Thursday, 23 September 2021

Croatian Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem to be Mapped Once Again

September the 23rd, 2021 - The blossoming Croatian artificial intelligence ecosystem (AI) is set to be mapped, providing an in depth overview of the country's so-called ''AI landscape''.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, last year, at the initiative of the Croatian Association for Artificial Intelligence (CroAI), the Republic of Croatia received the first overview of its AI ​​landscape, ie the visualisation of all stakeholders in the domestic artificial intelligence market (AI); from companies and startups to the wider Croatian artificial intelligence ecosystem. As the aforementioned association explained, such research is a necessary precondition to send out a clear message about the current situation regarding AI, but also the potential of the Croatian AI scene, especially since the ecosystem is wide because it includes people and institutions of different profiles and orientations.

This year, the Croatian artificial intelligence ecosystem will be mapped once again, so all local organisations that are in any way involved in the implementation, development, education, research or support of AI initiatives are invited to fill out the application form for AI Landscape on croai.org.

"Last year, we found out how many of us there are and where we're location, and this year we'll get the opportunity to learn more about how AI startups in Croatia do business, what challenges they face and what the opportunities on the domestic and global scene for all of us actually are. We'll get an insight into how much the market has changed in a year and what trend awaits us in the future.

The new mapping of the Croatian artificial intelligence ecosystem is an opportunity for all those who haven't yet applied or haven't been able to be identified do so as soon as possible, as we want to include all stakeholders, from small startups hidden in people's garages to large organisations that have launched initiatives to apply artificial intelligence in their work,'' explained Jan Stedul, the General Secretary of CroAI.

Last year, about 70 Croatian AI startups were identified, and the landscape of the Croatian artificial intelligence ecosystem consisted of a total of 170 companies, startups and organisations. The results last year also showed that about 80 percent of these startups were located in the City of Zagreb and the surrounding area, which isn't surprising. The share of women in the role of founders or co-founders stood at about 14 percent.

For the purpose of this research, they included more than 500 organisations, and the details will be presented on October the 14th, 2021.

“We expect growth across all categories, analyses are still ongoing and exact figures will be presented on October the 14th at the AI2Future conference, but it's already clear that in the last year alone, the market has developed with the advent of specialised AI incubators, that the course on the basics of artificial Intelligence Elements of AI has achieved great results and that AI initiatives have been launched in a large number of Croatian companies,'' said Stedul.

As they had more time and resources to condut their analysis into the Croatian artificial intelligence ecosystem this year, they were joined by Cohres, which is also a CroAI member, which has expertise in investment research, and Stedul says they are helping them significantly in analysing data and the investment potential of the artificial intelligence market.

“The startup market is very dynamic and changeable, so it's always a challenge to monitor and refresh things, but I believe we managed to do a good job thanks to quality incubators and accelerators that are the greatest help. The entire IT sector, and especially AI, has exploded in the last year, of course the coronavirus pandemic and the need for digitalisation have greatly contributed to this. But while the appearance of COVID-19 has accelerated the process, there's no doubt that it would have happened anyway. It is easier to list companies that haven't started implementing artificial intelligence than those that have. If a company still wants to remain competitive on the market, today it is almost impossible without the use of artificial intelligence,'' concluded Jan Stedul.

The CroAI association also announced recently that investors are looking for top AI startups that can sign up for the CroAI startup pitch until September the 25th, 2021, which will also be held as part of the AI2FUTURE conference on October the 14th this year.

For more on AI in Croatia, follow Made in Croatia.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Global AI Ethics Webinar: Is Universal Code of Ethics for AI Possible?

March 12, 2021 – In the last few years, we have witnessed a massive development of artificial intelligence, and in addition to its technological aspect, artificial intelligence also concerns ethics. To answer the question of whether a universal code of ethics for artificial intelligence is possible, the Institute Sapiens, CroAI Association, and FutureHR Consulting Association will host an online event, "Global AI Ethics Webinar."

