Friday, 15 April 2022

India-Croatia Startup Challenge Seeking Best Solutions in 3 Fields

April the 15th, 2022 - The India-Croatia Startup Challenge competition is gearing up with partner companies including the likes of Infobip and Koncar in hopes of encouraging more cooperation between startups from these two countries.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Agency for Small Business, Innovation and Investment (HAMAG-BICRO) and Startup India are organising the India-Croatia Startup Challenge competition in cooperation with partner companies Infobip, Koncar and HexGn, along with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of India in Croatia.

After the launch of India-Croatia Startup Bridge, a digital platform designed to strengthen international cooperation, innovation environment and trade and economic cooperation between Croatia and India, HAMAG-BICRO and Startup India have been busy continuing the various activities designed to encourage cooperation between Indian and Croatian startups.

Following this, a competition, the India-Croatia Startup Challenge, has been designed to find innovative startup solutions for three challenges in the fields of sustainability, livelihoods, sustainable development goals, green energy, education and skills development: Clean Water and a Better Quality of Life, Reduced Inequality and Dignified Labour and Economic Growth.

Participants in the India-Croatia Startup Challenge who offer the best solutions can win cash prizes, mentoring, incubation and business solutions for their further growth. The total value of the prize pool is estimated at 43,000.00 US dollars.

The partner companies of the India-Croatia Startup Challenge will work to provide the following benefits for the best solutions made by Croatian and Indian startups that will participate in the competition:

Infobip will select up to 3 best startup solutions from among 12 successful participants and award each of them with a prize in the form of Infobip products and services worth a total of 10,000 dollars. The selected startup teams will receive the support of the talented and experienced Infobip team in order to make the most of the possibilities of Infobip's products for their growth.

Koncar will provide a cash prize in the amount of 10,000.00 kuna (around 1,694 dollars) for the best startup solution to the Dignified Labour and Economic Growth area.

HexGn will provide a free scale up programme worth 2,000 dollars to each of the 12 successful participants (six from India and six from Croatia). The programme will run for 45 days twice a week.

Interested startup companies can submit their innovative solutions until May the 20th, 2022 on the official Startup India website via this link. The winners will be announced at an event organised by HAMAG-BICRO on June the 14th, 2022, and it will also be announced on their website.

For more, check out our business section.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Place2Go Promotion Aims to Attract Indian Tourists to Croatia Post-Pandemic

April the 2nd, 2022 - The Indian market is enormous and offers a chance that has perhaps yet not been totally exploited by the Croatian tourism sector. In the post-pandemic period, Indian tourists are hungry for travel, and the Place2Go promotion might just put Croatia on their map.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after a two-year break due to the global coronavirus pandemic, this spring the International Tourism Fair, Place2Go, is returning to the Zagreb Arena, where thirteen countries will present their local exhibitors, mostly from Croatia's more immediate region, but also from distant areas such as Indonesia, Maldives and India.

Moreover, India is a partner country of the Place2Go fair, which is accompanied by the fortunate circumstance that India opened up to international travel just five days ago, two years since the closure of its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic. A Place2Go promotion could be just what is needed to attract a huge market of people to this country.

Opening a new niche

Croatia may well be able to count on this distant and very important market, with which a new niche of "startup tourism" is opening, the organisers and partners of the fair announced on Thursday. "We're happy that after a two-year break, and several failed attempts to organise this fair, we can finally announce Place2Go, which we managed to organise over the last month, and do the job that used to last ten months before the pandemic struck.

We have equipped ourselves, taken reinforcements, we 'e happy to have our loyal sponsors with us, and things are going well. Additionally, over this period we were at fairs in Belgrade and Ljubljana and we noticed a great interest in Place2Go,'' said the organiser of the fair, Damjana Domanovac, at a recently held press conference.

As usual, the first day of the fair is reserved for B2B meetings and networking with the topics of smart tourism, the green transition and digitalisation, and the weekend will be intended for visitors, for whom admission is free.

