Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Croatian Company Protostar Labs Launches Innovative Product

January the 3rd, 2023 - The Croatian company Protostar Labs, a young company from Belisce, recently presented and delivered its high-tech product called the Protostar Vision Box to its client.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, the aforementioned is a solution that they have been developing for a year now, and which enables visual inspection of products on production lines. Its application, as explained by Filip Novoselnik, the co-founder and director of the Croatian company Protostar Labs, is extremely broad, but they're still primarily focused on industrial production in larger series.

The delivery of the Vision Box is just the beginning of the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision technology that they've been busy developing, which contributes to the automation of industrial production. It contributes because it enables the quick and early detection of any product defect. In addition, it gives the company that uses it an in depth insight into all sorts of data and statistics via the Protostar cloud platform, which enables the better organisation of the overall production process.

All of these advantages will soon be made available to more companies as the Croatian company Protostar Labs is working on the development of two more versions of the Vision Box. The smaller one, which consists only of a small computer with a camera, will be intended for wider application because it has all the characteristics of a surveillance camera, only this one will be smart. According to Novoselnik, the bigger one will be a more sophisticated version of the existing Vision Box.

Both new versions should be ready and on the market in three to six months, and with their launch, the founder of the Croatian company Protostar Labs expects to increase the company's general level of competitiveness and ensure access to demanding foreign markets.

What is particularly interesting about this young but promising company from Belisce, whose development office is located in Osijek, is that, in addition to solutions intended for the automation of the "terrestrial" industry, they also develop solutions for the one in space, something that hardly any company in Croatia can boast of.

Ultimately, the universe and its puzzles were the reason why the Croatian company Protostar Labs was founded. The idea, as recalled by Novoselnik, was born in the Anonymus Astronomical Society in Valpovo. "Back in 2019, the informal founding assembly of Protostar Labs was held there, and the name of the company was inspired by space and means 'a star in the making'. Our initial idea was to profile ourselves in the long term as a company that develops solutions for the space industry, but at the time it seemed an unlikely feat, so we decided to start with what was more attainable for us, which is the domestic industry, which really lacks high-tech solutions that facilitate, speed up, and ultimately optimise the production process. We started with the development of a system based on a combination of cameras and sensors and AI algorithms, the goal of which is visual inspection of products,'' stated Novoselnik.

Even though it seemed almost impossible just three years ago, the Croatian company Protostar Labs, which is still a small company that started its journey with only two employees, and today already has fifteen of them, is proof that with knowledge, persistence and creativity, anything is possible, even entering the space industry. They managed to do that last year when they passed the competition of the European Space Agency (ESA).

For ESU, as Novoselnik pointed out, they developed a software package that enables the faster and simpler development of solutions, i.e. models of AI and computer vision with the aim of their easier implementation on hardware devices with limited resources.

"Their application, on the one hand, is intended for satellite systems because satellites, which have limited capacity, process huge amounts of data that isn't very easy to send back home to Earth. Our solution should enable data processing to be transferred to a satellite and only data of interest should be sent back to Earth," he explained, adding that a prototype has been developed, but the solution is still in the early stages of development and still needs to be tested. They have already tested it out on drones, and the plan is to do the same on a stratospheric balloon at an altitude of 20 kilometres. ESA will decide whether or not to test it on a satellite, and if that doesn't happen, the system they developed will be used here on Earth.

"Our idea is to develop systems that have a dual application and that high technologies that are designed and made for space can also be applied in industry," Novoselnik pointed out. In addition to all of the above, the Croatian company Protostar Labs is in the running for another project for ESA, in cooperation with the Zagreb-based FER, with which they are developing a module for the characterisation of light pollution on Earth. "We applied for the competition and we're waiting for the results,'' Novoselnik said briefly.