Is a universal code of ethics for artificial intelligence really possible? And if so, what would its implementation by the different countries look like? An interactive conference on AI and ethics will take place online on March 17, 2021, at 11:30 am, with a specific feature – taking into account the multicultural challenge.

The webinar's line-up includes global experts on the ethical development of AI:

Emmanuel Goffi, Director of Institute Sapiens – Observatory on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence: "Cultural differences in the ethical assessment of AI"

Idoia Salazar, President of OdiseIA - Social and Ethical Impact of Artificial Intelligence Observatory: "A Chinese robot shouldn't be the same as a European one. Why not?"

Jassim Haji, President Artificial Intelligence Society Bahrain at Artificial Intelligence Society: "Ethical concerns of AI in Cyber Security: A Middle Eastern Perspective"

Their keynotes will be followed by the panel discussion "The quest for a universal code of ethics" moderated by Aco Momčilović, head of FutureHR. Among other things, panelists will open the subject on the importance of information diversity regarding ethical standards. Can we have a universal code of ethics, and what are the consequences of the dominance of just one approach (currently West-centered one)? Who should join the debate about ethics in AI, and in what way? Such questions will be discussed at the panel, and the tickets for the whole event are available online.

To read more about artificial intelligence in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Interview: Terence Tse 'What Croatia Needs to Put Itself on the AI Map'

February 4, 2021 - Interview with Terence Tse from the Nexus FrontierTech, visiting professor at Cotrugli Business School, about the discussion he had with CroAI members Hajdi Cenan and Marijana Šarolić Robić.

In your experience, what is happening with AI on the European level?

For the past several years, the European Commission has been producing numerous policy documents with the single aim of promoting the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) based on “European values and rules” among the member states. This initiative is undoubtedly and urgently needed as AI technologies are evolving at neck-breaking speed. Furthermore, the ramifications and implementations that this technology has in shaping our economies and societies in the coming decades are expected to be vast.

Yet, despite such unquestionably commendable effort in leading a high-level discussion and making a long list of recommendations on the role of AI should play in the industry policy the industry policy of individual member states, there remains seemingly a lack of concrete ideas as to how individual governments can build up their own AI industries.

Does this matter to Croatia, and what should we do?

This matters a lot to a country like Croatia – one that does has got neither a large industrial nor domestic customer base. Countries as such must become agile and stay at the technological forefront to be better able to compete on a global basis. Governments of these countries must devise a simple and proper policy framework to allow and empower companies and communities to have more flexibility in the development and deployment of AI technologies. Drawing on our experience from working in the AI field, this short brief intends to offer insights into some of the current developments in this field, which in turn will hopefully be useful in informing the right national policy for the Croatian government to build up its AI capabilities.

How are bigger countries reacting?

Governments in larger economies in Europe such as France, Germany and the UK have all made AI a key industry focus. The result is that they have got an earlier start on the development and deployment of AI. Contrast this to where Croatia is on the subject. At the time of writing, the government is expected to have completed the final version of the national strategy for AI. It is among a small handful of countries out of the 31 EU member states that has yet to establish an official policy.

As can be expected, the private sector does not wait. More and more Croatian AI companies have been emerging in the past years. As an illustration, the Croatian AI Association (CroAI), created in December 2019, has now got 71 companies as a member, with an additional 50 supporting members that are either individuals or academic institutions. For a fledging industry, these may be huge figures. But such growth trajectory is not insignificant as it clearly demonstrates the country has got the right mindset, talent and resources to thrive in this area. While this is a good start, for AI companies to thrive, it is necessary to have a more coherent collective effort.

But we have a number of companies that are devloping AI projects?

