Friday, 4 June 2021

CASCADE Project: Italy and Croatia Collaborating on Ecosystems Monitoring

June 4, 2021 - With the scientific community in Croatia busy and involved in international projects, meet the CASCADE Project. Learn how Italian and Croatian scientists are working together in monitoring ecosystems.

Croatian scientists in Croatia are running various projects which either don't get reported on by journalists, or if they are reported on, they sadly don't get too much attention from the public.

One such project is the Projekt CASCADE which started back on January first, 2020, and will continue until the very end of 2022.
As reported on the website of The Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOR), the 5,817,547 euros, 85 % of that capital (4,944,914.95 euros) is secured by The European Regional Development Fund (ERFD).

CASCADE is short for „CoaStal and marine waters integrated monitoring systems for ecosystems protection and management“, and is part of the Interreg Italy-Croatia 2014-2020 strategic program. Assess the quality of coastal marine ecosystems in order to restore the habitats of endangered species and provide support for integrated management is the main goal set by 2022.

For the next three years, the project team from the Laboratory for Plankton and Shell Toxicity and the Laboratory for Chemical Oceanography and Sedimentology will work on monitoring, gathering knowledge about habitat and ecosystem biodiversity in the field of project cooperation (Adriatic Sea). It will participate in the establishment of new, as well as the improvement, of existing coastal systems for monitoring and management of coastal and open water ecosystems. Joint actions will assess and protect coastal and marine biodiversity and establish restoration actions. The pilot area of ​​the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOR) within the EU CASCADE project is the mouth of the Neretva River“, explains the IOR website.

There are eleven pilot areas in Croatia and Italy where the researches will be conducted: lagoon Grado and Marano and Gulf of Trieste, coastal belt of the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, marine protected area Torre Guaceto (natural reef), Punta Della Contessa, Melendugno in the Italian region of Puglia, the mouth of the Neretva river, the coastal zone of the Italian region of Veneto, mouth of the river Miljašić Jaruga, coastal belt of the Italian region of Molise, the northeastern part of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, mouth of the river Cetina, Torre del Cerrano and Pineto Marine Park on the Abruzzo coast, and finally, the coastal zone of the Italian Marche region.

„At the mouth of the Neretva River (P4 pilot area), the IOR team members will sample sediment, shells, and seawater, depending on the type of matrix, they will analyze various parameters such as salinity, oxygen concentrations, heavy metals, and nutrients, with the aim of establishing an optimal system of observation of coastal and open waters“, added IOR.

The head of the projects within the IOR side is Dr. Sc. Ivana Ujević and various Italian and Croatian regions/counties, regional development agencies, scientific institutes, and two ministries from Italy and Croatia are included as associated partners.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Rovinj Sea Research Centre Celebrating 130 Years of Work

May 18, 2021 - The Rovinj Sea Research Centre turns 130 in 2021. It is the place in Croatia for oceanographic research and all things science related to the preservation of the sea and maritime life.

Established back in 1891 as Berlin's Aquarium Zoological Station, the research Institute is known today as the Rovinj Sea Research Centre (CIM), and last week it celebrated 130 years of work. An affiliate of the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB), that institute recently reported that CIM currently has 54 employees working in four laboratories, and the centre is heavily involved in numerous impressive scientific projects.

''This includes five projects of the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ), worth 5,855 635 HRK, three projects financed within the INTERREG cross border programme (worth 1,326 000 euros), three projects with European structural and investment funds (7,189 531 HRK), and two projects financed within the EU programme for research and innovations, OBZOR 2020, valued at 179,360 euros,“ says the IRB official website.

The section of the IRB page dedicated to CIM adds that the centre offers a multidisciplinary take on the research of the sea, offering both basic and applicable oceanographic research. This includes six areas of interest: processes and dynamics in the food chain, examining the dynamics of water masses, ecology (species and the interrelations of species in both clean and in polluted waters), sea organism research (ecological, physiological, and genetic features of organisms, and a pollution effects study), the monitoring of pollution and sea quality, and finally, the monitoring of eutrophication (a process in which the environment becomes enriched with nutrients which can trigger the development of algae and cause an imbalance in the ecosystem).

Set in the beautiful town of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula because of the clear waters of the Adriatic sea, CIM is on a mission to preserve marine life and its biodiversity.

CIM truly has a rich tradition, having conducted international systematic research and monitoring of the marine ecosystem of the Northern Adriatic for over 30 years. ''This approach became a model for the regional organisation of the European systematic monitoring of the coastal sea,'' says IRB.

IRB adds that in this long tradition, the Croatian science programme of monitoring the Northern Adriatic played a huge role. Having begun fifty years ago, it developed into the Jadran Project, making Croatia one of the first countries in all of Europe to have developed a systematic approach to the monitoring of the sea.

