Friday, 28 May 2021

Ionic Liquids With Solid State Nanopores: New Valuable Progress From Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB)

May 28, 2021 - A recently published study on ionic liquids with solid state nanopores at the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) can help the energy storage sector.

The top scientific and research institution in Croatia, the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB), continues to be the home of interesting scientific progress.

Researchers from the IRB's computer bioscience team, Nataša Vučemilović-Alagić, and dr. Mario Špadina under the mentorship of dr. Ana Sunčana Smith cleared the phenomenon of transport inside liquids on the principle of nanopores in the solid-state. A nanopore is a small cavity in solid matter, invisible to the naked eye. This IRB research was done in collaboration with dr. Sanjin Marion and dr. Aleksandra Rađenović from École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the research results are published in the prestigious scientific journal Small which specializes in nanotechnology.

Professor Ana Sunčana Smith's IRB team deals with molecular descriptions of chemical and physical interactions of ionic liquids (liquids that are not neutral but have either positive or negative electric charge) on various solid surfaces. The goal was to determine the impact of specific ions and specific surfaces. The appliance of this knowledge is in line with guidelines of the EU Green Deal, and the UN sustainable development goals", explained IRB in the official press release.

The press release added this knowledge is useful in storing energy, as ionic liquids in nanopores represent an alternative to batteries.

„In this research, starting from the principle of water solutions, we combine ionic fluids and nanopores of different geometric features and materials to secure new nanofluid functionalities. This solves some of the relevant issues in the understanding of basic principles of transports in space-limited ionic liquids and ensuring better control of the speed of translocating within an analyte“, explained Dr. Ana Sunčana Smith.

It's worth noting that dr. Sunčana Smith is one of the Croatian scientists that received support from the Croatian European Research Council (ERC) for a very prestigious project in researching biological membranes worth 1,5 million euros.

Energy efficiency is something IRB shows to be really dedicated to, as evident by the progress IRB researchers made in exploring materials for converting CO2 to methanol alcohol, and IRB's Rovinj Sea Research Centre that celebrated 130 years of existence this year priorities maritime ecology and its protection in its research.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

First Croatian Summer Mathematics Camp Math Magic Launched

May the 26th, 2021 - Think of the subject you absolutely loathed at school, did I guess right when I thought maths? Probably. This toilsome and quite frankly boring subject is far from the delight of many a child, but the very first Croatian summer mathematics camp might change that.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, while mathematics might be pretty much universally despised among primary and secondary school age children, it is also one of the most important subjects taught in compulsary education, and many still aim for good grades despite their feelings on it. The first Croatian summer mathematics camp, Math Magic, could hold the answer to making things more fun.

With this goal in mind, the first Math Magic camp for children aged 6 to 10 will be held in July in the historic Dalmatian city of Sibenik.

It was started by Antica Filipovic Grcic and Sarah Vukovic, friends from school who started Malac Genijalac two years ago, an international school for the intellectual development of children - first, Vukovic started it independently in Sibenik, where they both come from, and then they started it together in Zagreb.

With the latest initiative involving the very first Croatian summer mathematics camp, they decided to bring maths closer to children in a fun and easy way with a cheerful atmosphere and adventure, especially since Vukovic is a professor of mathematics, and Filipovic Grcic is a university specialist in economics who is intensively studying child psychology.

They spoke in more detail how they came up with the idea and what the concept of the camp is that offers children the chance to learn more about mathematics in a fun way through practical examples from life, experiments and projects.

"At the time of the first lockdown due to the pandemic, Sarah was staying with her family in an isolated house in a small town near Sibenik, and Antica was stuck in Kazakhstan.

During that period, we were constantly in touch because we had to handle the school’s business remotely. Getting our heads around online teaching and getting used to the new situation was difficult and exhausting for everyone, but after a while the situation stabilised and we got used to the new normal.

It is with these shared coffees at a distance that the two of us designed several projects, including the Math Magic camp, initiated by thinking about children and learning mathematics during the pandemic when online classes became the norm, which will inevitably result in many knowledge gaps for these kids,'' they stated.