A telling tale is where the very few AI companies in the country ended up: they often do business abroad and consequently applying their expertise overseas and hiring staff from the countries in which the transactions take place. There is no doubt that export is a good source of income for Croatia. However, selling services abroad can neither promote domestic consumption and investments of AI nor the AI capabilities of the country effectively. Indeed, taking a broader economic view, Croatia has got a good training and education system that produces a lot of qualified engineers and developers. Yet, the country has been suffering chronically for not being able to create enough jobs created to absorb the talent produced.

What is Croatia's potential and should be done to achieve it?

In addition to the EU’s efforts in technological development via policy framework, we would like to offer a few ideas that can potentially set a “bottom-up” agenda and guideline to achieve the goal.

Have conversations, not merely top-down. With the right policy and actions, Croatia has got the potential

become a regional AI leader, if not beyond. While the EU has been eager to push forward the development of AI, its focus is often restricted to establishing the right environment and regulations, which is not necessarily offering the quickest route. Indeed, the discussions of ideas should be broadened beyond the policy framework mindset. For instance, the ministry developing the national strategy should involve all interested parties and not just National Digital Economy Council's Working Group and the few private companies.

What are the traps we need to avoid in creatin AI value?

Focus on the real side of AI. It is very easy to have fallen into the following misconception trap about AI: it is all about AI models involving only AI researchers and scientists. In business reality, however, deploying this technology into company operations involve a much wider set of competence and job roles. The most critical success factor in the development of AI is not the strength (e.g. accuracy) of the models – the “brain”. Instead, it is the overall IT system in which the model is only one of the many components, with the so-called AI Operations (AIOps) creating and supporting it. AIOps involve system developers and engineers – and not data scientists – who are skilled at embedding AI models into a well-oiled production environment, which, in turn, must work flawlessly with companies existing IT infrastructure. Put differently, the way to genuinely extract value of AI is not the model development but rather having a robust overall technology system.

Viewing from this vantage point, the essence of AI conversations should be extended to pushing for developments in the capabilities to run AIOps. In doing so, not only can Croatia develop more comprehensive and pragmatic AI offerings; it can also capitalise on the full potential of the developers and engineers churned out by the education system. A case in point is the London-based AI company Nexus FrontierTech that hires some 80 system developers and engineers in Hanoi, Vietnam, essentially helping the country to upgrade the skillsets of the workforce there.

Is it only about developers and engineers?

Think about the business side of technologies. It is important to note that not all activities related to AI involves people with technical backgrounds. Typically, a business that is considering the deployment of AI in its own activities will have to consider issues and requirements related to data, skills, cost, integration and stakeholder education. Additionally, just as important, if not more, is the ability to strategise, plan for and executive AI projects. Having a strong AI project management ability is mission critical as it will feed into solving many problems across the board. Much of the competencies to overcome these challenges are far more about business and less about technologies or technical skills. Taking this view means that there are plenty of scope and opportunities – as well as work to do – for Croatia to enhance its AI capabilities and therefore general competitiveness.

What would be your advice to Croatian Government?

Instead of a 400-page strategy that seeks to obtain EU funding, there should merely be a set of strategic guideline that can steer and promote the developments of AI start-ups as well as the wide-spread application of the technology. This should be developed by taking into account not just the AI technology itself but also the required business competencies for realistically deploying and  eveloping the capabilities. If Croatia were to take on a broader view of AI – much wider than the focus of the EU – it will have a far better change of thriving and excelling in this up and coming technology sector and put the country on the AI map.

Friday, 11 December 2020

STEMI and Infobip Launch AI Programme for Croatian Schools

December the 11th, 2020 - What might the school of the future look like? Croatian schools, more specifically primary and secondary schools, are set to get a taste of the incredible world of AI (artificial intelligence) thanks to the coming together of Infobip and STEMI.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, The School of the Future is the name of the first STEM programme for artificial intelligence (AI) for Croatian schools, which, as of February 2021, will be implemented by STEMI in cooperation with Infobip, with the support of A1 Croatia. The goal is to open a window into the technological future for Croatian schools and their primary and secondary students by bringing them closer to the world of AI through practical work, thus creating new artificial intelligence engineers, while strengthening the link between the IT sector and education in general.

