Thursday, 27 May 2021

Summer Business School: A Chance for Entrepreneurs at Step-Ri Science-Technology Park

May 27, 2021 - This June, a five-day Summer Business School organized by Step-Ri Science-Technology Park and the American Embassy in Croatia makes Rijeka the place for entrepreneurs.

Science parks, research parks or technology parks or less intriguingly known as innovation centers, are a purpose-built cluster of office spaces, labs, workrooms, and meeting areas designed to support research and development in science and tech, says Bidwells, one of the UK's most reputable property consultancy companies. Common infrastructures worldwide and in Europe, the biggest city in Kvarner, Rijeka, is no exception in having one.

Step-Ri is a science-technology park, part of the University in Rijeka, and a place where science and economy meet to encourage entrepreneurship based on knowledge and new technologies.

„As one of the leading institutions in Croatia when it comes to entrepreneurship, Step Ri brings the newest knowledge in innovation and management from around the world through interesting education and business consulting. With our knowledge and experience, singlehandedly and with the help of the international network of partners and friends, we create projects and specialized programs to encourage entrepreneurship initiatives for both employed and unemployed, students, and the scientific community. With new services, business models, personal and organizational competencies, we make already successful entrepreneurs more competitive“, says Step-Ri's official website.
One example of such initiatives is the upcoming Summer Business Camp which will take place from June 23-27. And what's more interesting, this five-day program is brought to Step-Ri in collaboration with the American Embassy in Croatia.

„Summer Business Camp brings teams from all Croatia that want to improve or refine their business ideas and solutions through exercises, lectures, and individual coaching, “says Step Ri, promising extraordinary mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and investors.

This year, special attention will be given to the gaming startups, but other industries are also welcome. Regardless of whether you are already an entrepreneur or just aspiring to be one, you are welcome to apply if you have a developed business idea or a functional prototype.

Learning how to bulletproof your idea, experienced entrepreneur as a mentor, a chance to hear directly from investors what are they looking for and how to deliver it, valuable feedback and honest thoughts to accelerate your project, creating new opportunities, meeting other people in the business, and a having a good time- are some of the promises by Step-Ri for those who apply.

But, it would be best if you hurried, as June 6 is very close, and that's the deadline to beat. At least ten teams will be selected after a committee of experts evaluates project applications. Bed and breakfast accommodation for up to two team members, lunch at the venue, local bus tickets for getting to the venue, and a commemorative T-shirt await for those who are selected. And once in, a panel of venture capitalists, business angels, and business people will award the best with Apple iPad Pro (1st prize), Apple iPad Air 4 (2nd prize), and Apple iPad 8 (3rd prize).

Pieces of technologies such as the aforementioned above can certainly come in handy to entrepreneurs, but what about money? The actual finance for your projects?
„Many teams in the past received funding from participating investors and judges. However, nobody but you can answer that! Come and pitch your idea and see how far it will take you!“concludes Step-Ri regarding finance possibilities to turn your vision into a reality.

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2020

SIMORA and A1 Croatia Collaborate on Business Incubator in Novska

December 22, 2020 – The Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency SIMORA and A1 Croatia, a leading technological innovator, have entered into business cooperation to develop the video game industry in the Business Incubator in Novska.

As Jutarnji list reports, SIMORA, a development center for the video game industry, and A1 Hrvatska, a leading technological innovator, have signed a multi-year agreement on cooperation and services exchange.

Business cooperation has common goals: development of the video game industry in the Business Incubator in Novska, including the development of video games on the most modern mobile and fixed technology, promotion of innovations, as well as stronger involvement of ICT industry and video game industry in education, public, and private sector throughout Croatia.

The specific location where the cooperation will take place is the PISMO Business Incubator in Novska, recently declared the best EU co-financed project in Croatia for 2020.

"At a time of unprecedented public health and economic challenges, we are especially pleased that the project of our development agency is recognized by important market participants aimed at digitalization of society, the progress of the local community, and thus the whole of Croatia. I am convinced that the inclusion of A1 Croatia will further accelerate the achievement of the goal of our county becoming a true center of the gaming industry, the fastest growing industry in the world," said Ivo Žinić, prefect of Sisak-Moslavina County.

The PISMO business incubator currently consists of two facilities with about twenty offices, co-working, and conference rooms equipped with the latest technology such as motion capture, photogrammetric and video, and music studio, CNC, 3D printer, VR, and other ICT equipment.

"About forty startups from the gaming industry are already operating in our incubator. It proves that we are succeeding in our intention to give young people the opportunity to stay in Sisak-Moslavina County or a reason to move in. The support provided by our new technological partner A1 Croatia is related, among other things, to access to the most modern mobile and fixed network. This is certainly one of the basic preconditions for our further development and growth in the direction of building a future Gaming campus worth almost 400 million kunas," explains Mario Čelan, director of SIMORA.