As they claim, this is the only such camp that goes beyond the standards of merely organising children's camps in the context of the accommodation itself, given that it is held in the luxury Sibenik resort called Solaris, more precisely at the Andrija childrens' camp which boasts 4 stars and which is fully adapted to children. The camp will run for ten days, from July 2-11.

The maximum capacity is 40 children, more precisely 10 for each class for individual access to each student. Applications are open until June the 15th, ie until the places are all filled.

The children will have maths school in the camp every day in the morning for four school hours, with breaks of 10 minutes between each hour. It will also have two school abacus classes each day in the afternoon.

“This programme serves to introduce a new skill by which children can develop their cognitive abilities. For children who are already students of Malac Genijalac, this programme will enable additional practice and improvement of the learned material, and they'll be able to try their skills out in the role of a teacher.

The rest of the time is reserved for various fun activities under the guidance of a professional team. Each class has its own teacher who is an employee of the Malac Genijalac school and has a profession in the field of education.

Along with the teachers, the first Croatian summer mathematics camp also has its own psychologist who is an employee of the Malac Genijalac school, a tourist guide for children, animators who are employees of the Andrija Hotel, a night watchman, and the two of us in the role of camp leaders,'' say Filipovic Grcic and Vukovic.

Otherwise, the Malac Genijalac school is intended for the development of children's brains, ie their cognitive abilities and intellectual skills. It is a concept that has been expanding across the world, including here at home in Croatia, for six years through franchising, and today in fifteen countries - there are over 200 schools and more than 35,000 end users.

The school runs programmes that develop, among other things, skills such as attention span, photographic memory, logical reasoning, analytical thinking, visualisation, imagination, creativity and self-confidence.

"The results our students can boast of are excellent, and we can boast of winning medals at European and international competitions. The feedback has been phenomenal,'' the paur explained.

A series of projects

They are pleased that more and more new educational centres are opening across Croatia where STEM programmes are being implemented - robotics, coding, foreign language schools and lab exercises are all become more within the reach of Croatian children, and with the very first Croatian summer mathematics camp being held this summer, the country can certainly boast of a lot when it comes to children and their education.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Faculty of Science (PMF) Donation: Five New Laptops For Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak

May 25, 2021 - Following the issues caused by the earthquake in Petrinja, a Faculty of Science (PMF) donation o the Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak ensured five laptops for students that need them the most.

The devastating 6.3 earthquake that hit Banovina / Banija on December 29 saw Croatia still have a troubling situation in Petrinja, Baranja, Glina, and other places, which also attracted huge public interest regarding voters mood in those areas on local elections.

The need for help and donations is still for rebuilding and restoring functional infrastructure is still needed, and on top of it all, it's one of the poorest regions in the whole country. Sadly, that also goes for the students of the Faculty of Metallurgy, the University of Zagreb, which is based in Sisak.

As reported by the official website of the Faculty of Science (PMF) at the University of Zagreb, the Metallurgy Faculty dean, dr. Zdenka Zovko Brodarac wrote to PMF asking for a donation for five functional computers for their students of weaker economic status, coming from quake-hit areas. Computers are even more needed due to the coronavirus pandemic; online classes are ever-present in the education of the new generations of Croatian experts and intellectuals.

„PMF knows that the big demands of online learning are put before students, and it's very challenging to deal with that form of learning, particularly for families with lower incomes. To ensure quality participation in online learning, PMF decided to donate five laptops“, informed PMF.

Student representatives and the deans of two faculties were present while receiving computers. Zovko Brodarac thanked them for the computers promising they will find their way to those who need them the most, while PMF dean dr. Mirko Planinić pointed out that he supports all activities regarding education and youth, and overall raising the living standards of people in the area.

PMF is the home to the geophysical department, whose domain of scientific interest also includes earthquakes. Furthermore, within the department operates a Croatian Seismological Survey that collects and analyzes these powerful forces of nature in Croatia – both in their most destructive editions and in unnoticeable ones too. The shocking aftermath saw Croatian authorities taking the threat more seriously, and as TCN reported earlier in 2021, acquiring new equipment for measuring seismic activity that was placed on Petrinja cemetery.

