maker Space organised a competition for the best business plans and as a result, some businesses will find their space within the Maker Space building.

“The whole idea is that we offer incubation and a joint workplace through our partners,” Rexhepi continues.

On the other hand, Cassens says that the concept of the park was well understood by Kosovo institutions with whom they had “good cooperation”.

With a sense of modesty the German says that he is elated with the results but much more should be done in the future for the Innovative and Training Park.

“Until now, we had a good cooperation, but yet more work is expected from us,” he says from one of the offices in the Innovation and Training Park.