The NEST4WB project aims to modernize study programs in the field of Energy through digitization, which would achieve that experts from the Western Balkans would be highly qualified. Also, NEST4WB moves the focus of the spectrum of energy competences from the field of clean energy, as is the case everywhere at the WB, to part of the curriculum in the field of information technologies, which introduces the fields of energy into other fields of technology and will thereby create conditions for a more efficient response to energy challenges in the open the path to an energy-responsible society.

The general and specific goals of the NEST4WB project are aimed at students, teachers, professionals, decision-makers at the local, regional and national level, and young people in general. Through the improvement of competences, the conditions will be created for the creation of professionals capable of responding to the demands of the modern energy market, which is in great demand in all countries participating in the project. Deepened existing and newly acquired knowledge will enable future students to apply block-chain technology, IOT, AI, VR, drones successfully create and manage energy processes, develop new management models and increase the energy efficiency of industrial plants. In addition to students, the focus of the project results is also aimed at professionals in industry and the economy, as well as teaching staff, who will have the opportunity to improve their professional expertise through the exchange of examples of good practices and develop their own method, how to effectively transfer this knowledge to students and to all those interested. A detailed analysis of the situation in the energy sector, as well as the areas of digitization of the energy sector, energy efficiency of industrial processes, and the application of renewable energy sources in everyday life in all WB countries, indicates that there is a lot of space for improvement.

The EU narrative of investment in “knowledge-based” economy has also permeated WB countries. However, even though member and candidate countries are eligible to apply for funds from the EU to finance research and development, competition for these resources has proved very difficult for institutions in the WB. These countries have limited resources at their disposal to begin with, unlike developed countries that are able to invest significantly larger resources in the necessary expertise and infrastructure, to successfully tap into these funding streams. In the Western Balkans, most students in higher education are enrolled in public institutions. Even though tertiary enrolment rates in the region are relatively high—on average close to 50 percent of the traditional, college-going age-class – the degree completion rates are rather low. So NEST4WB tends to modernize HEIs, supports energetic transition and rise citizen activism.

NEST4WB is a logical continuation of the previous ELEMEND project and fills a gap in the educational curriculum by including de-carbonization goals in the field of ENERGY. In the previous period, project participants were also part of the ERASMUS + KALCEA project (Knowledge Triangle for Low Carbon Economy). The NEST4WB project is in line with the Green Deal, which is one of the main priorities of the EU. The goal of the European Green Deal is to transform EU countries from a high-carbon economy to a low-carbon economy, without reducing prosperity and at the same time improving people’s quality of life, providing cleaner water and air, better health, the environment and a healthier natural world. The NEST4WB project with the Green Deal as its main priority is intrinsically linked to the KALCEA project, which was also based on a green economy achieved through a low-carbon economy. In the field of training personnel with competencies that include de-carbonization, the Higher Education Institution is involved in the PELMOB project (Partnership for Promotion and Popularization of Electrical Mobility through Transformation and Modernization of WB HEIs Study Programs). The popularization of electric vehicles greatly affects the reduction of CO2 emissions, and the goals of the NEST4WB project are linked to the goals of the PELMOB project through the creation of experts with digital competencies in the management and rationalization of production and energy consumption.