Friday, 10 March 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Corruption, Energy Prices and VAT

March the 10th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had a rather poor response to Plenkovic making it illegal to leak information from active investigations, Milanovic has claimed that people are drowning in corruption, and pensioners have had some relief from paying certain health insurance contributions. Oh, and there's been talk of price increases, again.

Plenkovic made leaking information an act punishable by law last month, and it's proved wholly unpopular

Index writes that the Promocija plus agency recently conducted some research for RTL regarding the announcement of changes to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Code. These alterations to the law would make the leaking of information a punishable act, and a survey was conducted from March the 1st to the 3rd on a sample of 1,300 respondents with a standard error of plus or minus 2.7 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.

Most respondents have indicated that they don't support criminalising the leaking of information from investigations, which is the government's plan. The majority, i.e. 51.4 percent of respondents are against this idea, while 34.5 percent support it.

14.1 percent didn't know or didn't want to answer. Among those who are in favour of making the leaking of information a punishable act, as expected, are HDZ voters (55.6 percent of them support it), followed by those who vote for HNS (80.6 percent of them support it), those who would vote for the Suverenisti (64.5 percent) and Bandic's party (59.1 percent).

While the Prime Minister is making little to no effort to hide that he is bothered by the political damage that results from the disclosure of information from investigations, the respondents see this very reason as the main trigger for changing the law. 51.1 percent of respondents think this is the sole reason for the idea. At the same time, 13.1 percent of them think that the reason is the protection of the rights of all persons involved in investigations, and even the protection of the investigative procedure, which is what 10.1 percent of respondents think.

People believe that the biggest victims of such a change would be journalists

Only 4.9 percent of respondents believe that the main reason for changing the law is the independence of the judiciary. According to Prime Minister Plenkovic's announcement, leaking information from judicial investigations will become a criminal offense, and the goal, as stated, is to prevent information and details from investigations from being released to the media.

The prime minister claims that he isn't trying to stifle any media freedom, but the main victims of this kind of judicial maneuver are precisely journalists, and this is what almost 37.5 percent of respondents believe. 8.9 percent believe that judges and court officials will suffer, and 8.4 percent of the survey participants believe that the public itself is the main victim.

President Zoran Milanovic says that the Croatian public is ''drowning in corruption'' and that the current situation is worse than it was during Ivo Sanader's reign

Milanovic is no stranger to simply blurting out whatever he thinks, with little to no regard for anyone he might offend, and the arguments between him and PM Plenkovic have become somewhat iconic. He has taken another swipe at Croatian politics as run by Plenkovic and stated that the Croatian public is ''drowning in corruption'' and in a ''worse state than when Ivo Sanader was in charge''. 

"When someone comes and tells me that they're ending their cooperation with the president of the republic [in reference to Plenkovic allegedly saying that to him], who was elected democratically, then that's a clear violation of the Croatian Constitution, I'm surprised that that person is still the prime minister, and that someone in the parliament supports that. Let's take a good look at ourselves because Plenkovic is now violating the constitution,''

Milanovic then went on to quote a list of names and positions within either the government or within society that he believes Plenkovic arranged for his own benefit, and even dragged members of his family into it all.

''You people are absolutely drowning in corruption, this whole situation is worse than the one Ivo Sanader caused. At least he only stole for himself,'' Milanovic stated, before continuing with more quite jarring statements about Plenkovic being arrested in Brussels.

Government session closes with the abolition of health insurance contributions for pensioners and VAT amendments

The amendments to the VAT Act proposed by the government at the most recently held session have resulted in the retention of lowest VAT rate yet on gas and some other energy products, and the amendments to the Contributions Act have abolished additional health insurance contributions payable by pensioners.

Amendments to the Law on VAT

According to Plenkovic, the government is proposing changes to the VAT Act, which will see it retain the VAT rate of five percent on deliveries of natural gas and heating from thermal stations. This includes fees related to these deliveries, as well as for deliveries of firewood, pellets, briquettes and wood chips even after March the 31st of this year.

