Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Popular Lika Skripavac Cheese Expanding Sales Network and Offer

December the 28th, 2021 - The very popular Lika Skripavac cheese is set to expand not only its offer but also it's sales network following special recognition given to it by the European Union (EU) in the form of a much-sought-after label.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, the much loved Lika Skripavac cheese has been awarded the European Union's label of protected geographical indication, the European Commission (EC) published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Tuesday.

As stated, the method of production of this special Croatian cheese, which became the 32nd Croatian product to boast EU protection, has been passed down from generation to generation and preserved to this day, and its crunchy properties, after which it got its name, occurs due to high fat and protein in the milk resulting from a specific diet the cows eat.

From the heart of Lika all the way down to Dubrovnik...

Native Lika products, including the Lika Skripavac cheese, are the basis of Vedrine's cheese business, which offers quite the variety of produce from Croatia's green heart.

This small family cheese factory is run by two married couples in the village of Brezik below Vaganski vrh on Velebit, and their plant processes about 180,000 kilograms of milk annually, and has more than 20 products in its range.

They recently opened a store in the town of Samobor, and at the beginning of next year they will open their seventh point of sale, in the Crnomerec district of Zagreb. In Samobor, consumers were introduced to some of the novelties Vedrine has on offer - small fruit yogurts, boiled cheese with garlic and butter in four variants, natural and salty, and butters with garlic and chives, which are set to reach the market in the spring.

In addition to their points of sale at markets in Zagreb and Zadar, this cheese factory also cooperates with specialised stores in Zagreb, Sibenik, Split and Dubrovnik.

"Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, we sold our products at the Samobor market, Samobor is an interesting market and people here really like domestic production. We haven’t hired anyone new, I do all of the work, but with the new location we’re opening we’ve hired one person. We have established cooperation with the Better Tomorrow Association of Persons with Disabilities by selling their pasta, as well, and we're looking for more small producers to work with,'' said Ana Todoric from Vedrine.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Meet the Makers: Likamee Wool Rugs, Eco-Friendly and Imperfectly Perfect

In the age of mass-production and overconsumption, artisanal crafts seem to be making a comeback as more and more people crave authenticity over standardised manufacturing. We’re starting a new series to highlight the talented Croatian artisans creating extraordinary things, looking to learn more about their crafts. First up in Meet the Makers, an interview with the woman who’s turning discarded sheep fleece into stunning, eco-friendly wool rugs

 

Scrolling through my news feed one day, an image caught my eye. A star-shaped white rug, covered in streaks of bright pink and orange, that looked incredibly soft and entirely unique. That’s how I first learned of Likamee wool, a small family business manufacturing felted wool rugs.

Likamee wool is run by two exceptional women: Nada Jandrić, the artisan creating the rugs, and her daughter Ivana who manages the Likamee socials and is also familiar with the craft herself. I reached out to them to learn more about their work and the stars aligned just right for us to meet in Zagreb for a chat.

Blurring the line between home decor and art, Likamee rugs are beautiful, one of a kind pieces, but there’s a lot to appreciate about this unique product beyond the aesthetic.

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All the rugs are handmade, eco-friendly and animal-friendly, and I was curious to find out what led Nada to start practising such a specific craft. I thought this creative endeavour may have organically evolved from a love of arts and crafts in general, but she was in fact inspired by a documentary she saw about the environmental impact of wool as a pollutant.

You read that right - raw natural fiber can very well be a pollutant. Annual sheep shearing leaves behind massive quantities of fleece which essentially turns into waste overnight. Some people burn the leftover wool, some bury it, some just send it to landfill. On her part, Nada wanted to work out a way to recycle the fleece and give it a new life.

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‘I had some unprocessed wool at home and the documentary got me thinking. If I could get more wool, what would I do with it? I don’t knit, I don’t spin yarn… I wanted to do something no one else was doing. So I did some googling, learned about felting, and I really liked the concept. I gave it a try; I started small, making pom-poms. Then I got myself a few felting needles and little by little, my projects expanded in size. Small at first, the rugs grew larger and larger until I made one with a 2-metre diameter.’

