Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Croatian Startups Finalists in Regional Air Pollution Reduction Innovation Contest

December the 15th, 2020 - Croatian startups are becoming more and more well known across the world in various different fields, and two in particular have stood out among the rest when it comes to air pollution reduction.

As Jozo Vrdoljak/Novac writes, the Croatian startups Jellyfish and CatSolAir System participated in the finals of the regional competition for the best innovation for reducing air pollution in the Balkans - BASF Start-up Science. The team making up the Djakovo startup, Jellyfish, which consists of leader Jurica Perko and members Zvonimir Perko and Dinko Manduric, presented their solution for integrating charging stations for electric vehicles into the existing public lighting system, while CatSolAir System is led by Lucija Radetic, an assistant from the Laboratory of Environmental Engineering at the Faculty of Geotechnics. With the help of team member Jan Marcec, they presented their idea for air purification by using solar photocatalysis in a CPC reactor.

First place went to the startup Milkywaste from neighbouring Slovenia. This Slovenian startup came up with the idea for biodegradable packaging derived from milk proteins.

"BASF Startup Science is another commendable initiative that gives young people the opportunity to start and accelerate the development of their solutions in the direction of using clean energy and working to preserve the environment. We're extremely proud that our idea was recognised and we had the opportunity to present our solution as a component of the smart concept. Congratulations to all of the finalists on their excellent ideas, we wish them a lot of success in their further development. We believe that the involvement of young and ambitious people and the changes that come with innovation will ensure a better quality of life in our communities,'' stated Jellyfish team leader Jurica Perko.

CatSolAir System Manager Lucija Radetic said she and her team have no intention of slowing down the further development of their solution.

"We were extremely honoured to be able to participate in the finals of the BASF Startup Science competition and be in such good company among the other finalists. Although we didn't win the grand prize, we're happy that our idea was recognised and included among the finalists, so we'll continue to work with even greater enthusiasm,'' she stated.

The BASF Start-up Science competition is the largest regional competition in the field of sustainable development and is intended for startup ideas from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia. The innovators addressed, among other things, environmental transport issues, parking solutions and opportunities for sustainable agriculture.

Simon Franko, the CEO of BASF for Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia and one of the members of the expert jury, believes that it has been confirmed once again that this region has given the world a lot of talented and innovative young people.

'''Air quality is one of the biggest challenges of the modern age and remains a topic that is the focus of every individual. I'm extremely glad that so many good solutions for this important issue come from our region. We had the opportunity to find out how young innovators think about this topic and share our many years of experience in the field of air quality with them, and I'm especially pleased that we'll enable at least the initial development of their startup ideas,'' said Franko.

The BASF Start-up Science competition was organised by the chemical company BASF, a European leader in research and development. The competition lasted for three months, and young innovators from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia had the opportunity to apply for the idea of ​​reducing air pollution. The prize fund given to the best idea was 5,000 euros.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Croatian Startup Develops Application to Monitor Spending of Public Money

As Novac/Matea Grbac writes on the 21st of May, 2020, the innovative Croatian startup, Fortis Labor, has developed an application which promotes transparency aimed at cities and associations for the monitoring of the spending of public money.

The move represents a new upgrade to their ''Email notification system'' app, better known as SOM. Although the whole system was created primarily as an auxiliary tool for sports associations, it quickly became clear that it could quite easily be applied to all kinds of associations, and that it can also serve as a tool for the more clear cut and transparent monitoring of the distribution and spending of earmarked funds paid from the city budget.

Its main feature, points out the founder of this Croatian startup, Lorenzo Gasparic, is that the application can be accessed from any device, whether it is a mobile phone, tablet or simply a laptop.

''Through this system, the city always has an insight into how and in what way public money is being spent. So far, this hasn't been possible. Namely, at the beginning of the year, the city would announce a public tender to which associations would apply, which would then be allocated a certain part of those funds. They would then justify the money spent to the city only at the end of the year by submitting a yearly report. In this way, through a just a few clicks, associations can immediately enter data, or attach an invoice for the funds spent, and this information is then visible to everyone and is made available in real time,'' he explained.