"We're continuing with the reduced rate of VAT on gas, pellets, briquettes, wood chips, and we're going to extend this measure for another year. In this way, we're successfully enabling everyone to be supplied with these types of energy sources on time and at the lowest possible rate," Plenkovic said.

"We support pensioners"

When it comes to changes to the Law on [Health Insurance] Contributions, the proposal is to abolish the payment of an additional contribution for health insurance, which includes about one million pensioners, to whom the said contribution will be paid at the expense of the state budget. This will refer to around 32,000 such individuals.

"We support Croatia's pensioners, and another 32,000 of them will keep what they have been paying so far as part of their regular pension," Plenkovic said.

Freedom House says corruption continues to represent a very serious problem for Croatia

Political rights and civil liberties are generally respected in Croatia, but corruption and discrimination against certain minorities remains a very serious and real concern, Freedom House stated in its 50th annual report on the level of freedoms across the world.

Compared to last year, Croatia lost a point and now has 84 - 35/40 for political rights and 49/60 for civil liberties. Civil and political rights are generally respected in Croatia, but corruption in the public sector remains a serious problem, according to the Freedom House report.

As key events last year, they cited the arrest of various big names from the world of Croatian politics, the staggering INA affair and the fulfillment of the conditions for Croatia's entry into the Eurozone and Schengen despite these issues. The American non-governmental organisation warned that Roma, Serbian nationals, ethnic Serbs and members of the LGBTIQ+ community continue to face discrimination. It also noted the presence of far-right groups and people who promote discriminatory values in public spaces as a legitimate concern.

Irena Weber, the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) president, talked about price increases and about Croatia's lack of competitiveness economically

Irena Weber from the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) commented on various economic topics for N1 television, from tax policy to government measures to unjustified price increases and the issue of non-working Sundays.

HUP's salary taxation model

HUP has proposed an increase of salaries through tax relief in such a way that the non-taxable part of an individual's salary rises from 533 euros to 663 euros and that the tax bracket of 20 percent is reduced to 15, and that 30 percent of the income tax is applied only to salaries greater than 50,000 kuna. The amount that local self-government units would lose would be compensated by the introduction of a 10 percent tax on apartment rent. Commenting on the HUP initiative, Finance Minister Marko Primorac said that it was not particularly well thought out.

"The idea was to draw attention to the fact that the income tax burden in Croatia is very much an issue, while, on the other hand, income from other sources is practically not subject to taxation. The intention was to point out that in this country, in which we continuously swear by education, work and similar, work is heavily taxed while we have a large number of people who don't participate in payng income tax whatsoever,'' said Weber.

"The idea is to start discussing all of that. We're arranging a meeting with the Minister of Finance and we need to open this topic properly because there is a large amount of unfairness in the distribution of the tax burden from labour in relation to property tax. With this kind of tax burden on labour, low productivity and the like, we're quite uncompetitive as a country,'' she added

She also pointed out that the government has relieved the tax burden on wages in several rounds already, but also that this increase coincided with strong GDP growth. "Croatian GDP grew by over 20 percent, which is an excellent result even in European Union terms, but that also coincides with the increase in income into the budget."

When asked how much employers raised prices, Weber says: "The domestic labour market continually lacks the staff, employers are fighting to get their hands on every possible worker, there's a real struggle. The problem of labour shortage is also being solved by importing labour from abroad, which isn't efficient either. The State Bureau of Statistics (CBS) announced that wage growth stood at 9.3 percent. We have information from our survey that HUP members increased the wages they pay out by over 15 percent, and yesterday morning we had a meeting with the trade unions, the merchants had raised their wages by over 20 percent. We really must keep raising wages."

"There were no unjustified price increases''

Weber and other HUP members support the continuation of the government's measures to limit energy prices. However, she believes that the issuing of fines for retail chains and others in the trade sector that didn't send the government a list of their products and their prices for the so-called ''white lists'' will not come to pass: "I think all of that was nothing more than speculation.''

She added that inspections carried out showed that almost no irregularities were found even in several hundred checks. "In addition, the CBS published data on price growth in January and February - 1.3 percent in the beverage, food and tobacco sector, which confirms that there was no unjustified price increase there. Retail chains played perhaps the most significant role in the conversion of the euro as an important channel."