That particular rug is the largest she made to date and weighs an impressive 8 kilos, but on average Likamee rugs weigh around 2-3 kilos each (6,5lb). Coincidentally, that’s exactly how much wool is typically shorn from a single sheep, resulting in a neat principle of one sheep - one rug, give or take. I was delighted to learn that Likamee wool rugs have an easily traced origin, and a sweet story at that.

‘I source my wool from a woman who lives in Lika and tends to a flock of one hundred sheep. She loves those sheep so much. Each one has a name, and they respond to their names when called! It’s really something else. As an animal lover, I want that flock to be preserved for as long as possible.’

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Lika Pramenka sheep / Wiki Commons

Animal-friendly manufacturing is a crucial part of the Likamee philosophy. Some of the rugs are made to imitate the look of sheepskin, but only in appearance: batches of shorn fleece are bonded by felting, resulting in beautiful and durable pieces created without any harm coming to animals.

‘My sheep are all safe and sound, they just get a haircut every once in a while’, said Nada with a laugh.

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A sheep fleece Likamee rug with felted mat backing

These days, sourcing wool is the least of her concerns. Friends and family were very much on board ever since they first learned about the rugs, and everyone was happy to help by bringing more fleece for future projects. Nada soon had so much wool on her hands, storing it became a challenge. Once you have the raw material ready, what’s next?

As you might imagine, making a woollen rug by hand is a lengthy, demanding process. Nada and Ivana took me through all the steps involved in hand processing of wool, and learning how much time and effort is invested into each piece only made me appreciate the craft all the more.

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An assortment of felting needles, all handmade for Likamee manufacturing purposes

‘Say I was making a small rug and putting a few hours into it every day, it’d take me about a week to finish it. Since I’m basically stabbing wool [with the felting needle] by hand the whole time, I can work for four hours at a time, tops', says Nada. Check out the Instagram video showing the first stage of the dry felting process. 

The creation of a rug is just the final step, though, and it’s the preparatory work that actually requires the most effort. There are stages to working with unprocessed fleece: it needs to be washed first, and that alone can take days.

Raw fleece typically has an unpleasant smell and is covered in mud, dirt and grease, so it needs to go through the wash a few times before it’s considered clean enough for further processing. Soak, rinse, repeat. Nada and Ivana do it all by hand.

‘You could technically use a washer, but all washing machines are too rough on wool even on the most gentle cycles. What occurs is that the fleece sort of felts itself and then you need to rip it apart again. That’d be incredibly hard: once wool is felted, it can very well last forever. So we wash it by hand instead.’

Once it’s air dried, the clean fleece goes through several rounds of combing. It’s split into smaller chunks with the help of a carding machine, is then combed by hand, and finally goes through a mechanical tool for fine carding (see the carder in action in this video). Is that the big contraption I saw on their Instagram? We wish it were big, they replied with a laugh. 

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The biggest carding tools intended for hobbyists are 30cm wide - it’s not much when you have to prep enough wool to make a rug, but anything bigger than that is only made for industrial manufacturing. They could really use a larger carder to process more wool at once, but had no luck searching for one.

‘Since my dad can make anything, he offered to build us a custom carding tool if we got him a metal sheet fitted with combing pins. Turns out, you can’t get one anywhere. We couldn’t source individual parts to build a bigger carder on our own, and so we struggle with the small one that we have. That’s why it takes so long; it’s a lengthy process in part due to the equipment’, explained Ivana.

Rough batches of wool are fine-combed until they transform into soft, airy clouds:

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At that point, it’s finally time to felt. Several sheets of wool are stacked on a foam mat to make a rug, the number of sheets depending on the type of wool. Some are softer, some a bit rougher.

‘Our wool from Lika is more coarse, it takes more effort to work with. I also use wool from Pag island, that one’s softer. Interestingly, both are the Pramenka sheep breed, just originating from different areas.’

All Likamee rugs are unique, and Nada never makes the same design twice because it’s virtually impossible to repeat the same pattern. While some rugs retain the soft hues of natural sheep fleece, I’ve noticed a few eye-catching designs with accents of colour.