The Metallurgy Faculty in Sisak saw its constitution as an independent unit within the Zagreb University on February first, 1979, while its scientific-educational council was established a year earlier, specifically on November 3rd, 1978. This was an answer to the educational need to meet the industrial development of Sisak, which in Croatia remains a synonym for the heavy industry even today.

The faculty offers education for metallurgy (specializations for metallurgical engineering and industrial ecology on bachelor level), as well as workplace security and health studies (major level), and the course on metallurgy engineering (machinery. shipbuilding, and aircraft).

Did you know that an hour and five minutes drive from Sisak is Lonjsko Polje Nature Park? Learn more on our TC page.

For more about education in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Sales of Picture Book to Help Reconstruction of Quake-damaged Petrinja School

ZAGREB, 23 May, 2021 - Tomislav Škrljac's picture book "The Story of Petrinja", with illustrations by 14 artists, has been published by Školska Knjiga and all proceeds from sales will be paid into the account of a Petrinja elementary school badly damaged in last year's earthquake.

By publishing the book, Školska Knjiga took part in a humanitarian project launched a few days after the 29 December tremor by Škrljac, a writer, illustrator and designer born in Petrinja.

He wrote a story for children about the devastated city, conceiving it as a book with pictures by different illustrators, the publisher has said.

In the book, Škrljac describes the most important parts of Petrinja's history and highlights its sights and dedication to traditions. He contacted Školska Knjiga and pitched a unique picture book whose sales would help the reconstruction of an elementary school in Petrinja, thus launching a humanitarian project in which all participants waived their fees for the benefit of the city's children.

The book was illustrated by Branka Hollingsworth Nara, Maksim Šimić, Dubravko Mataković, Josip Sršen, Robert Solanović, Dario Kukić, Darko Macan, Ivana Guljašević Kuman, Frano Petruša, Stjepan Bartolić, Niko Barun, Filip Andronik, Goran Sudžuka and Škrljac.

It may be purchased at Školska Knjiga's website and book shops for HRK 50, with all proceeds going to the 1st Elementary School in Petrinja, which sustained the worst damage in the earthquake and is unfit for use. A new school will be built in its vicinity, financed by the Hungarian government.

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Koprivnica-Made Somersby Finds Popularity on Five Continents

May the 20th, 2021 - The Koprivnica-made Somersby drink has been gaining international popularity as it is exported from this continental Croatian town to five continents.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, the Danish-owned Carlsberg Croatia Brewery, in addition to a wide range of its basic beer products also offers cider, a relatively new addition to the Croatian drinks scene, which is made from diluted fruit wine and based on apple juice.

This type of drink has been very popular in recent years in Croatia, despite having always been popular in Northern European countries such as the United Kingdom, and Carlsberg's cider brand Somersby is the leader on the Croatian market. It is produced in several flavours in the company's brewery in Koprivnica and from there it goes all over the world.

Koprivnica-made Somersby is enjoyed from distant Australia to Asia, and Marcin Burdach, President of the Management Board of Carlsberg Croatia, has been talking about the cider category, Croatian production, consumer trends as well as, of course, the beer market and expectations for the upcoming season.

You recently boasted that Somersby, produced in Koprivnica, is exported to 20 countries on 5 continents. What are the main markets?

Yes, you're right, we definitely did brag about it! We believe that consumers generally don't know that we produce Somersby in Koprivnica and export it. For us, it's a great source of pride. We’ve exported Koprivnica-made Somersby to different continents and countries around the world, and we don’t talk about it much. Back in 2020, Carlsberg Croatia regularly exported Somersby to eighteen markets.

As such, Koprivnica-made Somersby travelled to Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Austria, Tahiti, Taiwan, the Bahamas… However, it should be noted that this list is only relevant for last year - the list of countries to which Somersby has travelled from Croatia in recent years is much longer and includes Australia, the United States, the Congo, China, the Caribbean, Laos and many other places.