"It's not pleasant for me to see any kind of jump in prices either, but we need to look at the bigger picture, inflation is a global problem, we know how the prices of energy, the cost of labour, the price of packaging, and raw materials have risen. With such a price shock, it's logical that the price of the final product also rises. I think that prices will start to stabilise," added Weber.

At the end, she commented on the government decision on non-working Sundays: "We cannot support any ban. HUP is against any restriction of the right to work. This is not the time for that."


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to check out our dedicated section. For a weekly roundup of what's been going on, keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 10 March 2023

Croatian Campus Network - Research and Development Lab on Cards

March the 10th, 2023 - A brand new Croatian campus network is on the horizon, owing to cooperation between HT (Hrvatski telekom/Croatian telecom) and Zagreb's Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding (FSB).

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, HT and the Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding (FSB) have now signed a Business Cooperation Agreement for the realisation of a private 5G Croatian campus network and the practical application of solutions for Smart Factories in the research and development laboratory of the FSB.

The private 5G campus network located on FSB's grounds will be used for laboratory and auditory exercises and for the creation of final, graduate, specialist and doctoral theses. One of the areas of application of the 5G network is also in Industry 4.0, and HT will set up a production management system (MES) within the same laboratory, applicable for the digitisation of machines of all technological generations, as well as the digitisation of the entire production process.

"5G technology is an indispensable part of every modern system and, due to its wide applicability, it has become a prerequisite for the development of smart industries and cities.

In its effort to modernise and digitise the production processes of Croatian companies, HT sees the potential of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding as a centre of knowledge and a key scientific participant in Industry 4.0. With the establishment of a private 5G Croatian campus network and the practical application of the Smart Factory solution as part of our Smart Factory labs, young engineers will be able to test out their ideas, take a deeper look into their work and new technological solutions using modern 5G technology. We believe that close cooperation between the academic and business communities is the key to further progress and raising the competitiveness of the entire Croatian industry," said Marijana Bacic, a member of the Management Board and chief operating officer for HT's business customers.

"The faculty has been working very intensively on strengthening partnerships with numerous innovative Croatian companies through the mutual transfer of technology and knowledge, all in order to ultimately prepare future engineers for the needs of the modern labour market, that is, work with modern technologies and modern employers. In this context, the role of FSB in the light of Industry 4.0 and smart factories is especially highlighted.

The partnership agreement with HT provides the Faculty with a private communication network using both 4G and 5G technologies that will be installed in the newly established Croatian Campus Network research and development laboratory, as well as an opportunity to further intensify both business and development cooperation. The transfer of equipment will enable researchers and students to work on the most modern communication technologies.

All of the above significantly strengthens the capacities of our laboratories in the field of research, development and innovation, and thus contributes to the improvement of teaching at all levels of the Faculty's studies. In the end, the results of these pieces of research are doctoral dissertations and scientific articles which go on to be published in renowned scientific and professional journals, and that's something that contributes to the international visibility of the Faculty,'' emphasised prof. Ph.D. Zdenko Tonkovic, Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding.

FSB, in cooperation with HT, will promote projects in the field of Industry 4.0, which rely on the use of mobile networks, and which will encourage more comprehensive work on scientific and research projects. In addition to all of the above, by implementing the production management system (MES) from the Smart Factories project on the educational production line of FSB, it will be possible to monitor the benefits of the digitisation of production.

"Back at the end of 2019, the Faculty kicked off a project to develop a modular expert system for establishing discrete production processes based on the application of Smart Factory principles. At the Department of Industrial Engineering, the best and most modern equipment from the field of Smart Factory has been installed, which, after connecting to a private communication network, will enable students, postgraduates, and those in business to develop their knowledge and experience. They'll later apply all of that in their own workplaces and thus modernise the industry in Croatia through digital transformation.

In this laboratory, we expect the development of new innovative solutions, start-up companies and international EU projects that will secure a high position for our faculty and the economy of Croatia, both in Europe and in the rest of the world," said prof. Ph.D. Nedeljko Stifanic, Smart Factory's project manager.

