Monday, 21 February 2022

Split Startup UniCompoST Treats Biowaste, Creates Fertiliser for Plants

February the 21st, 2022 - The Split startup UniCompoST has created a system for treating biowaste and turning it into fertiliser for growing plants.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, organised by the Croatian Association for Creativity and Innovation (HUKI), the global Social Impact Award (SIA) programme will be held in Croatia for the third time.

The programme is implemented in more than 15 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa and includes more than 8,000 students and young people a year, and details about applications will be known soon. One of the winners of last year's edition of the SIA programme is the Split startup UniCompoST, which develops products that combine biowaste treatment and the home cultivation of plants, such as C-Eco for Home.

As one of the founders, Zvonimir Jukic, explained, the Split startup UniCompoST was created on the basis of a project while studying at the Faculty of Chemical Technology in Split. From the very beginning, the focus has been on management, biodegradable waste and the desire to encourage the population to process biowaste in their own households through technological solutions tailored to end users.

The team consists of eight members who cover everything necessary for the development of the startup into a sustainable business entity; from business and operational development, marketing and product development to education and customer support. They develop startups in their free time because they are all employees in various companies and institutions, but they share the vision to "turn" something into a company to which they will all dedicate themselves and in which everyone will find employment.

“The goal is to develop a sales network that will enable the availability of products throughout the Republic of Croatia, and also abroad. Next month, the devices will be installed in five educational institutions of different levels in Split and the city's surroundings through the project ''Raising awareness of the role of composting'' implemented by the Sunce Split Association. This will be a good indicator of the interest of one of our target groups - educational institutions.

The processing of biowaste at its place of origin achieves many benefits, both directly for the user as an individual and for the community as a whole. For example, if the household cycle closes, less biowaste will be disposed of over time, fewer containers will be needed in public areas, less biowaste will end up in landfills, and utilities themselves will need smaller waste collection cycles.

Collectively, the move will reduce the greenhouse effect, eliminate soil and groundwater pollution, and cumulatively reduce the environmental and carbon footprints of users and the community in general. Therefore, in the development of the C-Eco for Home device, we've added the function of indoor plant cultivation, precisely to enable the user to close the loop in the circulation of substances in everyday life.

The idea is for the user to process biowaste, get organic fertiliser, use it in plant cultivation, and consume the fruits of that cultivation (cultivation is adapted to mostly leafy plants). C-Eco for Home has two variations - a model for schools that is primarily educational in nature and the functionality of which satisfies many educational outcomes in vocational subjects such as nature, biology and chemistry.

The second variation is intended for households, it's also educational in nature but with a higher volume of processing that allows the household to really eliminate biowaste as a fraction of waste. Both models are based on the use of effective microorganisms whose use doesn't create unpleasant odors during processing. The product comes in a starter pack that consists of the initial amount of effective microorganisms, sowing substrate, organic plant nutrition products and selected plant seeds,'' explained the Split startup UniCompoST's founder Zvonimir Jukić.

Product testing with test users and collecting feedback is the phase they're currently in, and those interested can try out the device in the showroom of the Krizevci Climate Innovation Laboratory.

They also launched the project "UniCompoST Classroom" funded by the European Solidarity Force, which aims to develop an innovative programme of environmentally friendly learning for primary and secondary schools to educate students about a comprehensive waste management system in a practical and fun way and strengthen educational institutions in environmentally oriented teaching.

“Through this project, we're also developing a website where various interactive video educations will be free and available to students and the general population. Through this website we want to generate and gather more knowledge in the field of waste management, the circular economy, sustainable development and environmental protection - The site will be open by the end of February,'' announced Jukic.

He believes that people today are increasingly aware of climate change and waste management, which is manifested through many formal and informal initiatives and organisations aimed at launching certain processes and changing the community image on climate and waste.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Innovative Croatian CannaPlast in Finals of European Competition

February the 3th, 2022 - The innovative Croatian CannaPlast idea has found itself quite rightly in the finals of a large European competition as the only entry from all of Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, Krizevci locals Mario Jembrek, Luka Heljic and Valentino Gudlin, founded the startup CannaPlast back in November last year, and their main idea is the production of hemp plastic.

Although the Croatian CannaPlast startup is only a few months old, they are the only Croatian representative to compete for the top prize among the top 19 candidates in the European Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus - 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards, where European startups present sustainable and inclusive climate change solutions and answers to pressing environmental challenges.