''Additional confirmation of the tradition and scientific quality of CIM can also be seen in the recent joining of CIM to JERICO – the Joint European Research Infrastructure network for Coastal Observatory, making CIM a partner of some of the most famous European Institutes“, concluded the IRB's explanation.

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Saturday, 20 March 2021

Split Technology Park Could Bring 7,000 Jobs to Dračevac

March 20, 2021 - The Split Technology Park will be the beginning of a new Split, one that turns from tourism to technology. 

Slobodna Dalmacija reports that a total of HRK 105 million was allocated to the City of Split for the first phase of the future Split Technology Park in Dračevac, which is almost 64 percent of the total value of the project, estimated at HRK 165 million! This is the largest individual project of the City of Split in the European Union's programming period. A public procurement procedure has been launched to design and construct the Split Technology Park central building with a total area of more than 17 thousand square meters.

But most importantly, this project is the beginning of a new Split, which emerges from the monoculture of tourism and turns to high technology. It results from many years of work and cooperation between the City of Split and competent ministries, primarily the Ministry of State Property, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Culture during 2018, and continuous cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union funds.

If the market survey and survey of entrepreneurs, which was also conducted during the project's preparation, proved to be correct, 1470 employees would work in only the first of the three phases of the Split Technology Park in Dračevac. Thanks to this project, 404 new jobs would be created in Split, which would be structured so that more than 94 percent would be employees of higher education. The total capacity of all three phases is 7,000 new employees who could work in Dračevac.

The idea of ​​the technology park on Dračevac dates back to 2009 when the Croatian Government donated 146 hectares of land worth HRK 276 million to the City of Split for the first time. The City aimed to turn it into a business and fair center where there would be 952 employees in the early years. To realize the project worth about HRK 400 million, the City then established the Split Development Agency - SRA, adopted a Detailed Development Plan for the Dračevac Work Zone, which provided for an ABC center, fair center, and technology park. However, the City had not started the process or parceled the zone according to the adopted DPU, issued a geodetic study, or defined its intentions towards the competent authorities. Therefore, as stipulated in the contract, the Croatian Government was to confiscate the donated land to the City due to inactivity.

In the summer of 2017, the City of Split, led by Mayor Andro Krstulović Opara, drafted the Urban Agglomeration Split Strategy and the ITU Urban Agglomeration Project Action Plan, which envisaged changing the Dračevac project to accommodate two strategic projects - relocating the JGP Promet garage and the Split Technology Park, abolishing the fair center as an idea that depends on a strong consumer market that Croatia does not have. Then talks began with the Ministry of State Property, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Culture, and the Split-Makarska Archdiocese on the future content of Dračevac, and in January 2018, Mayor Krstulović Opara reactivated the Development Agency, renaming it the Development Agency Split - RaST d.o.o.

Then the amendment of the DPU of the Working Zone Dračevac began. Given the strongly expressed will and desire of the City of Split to revitalize this area, the Croatian Government, at its session in Split in May 2018, decided to donate land to the City of Split Promet and the Technology Park Split, as well as the decision to donate part of the land in Dračevac to the Split-Makarska Archdiocese for the needs of the development of the Educational Center-kindergarten, primary and secondary school.

In the meantime, the City of Split made amendments to the DPU of the Dračevac Working Zone and prepared project-technical documentation of the preliminary, main implementation project and feasibility study as a basis for co-financing from EU funds. On the feast of St. Domnius, May 7, 2020, the Croatian Government turned its intention to donate land to the City of Split from 2018 into a Decision, and the City then performed a subdivision study and submitted a request for registration of ownership.

At the end of 2020, the City of Split obtained a valid location permit for the entire first phase of the Split Technology Park and then, together with the Development Agency, Split applied for two projects for co-financing and direct allocation of EU funds, according to calls issued by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds mechanism, within the Operational Program "Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020."

Decisions to accept the project arrived in February. The first stage of construction of the central building of the Technology Park, i.e., the project entitled "Development of the Dračevac Zone - Technology Park Split - Dračevac" includes the implementation of activities related to the reconstruction of the former barracks "St. Križ” to create the infrastructural preconditions to establish the technology park. The project's total amount is HRK 77.1 million, while the grant amounts to HRK 44.2 million, or 56% of the total project funds.

The second stage of construction of the Technology Park central building, i.e., the EU project called "Constructing and equipping the central building of the Technology Park Split - Dračevac," includes finishing works and equipping the central building to the stage of usability and includes all necessary construction and craft works, installations, ventilation, heating and cooling, water supply and drainage, equipping common areas, conference rooms, 3D laboratories, etc. The project's total amount is HRK 87 million, while the European Union grant amounts to HRK 60.8 million, or 70% of total project funds.