HT developed this project based on the model of campus networks that Deutsche Telekom launches and develops throughout Europe, all with the aim of developing and testing new communication technologies.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated news section.

Friday, 10 March 2023

Croatian Bus Companies Continuing to Face Significant Issues

March the 10th, 2023 - Croatian bus companies and operators on all sorts of lines have been facing numerous quite considerable issues for some time now, and it seems that they're still not much closer to solving them. 

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in spite of the fact that the Republic of Croatia has formally harmonised the Road Transport Act with the rest of the European Union (EU), the key solutions that were supposed to activate the new road transport model, namely the definition and signing of public service contracts and the simplification and acceleration of the process of harmonising the network of bus lines, haven't come into force.

This leads to uncertainty not only for Croatian bus companies but for the entire business of road transport operators, as well as issues with the disruption of the availability of road transport in parts of the country. The aforementioned was explained at the recently held "Connected Croatia/Spojena Hrvatska" conference under the organisation of HUP - Udruga prometa/Croatian Employers' Association - Transport/Traffic Associations.

According to carrier data, 80% of public scheduled transportation across the Republic of Croatia takes place on county and inter-county lines covering distances of up to 100 kilometres, about 200,000 people are transported on these lines every day, and Croatian bus companies running along these lines make as many as 61.5 million kilometres per year.

Most of the traffic is in peripheral and much more rural parts of Croatia without an alternative form of public transport, and as much as 80% of these lines have proven almost entirely unprofitable. As a rule, profitable lines are those that connect more distant urban centres, seasonal lines to the coast and of course - international lines in and out of the country.

The Faculty of Transport Sciences (FPZ) explains that Croatia is a country with a low population density (69 inhabitants per km2), about 30% of the population lives in municipalities that are outside the county centres. On top of that, the average number of inhabitants per municipality stands at around 3,000, which represents a great challenge for ensuring the availability of public road transport.

Therefore, as was pointed out by Marko Sostaric, the Dean of FPZ, if you want equal availability of road transport for everyone, it is necessary to define the necessary network of public transport lines at the county level and to very quickly sign a public service contract.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Friday, 10 March 2023

CNN Lists Plitvice Lakes National Park Among Worlds Most Beautiful Places

March the 10th, 2023 - Alright, we hardly need to be told about just how jaw-droppingly gorgeous Croatia's oldest national park is, but with most of the rest of the world thinking Croatia's beauty is confined to the coast, it's time for Plitvice Lakes National Park to shine internationally. CNN has listed as being among the most beautiful places on planet Earth.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, our planet is truly spectacular, and stunning beauty can be found at every turn. It is difficult to unanimously decide which are the most beautiful places in the world, but CNN brings its audience, as they themselves claim, "the best of the best", and one Croatian jewel, the one and only Plitvice Lakes National Park, has also rightfully been placed on the list.

From lush African forests to vast and imposing Latin American deserts, watery Balkan paradises to ancient Middle Eastern cities, these are their picks for the world's most beautiful destinations that literally take your breath away.

Croatia has long had the status of the best European location for escaping to nature. When visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park, which has enjoyed its protected status since 1949, you'll come across one of the most incredible sights in the world: sixteen lakes connected by waterfalls, which eternally change the formation of the stones they flow over, writes CNN.

The lakes at gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park are easy to explore by walking along the wide network of paths and promenades, and at every step you will be delighted by the rich forests and enchanting wildlife.

In addition to Plitvice National Park, CNN has singled out 24 other mindblowing places across the world that are considered the most beautiful. You can view them by clicking the link to CNN's publication above.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated news section.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Dr. Laganini, or How I Stopped Worrying & Embraced the Rhythm

March 9, 2023 - Laganini, the chilled Croatian way. Check it out through the eyes of our latest TCN correspondent, Pedro Premuz, a Croatian returnee from Argentina. Welcome, Number 187! If you would like to write for TCN about the Croatia where you are, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Writing.