“Our expectations are high, our idea is very disruptive with the potential to directly and significantly help in the fight against climate change. We looked at the ideas of other teams and they're really great, but we believe that our team will be the winner. Once we get the necessary financial injection, we'll go on to develop a prototype. We're in very close cooperation with the company Bio Blok, which is engaged in the production of building materials from hemp, and has ambitions to expand its product range. With their help, we intend to place our ''plastic'' straws in cafes and beach bars on the coast, and if everything goes according to plan, we'll do it just in time for the tourist season. Bio Blok could also help us a lot in processing only the stem and making capsules. In addition, we intend to engage in crowdfunding in order to provide sufficient funds for the sustainable continuation of business,'' explained Mario Jembrek.

Last November, the Croatian CannaPlast startup won first place for their idea at the 2nd Krizevci Hackathon entitled "Local startup, global sustainability" on sustainable and green startup ideas, organised by the Youth Council of Krizevci and the energy cooperative KLIK. The hackathon was the reason for founding the startup in the first place.

“Our startup is currently in its very early stage of business. Our first goal is to make a prototype of a ''plastic’''capsule and ''plastic'' straws and glasses, as a demonstration product through which the customer would get an idea of ​​the quality of the material and how it feels and sits in the hand, ie whether it has the same characteristics as real plastic does. We're currently mostly involved in promotion and networking - from people from the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb who help us develop the science behind making hemp plastic, to enterprises and business people who can provide us with the necessary funds to establish a production line. It will also be important to change the legal framework on what materials are allowed for packaging,'' said Jembrek, who works as an electrical engineer for solar power projects.

Heljic has many years of experience in developing business on foreign markets and has recently been in charge of developing sustainable construction through their construction section in the Cooperative for Ethical Financing. Gudlin is a student at the Faculty of Agriculture in Krizevci, and Jembrek says that his knowledge of plants, especially hemp, gives the Croatian CannaPlast startup the necessary technical and scientific foundations for the development of their ideas.

Their target customers are plastic bottle manufacturers, such as Atlantic Grupa (Group), Jamnica and Coca Cola, to which they want to offer their hemp capsules, which they will be able to use with their existing machinery.

“This would require very little investment in equipment modernisation, and will bring with it significant benefits in terms of reducing plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Our solution would thus be available to the general public in any store, and would function identically to plastic with a very important difference - our bottles would be CO2 negative and biodegradable,'' concluded Mario Jembrek.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Croatian Startups Create Glasses for Deaf to "See" Words They Can't Hear

January the 31st, 2022 - Croatian startups have come up with an incredible idea - the development of special smart glasses which allow the deaf and hard of hearing to ''see'' the words they're unable to hear.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, among the global companies that presented their technology solutions in Las Vegas at the world's largest consumer electronics fair - Consumer Electronics Show (CES), there were several Croatian representatives among more than 2,000 companies from across 160 countries.

In addition to Iron Bull, Orqa, Sportreact, Codelab and Zuluhood, two Croatian startups created in Novska at the Pismo Business Incubator - Grow and Hiroma Design - presented their innovations and products, as well as their further business plans.

"We want to achieve our goal - to help deaf people see all of the words they can't hear," said Josipa and Kristijan Bencek, who officially launched the Grow startup two years ago after completing their gaming training at the Pismo Business Incubator. They developed a prototype of VOICEE smart AR glasses for the deaf and hard of hearing, which they presented at EES Hearing at the recently held CES in the US.

"These are glasses that generate sound into text and print it in real time onto the lenses of the glasses in the form of subtitles or subtitles. When you look through these glasses, you feel like you’re watching a foreign movie. We've been researching and developing VOICEE for the last two years. We worked on the development in collaboration with deaf people, associations, as well as with hardware development experts. It's a very extensive and complex project. We currently have a functional prototype, but we're still working on improving it every day. We'll soon launch a Kickstarter campaign so that our second prototype can be released on the market,'' revealed Josipa Bencek.

Presenting the product among the largest technology manufacturers in Las Vegas was a significant experience for the Croatian startup Grow, which, as Josipa said, motivated them to present their product to the best of their ability, as well as to network and find potential partners for their further work.

"Regardless of the technology presented at CES, there was really great interest in our smart glasses. Continuous visitors around our exhibition space soaked up our every word. We were a little surprised ourselves, but it gave us a spring in our step and an incentive to do more work. We stayed in touch with some of those people and we believe that some of them were also our potential investors,'' said Josipa.