Back during the summer, STEMI started researching the feasibility of the idea and elaboration, and in October they joined forces with Infobip, one of Croatia's top technology leaders whose engineers will work with Croatian schools and their students in terms of the preparation of digital materials and the development of the environment, so that they can work on their projects from at home or at school.

''The quality of knowledge transfer to the youngest generations - and this is where Infobip has found a great partner in STEMI - is of great importance if we want long-term social progress. AI is one of the main technological directions for Infobip and it's very important to us that the youngest generations learn about the technology of the future from an early age. New leaders and innovators are hiding among those individuals,'' said Izabel Jelenic, the technical director of Infobip.

STEMI presented the project to teachers at the Carnet conference, after which the number of applications for inclusion was much higher than the planned number of Croatian schools. ''The idea is for students to form development teams and, as a first step, study UN sustainability goals, select one of the goals, and explore which problem they can solve with an AI chatbot within that same goal. For example, students can create a bot that will help doctors in medical triage, or in determining the urgency of a case, which can help make the system more efficient, especially in these times when the healthcare system is under enormous pressure, all leading to the goal of achieving the goal of sustainability - Good health and well-being. They'll then be able to further explore the domain of the problem, define the knowledge that the bot must be able to cover, and start implementing that. We believe that Croatian schools should also be places in which the future is imagined and created. That's why we're going to give students the task to imagine what the world will look like in 10-20 years from now, when AI will be all around us,'' explained the director of STEMI, Marin Troselj.

As an educational-technological company, they focus, he says, lies primarily on building a bridge between industry and primary and secondary education.

''Today we live in Industry 4.0. and when we look at World Economic Forum research, the technologies and knowledge that will lead the industry are data analysis, machine learning, web / mobile application development, virtual and augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, etc. These things are extremely underrepresented in all schools around the world. On the other hand, AI will make a similar transformation of both industry and society as electrification did back during the late 19th century. That's why it's extremely important to introduce children from an early age to one of the basic tools in the technology industry, but more importantly, to become aware of the impact of this technology on their very own lives,'' said Troselj. Interested Croatian schools can apply to participate in the School of the Future project on the website until January the 31st, 2021.

''Digitalisation is transforming society and business, and lately it's been the real backbone of every industry. Therefore, it's necessary to teach children advanced skills such as artificial intelligence, in order to be active members of the digital generation from an early age, ready for new jobs that await them in the future.

At A1 Croatia, we've always been focused on the development of digital skills and new occupations such as data analysts, AI and machine learning specialists, robotics experts, and we want to share this knowledge with the community,'' said Jiri Dvorjancansky, the CEO of A1 Croatia.

In addition to the main partner being A1 Croatia, the project was also supported by Croatia osiguranje, Zagrebacka banka, Bosch and Score Alarm. Thanks to the support of these companies, the School of the Future project will be implemented in more than 40 Croatian schools throughout the country. The project is expected to be completed in May 2021.

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Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Meet Megi - Croatian Mindsmiths' Virtual Healthcare Assistant

December the 9th, 2020 - With the coronavirus pandemic posing a constant threat to the normal functioning of the enfeebled Croatian healthcare system, the likes of Andrija and now Megi have been a blessing. Artificial intelligence is certainly the way to go in many a sector, and the the pandemic continuing to reign strong, the help of the Croatian Mindsmiths' creation, Megi, is proving invaluable.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian Mindsmiths developed Megi the virtual healthcare assistant in collaboration with the Magdalena Clinic using AI, and they presented it at an online conference on Tuesday. Her digital brain was modelled on the knowledge of experts, primarily cardiologists, as well as cardiology nurses.

Last Sunday, blood pressure was measured five times a day three hours apart to get a detailed picture of the condition monitored by Megi, a virtual healthcare assistant from the Croatian Mindsmiths, an Al startup, who helps people with hypertension, a chronic disease which causes high blood pressure.