Isn’t that impressive and something to brag about? Our main export markets are Hungary and Germany and I think the fact that we export so much to Germany is a clear sign of quality, because everyone knows how crucial quality is in the German market.

How much Somersby was produced in the factory in Croatia last year? Have sales figures gone up?

Although we're still unable to release the full data for last year because the financial report hasn't yet been released, we can say that Somersby’s exports are increasing every year. If you want a picture of our exports, I can tell you that last year we exported 867 trucks of Somersby in bottles and more than 200 tanks of it. And yes, export numbers are better for 2020 than they were for 2019.

You've decided to further strengthen the visual of this drink with Croatian characteristics, why is that so?

We made a limited edition of the ''Croatian'' logo Somersby because we wanted to send the message that Somersby is not only a global, but also a local Croatian brand. Yes, the cans on our market are produced elsewhere, but we don't produce Somersby in bottles only for Croatia, that Koprivnica-made Somersby goes all over the world.

This is the merit of the Croatian mind and hardworking people in Croatia, who produce this drink for consumers around the world. We thought it would be easiest to convey that message visually and the feedback from consumers and our business partners about that has been great.

Your predecessor at the helm of Carlsberg Croatia told me that you would like to make Somersby from home-grown raw materials (apples), but that apple juice producers in the Republic of Croatia produce cloudy juice, and you need it to be clear. You've also expressed a desire for that to come to fruition, what does that happening depend on?

This is a logical question that always arises when we talk about the production of Somersby in Croatia - the question of the use of locally grown apples. The thing is that for the production of cider we need high quality apple juice which has certain characteristics, which allows us to produce apple wine.

Every time they ask us this question ''do you want to get those apples in Croatia'' the answer is simple - yes, we would like to get them from Croatia. But if there are no manufacturers who produce this product, it is simply not possible.

The first association to cider for Croats is Somersby, a recent Ipsos survey showed. Some respondents, as I've since foundd out, stated that this drink is more for younger people, they also said that the unit price in stores and bars is still too high. What actually is the target audience of Somersby cider in Croatia, and why is it more expensive than, for example, beer?

The truth is that Somersby is considered more of a drink for a younger audience, and its optimistic because consumers think of Somersby when they talk about cider. We found that consumers love the fact that we offer them a variety of flavours at Somersby, and that they consider it a refreshing summer drink.

Since Somersby is in a different price segment than beer, for example, we had feedback that consumers aren't the happiest with Somersby's prices in some cafes. But pricing in bars is something we can’t influence much, because it’s a matter of the owners and their business decisions.

After all, you know from personal experience that some locations in Croatia, especially those that target tourists, simply have higher prices than the average Croatian consumer considers affordable anyway.

Carlsberg is primarily a beer producer, how are things in Croatia in that regard? How much of a market share do your beer brands hold, given their wide range? How much do you produce?

Yes, beer is our main business, and it's something that isn't going to change, and you're right, we offer a wide range of beers. Last year we expanded our range to Pan, to which we added Pan Pilsner, so now we offer an even better choice in our main segment of stock.

So, now we have an offer for every taste - from Golden and Lager, through Pilsner, to Pan Dark and Pan Free. And that's just the beginning - Grimbergen, Carlsberg, Tuborg, Blanc 1664… Our portfolio of international brands provides even greater breadth to our consumers. Looking at last year’s data, we hold about 17 percent of the market and of course we want to grow that share even more.

What are your results for 2020 like? Most people's income was limited due to the pandemic, with closed bars and bans on larger gatherings...

We're unable to provide complete data for 2020 because the financial report hasn't yet been published. But of course, the pandemic influenced our results.

Everyone’s lives changed in 2020 and it’s hard for me to remember an industry or sector that hasn’t been affected by that change. Certainly, our partners in the HORECA segment have been hit hard, not to mention the situation with the event industry… these segments are still suffering and of course this is affecting us. It's hard to say when things will get better. In these circumstances, however, we're satisfied with our results.

Of course, we planned for bigger results, but we ended 2020 without any need to stop production and we managed to protect our employees and our business, which is certainly a success.

Carlsberg Croatia employs 300 people - how did you continue to organise production and the entire business with regard to the epidemiological measures?