It's May, some random Tuesday before 10:00 am. I walk past construction workers on my way to a kafić (coffee shop), and I daringly peek inside the building they are working on. Except they are not fixing it now, they are already having their first break, which could be their second. beer in hand and a sandwich with what I imagine is home-produced meat, as is the tradition here. Most people have their own orchard or make their own charcuterie. I mutter to myself the newly-understood phrase... "Laganini" (To take it easy). Time is all we have, I say to myself as I go and take a second break and a third coffee.

It takes a while, but eventually you get used to this rhythm of life and calmness, people are not used to yelling or complaining. Maybe, you’ll get to disappoint them should you cross a red light, but that's it.

You will see a lot of people (I'm no expert but I have no doubts we’re talking about 85% of the population) drinking alcohol daily, but the only drunk people you'll ever see are non-Balkan tourists, because cheap (and tasty) alcohol drives them crazy.

Croatians love to contemplate the universe in silence. They take their job very seriously. They must do one thing: “I have to do nothing and I must be good at it”. They actively embrace the nothingness of sitting outside, plain vibing without any guilt or remorse.

Back at home, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I used to take the train to work, and I had more than an hour, door to door. Daily, regular commute. It just felt normal to travel more than an hour just to go to work. Now, if something takes more than 50 minutes, I have to think about it 4 times before making up my mind, and it may take me the whole day to travel that far. Let me clarify: Let's say you take a tram combination, 20 minutes each, and you need to be at your destination at, say, 2:30pm.

With the life I'm living at the moment, I would probably leave home at around 12:00, take the first tram, get off at the correct station to wait for the second one, but, alas! The thirst.

It's time for that break: Coffee and a glass of water. Similar to any construction worker break. I take out a book from my backpack and spend 45 minutes reading, contemplating life for a while, and by the time I continue the second half of my journey, ready and well-rested, I already forgot whatever I was aiming to do at my place of destination.

I guess what I have been deciphering so far about Croatia as a whole is that we are still a village in most aspects. And we love it just that way, thanks for asking. So, if you read this and you feel like enjoying time passing through, you can visit, or don't, we’ll be here watching time pass, anyway.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Dalmatian Lamb Becomes 40th Croatian Food Product Protected by EU

March 9, 2023 - Dalmatian lamb has received the European protected designation of origin, which means that the name of the product is entered in the register of protected designations of origin and protected designations of geographical origin and is protected in the territory of the entire European Union, the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture reported on Wednesday.

As 24Sata writes, the procedure for the protection of the name was initiated by the Association of Sheep and Goat Breeders of Dalmatia, which submitted a request to the Ministry of Agriculture for the protection of the designation of origin under the name Dalmatian lamb.

Dalmatian lamb is the meat of lambs of the original Croatian breed of sheep, the Dalmatian Pramenka, which are lambed, reared, and slaughtered exclusively in Dalmatia. For the production of "Dalmatian lamb," lambs are slaughtered at 70 to 130 days old when they reach a body weight of 15 to 28 kilograms. It is named after the breeding area of the Dalmatian lamb, Dalmatia, but the name Dalmatia itself comes from the Illyrian word for sheep, dalma, or delma. 

"Especially valued 'Dalmatian lamb', produced on the islands, coast, and karst areas of the Dalmatian Zagora, is characterized by a delicate muscle structure without pronounced marbling, white subcutaneous and internal fat deposits. Compared to other types of lamb, the 'Dalmatian lamb' meat contains significantly less fat. Consumers recognize and especially appreciate Dalmatian lamb, primarily because of its soft and juicy muscle tissue and its aroma and taste without a pronounced mutton smell," the Ministry of Agriculture explains.

The Republic of Croatia now has 40 agricultural and food products whose name is registered in the European Union as a protected designation of origin or a protected designation of geographical origin.

The EU mark of the protected designation of origin or the protected designation of geographical origin on the packaging guarantees the consumer the purchase of an authentic product.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

PLACE2GO: Here's How to Make Money on Your Amazing Photos of Croatia

March 9, 2023 - The organizers of the PLACE2GO International Tourism Fair decided this year to announce the 10th edition of the fair in the spirit of giving. In cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board, they organized a contest in which they are looking for 20 of the most beautiful photos of Croatia, and the best authors will receive travel vouchers.

