Friday, 20 December 2019

Grant Agreements Worth 126 Million Kuna Signed to Promote Excellence in Science

ZAGREB, December 20, 2019 - Grant agreements valued at 126 million kuna intended to promote excellence in science were signed in Zagreb on Friday between state institutions and 24 faculties and institutes.

Minister of Science and Education Blaženka Divjak said that there had never been so many opportunities in Croatia for investment in science and that the intention was that the best be given a chance.

Speaking about current projects, Divjak underlined that these were not only projects with a good scientific basis but with great applicability so that citizens could benefit from science.

State-Secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds Spomenka Đurić said that after large infrastructure projects were funded, now applied research has not been forgotten.

The Science and Education Ministry conducted the selection process for these grants and the projects were assessed by independent experts.

The projects included those relating to water purification and obtaining energy from composite material by using solar radiation, conducted by the Faculty of Chemical Engineering in Zagreb, digitisation and advancing nutritive care for chronically ill patients in the Split University Hospital, and "A new start for old Croatian vine types" conducted by the Zagreb Faculty of Agronomy.

Among the grant beneficiaries are the Faculties of Geodesy, Geotechnology, Food-Biotechnology, Nature Studies and Mathematics, Forestry and Textile Technology in Zagreb, the Faculty of Construction, Architecture and Geodesy in Split and the Faculties of Electrical Engineering, IT and Computing, Construction, Agriculture and Food Technology in Osijek.

More science news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

MIT to Organise Bootcamp Programme in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 21, 2019 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a private American research university, is coming to Croatia where next spring it will organise education for about 100 applicants about innovation and entrepreneurship, the Jutarnji List daily reported on Thursday.

Presenting its programme for Croatia, called called Bootcamp, MIT says on its website that "with a rising digital sector and a plethora of ‘smart’ companies, Croatia is poised to become a new innovation playground for large and small economies alike."

"In January 2020, Croatia will take the presidency of the European Union for the following six months. During this time, addressing upskilling, reskilling, digital entrepreneurship, innovation, and knowledge transfer will be a focal point of Croatian officials. Emphasis on the global competitiveness of individuals and companies, particularly in the ICT and digital sector, is a driving force behind the Croatian start-up ecosystem and at the heart of the intersection of business, education, and creative talents," says this university, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Throughout the program, the participants "will learn and practice a variety of new skills related to entrepreneurship and innovation."

They will learn directly from MIT instructors, coaches, and guest speakers as well as through their experience in project teams.

The Croatian partner in this programme is the Zagreb-based Algebra.

MIT describes Algebra as "the largest private education institution in Croatia, enrolling more than 15,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, MBA programs, adult education, lifelong learning, junior programs, and professional certification courses."

More science news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Foreign Minister Meets with Members of European Academies' Science Advisory Council

ZAGREB, November 16, 2019) - The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, addressed a meeting of the European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC) in Zagreb on Friday, presenting the priorities of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020.

Croatia is making thorough preparations for the presidency, Radman said, adding that the presidency implies a mediating role and the art of compromising among the member states. He noted that Croatia was taking over the EU presidency after only six years of membership.

"The unity of the European Union members in understanding that we need one another to face the challenges of today is one of the distinctive strengths of the European Union," Radman said, according to a press release by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

The meeting, hosted by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, focused on support for research projects in the EU, especially financial support, harmonising the member states' policies on migration, and the brain drain within the EU, from eastern to western member states.

The EASAC brings together members of the science academies of the EU member states, Switzerland and Norway to discuss current and future EU policies, notably those concerning sciences and arts.

The Council is currently chaired by Thierry Courvoisier of Switzerland. The issue it is now primarily preoccupied with is sustainable development and the future of the planet, with the focus on preserving healthy soil and food, reducing exhaust emissions and alleviating the consequences of climate imbalance.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Science and Higher Education Sectors to Strike on Thursday

ZAGREB, October 21, 2019 - After conciliation between the union in science and higher education and the Croatian government failed on Monday, the union announced a day-long strike at universities faculties for Thursday.

Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović said after the meeting on Monday morning that the government found the union's demands unacceptable, while unionist Igor Radeka criticised the government for "offering virtually nothing."

Last week, unionist Vilim Ribić said that the union in science and higher education would hold a strike on October 24 demanding a wage increase for workers receiving the lowest wages in that sector in an effort to remove the pay gap between employees in the sector compared to those working in the civil service.

Lecturers and non-teaching staff, about 700 of them, will strike, union leader Vilim Ribić told a press conference last week calling on all research and teaching staff to join the strike as a sign of solidarity.

The strike will be repeated once a week until the fulfilment of the union's demands, Radeka said today.