In addition to easier and faster entry of invoices, associations have an insight into the remaining funds through this Croatian startup's useful system, while cities receive all the data in one place, and a more transparent way of doing business with reduced paperwork is thus provided.

Gasparic added that this system is really impossible to cheat because even if someone receives funds for one item, and tries to justify the money spent in some way when it was actually spent on something completely different, everything is always made perfectly clear through this system and there can be no such cover ups.

''Let's put it this way. If some association has received funds for the maintenance of a field, and instead a bill from the restaurant is attached and someone accepts it as a valid excuse, later on, during the check, someone can catch you committing that sort of fraud. Which person approved it remains in the system, and I doubt that someone would risk playing with their own career by trying to cheat like that,'' he noted.

Currently, this Croatian startup's system is used by about 200 associations which are mostly sport oriented, they're from Bjelovar, Sisak, Vodnjan and Rovinj, while Vrbovec was the first to use this system to monitor the work of 89 sports and non-sports associations within the city.

''We started engaging in negotiations with cities back at the beginning of the year, and now we have five more cities that want to use our system. Of course, these conversations have now come to a halt due to the coronavirus crisis, but our goal is to offer our application to everyone. I think that only now, after the pandemic, has it become clear just how important transparent and digital business truly is,'' he said.

The value of the entire project stands at a huge 1.3 million kuna, of which 80 percent has come from European Union funds, which marks the second project of a Croatian startup from Zagreb financed in this way. Fortis Labor doesn't plan on stopping there, either.

Next year, they plan to offer cities a similar programme through which the digitisation of applications for public tenders can be enabled. In this way, they would connect the new system with the existing one and thus almost eradicate the infamous and daunting Croatian paperwork which is typically involved in such processes.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

GENOS: From Croatian Startup to Laboratory Attracting Foreign Scientists

As Index/Marko Repecki writes on the 16th of February, 2020, founded back in 2007, Genos was the first academic Croatian startup to grow into a serious lab which currently employing some 50 experts, half of whom have PhDs and are world leaders in some areas, such as glycan research.

In addition to Croatian scientists, experts from abroad are also coming to Genos, which is not surprising given that back in 2013, the renowned scientific journal The Scientist declared it the "Best Place to Work" in the world, in competition with 240 biomedical and biotechnology companies.

They were able to develop a GlycanAge test that allows you to look into the onset of certain diseases, such ones which can cause heart attacks or strokes, and then work to prevent them.

Could Zagreb could become a centre for pharmacogenomics for Europe?

In addition, Genos founder Goran Lauc announced major plans in the field of pharmacogenomics, which is very important in personalised medicine, in a recent Index interview.

"Genos was founded in 2007 and at the beginning we were mainly concerned with genetics, we did various genetic tests. Even then, we launched some tests that were the first of their kind in the world. For example, we were the first to do a prenatal paternity test - it's a test that can be done before the baby is born. A year or two later, we switched to glycans, but we still have a part of the lab where genetic tests are done. We're now developing pharmacogenomics in collaboration with St. Catherine Hospital and the Mayo Clinic in the US, and we hope that in this shared story, we will be able to achieve a pharmacogenomics centre for Europe in Zagreb,'' says Lauc.

Pharmacogenomics, the next area in which Genos has ambitious plans, allows patients to get exactly the medicine they need. This reduces the side effects of drugs and the possible harm that may result from taking drugs they don't require.

"In pharmacogenomics, genetic testing is done, the human genome is analysed, and then based on the information they receive, one can determine which drug really helps the patient and at what doses and which drug he should not take. Today, when you go to the doctor, he doesn't really know anything about you. He asks where it hurts, measures your temperature, listens to your heart, but realistically knows nothing about you and gives you a drug at random, one that he thinks might help, and that's why we're in a situation where two-thirds of medication doesn't help.

Your doctor prescribes you one medicine, so if that doesn't help, he prescribes a second and then a third, and so it goes on. The problem is that if the drug doesn't help, it often does harm. In the US, about 100,000 people die annually due to getting the wrong treatment. Pharmacogenomics solves this problem because it allows the patient to be prescribed exactly the medication that will benefit them. This is an example of how genetic analyses have gone into clinical use, but this is still not routinely applied worldwide.