As stated in today's announcement, Poslovni writes, the award-winning photos will also be shown to more than 200 exhibitors from about 20 countries and to approximately 15,000 visitors expected in Arena Zagreb from March 24 to 26. Photos can be sent from March 4 to 23, and the best ones will be decided by the audience via the social networks of the PLACE2GO fair and the expert jury, which consists of artistic photographer Hrvoje Serdar, the director of the PLACE2GO fair Damjana Domanovac and the chief creative director of the Kofein agency Tomislav Krajacic.

The photo contest called #ljepotaHRVATSKE is looking for photos that show Croatia as a desirable tourist destination, which is recognizable for its natural beauty, architecture, gastronomy, flora and fauna.

"For the first time, we decided to directly involve visitors in the content of the fair. The presentation of Croatia through the lens of visitors is the most authentic way, because the most important thing for a good photo is to be in the right place at the right time. We look forward to seeing hidden parts that are not so well known, details of architecture, interesting people and customs, characteristic of our country.

At the same time, this is a great opportunity for Croatia, which has been ranked highly as a tourist destination for the past few years, not only in Europe, but also in the world, so exhibitors from all over the world will get an insight into Croatia through the eyes of citizens, which is also a good promotion for the upcoming season," explained Damjana Domanovac, organizer of the tourism fair PLACE2GO.

The three photos with the highest number of likes on social networks and the best jury scores will be additionally awarded with valuable vouchers. The winners will be announced on April 5 on the websites, and on the Facebook and Instagram PLACE2GO platforms.

"PLACE2GO is the leading tourism fair in the region, which has hosted more than 113,500 visitors over ten years, and around 700 exhibitors from 38 countries and more than 40 sponsors have participated in the fair so far. In addition to domestic and regional exhibitors, visitors will have the opportunity to get to know the newly discovered destination of Albania and exotic Malaysia, and special attention this year is devoted to Algeria, which is also the partner country of this jubilee edition. Entrance for all visitors is free," the organizers announce.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Medimurje County Receives Prestigious Tourism Award in Berlin

March 9, 2023 - Medimurje County was awarded a prominent award for sustainability in tourism this week in Berlin. On the stage of the leading global tourist expo "ITB Berlin," the "silver of a golden glow" award, as they call it in Medimurje, was awarded to Prefect Matija Posavac and Director of the Tourist Board of Medimurje County Rudi Grula.

As Poslovni writes, the Green Destinations Certification Committee's official decision, which has so far certified hundreds of destinations worldwide, signed by president Dr. Albert Salman, has been ready for a few days. However, in Medimurje, they were meticulously preparing for the big award ceremony in the German metropolis.

"This great recognition came as a result of the effort, work, and commitment of all residents of Medimurje. This is a reward for all those who tirelessly and devotedly take care of the orderliness of their homeland, environmental protection, and preservation of natural and cultural values. Medimurje is the green cradle of Croatian sustainable tourism; all our tourism development strategies are aimed at sustainability, promotion of rich natural values between Mura and Drava, revitalization of cultural heritage, our history, quality of enogastronomy and local products, and everything that carries the strong identity of Medimurje. With this valuable award, our efforts have been recognized by profession at the world level", said the Prefect of Medimurje County, Matija Posavec, while receiving the award in Berlin.

The director of the tourist board of Medimurje, Rudi Grula, who has been managing the destination for 20 years, points out that this is the culmination of the work of the past year in cooperation with the county and the company Tourism Lab, the official representative of Green Destinations in Croatia. He also emphasizes that "we do not perceive sustainability in Medimurje only as a tourist trend, and we do not carry out activities related to sustainability because it is "in fashion." We want to achieve long-term sustainable development through numerous segments, which is a source of attractiveness and quality."