As many as 40 percent of people over the age of 25 suffer from hypertension, of which they're unaware, it affects 31 percent of the adult population, but only 1 in 25 people actually has the disease under control. Long-term exposure to high blood pressure can cause strokes and heart attacks, kidney and heart failure, not to mention severe chronic disease.

During the testing process, the Croatian Mindsmiths' innovative creation stated the measurement and explained everything in detail, step by step, and those undergoing Megi's tests almost forgot that she isn't actually a real person but a product of artificial intelligence (AI).

She also checked family histories with other necessary risk factors for high blood pressure, and after collecting all of the data, she made an assessment of the situation with Dr. Aleksandar Trbovic, a cardiologist and head of the Magdalena Polyclinic in Zagreb, with whom she scheduled a meeting for the second day to see if there was any cause for concern.

''Megi helps us doctors to precisely dose therapies, speeds up processes, and the added value for our community is that it reduces the costs of treating hypertension and its possible complications," explained Dr. Trbovic.

Megi's initial development took six months before direct contact with patients and physicians could begin, and since then, she has been integrated into the actual hospital system and has been caring for more than 80 hypertensive patients for twelve months.

''With Megi, the time to gather information is shortened from fifteen minutes down to a mere four, while the time of therapy can be shortened from six months to three weeks. The digital assistant has a plan for you, monitors and reminds you to measure your blood pressure, calms you down and encourages you when you're worried.

If Megi notices that things aren't going well, she will alert and call a doctor. We have set a goal - if we can use AI to copy the brain of one expert and help one person, then we can help millions of others. In reality, people wait in hospitals for months to get a diagnosis, and Megi can relieve almost 80 percent of such check-ups,'' said Mislav Malenica, the director and founder of the Croatian Mindsmiths, who recognised healthcare as the first sector in which AI should be applied.

The director of digital health at the Magdalena Clinic, Nina Sesto, warned of predictions that by 2050, 40 percent of people in Europe will be over the age of sixty, which means they will more than likely have one or more chronic diseases to cope with.

“Artificial intelligence is the key to healthcare scalability. At the same time, it can take care of thousands of patients,'' pointed out Sesto.

Mirjana Lackovic suffers from hypertension and has been using Megi's help for twelve months now. "If my blood pressure doesn't adjust, I contact Megi until the condition normalises. If it's bad for a couple of days, she contacts the doctors,'' said Lackovic, while Stipe Knezovic points out that Megi is kind, acts in a calming manner just like a real nurse, and the feeling, he says, is just like having a pleasant conversation with a real person.

Megi has recently become part of the process of treating patients with hypertension at the Health Centre in Zagreb, in eight chronic patients cared for by Dr. Renata Romic, who especially praises the positive psychological effect in moments when blood pressure starts to jump up, because through conversation, the Croatian Mindsmiths' incredible creation suppresses additional stress and further blood pressure issues.

Clinical testing of the Megi prototype has shown huge potential for the application of AI in the healthcare sector and a drastic increase in efficiency in the treatment of chronic patients, so they expect, as was concluded Jan Stedul from the Croatian Mindsmiths, that Megi will gradually spread to all healthcare institutions.

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Tuesday, 3 November 2020

BIRD Incubator will Make Croatia a Development Center for AI in Europe

November 3, 2020 – BIRD Incubator, the first specialized incubator for artificial intelligence and analytics in Croatia, wants to attract ambitious teams from all over the world to work and live in Zagreb.

A new digital nomad opportunity in Croatia is underway. Namely, BIRD Incubator will be opened in Zagreb, and it will enable teams to develop innovative solutions in the field of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Applications for teams and projects have already started.

The acronym BIRD actually means Business, Intelligence, Research, and Development. It is the idea of the Poslovna inteligencija (Business intelligence) company, which has been focused on the development of IT solutions in the field of analytics for 20 years. Now, they want to enable the development of ideas with this incubator to others.