In Croatia, the most was done by St. Catherine's Hospital, which, as a private hospital, referred a large number of its patients to this, thus obtaining safer treatment. We, in cooperation with them, want to create a laboratory that will conduct these analyses not only in Croatia but abroad as well. We want to make a central laboratory for Europe for this type of testing,'' says Lauc.

''What's strong about Genos is glycans. Glycans have been investigated as potential biomarkers in personalised medicine since relatively recently. In fact, we were the first to start doing major studies on glycans, on a large number of people, sometime back in 2008.

We're one of only two or three labs in the world where major glycan studies can be done, and when someone at Harvard wants to do something with it, they send their samples to us. Right now, we have in the lab a large cohort from two thousand twins from whom blood samples were taken three times over a 15-year period. This was collected at Kings College London and sent to us for analysis.

Less than a month ago, the result of a major survey of 27,000 people whose samples were collected in Germany 20 years ago, of whom 800 had diabetes, 500 had suffered heart attacks or strokes, and we can predict on the basis of glycans who will end up in which category. So, if I test my glycans today, I will know if I have an average risk of having, for example, a stroke, or if my chances are above average.

The idea is that glycan testing should one day go into routine checkups, like measuring your blood glucose or liver enzymes today, so this test could work. Our GlycanAge test is expensive, so it isn't sold much in Croatia, so our primary channels are selling it to longevity clinics worldwide.

There are many centres around the world where people who want to live longer and healthier try to prevent diseases. People mostly go to the doctor when they're already ill, our western medicine treats a sick man, and when a person is sick, it means that some system is no longer working. The idea of ​​longevity medicine is to try to motivate people to do what's good for them. We all more or less know what's good for us, but we actually don't do anything about it. Why don't we? Because we don't see the effects. Until at some point something bad happens,'' Lauc says.

Genos is also very interesting to scientists as an employer, and besides scientists from Croatia, people from abroad come to work for Genos.

"We currently have 50 people in Genos, 24 of them have PhDs. We're one of the strongest conglomerates of highly educated people focused on one story. In the last 12 years, only two people have left us. I try to make people feel good here and then they stay. We have no problems finding experts, they come to us not only from Croatia but also from abroad, so 14 foreigners have worked or currently work with us so far. One colleague from Russia has been here for seven years, then there's another from Canada, who has been working here for four years, we're just receiving one Indian, etc,'' says Lauc.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for more.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

STEMI: Croatian Startup Raises First Million Kuna in Less Than One Hour

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 28th of November, 2019, in less than an hour, the amazing Croatian startup STEMI raised over one million in capital (154,000 euros) to expand its operations in the USA and Germany.

The group investment campaign at Funderbeam SEE for the Rijeka-based educational and technological (edtech) startup STEMI, which celebrated with the first Croatian educational robot Hexapod, has now set a new investment record in Croatia with its incredible acheivement. So far, nobody on the entire platform, jointly run by the Estonian Funderbeam and the Zagreb Stock Exchange, has managed to reach their first million so quickly.

In addition, STEMI has set a modest monthly target of 2.25 million kuna (300,000 euros) and has exceeded half of the minimum capital required to successfully complete this funding round. Marin Trošelj, co-founder and director of STEMI, says that in case of higher demand, the campaign will increase. "We offer 6.25 to 10 percent shares in STEMI for a stake of 300-500 thousand euros," Trošelj stated.

In his presentation at the Zagreb Stock Exchange, he revealed several facts that could explain the significant investor interest STEMI can boast of. In addition to being a new key product with which to expand, licenses for STEM education as a service, which has already been successfully tested over in the United States, the startup's founder stated that its market in the US and EU is as high as 360,000 schools. It already has a partner in a new niche in the US and is just about to sign a contract with another partner closer to home in Germany.

Furthermore, in its presentation to investors in Rijeka, STEMI's rapid growth of income and profitability was also mentioned. In 2020, STEMI expects 1.6 million kuna in revenue, a year later it expects 13.5 million kuna, and in 2022, with expected revenue of 39.9 million kuna, it expects to make a profit for the very first time.

A year later, revenue should jump up to above 90 million kuna, to an incredible 203.6 million kuna in 2024.