From Green Destinations, they reveal that Medimurje is the first destination in this part of Europe that, as a region, has passed the certification process and thus joined the remaining three tourist regions in the world, while there are over 200 individual certified destinations in the world, which speaks of the complexity and importance of this process for positioning and establishing destinations in the world. During the next two years, Medimurje County has the right to use the acquired marks, after which the reevaluation process awaits it again.

Medimurje achieved the highest marks in the segments of destination management, nurturing culture and tradition, social well-being, and maintenance of nature and landscape, while in the categories of environment and climate, they continue to develop, which will be significantly helped by a report that recommends in detail further development steps in the destination. By the way, Green Destinations is present in more than 80 countries worldwide, developing sustainable and responsible tourism.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Croatian Startup Choncha Making Life Easier for People and Plants

March the 9th, 2023 - The rather remarkable Croatian startup Choncha is set to make life much easier for both people and the plants they buy and might forget to take care of and water once or twice, or... maybe constantly.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, plant selection and care should soon be much easier thanks to the unusual and innovative Croatian startup Choncha, which has created a smart plant pot that should be on the market soon. This clever product, which is based on the application of the Internet of Things (IoT), comes in combination with an associated application that scans the conditions in the room the plant would be situated in through sensors, it then recommends the optimal types of plants to the user.

But that's not all. After planting, Choncha the smart plant pot takes care of the plant when it is there entirely automatically, all based on the collected data from its immediate environment.

A hard-working team of experts of various profiles are behind the Croatian startup Chonca and have been busy working on the development of Choncha the smart plant pot for some time now. Among them are people who have completed their studies in computer science, to those who graduated in mechanical engineering and agronomy, and as Frano Primorac, the originator of the idea and head of the Croatian startup Choncha revealed, they're currently completing their prototype.

"We're now working on the preparation for mass production, which we'll be greatly supported in by a Kickstarter campaign, which is currently in preparation. Further plans are definitely an organised capital collection, and since the interest of the public is huge, we're hoping for good results,'' stated Frano Primorac.

The campaign will be launched this week, more precisely on Wednesday March the 8th, and the plan is to collect six thousand US dollars. The price of the Choncha smart plant pot will be 59 USD on Kickstarter, and it will probably be cheaper here on the domestic market in the end. However, as Primorac noted, it's somewhat difficult to estimate how much they can collect.

"For now, we have a good number of collected emails on our website where people who want a Choncha pot can leave an email to be notified when the Kickstarter sale is launched," he said. As for the profile of the investors, they're targeting a type of profile that would otherwise buy this product.

"Through this viral marketing campaign, we discovered that the people who would purchase one of our smart plant pots are mostly mothers and tech geeks. Through Kickstarter, we hope for a more global reach, but we aren't yet sure in which niche we'll manage to garner the greatest response,'' he explained.

He added that successful and experienced Croatian entrepreneurs Albert Gajsak, the founder and director of CircuitMess, and Domagoj Boljar, co-founder of the well-known ecological tennis brand Miret, are helping them with advice in preparing for their Kickstarter campaign, which should contribute to their overall success. After the campaign, which they hope will end successfully, they are starting the last part of the job – that of mass production of Choncha, that is, their innovative smart plant pots.

Primorac, who graduated from the FOI in Varazdin and worked for an IT company for a year now, was motivated to start his own business because of a problem he had with growing plants.

"The idea itself arose from a problem I had as the worst botanist I know. The logical decision was therefore to spend ten months on automating the process of growing plants, a job that would take me half an hour a week. That's how the Croatian startup Choncha, and the idea of the plant pot, was born," he explained, adding that there are five permanent people working on the team who all knew each other before.

"We're all on the same page and are aware that we can't expect salaries at the start because we're simply bootstrapping, but that's why morale and fun are always paramount," said the initiator of the idea of a smart flower pot. He also pointed out that their biggest challenge has always been financing. They had no problems with the development of the prototype itself, primarily due to the expertise of the mechanical engineers and part of the team that worked on it.

As far as actual production is concerned, it will be based on 3D print technology, and the first prototype will be exhibited at FOI. "The plant pot itself and the application function as one product, is all very simple from the user's side. Choncha itself can scan the surrounding conditions and recommend optimal plants for the space, but the user can place any plant in it they want and in the connected application just tell Choncha which plant it is. Choncha waters the plant perfectly and warns plant owners about other conditions," he explained.