Now that we've entered the second year of the pandemic, things are already well established and we've adapted to these new ways of working. But yes, at first it was difficult. There was so much that was unknown about this virus… I remember at one point we had a paper quarantine because we didn’t want to endanger our colleagues who deal with export paperwork.

Then came the shortages of protective equipment - in the spring of 2020, at one point we even used Somersby’s wine base to make disinfectants, so we could protect our employees. We teamed up with a small distillery and a disinfectant manufacturer and produced quantities that allowed us to give each employee half a litre of disinfectant so they could take it home and protect their families.

We donated the rest to the City of Koprivnica. We did this because it was so hard to get that protective equipment back then, and we wanted our employees to feel safer. Now it's all far simpler. We're applying various safeguards and we haven't relaxed, but now that is just another part of our health and safety rules. It's much easier psychologically.

Did you ask for state support to preserve jobs?

No, in 2020 we didn't use state aid, given the fact that we believed we could protect our business and that we could get help from the Carlsberg Group.

What do you expect from this year, especially from summer as the main period of consumption of your products?

We're optimistic about 2021. We think that globally as a Group, and locally as Carlsberg Croatia, we're strong, capable and in a good position to take advantage of opportunities. Of course, our success will depend on market trends and the development of the ongoing pandemic.

We hope that the season will be successful and that warmer weather will bring normalisation, as it did last year. I don't think you could find a person in Croatia who isn't looking forward to summer and I hope that people will welcome it with a cold Pan or Somersby in hand.

Carlsberg is also known for its promotion of drinking responsibly - in the workplace, while driving… How do you view the proposal for new regulations to repeal the provision on how much alcohol a driver can have in their blood?

We always promote responsible consumption. Through various programmes, and through the Association of Brewers, and within our company. In all our official vehicles, for example, we have a built-in Alcolock system.

The system is actually simple for the user, when sitting in the car it's necessary to blow into the test until it stops giving an audible signal. After a few seconds, in case the amount of alcohol is within the allowed limits, the system allows the car to be started. In this way, we motivate our employees to live in scope of the company rule of ''zero irresponsible consumption'' on a daily basis.

There are countless reasons why you shouldn't get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol and as a brewer, we're particularly sensitive to this topic. We believe that we need to make our employees aware of the importance of not driving at all when they drink.

When you think about what the regulation of the Labour Law is, then we don't even need such a measure. But we believe that promoting responsible behaviour and awareness is much more powerful than just relying on regulations. This is how I look at the proposal to change the regulations you're asking me about - yes, legal regulations are important, but I think it's even more important to educate and influence the consciousness of individuals.

Changing the law is a relatively easy and fairly quick process, but the effect that will be achieved as a result is questionable. Changing people's consciousness is a long-term job and a lot more effort needs to be put in there, but it is certain that positive change will happen.

For more, follow our business section.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

European Conference for Social Work Research: Croatian And Swiss Scientists Participate in Social Work Symposium

May 19, 2021 - Held in Bucharest, Romania, the European Conference For Social Work Research saw Croatian and Swiss scientists jointly participate in scientific issues of social work in Croatia and Switzerland.

Earlier in May, the University of Bucharest, located after the biggest city and capital of Romania, held an online edition of the European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR).
Swiss and Croatian teams jointly participated in the symposium „Opportunities and Obstacles in the Evaluation of Homelessness from a Lifeworld-oriented International Social Work Perspective“, which saw prof. Matthias Drilling and dr. Zsolt Temesvary represent their University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), and dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović represent the Croatian Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute. The conference was organized by The European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA)

As stated by ESWRA's official website, the association was founded in 2014 with a goal to create social work research development, collaboration, and exchange across Europe. As the ECSWR conference saw overwhelming levels of engagement, the ESWRA association today counts 600 members from across more than 33 countries.

„ESWRA’s vision is to take forward the development, practice, and utilization of social work research to enhance knowledge about individual and social problems, and to promote just and equitable societies“, says ESWRA.

While Dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović presented Croatia at the conference, she is also a member of the team that includes Suzana Sakić and Paula Greiner. Along with the aforementioned Swiss team, the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute informed that the Croatian team participated in a joint research project called "Exploring Homelessness and Pathways to Social Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Contexts and Challenges in Swiss and Croatian Cities (No. IZHRZO_180631/1).

„This work is financed within the Croatian-Swiss Research Program of the Croatian Science Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation with funds obtained from the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Program”, says the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute on its website.

Looking at the „Homelessness and Social Exclusion in Croatia“ science paper whose author is Lynette Šikić-Mićanović from 2010, its abstract suggests that „homelessness is a relatively new phenomenon in most Croatian cities and has been largely ignored by policymakers and social scientists“. So, Šikić-Mičanović's paper aimed to research and contribute new data on a previously unresearched social group to answer the urgent need for a fuller understanding of the perceptions and experiences of homeless people in Croatia.

„Based on the research findings of this study, a number of recommendations can be made for the provision of comprehensive information, services, and assistance to lessen social exclusion among homeless persons as well as to facilitate their routes out of homelessness“, says the paper. Based on scientific research, there are overall five recommendations, as follows:
1.) Special attention – apart from accommodation – needs to be paid to the quality (or lack) of services that homeless people urgently require, such as medical, counseling, legal, supportive holistic assistance from professional qualified and sensitised staff, and so on.
2.) Continual and systematic evaluation is required at shelters and among the wider homeless population by teams of qualified persons, researchers, and/or non-governmental organisations for the assessment and articulation of their needs, abilities, aspirations, and problems.
3.) Programmes need to be developed at the local level to meet different contextual needs. These could include more accessible (less public) soup kitchens, perhaps with special menus (e.g., for diabetics); the introduction of public bathhouses, day centres, doctor’s/dentist’s surgery, or subsidised accommodation for homeless persons, depending on the context.
4.) Volunteers from all age groups should be found and trained with a view to increasing public awareness of homelessness and social exclusion and dispelling the myths and stereotypes about homeless people.
5.) Former shelter users should be monitored and assisted with accommodation and other support services (e.g., utility bills, furniture, therapy, financial aid, help with education) to prevent them from becoming homeless again.

These recommendations are directly quoted from the scientific paper for the sake of accuracy, and hopefully, for a better tomorrow, the policies of the state will follow the scientific findings and discoveries in social sciences.

Learn more about Croatia: location, facts, economy, and more on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Croatian CityGreens Farming Offers Solution to Land Fertility Issues

May the 18th, 2021 - The Croatian company CityGreens Farming has offered an innovative solution to an issue many in the agriculture sector suffer, which is a lack of fertile land.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although it might sound like a script from science fiction films to most, the technology of growing food indoors without fertile land is already a reality today, and the Croatian company CityGreens Farming from Zagreb is also contributing to its development.

The leading people of that aforementioned company, Josip Ceovic and Filip Mijatovic, explained that they have developed an innovative system for aeroponic plant cultivation implemented in the form of a vertical farm. “We're the first company in the region to develop so-called High Pressure Aeroponic systems, both in a home form and in an industrial form. Aeroponic cultivation is the process of growing plants without the use of soil or water pools, classic hydroponic cultivation, where the root of the plant is fed through a nutrient mist.

The technology was first devised by NASA and is considered the highest and purest cultivation technology where plants grow without sun or soil in strictly controlled conditions. Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides aren't used in cultivation, and the system is fully automated,'' explained Mijatovic.

He added that this is a new device completely designed and made in Croatia.

"The aeronautical technology on which the device works has been known for the last fifteen years after NASA invented and perfected it for growing plants in space. Of course, the designs, components, and accompanying software for their devices aren't publicly available, and our device is our own interpretation of that technology.

There are aeroponic farms in parts of the world which use similar devices, but this technology is still in its infancy and we're only at the very beginning of its development and wider application,'' stated Mijatovic. The innovative duo from CityGreens Farming pointed out that compared to farms in Spain where hydroponic vegetables are produced, such as Tower Garden or Agrotonomy, their system is far more sophisticated and uses High Pressure Aeroponics while they use Low Pressure Aeroponics.