A wave of positive change

Grow is based on gaming, but also products that are related to gaming, and aren't exclusively games. Josip and Kristijan swam into the often challenging entrepreneurial waters with the desire to start a wave of positive changes in their environment and to prove that even in challenging times - they can still achieve what they want.

The support of Novska's Pismo incubator was important for them, where they had access to mentors, various workshops for improving entrepreneurship and better networking. Through the Crown project organised by the Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency with partners from cross-border cooperation, Grow won the award for one of the best entrepreneurial ideas.

"When we talk about games, we're based mostly on augmented reality, or AR. Given today's ubiquity of technology, we use games for educational purposes, as entertainment, but also for the promotion of certain products and companies. The success of the games in these fields has been proven many times not only by us, but also by trends from outside Croatia. In addition to games, we also offer gaming education. We educate children and adults on how to produce video games and introduce them to the gaming industry. We've developed education in two fields. The first is programming, where students learn the basics of programming and the use of programming tools that are adapted to their age group. The other field is graphics. Participants in this training learn how to create graphics, animations or models that are used in the production of games, so they can implement their own ideas into the game and thus completely personalise it,'' explained Bencek.

Of the projects related to gaming, their educational game for Lonjsko polje with an emphasis on indigenous animals stood out the most. There are two of them in the team, Josipa and Kristijan, but they're also cooperating with associations and experts from various fields, and with the increase in the volume of work, they expect employment to begin shortly.

Their clients come from various fields of business, and so far they have worked for A1 Telekom/Telecom, Hrvatska posta/Croatian post, Coding Giants, the Simora agency, and Lonjsko polje itself. They are also cooperating with some foreign companies and Croatian franchises, and they believe that there will be more because they are still young in the market.

"This year has just begun, but we've started it in full swing. With education, games and VOICEE, we expect this year to be even more successful in business than last year. Our next big goal is the success of the Kickstarter campaign, and our further steps are focused on the successful completion of the projects we're working on and even more successful agreements on new projects. We also hope that we will be recognsed by foreign investors and with our personal development we'll start the development of new people in our community,'' concluded Josipa Bencek.

When it comes to other Croatian startups, Stefan and Mateja Vedrina founded the Hiroma Design startup three years ago, in which they create video games, 3D projections and augmented and virtual reality applications. They especially stood out with their educational application for children, Moopies, on the topic of waste sorting and environmentally positive behaviour, which they presented at CES.

"It's true that children today spend a lot of time in front of screens, but in our application we have a solution to this problem. The focus of the Moopies project is an educational application for children in which children learn without even being aware of it. The innovation of our product is that we put the child in the position of a teacher, not a student as is the practice in our competition. Moopies are cute little monsters that fall to planet Earth, and a child embarks on a learning adventure with one of them. The child, along with a Moopy, then learns about the knowledge of our planet like maths, foreign languages and colours. As the Moopy learns, it evolves. When downloading the app, the parent determines how long their child will play the game.

After this period, Moopy, with whom the child is currently playing, goes to sleep and they can continue the game only the next day. In addition, the application will be accompanied by content that is thematically related to the application, ie merchandise; soft toys, a catalog with pictures, tablet pens, and T-shirts,'' Vedrina explained.

Hardworking and ambitious Croatian startups

They added that the reactions of visitors at CES gave them additional motivation and self-confidence, and they were approached by numerous distributors, potential associates and investors.

“We're already working with some distributors to distribute our merchandise. We received some great feedback and interest from all age groups and occupations. The visitors were also delighted because the application uses augmented reality so that 3D models of the Moopies can be seen through the screen of the device above the thumbnails in the album,'' pointed out Stefan Vedrina.

He and his wife Mateja decided to venture into the world of Croatian startups after completing a six-month training session in video game production - Unity and Blender - in order to move more easily in the foreign and domestic markets of the gaming industry. Prior to that, Stefan completed his studies at the Technical Polytechnic in Zagreb, while Mateja received her Master's degree in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts, and switched from traditional sculptures to digital ones. Today, Stefan is the main programmer at Hiroma Design, and Mateja is the main 3D/2D artist.

Although the two of them are the only employees, they're working with eight other experts on their current Moopies project, and as the project is extensive, they plan to hire more people to complete the necessary staffing for further development. So far, their focus has been mainly on the domestic market, but they are increasingly expanding beyond the borders of Croatia, where, as they pointed out, they are becoming more and more recognisable.