In addition to optical fixed infrastructure with access speeds of as much as 1 Gbps, A1 Croatia also ensures the availability of a real 5G network, gigabit speeds, and extremely low latency.

"A1 Croatia is a company that brings innovations and recognizes technological and social trends. So it's no surprise that everything related to the gaming industry has been in our focus for a long time. The potential that we recognized in the PISMO incubator we plan to realize much wider than technical support. In addition to content related to esport and hackathon events, we will organize numerous demonstrations and trainings related to the use of new technologies together. This partnership will certainly be one of the wheels of development of modern, digital society," concludes Tomislav Makar, General Manager for Technology and Information Technologies at A1 Croatia.

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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

CircuitMess: Supermarkets Begin Selling Croatian Game Consoles

As Novac/Benard Ivezic writes on the 8th of September, 2020, after Croatian agricultural products were placed on the shelves of well known, heavily frequented supermarkets, large retail chains operating within Croatian have also shown keen interest in offering their customers high-tech Croatian-made products. CircuitMess, a Croatian startup, has succeeded in getting its games consoles on sale.

On Monday, Kaufland Croatia started selling a new version of the first Croatian mobile gaming console MAKERbuino, otherwise the best-selling product from the Croatian startup CircuitMess, which was founded by 21-year-old Albert Gajsak from Karlovac. The new version of the console is called Nibble and is technically far more advanced than the previous version was.

Albert Gajsak, the founder and director of CircuitMess, says that Nibble is the first product they have fully localised for the Croatian market and that they have high expectations from its sale. This is supported by the size of Kaufland's order, as well as the unofficial fact that it is currently being sold in 33 Kaufland stores.

''For CircuitMess, this is the single largest order to date and is our best-selling product so far. I can't talk about the size of the order, but I can say that in the last three years we have sold a total of 12,000 MAKERbuino consoles,'' said Gajsak.

Marija Franic, Head of Corporate Communications at Kaufland Croatia, revealed that they had ordered as many as a thousand Nibble consoles. She added that their collaboration with CircuitMess is excellent.

"We believe that it is very important to support Croatian startups, especially those that bring new technologies closer to children," noted Franic.

Gajsak added they agreed to co-operate in just three months. He stated that they have experimented a lot with sales channels from the beginning. So far, they have focused on the web, and now they are turning to physical stores as well.

CircuitMess managed to create MAKERbuino by raising more than 100,000 US dollars via Kickstarter three years ago. In the meantime, it started selling on eBay and Amazon and a number of other web stores.

''We lack cooperation with large retail chains like Kaufland and that's why, from a sales perspective, this is a new chapter for us. We'd like to reach an agreement to enter Kaufland with our products at least occasionally or even on a permanent basis,'' said Gajsak.

The innovativeness of this particular Croatian startup is also reflected in the company's business results. CircuitMess, which was founded just three years ago and today employs fifteen professionals, in its first full business year, 2018, had revenue of 1.1 million kuna and a net profit of 10,643 kuna. It jumped five times last year. Its revenue in 2019 stood at 5 million kuna, and its net profit amounted to 238,065 kuna.

"This year has started quite terribly, but because of everything we're doing, I hope that we'll manage to repeat last year's income or exceed it. However, it's difficult to try and predict that,'' concluded Gajsak.

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Saturday, 29 August 2020

Novska High School Introduces Course for Video Game Developers

Novska, August 29, 2020 – The Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency SIMORA has launched a large project for the development of the gaming industry based in Novska, which has recently been included in the list of strategic projects of the Croatian Government. Thus, 23 students will start the first grade of high school this year in Novska as video game developers.

Last year, the same course was introduced at the Technical School in Sisak, which was the first to receive a decision to start implementing this new curriculum. It was already announced then that Novska High School, since Novska is the future headquarters of the gaming industry, will introduce the same course from this year, which has aroused great interest among children of primary school age.

The opening of a student dormitory planned

"We advertised the gaming industry in Novska at the InfoGamer this year. Our former Minister of Science and Education, Blaženka Divjak, has already then publicly stated that High School Novska will get a positive response to launch a new course," said Nikolina Fijačko Filipović, the headmaster of Novska High School, adding that they also attracted students by making a film that was released during online classes for children in primary schools.

Children from other parts of Croatia will also attend the new course in Novska, of which some are coming even from Imotski, and they will temporarily live in Novska due to their education.


Specially arranged classroom with computers / Copyright Donatella Pauković

For them, the City of Novska has provided accommodation that parents will have to pay for this year, but it is already planned for the next year to form a student dormitory in the same space.

"The student dormitory has not been opened this year. It is planned to be opened for the next school year. This year we will try to achieve the conditions for the dormitory in the same space where accommodation is now provided, with everything that is infrastructurally needed and the pedagogical service," explained the headmaster.