“Our vegetative cycle is fully automated and uses advanced computer algorithms that use sensors (temperature, humidity, CO2, light intensity and a spectrum, water mist nutrients, PH levels, etc.) to measure and adjust these parameters to create an ideal atmosphere for plant growth,'' explained Ceovic.

Such a farm, they added, is especially suitable for countries that have a lack of arable land or very difficult weather conditions. For example Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iceland, etc.

In addition, since such a farm can be located in the city itself, the distribution chain has been completely changed and only a few hours need to pass from harvest to table, unlike the usual transport by boat or truck in refrigerators.

The project was also helped by the European Union (EU) with 1.7 million kuna from its regional development fund, and CityGreens Farming currently has a demonstration plant in Zitnjak in Zagreb, where has production covering over 200 square metres. The pair noted that it is difficult to talk about the specific price of such a farm because every project would be quite individual, and thus the prices would naturally vary.

However, when looking at the general advantages of this sort of technology, the growth cycle is up to 60 percent faster than usual, water consumption is 98 percent lower, fertiliser use is 60 percent lower, and pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are 100 percent lower.

These Zagreb innovators concluded with one important fact, and that is that their technology and production have nothing to do with GMO seeds and cultivation, which people often confuse with controlled cultivation. Bio and Eco certificates can also be readily obtained for this type of production.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Croatian Kick Boxers Develop Sensor System for Athletes' Training

May the 18th, 2021 - In this day and age, top sport can't exist without the aid of some of the best technology, and several Croatian kick boxers are showcasing their skills outside of the ring by developing an innovative sensor system for the training of athletes.

As Filip Pavic/Novac writes, the above, that today's top sport can't exist without the help of tech is the thought of several leading young men, top athletes and entrepreneurs, from the Zagreb sports and technology startup Sportreact. The group of Croatian kick boxers devised a sensor system for the training and developing of the reflexes of athletes.

As the Croatian kick boxers all say, this is a system for athletes, by athletes. Anto Siric is the Croatian champion in kick boxing in the super heavyweight category and is also a student of mechatronics at the Zagreb Polytechnic, Andrej Kedves is the world runner-up in kick boxing and a student at the Medical Polytechnic, and Ivan Josipovic, a five-time winner of the Case Study Competition in Zagreb, is also a recreational and top creative in the team.

What this group of athletes has developed, in short, are sensors that come in a set of eight, palm-sized lamps, which the athlete must deactivate with their own movements, be that with their arm, leg or whatever the training at the time involves. The sensors are connected to a mobile app through which training is selected, and the idea is to improve the speed of the athlete’s reaction to visual stimuli and decision-making.

''Let's look at the example of handball training, Sportreact's sensors are mounted on goal frames, and when one of the sensors emits a signal, ie shows a colour or symbol, the goalkeeper must deactivate that sensor as soon as possible by passing or touching it. With this, he trains his reaction speed, his reflexes and his peripheral vision, and later in the application he can check out what his reaction speed was,'' explained Siric, who also designed the prototype of the Sportreact device.

In short, after a motor training or testing programme is selected in the mobile application, different colours and symbols appear on the sensor screen, they can be red, yellow, green or numbers from one to nine.

''The possibilities of testing motor and cognitive abilities through the application are actually unlimited. Complex tests can be agreed that, for example, you have to deactivate the blue colour on the sensor with your left hand, and the red one with your right foot,'' explained Andrej Kedves, who is in charge of creating training routines in the team.

For example, they have already used sensors for football training, so the player is in the circle of eight sensors with the ball, and as it changes colour, he must deactivate each one by holding the ball and changing the direction. They were praised by Dinamo player Dario Spikic, who was delighted with this piece of innovative Croatian technology because the application records all of the analytics of each individual athlete - their speed of reaction, precision, balance, coordination, and level of focus.

Given all this, it's hardly surprising that the story of Sportreact started from athletes themselves. As Andrej and Anto are both professional Croatian kick boxers, the first incentive for their training sensors, they admit, came from Anto's kick boxing coach who wanted one such device for his club, but given that they were all too expensive (especially those of FitLite, the leading brand in that segment), he suggested to the young engineer Anto for him to make it.