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‘I started to dye the wool just to see how it would turn out. Since I’m working with eco wool, it only made sense to use eco-friendly dyes as well. I used coloured pencils at first and liked how it came out, then I started using natural purple dye. I’m planning to give avocado a try too… but mostly I just use natural wool. The experiments are more to ensure I have enough dyed wool at hand in case someone commissions a rug in a specific colour or pattern.’

Commissions are coming in indeed, and what started as a creative experiment and evolved into a hobby is now taking the shape of a business. For the last five years, it’s been all about learning. Now they’re working on branding and marketing, with Ivana managing the Likamee website and social media pages.

While they would both love for the project to become commercially viable and turn into a fully fledged family business, they primarily aim to build a strong design brand with a well-defined image: eco-friendly, high quality products.

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In the meantime, they’re enjoying the creative process. Ivana said, ‘People love working with their hands, but aren’t fully aware of this until they actually start making something. It’s meditative, you get completely lost in it. It’s a different kind of focus than filling Excel sheets or preparing work presentations. We really enjoy it. It can be exhausting, but it’s so fulfilling.'

'The work is challenging, but so interesting', agreed Nada. 'There are times you get annoyed when something isn't turning out as you planned, but once you see your finished product, you know it’s all been worth it.'

We wish the best of luck to Likamee wool - head over to their website to browse the rug selection, and follow them on Instagram.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy of Likamee wool.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

OPG Matulic: Hand Made Pasman Items Being Sought on Zagreb Market

December the 19th, 2021 - OPG Matulic from the island of Pasman just off the coast of Zadar began working only a decade ago, and they have attracted the attention of not only locals, but also the much larger Zagreb market.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/PD VL native tim writes, the Matulic family farm (OPG Matulic) from the island of Pasman was started ten years ago by Krsto and Ana Matulic. This family business includes growing olives, figs and chili peppers. They started with just one hundred seedlings, and today they have over 2000 seedlings of various chili peppers each and every year.

˝We're a small family farm, currently there are three of us, we have one hectare of land and we don't sell raw materials, only the finished products. We grow chili, figs, aloe vera, and we also have a lot of wild plants. My husband Krsto is in charge of the field and spices, and I'm in charge of cosmetics. This year has been very challenging and intense. Throughout the pandemic, we set up a production facility and devoted a little more time to online sales. There were also some other novelties. I launched three new products: Sea Tail - hand cream, Belle - face foam and the summer hit Lady sunshine. Krsto made some amazing chocolate with fig and maraschino acetate and olive oil,'' Ana Matulic said as she began OPG Matulic's story.

They started online sales a year and a half ago, and as they point out from OPG Matulic, they're very satisfied with the results and sales they've experienced so far, especially during the festive period. In their shop on Pasman, you can buy only their products, from hot sauces, flavoured salts, fig oils and acetates, to cosmetics based on olive oil and new sorts of chocolate. Back in the beginning, the majority of their products were bought by foreigners, and today there are more and more domestic customers who visit them and buy them as gifts for others and for themselves. The best-selling and most sought-after products are Pasman Libre fig aceto and Immortelle face cream.

The products from OPG Matulic have been awarded the Croatian Island Product label, three times they received the Sunflower Award of Croatian Rural Tourism, and they also received the Superior Taste Award for their Pasmanero in 2017 and for their Pasman libre fig aceto back in 2018, making them the very first small domestic producer with that award.

The International Taste Award in Italy back in 2020 went to the Pasman Libre for gold and silver went to their Pasmanero and wine vinegar. The latest award OPG Matulic took home was the Great Taste Award, and they received as many as three stars in England for Pasman Libre. Out of over 14,000 registered products, only 211 received three stars. They aren't aiming at having their products placed on the shelves of retail chains, as they say, they prefer small delicatessens and specialised shops, for example, Gligora has their products in its larger stores in Zagreb, Zadar and Kolan, and during the season they're present in a number of small shops on the coast and islands from Vis to Korcula, Hvar and Brac.