"In high school education, we're better positioned than Lego, we offer more, and we have a successful pilot and demand," Trošelj stated.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Investments in Croatian Startups to Reach 120 Million USD in 2019

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 21st of November, 2019, the largest VC fund investing in startups in the EU has announced that Croatia is the 20th largest in continental Europe in terms of investment and that its number of developers is growing. Investments in Croatian startups this year will reach a record 120 million US dollars according to Atomico, which is otherwise Europe's largest startup fund.

In an annual review of "The State of European Tech 2019", Atomico states that Croatia is twentieth in Europe in terms of received investments in startups.

This is the best description of the Croatian startup scene since the 2016 report, when Atomico put Croatia on the startup map of Europe for the very first time, and when it announced that 100 million US dollars had been invested in startups here between 2012-2016. Atomic's announcement for 2019 is even better when one considers that this year is not the largest by number of major startup investments.

Back in 2015, there were five in Croatia. A year later, there were ten, then eight, and then ten again last year. Atomico also released some information about business angels in Croatia for the first time. It states that in 92 percent of cases, they are men. On the other hand, it is interesting that in the neighbouring countries of Bulgaria and Macedonia as many as 24 percent of business angels are women. The majority of business angel women are in Switzerland, making up 27 percent of the total business angels in that country. In neighbouring Slovenia, that figure stands at 13 percent.

According to the largest startup fund in Europe, there are 35,300 developers in Croatia, making it the 28th country on the old continent. Needless to say, this is a very poor position indeed. However, Atomico has recognised that the number of developers is increasing, and there were 29,700 of them last year alone.

Infobip is expected to reach the status of a company worth more than 1 billion US dollars during the first half of 2020, finally placing Croatia on the list of countries with such companies operating within it.

In Europe, unicorn startups exist in as many as 20 countries. Atomico concludes that the largest communities of Croatian startups are located in Zagreb, Split and Rijeka.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for much more.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

From Fun to Global Market: Croatian Company Pixblasters Gaining Traction

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 10th of November, 2019, with over twenty years of professional experience working on the development of advanced electronic systems, as well as a good dose of enthusiasm and ''zeal'' for putting together what they personally care about and love, these two colleagues and friends from Zagreb, Goran Fiolić and Gordan Galić, launched the startup Pixblasters.

This Croatian startup's aim is to create and manufacture an innovative RGB LED controller, an electrical device that would enable both professionals and amateurs, and even those without any experience and knowledge of electronics, to create large video screens using so-called addressable LED strips.

They formulated their desire into a project and launched it on the Crowd Supply web platform, intended for the group financing of (technology) projects. The crowdfunding campaign started about a month ago and has already raised about 6,000 US dollars out of a target of 18,000 dollars in this round that ends in twelve days. Why did they decide to make such a bold move, both in terms of production ideas and in raising capital? Who are the real minds behind Pixblasters?

''We're a ''maker'' duo with experience in significantly more complex projects executed for the global market. Today, when the startup culture and entrepreneurship that are lagging behind here when compared to Western countries are justifiably promoted, we may be a slightly different team that embarked on a project primarily out of fun and curiosity.

After completing the prototype, which surprised us both with its attractiveness and at the urging of our friends and colleagues, we decided to launch a project with the aim of producing a professional electronic controller that would be commercially interesting. We like to do things that interest us. It can be a small electronic dust detector or several hundred pounds a heavy machine with electronically controlled pneumatic and electric motor subsystems,'' explains Galić on his own and Fiolić's behalf.

They knew just what they were talking about when it comes to LED screens and their experiences stretching twenty years, and the story of Pixblasters was born.

"It really is a true anecdote. We were both thinking of building such screens at the time, but it was an undertaking that went beyond the capabilities of most self-builders. A minimum of 3 LEDs are required for one pixel (dot on the screen) of LED screens: red, green and blue. While red and green diodes were relatively inexpensive at the time we're talking about, the blue ones cost about 40 kuna  per piece due to their specific construction.

The purchase price of diodes for a display with a resolution of 120x50 pixels, like the display from our campaign, costed around 300,000 kuna, without the cost of purchasing other electronic parts. We've concluded that as technology advances, such a device today has to cost significantly less and must be accessible to everyone. Indeed, our calculation has shown that LED screens of this resolution could be built today at 100 times less cost,'' explains Gordan.