They want to support not only Croatian teams, but also those from the entire region, Europe, and the world.

"Our goal is that in a few years, start-ups and ambitious teams from all over the world contact us and wish to come to Zagreb in our incubator because they will have the conditions, mentors, technological support, but also a lifestyle that would be attractive and provide them with maximum results," said Dražen Oreščanin, President of the Management Board of the Poslovna inteligencija, for ICT Business.

After all the preparations, BIRD Incubator will open its doors on January 15, 2021, by which the selection process for the registered teams will last, and it will cover 450 square meters in the very center of Zagreb.

"We decided to start our incubator and innovation center at the beginning of next year. In the premises where we are, the opportunity opened up to get an additional 450 square meters of space and we decided to open our BIRD incubator for analytics and artificial intelligence. Preparations for the opening are underway, and so far we have agreed on the support of various partners and mentors who will help the participants of the incubator in their activities," said Oreščanin, who is also a mentor.

He is accompanied by Davor Runje, Luka Abrus, Bernard Grum, Ratko Mutavdžić, Davor Aničić, Marijana Šarolić Robić, and many others. Technology support, such as cloud space, will be provided by IBM and Microsoft, while industry partners are United Group and Atlantic Group, on whose business cases teams can work on if they do not have their own idea.

The incubator offers complete infrastructure for teams – workplace, meeting rooms, education center, open space for meetups and hackathons, and support of leading mentors in the industry. In this way, they want to make Croatia one of the development hubs for AI in Europe.

"We want teams with good ideas from the domain of analytics to know that there is a Zagreb BIRD incubator where they can come and present their ideas. If it turns out to be good, we want to allow them to bring this idea to life through our resources," explained Lidija Karaga from Poslovna inteligencija for the Woman in Adria portal, who will also be a mentor along with Oreščanin.

Recently, the first project was selected to be supported by the BIRD incubator in its further development. It is a project named Turistico, an AI chatbot that represents a travel assistant and offers personalized entertainment for all ages, which is awarded second place at the Open Data Hackathon 2020 competition. Other teams and projects can apply on their website.

What distinguishes BIRD Incubator from many other incubators in Croatia, says Oreščanin, is their effort to be the best in the world in what they do, and with the help of CRO AI association, which brings together Croatian AI companies, their goal is to put Croatia on the world map in that area.

"We know that there are a lot of smart people, good ideas, brilliant teams that do good things and that is why we decided to create a platform through which we will enable them to grow and develop and thus give our socially useful contribution," Karaga said.

To read more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Popular Njuskalo Platform Utilises Artificial Intelligence for App Users

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of September, 2020, the popular Croatian Njuskalo platform has gone one step further in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) when designing the most efficient solution for its users, offering them a unique solution for submitting ads through the Njuskalo application (app).

With the help of the AI ​​model, the Njuskalo platform camera predicts the average price of an item and immediately places it in the correct category. Submitting ads through the Njuskalo platform's mobile app has never been easier, nor has it ever been quite as sophisticated.

After integrating photo recognition, an in-app plugin that places an item in the correct category immediately after taking a photo now enables Njuskalo users instantly find out how much they can sell their item for, just by clicking "Sell" and pointing the camera at it.

This smart technology, based on trained neural networks, immediately provides the would-be seller with up to date and accurate information on the price range within which the same item is being sold, as well as information on when the item was last sold, when the camera is aimed at the item for sale.

With this move, the Njuskalo platform provides users with more benefits when submitting ads and encourages them to easily submit them through the application. An instant estimate of the value and timing of a sale in just one click motivates both those who are hesitant or those who aren't sure what sort of price they'd like and for how much they should sell their item. This also saves users a lot of time and energy which would otherwise be spent researching the typical prices of the items they're thinking of selling.