˝A lot of our restaurants in Pasman take our hot Pasmanero and Pasman Libre fig vinegar sauces. We're represented in catering and hospitality trades on Murter, Korcula, in Dubrovnik and in Zadar, and most recently in Zagreb in the new restaurant Al Dente in Bogoviceva street. In fact, someone often calls us from various restaurants and asks for an offer. However, since we don't sell our spices in larger packages than those available on the website, this will be a problem for most people in catering and hospitality. Some people, however, decide to take what we offer them and are generally satisfied. We don't have classic collaborations with hotels, but a few of them take our products for their souvenir shops, and some occasionally for gifts for their VIP guests. One of the longest collaborations we have is with Adriatic Sailing Charter, which takes our gift packages for guests on their luxury yachts,'' they stated from OPG Matulic.

When it comes to their spices, they produce most of the raw materials themselves, they buy figs from the local population right there on the island of Pasman, and when it comes to the production of cosmetics, they also cooperate with other family farms from which they purchase hydrolates, essential oils and beeswax. The production is located within their family house on the ground floor, and as Matulic explains, it is both an economic and residential space, and the production plant covers about 40 square metres in total.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 17 December 2021

Rijeka JGL Pharmaceutical Company Developing Rhinovirus Spray

December the 17th, 2021 - The well known Rijeka JGL pharmaceutical company has been busy developing an innovative cold spray which various substances targetting rhinovirus, the predominant cause of colds in humans, which haven't ever been used before.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Rijeka JGL pharmaceutical company has teamed up in a partnership with the Centre for Proteomics of the Medical Faculty in Rijeka and with the scientific support of Biosens from Zagreb. This togetherness has resulted in the developing of an innovative ''Rino'' cold spray, with substances that have never been used in nasal sprays previously. The total value of the project stands at a massive 34.9 million kuna, and it is being co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the amount of 13.87 million kuna.

"This is a step forward for our company, since for the first time we're developing the product from the very beginning with substances that haven't been used in nasal sprays before, and which contribute to reducing the symptoms and progression of colds caused by rhinovirus, which is why we called it Rino spray. The project is also important because, as part of the strategy of ''smart specialisation'' of the Republic of Croatia, the thematic priority area "Health and Quality of Life" was chosen as one of the five key areas for the development of the Croatian economy.

With this project, we want to strengthen the position of our country, position ourselves as a European centre for the development and production of innovative health products through cooperation between production and research capacities of the private and public sector,'' said Masa Safundzic Kucuk, the director of research and development at the Rijeka JGL pharmaceutical company who is also the project manager. She also said that thanks to the help of the aforementioned fund, such projects don't put much pressure on the company's normal operations.

In-vitro product concept validation activities are underway to prove its safety and effectiveness, and experts from JGL and the Rijeka Medical Faculty are hoping for a roaring success in their product which will target the pesky rhinovirus, which is all too common of a bedfellow in winter.

"A team of scientists from the Centre for Proteomics of the Medical Faculty in Rijeka has been conducting scientific research in the field of immunology, virology, as well as research of new vector vaccines and immunotherapeutics, it's also participating in numerous national and international scientific projects with ambitious biotech and pharmaceutical companies like JGL. I'm convinced that the continuation of cooperation between the Faculty of Medicine and the Rijeka JGL pharmaceutical company on projects like this, as well as the expansion of cooperation in the direction of developing new immunotherapeutics will be of strategic interest to both partners.

Achieving this goal requires not only new investments through joint projects but also a vision of development based on the use of basic research results in creating new therapies or medical procedures,'' said Stipan Jonjic, head of the Department of Histology and Embryology and head of the Centre for Proteomics at the Medical Faculty of the University of Rijeka.

For more, check out our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Croatian Idea Makes Damaging Fast Fashion More Sustainable

December the 15th, 2021 - A Croatian idea is turning old clothes which would likely end up being thrown away into sustainable fashion statements. The above idea was arrived to via a recently held UPSHIFT workshop in Zagreb.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, the UNICEF Office in Croatia and the Croatian Office for Creativity and Innovation (HUKI) recently held a three-day UPSHIFT workshop for young people from the City of Zagreb and the surrounding area of Zagreb County, dedicated to solving problems regarding environmental protection and sustainable development.

The interactive workshop attracted Croatian high school students who want to see problems in their local communities properly dealt with. 21 teams applied for this workshop, and ten of them aged 13 to 19 from the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County participated. Four teams won financial support of 7,500 kuna, as well as mentoring support for the realisation of their ideas.