This pair of Zagreb techno ''makers'' point out that the Pixblasters device is fully prepared and adapted for batch production, which is, after all, their ultimate goal. However, they emphasise that their LED controller is not a finished consumer product, but a device that just allows for the construction of large and attractive LED screens.

“The first series will be produced in Slovenia because of our previous business connections.

When thinking about Croatia, the manufacturing capabilities and capacities of Croatian electronic device manufacturing companies have grown significantly in recent years. I think they are also unduly underrated. Until a few years ago, it would have been relatively difficult to produce a Pixblasters controller complexity device in Croatia, but today it's possible and we plan to work on it,'' Galić reveals.

They are aware that for the needs of the big market, they should also have larger sources of funding, for example, from competitions from ministries or indeed from private sponsors, but for now, Pixblasters is being promoted as a DIY solution.

The advantage of their controllers, they describe, is that they would, with maximum cost-effectiveness, deliver the most important features of LED screens: simple content generation, attractive video display, remote application management and large dimensions.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Croatian Startup ''Worig'' Aims to Help Dire Long Term Rent Situation

Instead of interventionism and a new web search engine, the duo behind this Croatian startup wants to solve the problem of housing shortages on fintech principles.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 10th of September, 2019, Worig is the first Croatian startup for long-term rental apartments. While answers to this burning problem all over Croatia is most often sought in state and city interventionism or in the creation of more advanced web search engines, this Split duo, brothers Nino and Deni Ćosić, approached the problem in a different way and created an impressive fintech startup.

Nino Ćosić, CEO of Worig, says that the key to the problem on this market, as well as unusual and exorbitant conditions for renters, is a chronic lack of information about both renters and those who seek rental agreements.

"Worig wants to introduce a credit rating system for renters in Croatia and beyond, across the EU, which would give reliable tenants the opportunity to rent an apartment on more favourable terms, while reliable renters could get better tenants, thereby providing security and protection," explained Ćosić. This innovative Croatian-made system, which combines banking, lending and insurance, is not entirely new. It exists in various forms in Switzerland and Germany, but Ćosić points out the fact that it has not been digitised there.

"There are places where, because of the lack of such a service, especially in tourist destinations, renters think that it's always better to go for short-term rentals. However, this really isn't the case, and Worig would help them see this in terms of market principles. For people who decide instead to buy an apartment, it could help them discover how much of a cost-effective option that is,'' Ćosić says.

Although there are still similar startups that exist across the EU, a number of potential investors have shown considerable interest in this Croatian startup over the last six months. At the beginning of the year, the new Croatian startup entered the shortlist of the best at one of Europe's largest startup festivals, TNW in Amsterdam. Then, EIT Digital invested a very welcome 15,000 euros in it.

Worig then entered the largest Slovenian startup accelerator, ABC, which is the only regional partner of EIT Digital. Finally, in the last two weeks, Worig won the Croatian finals of RBA's Elevator Challenge - winning 5,000 euros, then the largest Croatian VC fund, Fil Rouge, gave them an initial investment of 50,000 euros.

Worig's market is quite large. According to Eurostat, 102.7 million EU citizens live in market-rented apartments, an additional 51.3 million live in free-of-charge apartments, while the remaining 359 million live in their own apartments.

The situation is different in Croatia. The percentage of tenants is half of that of the European Union and is around 10 percent (approximately 400,000 citizens). In addition, around 90 percent of tenants in Croatia, according to Eurostat, have either preferential or free leases. And while in some countries, such as Germany, the market is so regulated that interviewees from the development industry have no doubts about the figures there, the Croatian market is said to be extremely grey and so unregulated that they consider Eurostat's statistics for Croatia to be entirely incorrect.

Among other things, they claim that the number of people who rent apartments in Croatia is much higher, and Ćosić believes the same.

"My estimate is that in our country, 12 percent of citizens rent apartments, similar to the situation in Slovenia, but in our country, this ia a market that is completely unregulated and very grey," Ćosić stated.