This small but doggedly determinted company from Belisce therefore develops numerous projects, and last year it all began to bring in financial benefits, as their income grew by as much as 730 percent compared to 2020, to an impressive 2.71 million kuna. This is encouraging indeed for such a young company that is still, to a large extent, focused on investing in the technology they're developing, not to mention the fact that they mostly financed this development with their own funds and those from the EU.

Small companies developing here in Croatia unfortunately, according to Novoselnik, are forced to spend too much time trying to deal with formalities and bureaucracy, and this comes to the fore especially with EU projects.

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

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Entrepreneurial Mindset Conference Presenting Unbreakable Cro Entrepreneurs

October 5, 2022 - Unbreakable - that is the subheading of the Entrepreneurial Mindset conference, which will be held on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, in Zagreb's Lauba.

As Poduzetnik writes, at a moment when the world is afraid of the scale of the new crisis, the conference that gathers the most successful Croatian entrepreneurs every year, brings to the stage those behind whom there is an indestructible spirit, a spirit that bravely fights against the obstacles that open up on its entrepreneurial path. They are entrepreneurs who invested enormous energy in achieving their goal and who transferred their passion for what they do to others - members of their families, employees and society.

Among them are certainly Miljenko Borščak and Stiven Toš (Bomark Pak), who received the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 award in Croatia, and Nikola Anđelković (Anđelković AI), who received the award in Serbia two years earlier. 


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The list of speakers about the strong and unstoppable development in the Croatian ICT sector includes Ph.D. Stjepan Orešković (M+ Group), Nikola Kapraljević (Infinum), Zlatko Hrkać (Sofascore) and Jakov and Juraj Urbanke (HSM).

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I can, I want, I know - this is the topic of the conversation that Ana Radišić will lead with Dajana Mrčela (Director of Saponia Management) and Maja Šuput Tatarinov, a singer and presenter, who achieved extremely successful marketing cooperation with Saponia and Kandit.

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Lada Tedeschi Fiorio (Atlantic Grupa) will look at female leadership, serial entrepreneur Jako Andabak will reveal his entrepreneurial secrets and challenges in a conversation with Božo Skoko, and Davor Tremac (Fonoa) will explore the topic of how to live locally and work globally.

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On behalf of the hosts, Ognjen Bagatin (Media platform Poduzetnik) and Berislav Horvat (EY Croatia) will give opening speeches, and Petar Pavić (Star Digital Group) will close the conference.

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"We believe that the participants of the conference will inspire many with their stories! We are talking about people who did not sit idly by even when things were most difficult for them. They knew that no one would serve them anything on a platter. They got up from the floor after multiple falls. We want Croatian entrepreneurs to inspire the rest of our society. They are innovators, visionaries and leaders! We need exactly such people in the times that are knocking on our door." Ognjen Bagatin, owner of the Poduzetnik media platform.

Get your tickets for the conference Entrepreneurial Mindset: UNBREAKABLE here.

The conference is organized by the media platform Poduzetnik in cooperation with Algebra and program partner EY Croatia.

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

 

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

PM, Reps of Aquaculture and Fisheries Businesses Discuss Developments on Market

ZAGREB, 28 June 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković on Tuesday met with representatives of aquaculture and fisheries businesses for talks on developments on the market and difficulties caused by rising costs as well as the government schemes to help this sector.

Plenković spoke about the importance of the aquaculture and fisheries sector and its positive performance despite the challenging circumstances.

In 2021, the value of Croatian exports of fisheries and aquaculture products rose by more than 30%. Over the period from 2016 to 2021, the value of aquaculture production increased by 45%.

The sector's representatives thanked the government for the prompt reaction in addressing the recent crises, according to a government press release.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Germans Looking at Croatian Business Climate More Optimistically

June the 14th, 2022 - German business owners are beginning to look at the Croatian business climate a bit more optimistically than they have done so far, which is good news for Croatian companies.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, a mere three percent of German companies operating here in the Republic of Croatia are concerned about their own businesses, which is a better result than in previous years and better than in the rest of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), where in this year's German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce research (AHK), nine percent of respondents rate their business opportunities as bad.