One of them was team number 8, which wants to deal with the problem of fast fashion in the textile industry, also one of the biggest challenges of today. The team consists of Luka Marusic Smajic, Jan Filipovic, Gabriela Dedic, Lucija Bekavac and Maria Paula Klekovic from the School of Fashion and Design Zagreb. Their fashion-oriented Croatian idea was an impressive one.

"Our goal isn't to solve the problem that we're all facing on a global basis, but to make people around us aware of it. We'll try to solve this problem by redesigning old clothes that are no longer desirable. We'll implement this solution by holding a fashion show of our redesigned collection and posting educational videos on social media, in which we'll teach people how they can redesign their old clothes themselves. There will be advice, examples, instructions and so on,'' the team members explained.

They stated that they were encouraged to attend the workshop by their professors and professional associates who educated them about the challenges of fast fashion and encouraged them to solve problems. The aforementioned financial support of 7,500 kuna will be used for advertising, the necessary materials for redesign, as well as for the collection and the subsequent fashion show itself.

Their main focus is on young people who, according to the team members, are often unaware of the problem of accumulating old fabrics, as well as the fact that they themselves contribute to it on a daily basis.

"Few of our peers are thinking about this problem and it isn't covered enough in the media. In addition, the fashion industry is very fast-paced and also doesn't contribute to solving the problem whatsoever. Fortunately, our school talks a lot about fast fashion and its impact on the environment, so we're more aware of this. It's important to choose quality over quantity and to encourage manufacturers to offer clothes of natural composition(s). Also, people should put together their own styles, ignore passing trends, and occasionally be creative, not just pliable,'' concluded the team from the Zagreb School of Fashion and Design.

Other teams from the UPSHIFT workshop in their communities will deal with solving the problem of air pollution in Zagreb, ''dehumanised'' classrooms in Croatian schools and launching the mission ZaZeleniZagreb (For a Green Zagreb).

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Croatian Student Team Make Vegan Cake from Agricultural Waste

December the 14th, 2021 - A Croatian student team has put agricultural waste to good use and created a vegan cake from it. The Not Your Ordinary Cookie team has created the ''Zdravko'' vegan delight, and it's likely to win many over.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, Dora Senjug, Virna Klara Tus and Dora Vlahovic from the Faculty of Food Technology, Fran Duspara from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry and Hrvoje Magas from the Design of Visual Communications in Split make up the Not Your Ordinary Cookie team whi have come up with ''Zdravko''.

To speak more specifically, Zdravko is made with the addition of potato peel powder and industrial hemp seeds, and then stuffed with dried figs and carob. It is completely of plant origin, without any added sugar, and is characterised by a high content of dietary fiber and minerals desirable for a balanced diet.

"Our goal was to support Croatian farmers and family farms, so we got all the food we could get from them. We made sure that potential suppliers have a certificate of organic farming, ie they do not use pesticides,'' this Croatian student team explained.

They say they have seen the potential in the use of agrowaste, or by-products of processing various crops that are often thrown away, despite the high content of bioactive components such as vitamins, fiber minerals and antioxidants.

"We agreed that potato peelings, but also industrial hemp cake, are exactly what we want to work with because, in addition to being unjustifiably rejected, they're quality foods rich in fiber and minerals that have a positive effect on human health. Hemp bread has already started appearing on store shelves, but potato peelings also have undiscovered potential. Sustainability is an imperative of the modern food industry that we must turn to as soon as possible.

Apart from the fact that the by-products of the production of some crops can be put into other functional food products, as well as their individual components, they can also be used in other industries. For example, the peel of characteristically coloured fruits and vegetables is often discarded, and the pigments extracted from them have the potential to be used in the textile industry. Before we turn to synthetic substances, we might be surprised if we properly study the natural alternatives that we actually handle every day and often end up, unfortunately - in the bin,'' the Croatian student team emphasised.

Just how impressive and innovative their products are has been well and truly confirmed by them winning first place in the competition of student teams called Ecotrophelia Croatia 2021 which was held back in June at the Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology in Zagreb, which aims to encourage student creativity, innovation, interdisciplinarity and the promotion of food products on the demanding and fast-paced European market.