Their clients are mostly cities, institutions and associations, but they also have a few private clients in the form of companies. At the end of last year, they agreed on work related to the production of video games and augmented reality applications that will be used in some cities in Croatia.

For more on Croatian startups, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Filip Koprcina Runs Startup Aimed at Lessening Climate Change Consequences

November the 20th, 2021 - Young Croat Filip Koprcina runs a startup which has the primary aim of lessening the dire consequences of climate change, which is as much of a threat now as ever.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Filip Koprcina has always been interested in renewable energy sources and environmental protection, and he decided to act strongly on this issue. This 25-year-old Croat runs a successful startup called Energy Shift, a platform that allows people to invest and co-own solar power plants. contribute to the environment and generate revenue. He wanted, as he says, to make a change here in Croatia and the European Union, and then on a global level.

“People have the opportunity to make a profit of 10-15 percent per year while reducing their CO2 emissions. We currently have more than 1000 European citizens who have expressed their interest in investing more than 15 million kuna into solar energy. I used European youth programmes and through Erasmus for young entrepreneurs I worked in Ukraine for three months with a company that installs solar panels. There I learned how the whole process of installing solar panels works, how to install panels and a few so-called ''tips & tricks'' of the energy business.  For the past 12 months, I've volunteered in Cyprus through the European Solidarity Force (ESF), with the aim of raising awareness of sustainable development goals,'' said Filip Koprcina, who is currently the EU Climate Pact Ambassador.

For his platform, Filip received the European Union Sustainable Energy Award for the democratisation of solar energy ownership, in the Youth Energy category.

''Back in May this year, we received an initial investment from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) through their Digital venture programme. We're currently negotiating with several international investors about the next round of financing. We want to open new markets and expand throughout Europe,'' revealed Filip Koprcina.

He says that many citizens can install solar panels on the roof of their house, but they can't be very competitive in terms of earnings due to the current Croatian laws and those beyond the country's borders. Despite those obstacles, this young man has a vision and an idea of ​​how to stimulate the Croatian economy and create new green jobs in Croatia through investments in renewable energy.

''The return on investment varies from country to country. It depends on the general price of electricity, the amount of sunshine that the country/location gets, but in general the return is between 15-25 percent. For example, in Croatia we have 220-250 sunny days, while in Cyprus there are typically 320-340 sunny days a year, while the price of electricity is twice as high as it is here in Croatia. At the moment, there's no discussion about the possibilities and cost-effectiveness of solar energy in the first place. Last year, Croatia imported 40 percent of the electricity we consumed, and only 1 percent of the energy we produce comes from solar power plants. We also import oil and coal and gas, which we need for the production of electricity, and we allocate over 12 billion kuna a year for that alone. Solar energy is also a fantastic investment in the long run because solar panels produce energy and have guarantees of 20-30 years, while many solar panels produce energy even after 40 years,'' Filipa Koprcina pointed out.

He also noted that Croatia hasn't invested significantly in energy projects in the last 30 years, and that HEP's profit goes to the state budget instead of, for example, to new investments and capacities.

"Croatia is an energy-dependent country. We import about 50 percent of our energy worth up to 12 billion kuna. Of that, we import 100 percent of our coal, 90 percent of our oil, 70 percent of our gas and about 40 percent of our electricity. Croatia has almost no industry, and, according to Worldometers, our share in global greenhouse gas emissions is 0.05 percent, while in the EU we have the 4th lowest carbon footprint of all member states.

During the COP in Glasgow, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced the cessation of coal energy production at the Plomin thermal power plants by 2033 at the latest, which will further reduce our CO2 emissions. Currently, 75 percent of the carbon emissions in the EU come from energy production and use, while the EU as a whole is dependent on energy imports, mostly oil and gas. The EU imports 73 percent of its oil and 15 percent of its gas, and the largest supplier of all is Russia, which can geopolitically influence EU policies.

That's why Croatia has started the LNG terminal project on Krk, and that's why the entire EU wants to become an energy-neutral bloc. One proposal I made as a member of the Technical Working Group at the UN High-Level Dialogue, and I'd now like to give it to the Croatian Government, is to abolish the tax on investments in renewable energy (VAT + customs duties on equipment imports). This would immediately reduce the investment costs of companies and individuals by 25-30 percent, and would increase the return on investment, thereby simply increasing investment in the energy sector,'' explained Filip Koprcina.