The use of photo-recognition in the Njuskalo platform's app, for the integration of which, in addition to Njuskalo, the team of the software company Trikoder is responsible, received the highest user ratings and won awards at prestigious world competitions such as ICMA and Global BIGGIES Award in New York.

The experience gained with this project has now been applied to new improvements, as well as in pushing the boundaries of what user experience means in today's digital products.

The result of applying the AI ​​model within Njuskalo's app is equal to around 50 percent fewer steps, ie significantly faster ad submission, without asking for redundant information or actions from users, which makes it the fastest ad submission application on the market.

Njuskalo's application has so far been downloaded by more than one million and two hundred thousand users and is ranked second on the list of free lifestyle applications in the Play Store (source: Appfigures August 2020), and high fourth on the list of free lifestyle applications in the App Store (source) : appfigures August 2020).

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Sunday, 7 June 2020

CroAI Sends Brussels Key Guidelines for Legislative Framework on AI

June the 7th, 2020 - The Croatian Association for Artificial Intelligence (CroAI) recently presented its guidelines for encouraging the development of artificial intelligence in Europe as a review of the European Commission's White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, which is in public discussion for another week.

In February this year, the European Commission sent a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence out for public discussion so that the interested public could comment on the document indicating what the European legislative framework for this new technology would look like. Throughout the White Paper, the message is that Europe sees the development of AI as an opportunity to become a global leader, but at the same time protect its citizens and their digital rights.

During the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, CroAI decided to offer its voice to the debate and as such, it proposed three guidelines that the CroAl association considers key to the development of a competitive AI industry in Europe:

1. Limited legislation for the earliest stage of AI innovation that would allow small players to develop their ideas in safe conditions but without the need to obtain a large number of permits.

2. Prevent the emigration of innovative start-ups outside of Europe through the development of a competitive EU-wide start-up framework.

3. The role of the state as the first client in encouraging the accelerated development of the AI industry

Under one of these measures are the five mechanisms for strengthening start-up communities which include simplifying the process of starting and closing start-up companies, creating a better investment climate, enabling the better sharing of business success with employees (ESOP plans, etc.), the reduction of administrative barriers and the strengthening of the single digital market of the European Union as the greatest trump cards of European economic integration.

CroAl's guidelines were presented as part of a panel discussion on "Stimulating the development of artificial intelligence in the Republic of Croatia - legislation, entrepreneurship and past experiences" attended by Ilan Mor, Ambassador of the State of Israel to Croatia, Diana Helen Madunic, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to Croatia, Mario Antonic, State Secretary of the Ministry of the Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, and Mislav Malenica, President of the Croatian Association for Artificial Intelligence (CroAI).

On that occasion, the Ambassador of the State of Israel, Ilan Mor, pointed out that Israel is the third in the world, after the USA and China, in the number of start-up companies in the field of artificial intelligence, and added: academies and state institutions. He stated: ''A key ingredient in fostering and growing innovation is synergy between entrepreneurs, academia and government institutions. Without that, there is no progress.''

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden, Diana Helen Madunic, emphasised the importance of a strong industrial tradition in Sweden, which is a key accelerator of the demand for innovations in the field of artificial intelligence. "Croatia as a young country can take advantage of its membership of the European Union and place its innovations based on artificial intelligence om the European single market.''

State Secretary Antonic, who also the head of the working group for the development of the national plan on artificial intelligence at the Ministry of Economy, pointed out: "We're in the process of setting up an Innovation Centre located in Zagreb and it will be partly dedicated to the development of artificial intelligence."

The president of CroAI, Mislav Malenica, an entrepreneur and the director of Mindsmiths, believes that Croatia has a chance to become a leader in the application of artificial intelligence and could become a recognisable AI force in the world.''

