In early May, at the invitation of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce from Toronto, Croatian entrepreneur and owner of the Rimac Automobili company, Mate Rimac, arrived to a visit to the Croatian diaspora in Canada, reports Večernji List on May 19, 2017.
He gave two very successful lectures. The first lecture was at the University of Toronto, and the second was during a gala dinner of the Chamber of Commerce in Burlington. The 15th annual meeting of entrepreneurs brought together about 650 guests, of which more than 50 were students of Croatian origin who are sponsored by members of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce has been active in the community for more than 22 years and, in addition to bilateral economic cooperation, it also works on networking among the members of the Canadian Croat community. They also support humanitarian initiatives in Croatia. During a recent visit by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, they collected significant funds for the reconstruction of the Vukovar water tower.
“We have invested a lot of efforts in organising Rimac's visit to Toronto and the wider area. I believe that we have shown to him what the members of the Croatian community can offer him in Canada, in terms of improving his business activities. We have made our contacts in the automotive and technology industries available to him. We have introduced him to some of the leading people from universities and business circles. I believe we can offer him something that not even the Silicon Valley can do,” says Ivan Grbešić, the coordinator of the visit and a board member of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce.
In his speech, Mate Rimac talked about his humble beginnings. He was often being discouraged, with people in the industry telling him that it would be best to give up as soon as possible. He is particularly sorry that Croatia did not position itself in the automotive industry in late 1990s, when factories moved from western to eastern Europe. “At the moment, only about one percent of the cars on the market are electric, but it is expected that the whole industry will switch to the production of electric cars within the next two decades, and we must not miss this second chance. We have to build that industry in Croatia. Just look at our neighbours in Slovenia, as well as Slovakia, who produce cars and parts and export them to foreign markets,” explained Rimac.
Rimac is currently preparing for a major entry into the North American market and for a substantial increase in the number of employees. He is thinking about developing new exciting products, such as autonomous vehicles. He is also interested in China as a possible investment destination.
As part of his visit to Canada, Mate Rimac toured two universities, McMaster in Hamilton and the Waterloo University. There, he saw their development centres and research hubs. He also visited the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Industry Research – WatCAR. During his visit, he was accompanied by Chamber representatives and Berry Vrbanović, the mayor of Kitchener, who was born in Zagreb.
After visiting both universities, Rimac said he would have made much more progress if he had such development tools available to him. “Although we cannot change his previous experiences, I sincerely believe that we can contribute to the further success of Rimac Automobili,” said Grbešić. “Canadians have recognised who Mate Rimac is and what he has managed to achieve with very modest means. There are no reasons why Rimac Automobili would not be the driver of economic development in Croatia. His company is a Croatian brand whose name is known all around the world. We are proud of him and we want to help him,” he said.