So far, only one class of video game developers has been enrolled. The headmaster points out that, judging by the great interest of the students, there may be more classes in the coming years.

However, it also depends on whether the Ministry of Science and Education approves it.

Given that the gaming center in Novska was recently included in the list of strategic projects of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and is supported by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić, the time for gamers is yet to come.

This is also the first national strategic project in Novska supported by the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

The program gives priority to practice

More than 50 percent of the program content is vocational, which is why the initiators of this idea believe that this course is very good preparation for the labor market where children will be ready to work after four years of high school education if they do not decide to go to college.

However, if students decide to continue their university education, they will also be able to do so, because all the required knowledge for the obligatory state matura exam is taught according to the gymnasium program.

"Some general educational programs have been reduced to get more space in the vocational part, which is not the case for other vocational courses. As for compulsory subjects, mathematics, Croatian and foreign languages, it is well covered by the program," says the headmaster.



The classroom is equipped with 23 computers each worth 18,000 kunas / Copyright Donatella Pauković

New space, new professors

Novska High School had to meet the personnel and material conditions for the education of future video game developers, which was not easy at all.

"I have to admit that the equipment these students are working on is very expensive. One computer with its set costs 18,000 kunas, and we have 23 students, which makes a considerable amount," says the headmaster.

They also arranged the classroom, which also represented a certain cost, but the Sisak-Moslavina County, which is also the founder of the gaming industry in Croatia, met their needs and provided it all.

"Currently, no computer in any school in Croatia meets the requirements for this course," the headmaster points out, adding that they had to order special computers from abroad.

And for classes to take place, it was necessary to hire new young professionals.

"It was a difficult task. I interviewed a lot of people. It is an industry where people at other jobs earn much more. An IT specialist can earn a lot more by working somewhere else than in a school where the salaries are low,” the headmaster said honestly, but they managed to find a teacher and a teaching assistant for exercise classes. 

Novska in the lead

Since there are two newly arranged buildings in Novska for the needs of the Business Incubator PISMO (letter), the students in Novska have an advantage over the students in Sisak because, in the afternoon, they can use a space with equipment for testing and developing games. It will also help them to acquire practical knowledge, on which great emphasis is placed in this course. 

Also, everything that happens regarding the gaming industry in Sisak-Moslavina County will be held in the area of ​​the town of Novska.

For now, all lectures will be held in schools. But if due to the epidemiological situation it is necessary to switch to online classes again, it will be a problem for this new course, especially because of the emphasis on the practical part of teaching.

Students learn the theory and apply it in practice. Vocational subjects and practical classes are inseparable, so in this case, it would be very difficult to teach online.

"In any case, we are ready for that. We tried it for the first time last school year. I hope that we will do this successfully if we are forced to do so. However, we all hope that we won’t be forced to do so, because that will reduce the quality of teaching," concludes the headmaster.

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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Gaming Evolution in Croatia - Construction of Campus in Novska

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/ writes on the 27th of August, 2020, the Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency is the holder of the PISMO (letter) project, the establishment of the business incubator in Novska, with partners in the Sisak-Moslavina County project and the Zagreb Development Agency. The value of the project stands at 20,293,944.35 kuna (with EU support amounting to 19,938,127.84 kuna), and it lasted from the 1st of September 2017 to the 1st of September 2019.

In the selection for the best county project, this one, based in Novska, entered the finals in the Contribution to Entrepreneurship category.

The Novska business incubator has gained an enormous level of popularity in just a short time and Novska has become a regional centre for the development of video games in the fastest growing industry, which earns billions worldwide. That is why the plans are expanding and moving towards the establishment of a campus for the PISMO gaming industry, which will include a faculty, accommodation for pupils and students, a gaming industry accelerator and an business incubator for eSport. Thus, the already completed phases of the development of the facility will be further supplemented.

In the first phase of the Novska-based project, free English language lessons were provided for all children in kindergartens in the county. The second phase regarded workshops for primary and secondary schools on software tools used to create video games, while the third phase is the business incubator itself. In the fourth phase, the introduction of the high school profession of ''video game development technician'', will take place, while in the fifth comes financial support for new startups that are established.

The Croatian Employment Service also joined in with the project, making special measures only for PISMO, so it pays the minimum Croatian salary and travel expenses to all those who decide to come to Novska from all parts of Croatia for training for six months.

Startups, founded by young developers who complete their high school or education as part of the incubator receive incentives from the CES to start a business in the amount of up to 100,000 kuna, Novska gives them 20,000 kuna, and Sisak-Moslavina County provides them with 35,000 kuna.

There are 33 startups operating within the business incubator, more than originally expected, because more and more participants in education in Novska remain in established startups. On top of that, twelve brand new companies will open soon.