For more on CroAI, follow Made in Croatia.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Croatia to Get First Strategy for Artificial Intelligence Development

The Croatian Government has finally leaked information about the date of the announcement of Croatia's national artificial intelligence development strategy, which should have actually been completed by this summer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 2nd of October, 2019, within sixty days, the Republic of Croatia should receive its first national artificial intelligence (AI) development strategy. Politically, this is a necessary document for the government to open the way forward to more than 2.5 billion euros in subsidies for both private and public companies and state administrations, intended solely to encourage the implementation of AI.

With the development of supercomputers (2.7 billion euros), subsidies for AI are the most abundant new source of "free" funding for high-tech development in the EU up until the year 2027.

Vlado Rendulić, a member of the APIS IT Management Board and a member of the Government Plan Strategy Working Group shed more light on dates on Wednesday at HUP's presentation of the document called ''Artificial Intelligence Potential for Croatia''.

"I can't speak on behalf of the government, and formally I'm not even a representative of the Ministry of the Economy, but as someone who is aware of the progress and development of this document, I can say that the proposal of the national AI strategy will be completed by the end of November," Rendulić stated encouragingly.

The time and place of its publication are not accidental. HUP has decided to publish a document on the potential of AI, because the government invited all segments of society except private entrepreneurs to develop the first Croatian AI strategy.

Furthermore, Economy Minister Darko Horvat announced that the strategy would be completed by the middle of this year, and although the deadline was broken, employers were not given information on how and at what pace it was being worked on. Moreover, the presentation at HUP announced the arrival of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Mario Antonić, but Vlado Rendulić appeared, who has, among other things, extensive experience in crisis management.

Rendulić added that the Croatian Government is following an EU recommendation to develop a plan for investment and concrete actions on AI. When the initial document is complete, he argues, a discussion will also open with the private sector. HUP are very skeptical, and there are many reasons for that. The government only joined the Union's AI partnership back in July as one of the last three members to show any interest, followed by sharp criticism.

And then, just a week ago, IMD announced that Croatia had fallen by seven places on the global digital competitiveness ranking, and is now in an unimpressive 51st place. In the introduction of HUP's AI document, Boris Drilo, a member of HT's Technology Board and president of the HUP-ICT Association, stated that the digital economy accounted for 5 percent of Croatia's GDP three years ago (with 18 billion kuna), and could grow to 16 percent of GDP (80 billion kuna) by 2025, according to McKinsey. But it depends on productivity growth, ie, the development of artificial intelligence and Croatia actually showing interest and taking it seriously.

"With advanced digital technologies, it will be possible to automate up to 52 percent of all working hours in Croatia," Drilo said.

Employers are convinced that this is one example of why they are stalling with the AI ​​strategy. Milan Račić, co-founder and director of development for the Croatian robotics startup Gideon Brothers, says there are topics in AI that Croatia's typically unpopular politicians don't like.

"We have to be honest and tell citizens that because of AI, some jobs will be gone, they need to be prepared for it, they should be offered a new perspective, and not be silent about it! I think the development of AI is greater than the next generation of communications, because it goes into all operations and all processes,'' Račić concluded.

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Zagreb's Faculty of Electrical Engineering Sets up First Artificial Intelligence Centre in Croatia

ZAGREB, September 25, 2019 - The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) of the University of Zagreb on Wednesday presented its project of establishing the first artificial intelligence centre in Croatia as the pivotal institution to coordinate activities in the field of AI development.

The faculty's dean, Gordan Gledec, said that FER wanted to continue playing a pioneering role in promotion and development of advanced and safe artificial intelligence complying with ethical norms and serving for the benefit of citizens of Croatia and the world.

The centre will share knowledge and provide support to all who find AI-related topics to be important, in line with recommendations on the development and application of artificial intelligence adopted earlier this year by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU).

Gledec said that companies that are involved in the development of new products based on AI must actively invest in research and development.

One of the missions of the centre is to educate the general public about possibilities of positive application of AI.

The faculty has already developed successful projects such as cyber fraud protection systems, enhanced safety and security in the tram transportation system or increased potato cultivation productivity.

More news about science in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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