In the seventeen years that this survey has been being conducted here in Croatia, this year, as pointed out by AHK President Thomas Sichla, the largest number of companies said they would re-elect Croatia for business, accounting for 84 percent among a total of 105 respondents. This means that German business owners are clearly seeing the Croatian business climate in a far better light than they had done in the past.

When compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, that's a thirty percent better result. The current economic situation here in Croatia is also assessed as the best so far, only 26 percent see it as worse, while in 2021, that share stood at a rather unimpressive 50, and in 2019 - at 61 percent.

For the first time ever, soaring energy prices and the lack of skilled labour currently available in the country are cited as the biggest risk to a company's operations in Croatia. Thomas Sichla explained the need and importance of a predictable tax system for doing stable business.

One of the biggest challenges this year will be hiring skilled and qualified employees, and according to the survey, 42 percent of companies expect to increase their numbers, which is more than in previous years.

Half of those companies intend to solve the problem of the shortage of workers through further employee education, and 39 percent by increasing the wages they're willing to pay their employees to above the market average. For next year, AHK is expecting positive effect on Croatia following its entry into the Eurozone, as it will facilitate business operations and reduce currency risks.

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

Monday, 4 April 2022

U.S. Market Represents Big Opportunity for Croatian Economy, Panel Hears

4 April 2022 - The U.S. market represents a big opportunity for the Croatian economy and the areas in which cooperation can increase include IT, tourism, and energy, it was said on Monday at a panel on trade, business and investment ties between the two countries.

The panel was held as part of the U.S.-Croatia Forum, organised by the U.S. Embassy on the occasion of 30 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Croatia.

Croatia must find niches, five to ten products in which it can compete globally, and they can be sought in tourism and IT, said Mihael Furjan, CEO of the Pliva pharmaceutical company and president of the Croatian Employers Association.

Given the LNG terminal, there is also energy, he added, noting that Pliva is Croatia's biggest exporter to the U.S. and that HS Produkt is a major gun exporter.

The U.S. and Croatian governments must find areas in which we can cooperate. We must focus more, be creative, he said, adding that Croatia should learn from the U.S. where it is most successful, in innovation and business education.

U.S. business schools are among the best in the world and U.S. companies are the most innovative globally, Furjan said. 

Double taxation avoidance and visa-free travel

AmCham executive director Andrea Doko Jelušić said that Croatia, although a small country, had things to offer to the U.S. market. It's necessary to focus on high-added-value industries in which one can be competitive, not selling oneself cheaply but expensively, she added.

Many U.S. companies doing business in Croatia do so via a European centre, the Netherlands or Ireland for example, as a result of which official statistics don't show the real extent of their presence on the Croatian market, she said.

The Croatian and U.S. ministries of finance are still negotiating a double taxation avoidance agreement, whose adoption will make it much easier for small Croatian companies to enter the U.S. market, she said and underlined the importance of visa-free travel as of last October.

Končar exporting much more to US

Končar CEO Gordan Kolak said the company was exporting to the U.S. recently much more than before and that the U.S. was its main market for transformers.

He said increased investment in renewables would create new needs for electricity equipment and solutions for solar and hydroelectric power plants as well as wind parks. Emphasis will also be on digitalisation and grid modernisation as well as on more efficient energy management as consumers also become producers, he added.

Končar will invest much more in software development and smart grid management solutions, Kolak said.

Importance of U.S. investors in Infobip

Infobip is a global IT and communication company providing cloud mobile communication services for business clients. It also cooperates with WhatsApp, Snapchat, Google, and Microsoft.

It is the first Croatian company whose value exceeds $1 billion and in the last 18 months it has made four acquisitions on the U.S. market. Some U.S. investment funds have invested in it.

Infobip CEO Silvio Kutić underlined the importance of US investors. Speaking of enhancing U.S.-Croatia business cooperation, he underlined the importance of education and the need for an investment protection system.