Eurostat's data, furthermore, doesn't do well to indicate that the number of rental apartments varies by country and by year, and this also leads to distrust in such statistics. In the United States, the Pew Research Centre states that the number of apartments offered for rent from 1965 to 2016 has doubled to 43.3 percent, and jumped by about ten percentage points in the last ten years. Namely, Americans are renting apartments more than ever before. On the other hand, the supply of rental apartments has stabilised in the last decade, to 75 million units.

Ćosić says that similar trends are followed in the European Union, and especially here in Croatia.

"This tourist season in Croatia has shown that there will be no room for all apartment owners on the day-to-day rental market, and Airbnb has already seen a 30 percent increase in long-term rental apartments," Ćosić says. He added that he does not expect that, on September the 15th, when PSD2 regulations are put into service and their service starts, that their startup will become an instant hit in Croatia.

Initially, he sees opportunities in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. "In Switzerland, you have these credit ratings, but they're not digitised, nor are all of them applicable to rentals, rather just to buying an apartment," Ćosić said.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for much more on Croatian startups, companies, technology and innovation.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Osijek Startup ''Orqa'' Collects 1.5 Million Kuna in 24 Hours

Croatian companies are often forced to deal with cruel bureaucracy and draconian laws governing that red tape. Many would-be entrepreneurs sadly end up with a bitter taste left in their mouths after an attempt to get their ideas of the ground here in Croatia, but not everything is quite so bleak. Meet Orqa, a Croatian startup from the Eastern Croatian city of Osijek, which is the fastest growing Croatian Kickstarter campaign so far.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of June, 2019, this Osijek-based startup Orqa has enjoyed the fastest growing Kickstarter campaign in the Republic of Croatia to date. In less than 24 hours, Orqa managed to collect a record 1.5 million kuna in a mere 25 hours for its very first product - Orqa FPV.One.

The Orqa FPV.One is, or perhaps it's better to say are, the most advanced glasses for the operation of drones from a distance in the entire world. This was stated by Osijek's Orqa, and they have started to validate that bold claim via Kickstarter quite effectively.

Orqa is entering the market of First Person View (FPV) devices that are becoming more and more popular worldwide due to the increasing number of drones and remote managed devices that users have so far managed over cell phones, tablets, or other devices.

This group of innovative entrepreneurs from Osijek have plans and goals that are far from modest, and this includes their startup's very name. Orqa, or orca (killer whale) in English (orka in Croatian) is the name of the only known type of whale that can and will go out of its way to hound and kill a shark.

Currently, the best-selling FPV glasses are produced by the Chinese company Fat Shark, which is in itself an ironic name given the name of the Osijek-based startup.

Ivan Jelušić, operations leader and Srđan Kovačević, Orqa's executive director, who began their cooperation with the creation of a wall-mounted USB charger, won the Idea Knockout competition with their glasses last year and, thanks to this, they were able to go ahead and present their product across the Atlantic in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for much more on Croatian products, services, startups and other companies.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Croatian Entrepreneur Marin Bek Continues to Impress

As Novac/Gordana Grgas writes on the 20th of June, 2019, Marin Bek is just 33 years old, is a Croatian entrepreneur and has founded three technology startups so far, and two have not only survived, but flourished. In Croatia, they have twenty employees, and by the end of the year, as announced, that number will hopefully be doubled. At the recent JobFair which was held in Zagreb, many candidates were attracted and interviews are getting under way now.

Bek is a member of a promising new generation of Croatian entrepreneurs who are experiencing problems around them and are therefore creating smart IT solutions to deal with them instead of merely complaining. Bek first ''dived into the water'' after graduating from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb, and after borrowing 3000 kuna from his cousins to be able to participate in the American startup accelerator Foundation Institute in Zagreb back in 2012.

He first began his startup in the Silicon Valley, with a startup for autonomous underwater vehicles that he called Marine Tech Factory (MTF), he raised capital from numerous business angels, and sought to sell a solution to the oil industry. That, however, unfortunately failed.

When talking about the reasons for that early failure, with a smile on his face, Bek states that he believes he probably came out with it too early on the market.

"Today, I'd say that I worked on underwater drones, which was my graduate thesis at FER. Now that's sitting and collecting dust in a warehouse at the faculty. When the MTF idea collapsed, I was left without any money so I found a job as an IT developer,'' stated Bek when discussing his very first experiences in the United States.