This energy-conscious entrepreneur wants Energy Shift to become the leading platform through which individuals invest in the world’s long-term renewable energy, to contribute to the energy transition. In addition, he has a great desire for his company to become a new Croatian ''unicorn''.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 19 November 2021

Varazdin Startup Identyum First in Croatia to Get ISO 27701 Certificate

November the 19th, 2021 - The Varazdin startup Identyum is the first and currently the only company in the Republic of Croatia to possess a special certificate, commonly referred to as the GDPR certificate.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Varazdin startup Identyum Consortium, the creator of the Identyum digital ID wallet, is the first in all of Croatia to be accredited with the prestigious ISO 27701 certificate, also known as the "GDPR certificate for companies".

It confirms that the Varazdin startup Identyum manages the security of personal data of its users in accordance with best information security practices and is fully compliant with the provisions of the GDPR, ie the General Regulation on Personal Data Protection.

"For Identyum, this certificate is of particular importance because it proves that the protection of personal data of users is an absolute priority, which raises the level of trust of end users that their data will be protected," they said from the startup, which is celebrating three years of business this November.

This latest accreditation is a supplement to the ISO 27001 certificate, which the Varazdin startup Identyum met the criteria for back in August this year. It is designed for companies that manage and process users' personal data, and requires them to address specific risks, including those related to personal data and privacy. ''This achievement confirms the seriousness with which we treat information security within our company. Our internal processes are strictly adjusted to the highest international security standards,'' said Identyum's director Robert Ilijas.

According to the ISO Survey for the year 2020, 321 companies in Croatia were certified to the ISO 27001 standard last year, but so far only Identyum has been certified to the ISO 27701 standard.

Their 21st century digital ID card allows people to sign digital documents using their mobile devices and store personal information. In doing so, Identyum's system is designed so that it cannot access the personal data of users stored in their ID wallets. The specified data is always under the exclusive control of end users because during each storage they are encrypted with the user's PIN, making them inaccessible to anyone, until the user explicitly allows access to that personal data, meaning that they must first give consent and enter the PIN, allowing the decryption of their data for exactly the recipient to whom they allowed access.

Last year, the Varazdin startuo Identyum was also the first in all of Croatia and the region to receive a license from the Croatian National Bank (CNB) to provide account information services. They have thus successfully completed the process of “passporting” their AISP license and enrolling in the EBA Electronic Register. A company licensed as an AISP, after obtaining explicit consent from the end user, may link to their bank account and use their bank details to provide other financial services.

After fulfilling all of the stringent the conditions, Identyum was able to provide information services in 30 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania , Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia and of course Croatia.

They also announced that they will present even more good news in the next few months, and the goal, as they conclude, is to contribute to the ongoing digital transformation of Croatia.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Croatian Memgraph Company Celebrates Expansion and Investment

October the 17th, 2021 - The Croatian Memgraph company has been going from strength to strength of late, and further expansion as well as investments are currently being celebrated by this successful domestic company which hasn't even been on the scene for that long.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivan Tominac writes, as recently as last week, the successful Croatian Memgraph startup announced an investment of 9.34 million US dollars.

The fact that investments accelerate various processes in business ventures isn't something new, so the Croatian Memgraph startup is planning some new moves that will further strengthen their already impressive market position. As they pointed out from the company at the very beginning, the process of finding an investment was long and challenging, but in the end - it was successful.

The situation with the coronavirus pandemic didn't succeed in demotivating them either, so they, led by a strong desire for progress, managed to find some kind of partners on the path to building success.

“The process of finding investment and new investors has been long and challenging, especially throughout the challenging coronavirus crisis and the uncertainty that came with it. Yet, in M12, Heavybit, IQT and other new investors joining us, we've found some ideal partners who are excited about the development of Memgraph, the opportunities we provide and the direction we're heading in. This investment will enable further product development and see us strengthen and expand our team,'' said Memgraph's Dominik Tomicevic.

When it comes to their technology, the Croatian Memgraph company has so far helped thousands of developers and engineers and brought them closer to the world of graph theory and provided insight into data they didn't have before.