The audience will enjoy lectures by bloggers and travel writers, a game with a prize being a trip to the Maldives, as well as a rich entertainment programme. Currently, entry is planned only for those who possess a valid COVID certificate or a negative test, but an interpretation by the Croatian Institute of Public Health is still pending as to whether this will remain mandatory, according to Domanovac.

The Place2Go fair is an opportunity that India wanted to use to further promote a country that has worked hard in the last two years to strengthen its tourism infrastructure, said Indian Ambassador to Croatia Raj Kumar Srivastav.

"I believe that travel restrictions, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, are now behind us, and that provides us with many opportunities for economic cooperation and tourism. Indian tourism over the last two years has been limited to domestic traffic, so Indians are eager for both cross-border guests and to travel abroad themselves. 85 percent of India’s population has been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. Back in 2019, 70,000 Indians travelled to Croatia, up from 50,000 one year earlier, a significant increase that I expect to continue now. I believe that Croatia will reach its pre-pandemic figures from the Indian market this year, and we'll exceed that next year, if there are no major surprises,'' said Ambassador Srivastav.

Startup tourism

The Indian Ambassador also expects that additional tourist exchange with India will be stimulated by economic cooperation, for example through the India-Croatia Startup Bridge project, which is entering a new phase in early April.

As is already fairly well known, this is a digital platform launched at the end of last year with the aim of strengthening trade and economic cooperation between Croatia and India. In a few days, more precisely on April the 4th, the first startup challenge will start, sponsored by Koncar and Infobip from the Croatian side, and the winners of the challenge will have the opportunity to exchange, Croatian startups will travel to India and vice versa.

"We can call it startup tourism because it's a two-week trip and different destinations will be visited, and families will also be able to be taken on these trips. For example, I would like to see our startups from the gaming industry in Novska, which is one of the best ecosystems for this industry in Europe,'' said Ambassador Raj Kumar Srivastav, who clearly believes that a Place2Go promotion will offer many benefits to both India and Croatia.

For more, make sure to check out our travel section.

Friday, 31 December 2021

Indian Film Producers Could be Interested in Filming Varazdin

December the 31st, 2021 - Croatia is certainly no stranger to international film crews, with Game of Thrones (GoT) placing the City of Dubrovnik very firmly on the global filming map, and the likes of Star Wars doing the same. What about continental Croatia, however? The Fiddler on the Roof had scenes filmed there, but that was a long time ago. The Indians now have their eyes on possibly filming Varazdin for various scenes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, this charming Northern Croatian city, which has the Trash Film Festival and Vafi - an international festival of animated films for children and youth, definitely has a friendly relationship with the world of film, and with the founding of the Varazdin Film Office, its goal is to promote the city as being film friendly.

In addition, Varazdin aims to become a desirable location for filming movies, series, commercials, videos and other such productions. Lana Velimirovic Vukalovic, the director of the Varazdin Public Open University, which founded the Office back in 2017 with the support of the City of Varazdin, recently had an online meeting with the Indian company Europa Media & Entertainment at the Focus 2021 international event in London. This company usually represents film locations in Mumbai (Bombay). How did it turn out?

"Indian producers are showing great interest in filming in Croatia. Through the exchange of emails, we'll present Varazdin and its surroundings in more detail as potential film backdrops,'' pointed out Velimirovic Vukalovic. In February 2022, a producer from Mumbai is due to arrive to look into potentially filming Varazdin.

"What I expect from this visit is the promotion of the city of Varazdin and the entire county, not only in terms of potential locations for filming, but also in terms of tourism. We talked about the possibility of bringing Instagrammers from India here who would document and photograph our region on their profiles.

We want to launch a series of activities related to the creative industries in POU, so I suggested a guest from India to give lectures in Varazdin on the topic of Bollywood and to show his two feature films in the Gaj city cinema,'' revealed the director.