Education for labour market

Coca-Cola HBC Adria general manager Ruža Tomić Fontana, too, underlined the importance of education, saying the education system must adapt to market needs in order to create a workforce with the necessary skills.

It's also necessary to enhance the communication between the public and private sectors on the business environment and to ensure the stability and predictability of doing business, said said, pointing to the problem of a too-high tax burden.

Anita Cvetić Oreščanin, Board member at Poslovna inteligencija, said Croatian companies should learn from U.S. companies and that everyone who had the opportunity should visit to get acquainted with the U.S. market.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

DZS: Croatia Has 168,200 Active Business Entities

ZAGREB, 20 Feb 2022 - There were 307,413 business entities registered in Croatia at the end of December 2021, and 54.7% of them, or 168,242, were active, according to data from the national statistical office (DZS).

The majority of the registered entities were trade companies (230,741), of which 133,928 of 58% were active.

There were 73,113 institutions, bodies and organisations, of which 34,844 were active, while the number of cooperatives stood at 3,539, including 800 active ones.

At the end of December 2021, there were also 88,205 crafts and freelancers in Croatia.

Broken down by activity, the majority of business entities were in wholesale and retail trade, and the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, accounting for 17.8% of registered and 16.1% of active entities.

Manufacturing accounted for 7.8% of registered and 9% of active entities, while 10.2% of registered and 12.7% of active entities were in professional, scientific and technical activities.16.3% of registered and 13.2% of active entities were in other service activities.

Most active entities privately owned

Most legal entities were privately owned, a total of 132,582 or 78.8%. The state owned 0.8% of the entities, 0.4% had mixed ownership, 0.5% were owned by cooperatives, and 19.5% of the entities had no information about ownership type available.

Most of the active legal entities, 88,220 or 52.4% had between one and nine employees, while 62,278 or 37% of the entities had no employees. Furthermore, 13,683 entities had between 10 and 49 employees, 3,470 between 50 and 249, 319 between 250 and 499, and 272 entities had 500 or more employees.

Limited liability companies accounted for the largest share of business entities, with 166,209 registered and 98,630 active entities. They are followed by simple limited liability companies, with 61,614 registered and 33,791 active ones.

The largest number of registered business entities were based in the City of Zagreb (32.3%).

For more, check out our business section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Croatian Exports Jump, As Do Prices of Products Sold Abroad

January the 10th, 2022 - Some real pandemic growth can be seen when looking at the data for Croatian exports and their numbers for last year. Not only did Croatian exports jump, but the prices of various products sold abroad by Croatian enterprises also did.

As Novac/Jutarnji/Marina Klepo writes, last year, Croatian exports increased by more than a quarter: in the first eleven months of 2021, according to the CBS, they grew by 26.6 percent (25.4 percent in 2021's first ten months).

However, Croatian exports haven't increased significantly only compared to pandemic-dominated 2020, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) pointed out, but their value in those first ten months of last year was 19.6 percent higher than back in the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. In addition, they added, Eurostat's data on the trade done by all EU member states shows that Croatia, both last year and a year earlier, was among the most successful EU countries.

"In the first ten months of last year, only Estonia and Greece had more dynamic export growth," they pointed out from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. When we talk about the reasons for such good export results, we can mostly refer to the low base in the last, pandemic-dominated year.

Export structures

According to the Croatian National Bank (CNB), the high growth rates of merchandise exports and imports are only a small part of the positive effect of the base period. To a much greater extent, "they reflect the recovery of bith domestic and foreign demand, the partial re-establishment of supply chains, a stronger recovery of the manufacturing industry in relation to the service sector and a marked increase in global prices of energy and other raw materials," reads the latest publication. More detailed data on the structure of Croatian exports also reveal the reasons for their strong growth. When compared to the previous year, HGK analysts explained, the largest increases can be seen in the value of exports of energy - electricity, crude oil and petroleum products - which last year saw a significant increase in terms of prices on the vast global market.