The Croatian student team is proud of them having won first place, because this is a kind of business incubator for eco-innovative food products, which included designing and preparing the product, thoroughly processing and explaining all of the nutritional qualities, devising the entire technical-technological plan (balance sheets, the design of the plant, and all associated devices), and developing a full and functional financial and marketing plan.

The European version was supposed to take place in Cologne in October, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers opted for an online form of competition this year as well. They won the 4th place back at that time, which is allegedly the highest place ever won by any Croatian team. In addition, they consider it a great success because they financed the project from their own, student pockets.

"We'd like to thank all those who helped up in the realisation of the Zdravko cake from the bottom of our hearts. It would be really nice to see our product on store shelves. Precisely because of the product itself and the affordability of the price we'd offer, we believe that customers would be quick to recognise the quality of Zdravko. We're researching options, there are many factors to consider - from the establishment of a company, all of the technological requirements and the like. We certainly hope that someone will see our potential, as well as the potential of our product, and that we'll manage to reach a common goal through cooperation and mentoring. Until then, of course, we'll do our best to be noticed. We hope that our example will motivate others to try to realise their ideas and projects, because the experience gained teaches you so much and no one can take it away from you. Who knows what kind of doors can be opened on the way,'' concluded this Croatian student team.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Mate Rimac: We Want to Develop Profitable Company, Create Something New

December the 8th, 2021 - Mate Rimac has done more to show the world that it is very much possible to succeed in Croatian entrepreneurship than anyone else. Perhaps Ivan Mrvos comes a close second, but for the automotive world which would never have given the country a second look, what he has done is truly historic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Zoran Vitas writes, after a joint venture with Bugatti and the creation of the new Rimac Group, Mate Rimac and his dedicated team have a much harder job on their hands in Sveta Nedelja near Zagreb than they did before. When the German Manager Magazine announced that it was considering going public with an expected estimated value of five billion euros, a lot was written about that possibility.

It was even mentioned by Lutz Meschke, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board and a member of the Finance and IT Management Board at Porsche AG. One day an IPO would make sense.

''Mate Rimac must first implement his company's operational plan, but he can count on our support,'' said the leader of the cult German company.

Mate Rimac explained back in November for Automobilwoche what the implementation of such an operational plan means. He was short and clear - profitability. That is, significantly improved profitability.

“At Bugatti Rimac, we're focused on profitability. We don't want to rush, but instead we want to give ourselves time to prepare everything thoroughly. This could be done in 5-10 years,'' said Mate Rimac about the brand with which, realistically, Volkswagen had some trouble.

"It would be easiest to take the Nevera, redesign it and call it Bugatti. But that is absolutely not what we're going to do,'' Rimac repeated. When Bugatti's last Chiron leaves the factory in Molsheim, it will be Bugatti's turn,'' which, as he said during Ursula von der Leyen's visit, makes the most sense.

“Porsche runs on carbon-neutral or even positive fuel because of the way it is produced. In the medium term, it would make the most sense for Bugatti to be a hybrid. It is true that Porsche wanted us to go to electricity immediately, but we said that we'd like to work with petrol engines for some time to come, with a new generator. But that's where I'll stop,'' said the head of Bugatti Rimac, stating that they have been working on the development of the new Bugatti in Croatia for a year now.

"We want to make a profitable company, but we won't recycle anything. We will not redesign the Chiron and thus make a new model, or just hybridise it, we're developing an entirely new product. And that product will still have an internal combustion engine. We're also looking at it in the long run knowing how Bugatti has known diversity throughout history that can be used not only to make hypercars. It's an opportunity to produce different and exciting cars that will be both electric and electrified. We'll have fully electric Bugattis in a decade,'' Mate Rimac said in conversation with the British Top Gear.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Monday, 6 December 2021

FER Researchers Create Mine Detection Tech, Production Won't be in Croatia

December the 6th, 2021 - A team of FER researchers have come up with some innovative and impressive mine detection technology, but it won't be producted here in Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although Croatia is fortunately no longer at the top of the global list of countries with the biggest problems with landmines and unexploded ordnance from previous conflicts, the country is one of the leaders in demining technology, which could be further developed in the coming period.