The Varazdin Film Office takes on a dual role, the first being to be a contact point for all film crews in the city, along with the Tourist Board and the City, and the second to help teams find suitable locations for filming Varazdin and elsewhere, to connect them with site owners and so on… The office can ''direct'' economic opportunities as well, especially for local SMEs.

"In the case of larger production projects, they can be involved in providing their services, for example through the accommodation of camera crews, catering and hospitality, hairdressing, make-up artists, and so forth,'' explained Velimirovic Vukalovic. Currently, the Office is supporting one Croatian production company in its search for a place for a film with scenes from the middle of the nineteenth century.

"The goal is to attract filmmakers from Croatia, the region and the rest of the world. In this sense, we'll be able to explore the possibilities of designing incentive models for production companies with support provided by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre. Therefore, in the future, we want to connect the Varazdin Film Office with the Centre for Creative Industries, which we plan to develop in cooperation with the City of Varazdin.

The plan is to map the creative industries across the entire county and we've already started forming a working group. We'll see to what extent we can include activities related to the film industry in this domain, but a holistic approach would certainly make sense. It's crucial that in 2022 we implement the annual plan - drafting regulations on the Office, updating the website with information on services throughout the city, and additional networking with important stakeholders in the film industry at home and abroad,'' she concluded.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Innovative Altpro Braking Equipment on Croatian-made Trains

September the 16th, 2021 - The Croatian company Altpro is engaged in the development and production of signalling and other safety equipment for trains and their accompanying infrastructure. Thanks to the recent signing of contracts between them and Koncar, their equipment is set to be placed on Croatian-made trains.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Altpro has its headquarters in the City of Zagreb, and as they explained, both contracts they signed with Koncar regard the delivery of their equipment for the automatic train protection system which Koncar develops.

Both contracts relate to the supply of Altpro’s built-in vehicle safety systems (ATP) equipment. The first contract defines the delivery of 21 sets of installed equipment for 21 electric Croatian-made trains which Koncar has built for Croatian Railways (Hrvatske zeljeznice).

Each set of built-in equipment includes a central unit of the RAS8385 IS type, as well as all vehicle peripherals. The second contract defines the delivery of one set of installed equipment for the vehicle for track maintenance, which Koncar also builds.

''This set of built-in equipment includes the central unit of the newly developed ATP device type RAS90, as well as all vehicle peripherals. The new RAS90 is fully developed by Altpro and operates on the I60 principle as well as the PZB90 principle, which is based and developed on the experience gained through long-term use. The RAS90 complies with the latest European (EU) technical and safety requirements,'' they explained from the company headed by Zvonimir Viduka.

They added that the end customers in both cases are Croatian-made trains and Croatian railway companies that have recognised the quality, reliability and other advantages of Altpro's products in the field of railway safety. From this technology company, they emphasised that these two contracts will ensure the stability of Altpro's business in the future and strengthen their company's presence and references across the wider market.

Altpro, which currently employs 180 people, signed a 40m-euro contract with the railways in India late last year, and Viduka commented that the company has been trying to break into the Indian market for as long as fifteen years, and that it is worth around 2.5 billion euros in their industry.

He revealed the recipe for export success, saying that a Croatian product must be innovative and rare in order to be successfully exported. ''The detectors we've developed for monorail trains are unique in the world, they aren't produced by anyone else. So, you need to specialise in something closely and become the best at whatever that something is. This is our philosophy, to be the best in the world in the three niches we deal with,'' Viduka explained, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has brought them some huge problems, especially given the situation in India.

“Our engineers go over there to assemble the products, so they have to go into self-isolation when they return home. That's why we've digitised everything we can and adapted what we can to the maximum. However, at the end of last year, we managed to return to the results we enjoyed back in 2019, which a record year, and by the end of the year we exceeded it, which is an exceptional achievement,'' said the leader of Altpro, Zvonimir Viduka.