On Monday, elementary and primary school teachers went on a day-long nationwide strike.

More news about various strikes taking place can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Centre Dedicated to Scientist Andrija Mohorovičić Opened in Volosko

ZAGREB, October 20, 2019 - A centre dedicated to the life and work of the great Croatian scientist Andrija Mohorovičić was opened in his birthplace Volosko.

The centre is to serve as a place for the interaction of research and cultural and tourism organisations and associations, visited by children, young people, tourists and passers-by, its purpose being to acquaint visitors with historical facts about Mohorovičić's birthplace.

Rajka Šepić-Jurdana of the University of Rijeka's Physics Department said that this was the first stage of a project designed to present Mohorovičić's achievements in the field of meteorology, seismography and geophysics, while the second stage would include the construction and equipment of rooms for an interactive study of phenomena studied by Mohorovičić.

Mohorovičić, who was born in Volosko in 1857 and died in Zagreb in 1936, was a Croatian geophysicist as well as a prominent researcher in the fields of meteorology and seismology.

After studying mathematics and physics in Prague, he worked as a high school teacher in Zagreb and Osijek and later at the Maritime School in Bakar, where he taught meteorology and in 1887 established a weather station.

Since 1892 he headed the meteorological observatory in Zagreb, which ran all weather stations in the then Croatian Banovina.

He earned his PhD degree in Zagreb in 1893 and became a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (JAZU) in 1898 while in 1910 he became an associate professor of geophysics and astronomy.

Mohorovičić's most important discovery is the boundary between the Earth's crust and mantle - a boundary subsequently named the Mohorovičić discontinuity.

He was the first to establish the accurate time service in the region. A Moon crater and an asteroid were named after him and the Geophysics Institute of the Zagreb Faculty of Science and a secondary modern school in Rijeka bear his name.

More science news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Regional Conference on Cooperation in Space Technologies Held in Zagreb

ZAGREB, October 7, 2019 - Space research, aeronautics and space technologies are not the domain of only big countries and companies as small countries can actively participate as well, participants and guests in the first regional conference on cooperation in space sciences and technologies said in Zagreb earlier this week.

The event was hosted by the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) and organised by the Adriatic Aerospace Association, in cooperation with the IRB and the University of Zadar, under the auspices of the Croatian Economy Ministry.

Mario Antonić, the state secretary at the ministry, said that without innovation and research there was no development and that Croatia wanted to step up those processes in order to catch up with European and global trends. In doing so, we wish to learn from other countries such as Israel, he added.

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor said his country was willing to share its experience. Israel, although a small country and despite a hostile environment, looks into space and has ten satellites there now, he added.

Failures must not discourage us, we must learn from them and keep working, Mor said commenting on the failed landing of Israel's Baresheet spacecraft on the Moon, which crashed on the surface last April due to technical malfunctions.

Space research is important for the future of every country, including Croatia but, unfortunately, we cannot say that Croatia participates in it, said Tome Antičić, state secretary at the Science and Education Ministry. He added, however, that Croatia was trying to change that and was looking up to countries such as Israel.

IRB director David Matthew Smith said that many thought that space research was reserved only for big countries, but that it was not so. He added that many small companies in Croatia worked on some product that was important for space technologies.

Heinz Stoewer, one of the founders of the European Space Agency, said small countries could build small satellites and rockets as the technology was familiar and worked-out.

The president of the Adriatic Aerospace Association, Slobodan Danko Bosanac, said the aim of the conference was to encourage and strengthen regional cooperation in the research and development of space technologies, as well as establish contacts so that one could plan cooperation in space technologies, rocket power and rocket engineering.

Montenegrin Science Minister Sanja Damjanović presented a project which could help stop and reverse the brain drain problem in South East Europe.

The SEEIIST (Heavy Ions in South East Europe) project combines science and biomedicine, and envisages the construction of a scientific institute in one of the region's countries which would apply hadron therapy for cancer, i.e. treatment via protons and heavy ions, one of the most modern treatment methods for certain types of cancer.

There are 12 such centres in the world, including four in Europe, but none in South East Europe, so Damjanovic said its construction would help in the treatment of patients with a method that, for some cancers, had an almost 90% success rate.

Damjanovic said the countries in South East Europe needed financial assistance in this because the project was worth €200 million, adding that the goal of the SEEIIST was to build such a centre in the region by 2028.

She said Croatia had been among the first countries to support the project and that a Declaration of Intent was signed at CERN in October 2017. Ten ministers were there, including Croatian Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak. The declaration was signed by eight ministers, while Croatia agreed "ad referendum" and Greece agreed to observer status.