"In addition to individual engineers, Memgraph also works with some of the world's leading production companies in the field of chemistry, as well as the world's leading financial institutions," added Tomicevic. The powerful analytical capabilities brought by data flows and graphs before the arrival of Memgraph were reserved for a group of “big tech” companies, and with Memgraph, everyone else can have their fair share of that formerly rather exclusive pie.

This technology is of strategic importance for a group of technology companies called FAANG - Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, but also for companies like LSI Chemical. It is a global leader in the chemical research and development industry, and Memgraph has enabled them to improve their production systems.

“Memgraph has enabled us to create powerful models of entire production systems using a database graph, which has been a major business innovation for us. Memgraph's graphical analysis has enabled us to better understand our own processes, optimise them and make the right decisions to provide the best possible service for our customers,'' said Tobias Merz, the director of Global Operating Technologies at LSI. The aforementioned investment will also work to shake the status quo significantly, and will lead to yet more development for Memgraph.

Memgraph 2.0 primarily brings new data entry capabilities through data flow technologies (e.g. Apache Kafka), all this is on top of the static data that has so far been possible to enter (CSV files and so on).

“As a result, engineers will now be able to build their applications and have data flows as a basis. In addition to that, Memgraph 2.0 is so-called source available, which means that the Memgraph Community Edition is available with a BSL license, which means that the code is open for personal and commercial use,'' explained Tomicevic.

It doesn't need to be stated that investments naturally lead to new business steps and more development, which most often results in further employment and as such a stronger economy. These are the steps Memgraph is taking as well.

''The goal of this round of funding is to expand and further strengthen our team. Although we employ people throughout Europe and have engineers from Greece to the Netherlands, the main engineering hub will remain right here in Croatia. Given the high priority of Cloud product development, that's where we'll employ primarily Frontend (Angular) and Backend (NodeJS) engineers who want to join a smaller but agile and fast team and launch Memgraph into the Cloud. We're also going to hire C / C ++ engineers for our core team working on core technology and products,'' said the Croatian Memgraph's director.

Graphs can do a lot more than we can imagine, and Memgraph decided to prove it, as this company's main goal is to change the way some of the world’s most difficult problems are solved using the power of graph theory. Therefore, as Memgraph's director Tomicevic concluded, their plans are to provide development engineers with access to tools and knowledge of graphs to improve their applications and business processes on the whole.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Croatian Startup RoomOrders Expanding to Spain, Turkey

October the 15th, 2021 - The Croatian startup RoomOrders, often referred to as the ''Croatian Glovo'' has experienced success and is now expanding to Spain and Turkish resorts.

As Bernard Ivezic/Novac/Jutarnji list writes, it isn't only the state and the tourism sector that have benefited from this year's remarkably (and surprisingly) good tourist season.

The Croatian startup RoomOrders won two major jobs in record time by introducing its platform for ordering food and other services via mobile phone, after testing the system this summer in the tourism sector here in Croatia.

Eugene Brcic Jones, the co-founder and CEO of RoomOrders, says they have worked mostly abroad in previous years. However, due to the record-breaking recovery of tourism in Croatia, they focused on the local market this year, and thankfully it well and truly paid off.

''Based on our experience in Croatia, we're introducing our system in a large resort in Bodrum, Turkey, which has seventeen restaurants, including a water park, apartments, and a marina, we're also doing the same in Kempinsky's resort in Marbella, Spain,'' explained Brcic Jones.

He added that after last year, which the global coronavirus pandemic turned into the worst imaginable for the tourism sector so far, they found a way to turn the model used by Bolt, Glovo and Uber into a tool for increasing the profitability of the tourism industry and importing offers in various destinations. They introduced billing within the application (app) itself, meaning that they added a fintech component to it.

''We're aware that there are mobile apps that allow the ordering of food and services, but only to your home or other (residential) addresses. RoomOrders is, I believe, the first in the world to introduce ordering via QR code to hotels and now we've expanded it so that guests throughout the entire hospitality ecosystem can order what they want,'' said Brcic Jones.

This includes resorts, hotels, restaurants, cafes and other catering and hospitality facilities.

The Croatian startup RoomOrders started up six years ago as an app for ordering food from your hotel room, but not only from the hotel's own restaurant(s) but also from restaurants in the local area. Most hotel kitchens don't work non-stop, and delivery, unless otherwise agreed with them, isn't typically allowed.