For the realization of the initial section of the Split Technology Park, i.e., the construction of the central building, the total amount of both registered projects amounts to HRK 164,754,315.70, of which a total of HRK 105,074,234.69 of EU grants has been provided, and the deadline is 31 December 2023.

The technology park in Dračevac is divided and will be built in three phases. In the already mentioned first phase, the most important is the central building of the Technology Park, the construction of which will be co-financed by EU funds, with emphasis on office and production space. For the entire first phase, a unique preliminary design was prepared, based on which a location permit was obtained in October 2020, and the preliminary design was prepared by the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture, and Geodesy with the chief designer Darija Gabrić.

Thus, the reconstruction and upgrade of the existing central building of the 4th GBR "Pauci" barracks, which is largely retained, except for one dilatation that is removed to build a new road, will create a new central building, the future headquarters of high technology in Split. In addition to 1,010 parking spaces, employees of the future Technology Park will have at their disposal laboratory and office space, a coworking center, canteen, kindergarten, gym, and parks, and the city of Split will get the first large conference center with up to 800 participants.

Thanks to the approved funds, the City of Split initiated the procedure. They announced a preliminary consultation on procuring the design and construction of the central building, with a total estimated value of HRK 116.8 million without VAT. The remaining funds will be provided in the budget over three years.

The deadline for realizing the rest of the first, second, and third phases of the Split Technology Park is, as stated in the government's grant, 25 years. The second phase of the Technology Park (about 75 thousand square meters) focuses on offices, laboratories, and production halls. In the third phase (20 thousand square meters), they will build a business tower with aparthotel and a business office center, additional large congress facilities in Split.

Without a doubt, the Split Technology Park is a capital project of the City of Split in the years to come and a ticket to the world of the highly developed IT industry. The former barracks on Dračevac will be the base of a smart city. 

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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Aladrovic: European Funds to be Used to Finance Jobkeeping Measures

ZAGREB, September 3, 2020 - Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Josip Aladrovic said on Thursday that the plan is for jobkeeping measures, which will continue for the next four months, to be primarily financed from European funds.

"About HRK 800 million is foreseen for the measures we adopted today for the next four months without shortening the working week. Our forecast indicates that that is about HRK 200 million a month, which is enough for 60 to 70,000 workers. We will see what the future will bring in the next four months. The main source of financing will primarily be European funds," Aladrovic said after a cabinet meeting while responding to questions from the press after Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced that support to the economy amid the coronavirus crisis would continue including jobkeeping measures and ensuring liquidity and Covid loans.

Aladrovic said that advance payments would be made from the state budget, adding that funds agreed over the past month at the EU level were available and that a portion of the €10 billion can be used at the moment to finance this.

"We actually plan to cover the cost of financing the measures for the next four months entirely from European funds," said Aladrovic.

He noted that the measures can be financed from current liquid funds but that it is important to know the source of funding. "The source of funding is vital and not current liquidity. At the moment, current liquidity is not in question as far as the budget is concerned but the matter at hand is the source itself. It is important that the source of funding is not tied to our internal capacities in the budget but that we transfer as much as possible to EU funds, which naturally is direct support to our economy," he explained.


Coric: Measures to date have certainly brought results

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric believes that the jobkeeping measures implemented over the past few months have definitely produced results.

He said that currently there are about 150,000 people unemployed in Croatia. Despite the fact that the majority of European and global economies recorded a fall in activities and were hit by a huge increase in unemployment, that did not occur in Croatia.

"We believe that this successful measure needs to continue. The fact that we have planned for it to continue until December, that is over the next four months, is aimed at anchoring the expectations of businesses and the real sector and that is precisely the direction we want to go in," said Coric.

He added that several portfolios would for that entire time monitor the effects of these measures on the economy and in that way take possible decisions if needed for additional measures to support the economy.

Coric underscored that in addition to the jobkeeping measures, credit lines would continually be available to settle liquidity, primarily through the SMEs agency Hamag-Bicro and the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR).

For that reason more than HRK 1 billion has been allocated to Hamag-Bicro to continue providing loans to the business sector, recalled Coric.

Asked whether in addition to writing off wage contributions, taxes too could be written off, which was one of the measures that had been in force, Coric said that that measure had been planned to apply for several months prior to the summer. Such a decision has not been made for the time being and if and when that will be, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric will inform the public.

Tourism and Sports Minister Nikolina Brnjac said that she was exceptionally pleased that the measure would ensure the survival of the tourism sector until the end of the year and that further plans could be made, with everything that awaits us with the new Multiannual Financial  Framework, which is extremely important for the tourism portfolio.


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