The director of the Development Agency, Mario Celan, believes that a large number of game development startups from other parts of Croatia will move to Novska thanks to this aid. A measure intended for small and medium-sized companies from the gaming sector in the amount of 50,000,000 kuna, which is being prepared by the Ministry of the Economy, is also being prepared.

The establishment of the Novska business incubator was initially aimed at enabling entrepreneurs to do business and create new jobs in an easier and more efficient way, to encourage as many of them as possible to establish companies, ie startups, and thus contribute to strengthening entrepreneurship in Novska and Sisak-Moslavina. That's precisely what happened.

Since its inception, PISMO has provided an opportunity for many people to enter the fastest growing industry in the world, so it isn't surprising that an increasing number of unemployed people from all over Croatia are coming to Novska for their six months of training. In addition to education, where a large number of participants are learning how to create video games, the PISMO incubator also offers access to the latest technology and equipment for creating computer games, financial support for self-employment and beginning with your very own startup.

From the modern technology to which they have access, there is also VR equipment, a music studio, video recording equipment, a conference hall and much more.

Strategic investments

In addition to its own education, the incubator is actively cooperating with the local Sisak Technical School, and from September onwards, it will also cooperate with the high school in Novska.

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Monday, 13 July 2020

Gaming in Croatia: 240 Million Kuna Campus to be Constructed

Gaming in Croatia didn't take long to become a hit, and as Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of July, 2020, the success of just one startup in the gaming industry could pay off in terms of what has been invested so far in the project of turning Novska into a regional centre for video game development.

As Vecernji list reports, the aforementioned industry is one that is worth an eye-watering amount of money and just one single hit game has the ability to bring in hundreds of millions of kuna, they say from the PISMO business incubator, which is the only one specialised in the gaming industry in not only Croatia but in the wider region.

Their next related project is the Campus Gaming Industry, and indeed, the gaming industry earned 120 billion US dollars globally last year, four percent more than it did back in 2018.

The most popular game last year was the ubiquitous ''Fortnite'', which grossed as much as 1.8 billion US dollars from sales made throughout the year 2019, more than any other game ever in one single year.

When compared to figures like that, the 420 million kuna that is planned to be invested in the future gaming industry campus in Novska doesn't even sound like much. The campus which will encourage all things gaming in Croatia and indeed beyond into the wider region should be located in the Novska Entrepreneurial Zone, on a plot covering more than 90,000 square metres in total.

There will be four basic facilities on the campus area. The first is a faculty covering approximately 9,000 square metres of gross area and dormitories for guest lecturers, which provides a five-year programme with fifty students per year in programming and graphics and around which cooperation has already been established with faculties from both Malaysia and New York.

A student dormitory covering an area of 11,500 square metres will be constructed, as will an accelerator for the gaming industry and an business incubator for eSport with a hall with a capacity of 4,000 seats.

The accelerator of the gaming industry will include a recording studio, meeting rooms and a hall with new gaming equipment, and it will be possible to educate high school students and everyone else who is interested in this industry, reports Vecernji list.

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Monday, 8 June 2020

1.5 Million People Download Croatian Gaming Studio Nanobit's Game

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on thr 5th of June, 2020, Nanobit's games have been downloaded more than 130 million times in total, and are being played by over 10 million active players from across all continents of the world on a monthly basis.

Nanobit, a Croatian gaming studio from Zagreb, which creates lifestyle, casual and narrative games, is becoming increasingly popular in the Arab world. Nanobit's Hollywood Story game recorded great results just three months after its initial launch. So far, it has been downloaded by more than a million and a half players from as many as seventeen countries in the Arab world, and in many of them it remains among the top three games in both Apple and Google Play store rankings.

Nanobit decided to enter the Arab mobile game market in partnership with the leading game publisher in the MENA region, the Jordanian Tamatem. It is a region that includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

Hollywood Story is, due to the specifics of the market, linguistically and culturally adapted to the Arab world, and the game in this area is known as Fashion Queen. It is a game with a fun character through which the player builds their character who goes on to become a Hollywood star. The fact that Nanobit's game in Arab countries has become the ultimate hit has been confirmed by the visit of Queen Rania of Jordan to the centre of Tamatem, where she tested the possibilities of the game first hand - and she was thrilled with it.

"We're pleased with these results. The Arab market, although specific in many ways, has a huge amount of potential, we're so encouraged by the success of this project, with our partner Tamatem, we're already working on new projects. This success is primarily the result of the joint work of all of our colleagues at Nanobit,'' said Filip Cindric, Business Development Manager at Nanobit.

The success in the markets of the Arab world is a new confirmation of the success of this Zagreb-based gaming studio, which was included in the list of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe by the prestigious Financial Times (FT).

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