He also pointed out that Croatian Government economic and job preservation measures helped to overcome the most difficult period caused by the pandemic and lockdowns.

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

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Indian Ambassador to Croatia Discusses Yoga, EU, Tech and Diplomacy

June the 17th, 2021 - It might seem like India and Croatia couldn't be further apart, but there are some ties which bind. The Indian Ambassador to Croatia sat down to discuss many topics, from Croatia's EU-related plans to tech, culture and yoga.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, here in Croatia, June the 21st, known as the longest day of the year, will see International Yoga Day marked in more than 30 cities. Here in the country, the marking of this day will be organised by the Embassy of India in Croatia, which continuously highlights the positive effects and traditional systems such as yoga that are effective in boosting immunity.

Participation is free, and in addition to yoga for all age groups, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy a presentation by yoga teachers and experts. Next year, on August the 15th, India celebrates 75 years of independence, but also 30 years of establishing diplomatic relations between Croatia and India.

On that occasion, Nj. E. Raj Kumar Srivastava, the Indian Ambassador to Croatia, talked about the current bilateral relations between Croatia and India, why Indians are interested in Croatia, what the digital ecosystem of India and Croatia is like, but also how yoga enriches Croatia's tourist offer.

You've been living and working in Croatia for more than half a year. What are your impressions?

''Croatia is a beautiful country, full of natural, cultural and ethnic diversity. Although it's 1/60 the size of India in terms of geographical area, there's a lot on offer just because of these varieties. Croatia has a very rich and much longer history that gives the Croatian people a sense of pride and self-respect. This is visible when you communicate with people from Croatia.

This country is also building a future towards becoming a fully European country by joining all EU instruments in the years to come. This opens the way for Croatia to further develop towards political, economic and strategic development. As the Ambassador of India to Croatia, I witness opportunities to further strengthen our bilateral relations G2G (government to government), B2B (business-to-business) and P2P (people to people) on a daily basis.''

Next year, Croatia and India will celebrate 30 years of having established diplomatic relations. How would you rate that relationship and collaboration today?

''During these 30 years, both India and Croatia have grown, and our bilateral relations in all spheres have also developed. With the exponential growth expected in India over the next two decades as Croatia becomes a fully European country and joins Schengen and the Eurozone, the future of our bilateral relations will be significantly upgraded.

We need to reduce the information gap that exists about the growing opportunities to improve our engagements for the mutual benefit of our people, and I see here the role of our embassy which is proactive and which sees our role in promoting not only India in Croatia but also Croatia in India.''

It has been stated before that you're very interested in the IT industry and new technologies. How do you rate the IT sector and the startup scene in Croatia? What is the digital ecosystem of India, and on the other hand, what's it like in Croatia?

''Technology has played an important role for developing countries that have moved to a higher level of development at exponential rates. For a country the size of India, it's important to leverage the technology and skills of our human resources to make our demographic challenge a demographic profit. The importance of digital technologies has been further highlighted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in which these technologies have enabled connections between customers and service providers, whether it be in the fields of health, education, business, politics, or even in diplomacy.

Therefore, one of my priorities is to connect the digital ecosystem of India, which is among the best in the world, with the Croatian technological ecosystem in favour of our friends from Croatia, more so than it being other way around. An Indo-Croatian Talent Partnership would be extremely complementary to the demographics of Europe and Croatia.

That's why we're developing a skills-based collaboration programme where experienced people from India can help the technological ecosystem in Croatia to grow further. This is being conceived through new initiatives between universities in India and Croatia to connect young talent, thus ensuring future relations between the two countries.''

What is the interest when it comes to travel and tourism of Indians towards Croatia, and vice versa?

''Before the pandemic hit the world in 2020, nearly 70,000 Indian tourists visited Croatia in 2019. That number will definitely be better when travel starts again, hopefully as soon as possible in the coming months.