After Dok-ing developed complex robotic demining systems recently, primarily due to national needs and then increasing demand across the global market, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) in Zagreb is nearing the completion of an intelligent demining technology project of all other metals found throughout the country.

From Syria to Colombia...

The team of FER researchers led by prof. Dr. Vedran Bilas from the Department of Electronic Systems and Information Processing, which includes young scientists Marko Simic and Davorin Ambrus, developed a system for recognising and distinguishing metal objects hidden in the ground, found by a metal detector, based on their shape.

Confirmation of their success is their participation in this year's eighth Mine Action Technology Workshop organided by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) in Switzerland.

Professor Bilas explained that there was significant interest in their project, mostly from countries where mines are still a major security and social problem, such as Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Cambodia and Colombia, but also humanitarian and other specialised international institutions.

"Significant contacts have been made and we expect that concrete contracts will be reached in the next few months. I'm afraid that, unfortunately, here in Croatia, there is no interest of the economy in the implementation of our technology and it will certainly need to be produced elsewhere. According to our current plans, we'll open a development company with FER that will continue to develop this technology, and the production itself will be in some other country. This is a pity because demining technology is being developed in only a few countries now,'' the team of FER researchers stated.

Bilas added that their detector, which is a combination of electro-magnetic and digital skills and artificial intelligence, is nearing completion and its commercial application can be expected within a year. Mine detectors, ie metal detectors, have been known since the Second World War and since then this technology has been perfected mainly to move towards increasingly sensitive devices, ie those that can detect much smaller metal objects.

"This is where the problems arise because there's a lot of metal left behind in places where there has been war, in urban areas and elsewhere. Another serious problem is that the soil is not magnetically neutral. Some soils are magnetically very active, such as red soil, and then you find yourself in a situation where you can't make full use of such a sensitive instrument because on the one hand it bothers you that the soil produces a certain reaction, and on the other hand you discover new objects which are generally difficult to distinguish,'' explained Bilas.

That is why, four years ago at FER, they started their own project of improving technology in the field of humanitarian demining, for which they received financial support from the Foundation "Find a better way" of the legend of British football Sir Bobby Charlton. Bilas explained that the recognition of an object by the device developed by FER researchers is based on a signal from the metal detector, and it is then necessary to know the position of the "head" of the detector in real time, while the deminer searches the ground.

"Several research groups are working on the problem of determining the position, but they haven't come to a good and acceptable solution as yet. As part of this project, we developed and tested a positioning system in which we monitor the movement of the head with magnetic field sensors. It all works really well in the lab and in real conditions. We were able to move forward with that, so, using data on the position in space and the signals of the detectors, we performed the recognition of categories of objects with the algorithms of artificial intelligence,'' noted Professor Bilas.

He concluded that although he regrets that there is no great interest of the economy and institutions in Croatia in the field of mines and related technologies, on the other hand he is glad because he shows that after decades this security problem that burdened the Croatian state and society is mostly solved.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Solin Company Include Begins Another Funderbeam Campaign

December the 4th, 2021 - The Solin company Include, headed by Ivan Mrvos, is turning towards the current global shortage of chips. In pursuing that goal, it has started another Funderbeam campaign.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the Solin company Include, which is very well known for its smart benches, is launching a new Funderbeam campaign. With a more modest amount when compared to some of the previous ones, this time it aims at between 400,000 and 1 million euros of capital, but with a great ambition - to overcome the shortage of chips.

"Over the last two years, we've been working on developing new solutions so that the company can move away from the bench story in the direction of new products for cities to solve specific problems, from waste to air quality measurement," said Include's founder Ivan Mrvos, who at just 26 years of age has done more than most.

''With this round of funding, we aim to overcome the global challenges that everyone has, including that of chips. We'd ensure that we can make whole chip boards within our own production, which would allow us to buy from several sources, which would significantly speed up our production process,'' he said.

The Solin company Include currently has a “full order book until March” that includes more than a hundred products, smart benches and air quality metres. "It's about 300,000 euros worth of sold good, but they've not been delivered yet. Until then, the situation should stabilise so that we can create a stock of products, so that when customers order, we can deliver them in a few days,'' he explains. The latest Funderbeam campaign is their third in a row through that platform, and back in 2017 they became the first Croatian company on that platform.