Soon after getting their feet off the ground, the Croatian startup RoomOrders got its first user - the Hilton Hotel in Boston. This was followed by the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, and then the list included numerous hotels from Fiji, through to Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, Athens, London, Warsaw, Barcelona and more, as well as large hotels across America. Today, they have contracts with 300 hotels and catering/hospitality establishments on all continents except South America. Payment is made through the hotel, meaning that guests can order food only from the establishments with whom the hotel has a contract. The hotel and RoomOrders thus receive a fee, and the guest pays for the service when going to the reception.

Brcic Jones says the coronavirus pandemic hit them like the rest of the tourism industry, and they projected revenue of one million euros this year, but they will have to wait for that to materialise, especially given the fact that tourism on a global scale has not recovered nearly as fast as it has here in Croatia.

''More than 50 percent of our hotels still aren't working at all or are far below their usual capacity, so they're not using RoomOrders,'' said Brcic Jones.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Croatian startup RoomOrders focused on tourist players across the Republic of Croatia and globally on various resorts. The director of RoomOrders says they recently introduced a mobile ordering service from any location in a hotel or resort.

''According to the initial results from the Sheraton hotel in Dubrovnik, which offered this service for ordering from swimming pools and beaches in August, the results are fantastic,'' said Brcic Jones. In addition to all of that, RoomOrders has expanded into digital menus, making sure to keep up with an increasingly digital world.

''Several countries, including Croatia, have introduced measures during the coronavirus pandemic that require hard menus to be removed from the table and sanitised each time. Or to simply replace them with digital menus,'' said Brcic Jones, adding that the interest in digital menus is strong and that he believes that it will remain as such even after the crisis, maybe even officially.

He stated that they're currently in a pilot project with Zagrebacka pivovara (Zagreb Brewery), and they are jointly introducing digital menus across 4,000 stores in Croatia.

''You can already see them in Bonita on Cvjetni trg (Flower square) in Zagreb and in the Swanky bar in Ilica, and all you need to do is scan the QR code with the sticker on the table. All this is part of building a digital hospitality ecosystem based on QR ordering and mobile payment, which already exists in China, where payments are made via WeChat, an app which is similar to WhatsApp, so you don't need to carry a wallet at all,'' concluded Brcic Jones.

For more, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Memgraph: Microsoft's M12 Fund Participated in Investment in Startup

October the 8th, 2021 - The five-year-old Croatian startup Memgraph has received a handsome amount in the form of an investment from no less than Microsoft's M12 fund, as well as from other very well known and highly respected funds.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the promising Croatian startup Memgraph recently announced that they received a seed investment of an enormous 9.34 million US dollars, in which Microsoft's investment fund M12, Heavybit Industries, In-Q-Tel, Counterview Capital, ID4 Ventures and Mundi Ventures all readily participated.

The company's executive director, Dominik Tomicevic and technical director Marko Budiselic founded Memgraph just five years ago, and the idea was born out of the idea to provide significant analytical capabilities aided by graph databases. Since then, this Croatian startup has well and truly blossomed into something which is both recognisable and admired.

They then introduced the new Memgraph 2.0, a platform that allows developers, engineers, professionals and large companies and enthusiasts to programme their applications based on data flows and graphs in mere minutes. The Memgraph Community Edition (MCE) is available with a BSL (Business Source License) which means code openness in most situations, from personal to commercial.

They say from Memgraph that the money from this fantastic investment will be used for new development activities, the expansion of the development team and the community of developers and enthusiasts.

Although they employ people throughout Europe and have engineers in both Greece and the Netherlands, Memgraph's main hub will still remain in the Republic of Croatia.

''The goal of this round of funding is to expand and further strengthen our team. Given the fact that our higher priority is the development of Cloud products, we'll primarily employ Frontend (Angular) and Backend (NodeJS) engineers,'' explained Marko Srsan, Memgraph's chief operating officer.

For more on Croatian companies, startups, doing business and investments in Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated Made in Croatia and business sections.

Monday, 4 October 2021

Croatian Startup Meddox Draws in More Than 4000 Users in Two Months

October the 4th, 2021 - The Croatian startup scene is still blossoming despite the dire economic situation caused by the pandemic, and the Croatian startup Meddox has something to boast about, having attracting a massive 4000 users in just a couple of months.

As Novac/Jutarnji/Bernard Ivezic writes, the Croatian startup Meddox has attracted more than 4,000 users in a mere two months. The first mobile application (app) for storing medical records and one of the first Croatian healthcare startups quietly released its product on the Google Play Store at the end of the summer this year.