Among the products whose export value increased the most were electrical equipment, followed by metals and finished metal products, whose prices on the global market also rose sharply. Available import price data for the Eurozone shows that crude oil imports rose by about 60 percent year-on-year in the first ten months of 2021, total refining industries rose by about six percent, petroleum products increased by about 40 percent, metals by about 30 percent and electricity by more than an impressive 150 percent.

"Therefore, even in the absence of more detailed data, it's more than noticeable that global prices last year had a significant impact on the growth of the value of Croatian exports," explained the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. Although strong growth is largely based on price increases, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce pointed out that there are a number of activities in which such price increases haven't been recorded, but which also record high export growth rates. These are, for example, the food, chemical and wood processing industries. In addition to that, a number of activities recorded significantly better export results than they did back in 2019, for example, agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

"This is at the same time a consequence of a strong recovery in global demand, but also a greater orientation of companies towards exports," the Croatian Chamber of Commerce said. The only activity that still recorded a significantly lower value of exports than in the same period in 2019 remained the production of motor vehicles and trailers.

Key markets

When it comes to the preferences of Croatian exporters, the figures suggest that last year they maintained their orientation towards the European Union's single market (EU) and what are traditionally the most important export markets. The share of Croatian exports to the EU market increased in the first ten months of 2021 from 68 percent in 2019 to 68.8 percent last year. The highest growth was achieved in the five most represented markets: Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina (non EU/EEA) and Germany.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Osijek Economic Centre Worth Over 687 Million Kuna on Horizon

January the 10th, 2022 - The Eastern Croatian city of Osijek is set to get a brand new Osijek Economic Centre worth more than 687 million kuna. This move will certainly work to boost entrepreneurship in this often wrongly overlooked city far from the coast.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Lepan Stefancic/VL writes, the project for the preparation of documentation for the up and coming Osijek Economic Centre has been completed in its entirety, thus creating the preconditions for the construction of all buildings within the future complex. The design estimated value of the construction of the Osijek Economic Centre stands at the aforementioned figure of 687.50 million kuna.

''The preparation of project documentation for the Osijek Economic Centre is a complex and large project, and the design of it all as well as the securing of the necessary funds requires a lot of effort. In this project, funds are being jointly invested by Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek. We've presented the documentation, ie the building permit for the entire project,'' said County Prefect Ivan Anusic at the final conference of the project.

The key to Eastern Croatia

He emphasised the fact that the future Osijek Economic Centre is of great value not only for Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek but also for the whole of Eastern Croatia because, along with the Regional Distribution Centre for Fruits and Vegetables, it will become a key project for the development of this county and Osijek as a city. Osijek Mayor Ivan Radic said that the City of Osijek, as a partner in this project, donated land worth 26 million kuna, with another 15 million kuna provided through ITU mechanisms.

''I'm satisfied that everything is going according to the planned dynamics, and I'm convinced that the construction of the Osijek Economic Centre will encourage good economic trends in the city and county,'' said Mayor Radic.

Gabrijela Curkovic, Head of the Administrative Department for Investments and Development Projects of Osijek-Baranja County, pointed out that the recently completed task of dealing with all of the project documentation for the construction of the Osijek Economic Centre was co-financed by the European Union (EU), and that the work was done by the company Sirrah project from Osijek.

The total value of the project stands at 7,447,000 kuna, with 6,329,950 kuna having been co-financed by the EU, 756,525 kuna having been by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, and Osijek-Baranja County also provided 360,325 kuna.

The project holder is Osijek-Baranja County, and the City of Osijek is a partner.