Six ministers signed a memorandum on the project in Poland last July. Damjanović said Slovenia would most likely sign it as well and that the signatories would be very glad if Croatia did too.

More science news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Postponing Retirement in Science Could Hamper Hiring of Young Scientists

ZAGREB, September 30, 2019 - Representatives of the government and unions on Monday resumed negotiations on extending years of service until the age of 68 and it was said that, without clear criteria, this could cause a disaster in science and higher education due to the complicated hiring and promotion of young scientists, which would result in emigration.

"Should the working life be extended, over the next three years there would be no promotions of young people and their employment in science and higher education. Given the EU's open borders, excellent young scientists will leave the country," the state secretary at the science ministry, Tome Antičić, said after a meeting on changes to labour and pension laws aimed at enabling people to work until 68.

Antičić said many scientists were interested in working until 68 but added that this could have unforeseen consequences because wage amounts and the wage index were fixed.

If the retirement age is set at 68 without some criteria, it will be a disaster, he said, adding that a request would be made in the negotiations for employers to set criteria for working until 68.

Unionist Krešimir Sever said the unions stated today their position that it was necessary to compensate the more than 5,000 workers who were retired early this year.

The unions also request the establishment of a fund for the compensation of workers who were retired early and who receive reduced pensions. "The employer who got rid of them, because they consider them too old, would make payments into some kind of fund so that those people may receive full pensions," said Sever.

Employers have always been against this, yet this year they have continued to get rid of older workers who could still work, he added.

After meeting unions, government representatives held a separate meeting with representatives of employers to discuss changes to labour and pension laws.

More science news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Procedure of Certification of Nikola Tesla Network Launched

ZAGREB, July 10, 2019 - Three ministries, local tourism boards, associations, three counties and dozens of towns on Tuesday signed a cooperation charter with the Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in the village of Smiljan near Gospić, where Tesla was born 163 years ago, thus launching the procedure of certification of the Nikola Tesla Network project at the Council of Europe Institute for Cultural Routes.

The certification will make it possible for destinations in Croatia that are connected with Tesla to become part of the European network of cultural routes.

Tourism Ministry State Secretary Frano Matušić said today that a task force would be set up in the town of Skradin on Thursday to be in charge of the further process of the certification.

Matušić told Hina that the U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst had pledged support in this project.

He also hopes that the certificate to this effect would be issued next May, underscoring that this would accentuate the fact that Nikola Tesla is a Croatian brand.

On July 10, Tesla's birthday, representatives of the Nikola Tesla – Genius for the Future association, the Ruđer Bošković Institute and the City of Zagreb will lay flowers at the monument to Tesla, and the annual Nikola Tesla – Genius for the Future awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Hotel Esplanade.

On Thursday, July 11, a conference called "Tesla in Zagreb" will be held at the Zagreb Chamber of Commerce, presenting successful cultural, scientific, educational and tourism-related projects in the country and the region that were inspired by Nikola Tesla.

Tesla was born in Smiljan, a village in the mountainous region of Lika in Croatia, on 10 July 1856 and died in New York on 7 January 1943. Tesla was one of the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity, and is best known for his many revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

More Nikola Tesla news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Grabar-Kitarović Visits Croats at ETH Zurich Technological University

ZAGREB, July 9, 2019 - On the second day of her visit to Switzerland, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Tuesday visited the ETH Zurich Technological University and laid wreaths at a plaque dedicated to two Croatian Nobel Prize winners, Vladimir Prelog and Lavoslav Ružička, and then met with Croatian students and researchers at that institution.

ETH Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations Prof. Detlef Guenther accompanied Grabar-Kitarović during the wreath laying ceremony.

Ružička won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 and today ETH has an award named after Ružička. Prelog was the Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry in 1975.

ETH is an institution that boasts 21 Nobel Prize winners and currently there are about seventy students studying there.

The president then met with Croatian students at the university. Two Croatian professors and researchers, Nenad Ban and Srđan Čapkun, gave lectures and spoke about their work and education.

Čapkun presented a paper on security systems, while Ban spoke about his research into ribosomes and how he came to Zurich and, he said, one of the best universities in the world, adding that Zurich was similar to Zagreb as a central European city.

The president underscored that Croatia has huge scientific potential which needs to be worked on from the earliest age. She said that it is necessary to fight against nepotism and corruption in Croatian science and to promote the reform in the education system.

She called on Croatian students to return to the homeland because they are "particularly needed."

Later the president will hold a lecture at the Europa Institute of the University of Zurich on the topic "Europe - challenges in an increasingly complex world". She will conclude her visit by meeting with representatives of the Swiss business sector and the Chamber of Commerce Switzerland - Central Europe.

More news about relations between Croatia and Switzerland can be found in the Politics section.

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