Off to a fantastic start, this startup is still growing, although something similar already exists in Croatia. The health portal, as part of the state IT system CEZIH, brings together medical documentation from examinations and tests performed in hospitals and other state healthcare institutions in one place.

Vesna Babic, the co-founder of the Croatian startup Meddox, says that they decided on a different approach and, instead of the healthcare system, they put the patients themselves at the centre of the story.

''Even in CEZIH, part of the documentation isn't available to all doctors that people visit, and documentation from private healthcare institutions can't be included in that system at all. The meaning of Meddox is that each of us has our medical documentation in one place and always with us, easily accessible on our mobile phones,'' says Babic.

She went on to explain that this important documentation is entered into the application in two ways. The first is by taking a photo, and the second is done by opening the document in the Meddox application, after which it processes it and makes it searchable.

''In this way, it becomes possible to store covid certificates, so many use our applications for that as well, and all the documentation is available at any time because it's stored in the cloud,'' Babic pointed out, adding that behind all this there is a broader meaning. According to a July McKinsey study, greater healthcare and more careful medication, or the more accurate monitoring of therapy, could reduce global health spending by up to 40 percent over a 20-year period. But this can only be done by people who are ''health literate''.

''With the Croatian startup Meddox, we want to enable people to take control of their health data and to improve their understanding of health information, and thus take better care of their own health,'' noted Babic.

As an example of that, Meddox's application offers a comparison of laboratory results of its users. As such, through easily understandable graphs, it shows an overview of the results in order to notice reduced or increased values ​​in time. Babic, who has worked in the world of pharmacies for almost two decades, says the application recognises more than 1,000 laboratory parametres. She emphasised that the idea for the app was initially conceived by business partner Maja Bogovic, who is the founder and director of the job search portal (TodayIWork) and a former manager with extensive experience in managing procurement at both Ipercoop and Konzum.

''Healthcare differs from country to country, but the needs of the patient are the same everywhere,'' Bogovic rightly noted.

Development took place during lockdown

She explained that she got the idea to develop the Croatian startup Meddox two years ago. After the Global Innovation Summit, at which the health and aging of the population was set as one of the most important segments of development in the next period, she began to think about which product everyone would need. It started to be realised last year when the lockdowns started due to the pandemic.

Vesna Babic explained that they developed the idea and then included experts, and even during in the summer, they had their first functional specification of the application and the framework design. Then they looked for investors.

''We presented the idea to family and friends and two of them invested in our startup. Then we founded companies and ordered the development of the application from the software company Blue Factory from Virovitica. In general, about a year passed from the idea to the placement of the application on the Google Play Store,'' concluded Babic.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Startup Factory: Zicer to Award Croatian Startups Additional 800,000 Kuna

September the 25th, 2021 - Croatian startups are set to get further financial boosts as a new cycle of the Startup Factory programme headed by Zicer (the Zagreb Innovation Centre) begins.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Zagreb Innovation Centre (Zicer) has launched applications for a new cycle of the popular Startup Factory programme, in which development teams and young startups are distributed grants in the amount of 800,000 kuna, with intensive educational, mentoring, promotional and infrastructural support. As stated in the announcement made by Zicer, the Startup Factory programme accelerates the development of technology-oriented teams and startups from across the country.

It helps in validation, market entry and access to first buyers and investors, and it is also an internationally awarded and the first such acceleration programme in all of Croatia. The programme is intensive and competitive in nature, all selected participants will receive knowledge through workshops, lectures and mentoring, and the best financial support from the City of Zagreb from a total fund of 800,000 kuna.

"Six years ago, we launched the first pre-acceleration programme in Croatia. Startup Factory has so far successfully passed 76 teams, and the best 28 startups also received non-refundable financial support for the development of their technological products in the amount of more than 3.5 million kuna. The intensive support we provide to future startups through this programme ensures progress in a short time. The programme is such that it requires fast and concrete results, more than 90 percent of startups that have passed the programme are now operating successfully. For them, Croatia is a small market, and they're out there conquering the world,'' pointed out Frane Sesnic, the director of Zicer and the initiator of the popular Startup Factory.

Teams or new Croatian startups developing high-tech solutions can apply to this year's Startup Factory, and the main recommended areas are healthcare and quality of life, energy and sustainable environment, transport and mobility, security and cyber security, food and bio-economy, education, robotics, fintech, tourism and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

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