In the year before the global coronavirus pandemic struck, they set a record for the largest Croatian campaign on that platform to date, with 1.5 million euros raised. The current round, a kind of ''pre-series B round'', is an overture to the large 5.5 million euro campaign planned for the end of 2022, about which they're already in contact with venture capital funds.

The condition for this is to scale production and revenue up to the desired 200,000 euros per month (from the current around 110,000), which opens the door for talks with larger funds, and potentially in the future is a step towards opening the doors of the United States. The Solin company Include entered the entrepreneurial scene with Steora smart benches, and at the end of 2020, it set out in the direction of solving some of the biggest global challenges we currently face.

In addition to the recently introduced Aerys air quality measurement stations, this includes Terra bins that reduce waste collection by 80 percent. Today, Include exports to 59 countries and more than 500 cities around the world.

“Since Funderbeam started, Ivan Mrvos was the first person that Ivana Gazic and I identified as a good young person for Funderbeam. This is our third campaign in just four years, and the company's valuation today stands at 17 million euros,'' said leading investor Ivana Soljan.

"Ivan has exceeded all my expectations these years. I think that Include is one of the future large companies in this area that will become a global company ", she added, and so far she has invested almost 200,000 euros in the company.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

OPG Kalic Goes Big with Croaticanna Bio Oil, Product Now on Shelves

December the 4th, 2021 - OPG Kalic could have easily remained just like any of the other very many family farms scattered across this country. Instead, he has gone big and its Croaticanna bio oil has become very popular indeed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, Zvonimir Kalic, a young farmer from Djakovo, took over his family farm a few years ago, and today it produces about 30 products based on hemp, which is grown across 20 hectares of land. After entering the Start Croatia project and following orders having come in from the Spar Croatia retail chain, 2,000 pieces of his Croaticanna bio oil, which is based on hemp, arrived to the shelves of Spar stores.

This entrepreneurial story started when the Kalic family, due to the illness of one of their family members, started the planned cultivation of hemp and seed production, and today four family members are involved in the business. Zvonimir later inherited the family farm, further educated himself and created Croaticanna bio oil, which is created by cold pressing hemp seeds.

From the start, they decided to head in the direction of organic production, and the quality of Croaticanna bio oil is confirmed by three certificates and a guarantee stamp - Living Healthy as an indicator of low salt and saturated fatty acids and Bio and Vegan labels.

''Although the yields in organic production are slightly lower, in the first year we had ten tonnes of seeds on only eight hectares of land and we were awarded for the highest ecological yield as a small family farm, which put a spring in our step and provided an incentive,'' Zvonimir explained.

Croaticanna products are obtained mainly by hand, and the mission of this young farmer is to keep the path "from the field to the table" as short as possible, guaranteeing a quality product that is not harmful to the environment.

As Kalic revealed, the processing plant is located in Vrpolje, on the property of his late grandfather, and their last investment was in equipping the plant. Their investments do not stop there either, and the next step is the purchase of tea processing machines, for which they plan to withdraw funds from EU funds. In addition to their popular Croaticanna bio oil, their range includes about 30 products, from flour, protein and seeds to tea and honey with hemp and cosmetics.

''This is the first major step out onto the market for us and we believe that our other products will be on the shelves of Spar Croatia in the near future. So far, we've had sales on the doorstep and we've also sold our products at events and fairs. In the first year of business, we visited a hundred Croatian cities and events, and thanks to the cooperation with the Croatian Chamber of Commerce we had the opportunity to present our business and products at fairs in foreign markets such as Germany and Hungary,'' says Kalic.

Kalic recognised the opportunity to improve his products through the “Start Croatia” project, launched by Spar Croatia and Nova TV to help innovative entrepreneurs and startups place their products on the shelves of large retail chains. In addition to the expert team of Spar Croatia, Kalic collected documentation and certificates for the environmental supervisory body and harmonised his OPG's production process with the very strict requirements to make such placement possible. As part of the project, Zvonimir is also fighting for the title of Hit Product in 2022, along with seven other candidates.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

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