Similarly, there are many Croatian tourists who would like life-changing experiences in various aspects of thematic tourism that India offers - from wellness to adventure, from wildlife to lavish splendor, from beaches to mountains to innovation and spirituality.

India is very well known among the Croatian people. There are many Croatian companies that have been present on the Indian market for more than ten years now, and the number of such companies will likely only increase in the coming years if joint efforts begin to expand the opportunities available over in India.

Croats also know a lot about Indian culture and tradition, including some Croats who shared their very surreal “déjà vu” experience when they first landed in India - meaning they felt very comfortable and at home despite the differences between the two countries in terms of development and demographics.''

Here in Croatia, as in the res tof the world, June the 21st is marked as International Yoga Day. What's the level of interest Croats have in yoga and how can it enrich the Croatian tourist offer?

''There are historical ties between the peoples of our two countries and there are newly built relations between the younger generations. Yoga and Ayurveda are two important areas for human well-being, and have also been practiced in Croatia for a long time with the help of many Croatian teachers and experts, especially during these pandemic-dominated times when the qualities of yoga and ayurveda to boost immunity are being recognised worldwide, including by the WHO (World Health Organisation).

International Yoga Day is now being celebrated on June the 21st, the day declared by the United Nations back in 2015, and this year it will be celebrated all over the world, including here in Croatia in more than 30 locations. Yoga brings with it the positive energy of inclusion, it creates harmony between the body and the mind, humanity and nature, and human consciousness with universal consciousness.

Increased popularity and facilities related to yoga in tourist locations in Croatia would definitely increase the wellness of visitors and therefore it would be useful for the Croatian tourist offer to add the topic of wellness to the package,'' concluded the Indian Ambassador to Croatia.

For more information on the Indian Ambassador to Croatia and much, much more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 22 March 2021

India and Croatia Wish to Develop Post-COVID Tourism Cooperation

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - India and Croatia wish to develop stronger tourism cooperation, particularly in the post-COVID period, but even before that through mutual promotions, it was said at the presentation of the latest edition of the local Place2Go tourism magazine at the Indian Embassy on Monday.

In Croatia there is huge potential to develop tourism and tourism cooperation, and the pandemic is actually a good time and opportunity to plan such cooperation and tourism trends between the two countries, India's Ambassador to Croatia Raj Kumar Srivastava said at the presentation.

He sees tourism cooperation with Croatia in medical and wellness tourism, which is something that is being worked on intensively in India but there is also a demand for that from that country.

The ambassador said that in 2020 tourism in India was at about 65% of 2019's level, while its share in GDP did not contract and remained at 9%, mostly due to domestic tourists.

State-Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tonči Glavina, said that despite the difficult times during the pandemic and suspension in international tourism, India and Croatia can cooperate in promotions, such as this presentation of Place2Go magazine.

"Even though they completely differ with regard to the size of their population, way of life and being in different continents, both Croatia and India nevertheless have something in common that is important for their tourism offer and that is their great diversity in different areas of the country, which can all be tourism products that attract a different public and provide them with experience and adventure," said Glavina.

He hopes that travel to distant destinations will be possible again soon and that tourists will also come to Croatia, which is launching the preparation of a new strategy of sustainable tourism development which is important for the future. He thanked Place2Go magazine for promoting Croatia and its tourism.

Place2Go Director Damjana Domanovac said that as a small business it too experienced difficulties in business during the pandemic but managed to regularly release its magazine and maintain business contacts.

It plans to hold the regular Place2Go tourism fair in Zagreb in mid-May and hopefully if the epidemiological situation allows, both domestic and foreign exhibitors will participate.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism turnover from India was on the increase and in 2019, which was a record year, 70,000 Indian tourists visited Croatia generating almost 160,000 bed nights, which was an increase of 10% year on year while figures in 2020 contracted to 3,000 arrivals and 14,000 bed nights.

To read more travel news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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