''The Osijek Economic Centre will consist of several buildings, and the total area of ​​the closed building itself covers 73,000 square metres, while 35,000 square metres will cover an area of ​​open space,'' concluded Curkovic.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 13 November 2021

FinMin: Credit Rating Important for Capital Price for State, Businesses, Citizens

ZAGREB, 13 Nov, 2021 - The credit rating is important for the price of borrowing for the state, businesses and citizens as its upgrade lowers the risk premium, which has a favourable effect on the price of capital, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić told Hina on Saturday.

The Fitch Ratings agency yesterday upgraded Croatia's rating to BBB, the best in Croatia's history, with a positive outlook.

Marić said the rating was first of all closely related to debt price and the capital price for the state and, directly or indirectly, for the interest paid by businesses and citizens.

The Fitch rating has a positive effect on those processes, he said, but added that the upgrade should be viewed in continuity, recalling that until not so long ago the state paid a considerable amount for interest.

In 2015, the budgetary expenditure for interest was HRK 12 billion, which at that time was almost the entire budget of the education ministry, whereas now that expenditure is HRK 4.5 billion lower.

"Interest used to be 5-6% and now it is about 1% on the ten-year bond," said Marić, adding that the credit rating assessment was important both in times of low and in times of higher interest rates on capital markets.

"We are talking about reference interest rates," he said, adding that the increased money offer in recent years led to a considerable drop in reference rates, but that the total interest paid by citizens, businesses and the state was a sum of the reference rate and the rate related to a specific country and to the risk premium.

"That's where the rating strikes because Croatia can't influence the trend of reference interest rates, but it can the risk premium it pays."

Marić said Croatia had a stable growth, public finances in order, a clear prospect of entering the euro area, and political stability.

"Those are all elements which have an effect on rating improvement, which is then reflected in a better perception and reputation of a country like Croatia in the financial world, and in the end comes the effect on the risk premium," he said. That is important both when reference interests are low and when they are high, he added.

The investment rating is very important, not just for debt and capital prices but also for capital availability, Marić said.

"The moment you are in the investment zone, you are interesting to many more good investors who can invest in securities," he said, adding that international investors had restrictions and were often not allowed to invest in a country below the investment credit rating.

"That's why it's very good that that has changed for Croatia in terms of Fitch and Standard & Poor's," Marić said, adding that it was also important that Fitch had a positive outlook on Croatia. "That sort of indicates the direction the rating could take."

He praised the media focus on the credit rating, saying that it was good that people became aware of how important it was to know how to manage public money well.

For more on business, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Croatia Has Almost 177,000 Active Business Entities

ZAGREB, 11 Nov, 2021 - At the end of September 2021, there were 303,535 business entities registered in Croatia, of which 58.2% were active, according to data from the national statistical office.

The majority of registered entities were trade companies (227,194), of which 140,976 were active.

There were 72,754 institutions, bodies, associations and organisations, including 34,844 active ones, 3,578 cooperatives, including 848 active ones, and 91,084 entities in crafts and trades and free lances.

Broken down by activity, the majority of entities were in wholesale and retail, with 54,417 registered and 28,990 active ones.

Services follow with 49,939 registered entities and 23,395 active ones.

There were 31,046 registered and 22,021 active entities in professional, scientific and technical activities, and 31,142 registered and 18,553 active ones in construction.

As for accommodation and food service activities, there were 24,428 registered and 14,213 active entities, while in manufacturing there were 23,720 registered and 15,629 active ones.

Seventy-nine percent of active legal entities (139,560) were privately owned.

Among active legal entities, 86,727 had between one and nine employees, 72,318 had no employees, 13,514 had between ten and 49, 3,502 between 50 and 249, 333 between 250 and 499, and 274 had 500 or more.

The majority of trade companies were limited liability companies, with 164,039 registered and 101,742 active ones, followed by simple limited liability companies, with 60,241 registered and 37,608 active ones.

The majority of registered legal entities was in the City of Zagreb (98,278), followed by Split-Dalmatia County (31,413) and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (25,464), while Lika-Senj County and Požega-Slavonia County had the least, 2,547 and 2,627, respectively.

For more on business, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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