But this failure, and then climbing up to the position of technology director in an innovative startup called Nextuser from San Francisco, where he participated in finding an investor in the total amount of 2.5 million dollars, brought him, as he himself noted, knowledge and a much better feeling for his return to the challenging entrepreneurial waters.

To speak more specifically, in the seed round of capital that just closed for his startup, the main investor is a Canadian, who he initially met back then. Meet Ascalia, a Croatian company that has raised about 200,000 euros, and is immediately moving forward to the much larger so-called ''A round'', which deals with venture capital funds in the amount of about one million euros.

"Ascalia must grow fast," claims Bek resolutely. The idea behind it was conceived for IoT (Internet of Things) systems in the industry and in cities.

With his partner with Dejan Strbad, he also leads Kraken, a local IT company that is approaching about one million euros of income in the field of distributed data collection and processing systems with the help of machine learning. They therefore deal with large data, and their projects include those for Carrefour, Nestle, Ferrero and even Forbes.

Ascalia is currently focused on industry, and this Croatian entrepreneur was given a lift recently with a victory at the Start.Up! Germany Roadshow competition, and owing to that victory, in autumn he will take a tour of the Bavarian factories.

They have created software and a device called ADS, a kind of "plug socket" that supports numerous protocols for industrial machines that have been in existence since 1979, and then connects them to the Internet. Thus, a smart company is created without the need for any big investments, and its a viable Croatian solution that they'll also try to sell to the Germans.

''Protocol is the way the machines speak to each other, through which information is transmitted. Through our device and software, we can measure and monitor the work of the machines online, even with the old ones that are still heavily used in the industry. In the case of sawmills, one of which is one of our clients, it means that the device can read the data coming from the saw, and with the application of artificial intelligence, it can predict when some of them will break. Through emails or via the application (app), this message will be sent to a manager who can then respond in time,'' explained this highly talented Croatian entrepreneur.

The main mission of Ascalia is precisely that, optimising energy consumption and improving production processes. The main clients in Croatia are industrial equipment dealers who also maintain factory facilities, and one of them, Zigg-Pro, actually gave them the idea to develop ADS.

''This is how you raise the level of modernisation, and there's no breakdown of the plant's system of operation and no expensive new machines have to be procured,'' explained Bek. The company's interest in making its plant ''smarter'' is great, various technical directors have visited, and their plants are currently in Delnice, with another near Zagreb.

They're only now ''waking up'', and they're currently not active in looking for clients, first they have to grow financially and personally, explains Bek. Although in his business biography he notes that his expertise in IoT systems and the integration of machine learning algorithms into everyday processes "is now his main activity'' as a manager.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Bjelovar Presents Financial Award to Best Startup in 2019

When you think of Bjelovar, the first thing that comes into your head almost certainly isn't startups and forward thinking business practice. Such things are lagging in Croatia as a whole, but this continental Croatian town might just surprise you yet.

The Croatian startup scene is a bit of a mixed bag. It's rare to see a country which boasts such levels of talent and innovation and yet be governed by a state which really doesn't understand, nor is it ready to embrace the idea of startups. Despite obstacles, of which there are many, there are steps being taken, at the regional and city level if not at the state level, to provide Croatia's startups with help, rewards, and advice. Bjelovar in continental Croatia is doing just that.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of May, 2019, the winner of the second edition of "Bjelovar Startup 2019" and the winner of a very welcome prize of 100,000 kuna was Goran Pauška with his special vehicle monitoring system.

The 100,000 kuna award will be invested back into the development and production of a product that has already been tested and helps in the control of specialised vehicles such as those driven by firefighters and other emergency vehicles.

CRANE President Davorin Štetner and members of the Management Board Hrvoje Prpić and Saša Cvetojević were the members of the expert commission who decided on the winner in Bjelovar, who was among the five other finalists.

Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak thanked everyone who came forward with their respective entrepreneurial ideas, announced Startup 2020, and called on all entrepreneurs with good ideas to start getting properly prepared right now.

"You have mobile phones like we do in Zagreb, there is no reason not to be able to present us with the new InfoBip," Prpić stated encouragingly.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Page 5 of 6