All the user has to do to successfully grow the plant with minimal effort is to turn on the button on the pot. Then they need to download the app, log in and pair the app with the container. The aforementioned institution from Varazdin otherwise played a major role in the creation and development of the Croatian startup Choncha, as this young team gained its first entrepreneurial experiences through their [email protected] program.

Through it, FOI provides financial and operational support to students and young innovators in the development of their various entrepreneurial ideas and product placement on the market. They also get an office in the premises of the Technology Park in Varazdin, as well as help in managing accounting, tax advice and consultation.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Croatian-Austrian Startup PlanRadar Making History in Tasmania

March the 9th, 2023 - The Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar is making waves on the other side of the world, with the digitalisation of the largest infrastructure project in Tasmanian history.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, a company whose eponymous cloud platform has been designed to digitise construction processes, has been selected as the software supplier for the 786 million Australian dollars (500.45 million euros) Bridgewater Bridge project over the Derwent River in Australia.

The work of building the bridge is being managed by Burbury Consulting, and it is the largest infrastructural transport project in the entire history of Tasmania.

It's interesting to note, as they pointed out from PlanRadar itself, that the Peljesac bridge project right here in Croatia was one of their main references for getting this job in distant Australia. Domagoj Dolinsek, the founder of the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, explained that this is their biggest project in Australia so far, and also one of the biggest in the world.

A strategic step forward

"We've been present in Australia for a year, and with last year's investment in our company of 69 million US dollars, a stronger exit from the European market to the global market, primarily North America, the Middle East and Australia, was made possible," explained Dolinsek.

The new Bridgewater Bridge project will use PlanRadar to manage all of its various inspections, quality assessments, task management, construction documentation, site audits and other key aspects of construction project management. PlanRadar pointed out that they are a leading player in this particular industry with over 120,000 clients in their global base using their property and construction project management software platform, and this is their first infrastructure mega-project in Australia.

“PlanRadar has previously been used in similar infrastructure projects across Europe, notably in the case of Peljesac Bridge, one of Europe's largest construction projects, along with its surrounding network of roads and tunnels. The Peljesac Bridge project is still one of the largest mega infrastructure projects in southern Croatia, with a total value of 550 million euros,'' they stated.

Bart Crowther, the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar's regional manager for Australia emphasised the importance of this project for their future presence in that part of the world. "The opportunity to work on any infrastructure project of this scale is truly extraordinary, and the positive impact on the Tasmanian community, both for the 22,000 daily users of the future bridge and for the improvement of freight and logistics routes on it, is extremely important to us. We're looking forward to working with the Tasmanian Government and the Burbury Consulting teams and helping guide their day-to-day ongoing site inspection processes,” Crowther said. A Burbury Consulting representative said PlanRadar was chosen for this project because of its data-driven reporting capabilities.

"When it came time to choose our project inspection software, we unanimously chose PlanRadar because of their ease of use and incredibly detailed data-driven reporting capabilities that help us better manage timely reporting, inspections, audits and verifications," it was stated.

Otherwise, this new Bridgewater Bridge will replace the existing 75-year-old cable-span bridge and will have a length of one kilometre in total. The main works on the bridge started last year, and it is estimated that it will be completed in 2024. The river crossing between Bridgewater and Granton in Tasmania has a long history and the first bridge was opened in 1848.

The existing Bridgewater Bridge was built back in 1946 and is the fourth bridge at this location, but the planning to replace this bridge began over 20 years ago, with many different designs and plans developed over that time, and the current project was completed and finally approved in 2018. The Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, born from the idea of builder and founder Domagoj Dolinsek, enables the management of all construction documentation via mobile phones, tablets and computers, and is used in both the construction industry and on the real estate market.

By digitising the workflow, PlanRadar reduces the frequency of what could be costly and frustrating errors, saves time for all parties involved and enables huge efficiency gains: users report saving an average of seven working hours every week.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

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