''Such devices already exist in the world and are used by more or less all big clubs, particularly football clubs. However, the problem is that they cost between 3000 and 5000 euros, and none of them combine routine training and motor skill testing and the ability to manage it all via a mobile application,'' stated Anto, adding that the price of their device, on the other hand, will be between 150 and 200 euros per device, as they now estimate, and they would sell them in a set of eight.

''The first prototype we made was actually made of a plastic container from Offertissima and was quite primitive, but we perfected it through training, and we improved sensor angles... The last model we plan to produce is made of ASA plastic used in the automotive industry and it's practically indivisible,'' added Anto.

This group of Croatian kick boxers won second place in the SmartUp startup contest and received six thousand kuna, which was a sign that maybe their innovation had some potential. After that, they won the award for the best pitch at the Algebra LAB competition, and last year they also managed to win 100,000 kuna at the Zagreb Startup Factory. In all this, they admit, the most useful advice came from the president of the board of directors of Algebra, Hrvoje Balen. He told them “stop competing and get to work”.

''After that, we opened a company, made use of all of the incentives for self-employment and, as Balen told us, started working. So far, we've invested all the money in product development and now we've finally come to a commercial prototype,'' added Anto, noting that a prize from the competition would help them scale production.

As for their potential customers, they target all Croatian and foreign clubs - football, basketball, handball, tennis, martial arts... For a start, they explained, they would like the opportunity to demonstrate their device first and foremost to local sports clubs in person.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Green Energy Pal: FER Students Developing Personal Energy Consultant

May the 17th, 2021 - A talented team of innovative Croatian students from Zagreb's FER are jointly developing Green Energy Pal, which works as a personal energy consultant to its users.

As Novac/Bernard Ivezic writes, Green Energy Pal is a student startup which is busy developing the aforementioned service, which isn't new but was expensive and as such has been very limited to only large companies until now.

''We look at electricity almost mechanically. There are sockets, plugs, bulb sockets, switches, timers, extension cords... all of that is mechanical. However, with the advent of smart lamps, smart thermostats, and even smart watches, which send consumption data over wireless networks directly to energy companies, it shows that electricity is becoming less mechanical and more smart,'' state the Green Energy Pal team, otherwise one of the ten finalists of this year's Student DIGI Award.

Green Energy Pal is a student startup developing a digital energy consultant. As previously stated, it isn't a new service in itself, but so far it has been limited exclusively to the largest companies that can afford it. All electricity sellers, in fact, have a team of consultants who offer large industrial plants, shopping malls, ports and office buildings energy audits, investment analysis and technology installations, all in order to optimise their energy consumption. Energy companies thus meet the needs of their customers, and they in turn pay for such a service, enjoy the additional savings and become their subscribers.

Ivan Pavic, a member of the Green Energy Pal team and an expert in the electricity market, says that such work is expensive primarily because it still needs to be done manually.

''Although such an approach is possible and cost-effective for large users, it isn't applicable for small and medium enterprises that don't have so much financial power or so many savings opportunities. That's why we're developing a digital solution in the form of a personal energy consultant called Green Energy Pal,'' explained Pavic.

Four doctoral students from the Department of High Voltage and Power Engineering at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb (FER) are working on the Green Enery Pal project. Two are focused on energy trends, regulations and needs, and the other two on software and hardware development.

In addition to Ivan Pavic, who is developing a business model, there's also an automation expert, the organiser of the first blockchain development meetup in Zagreb and the architect of their IT system, Alen Hrga, then there's a physicist, a power expert and head of development of their artificial intelligence algorithms, Ivan Sudic, and the head of the team and Master of Electrical Engineering, Domagoj Badanjak.

Ivan Pavic emphasised that this division isn't so fixed and that they complement each other a lot, explaining that they were pushed into this endeavor by friendship and good cooperation so far.

''All four of us are doctoral students at the Department of High Voltage and Energy at FER and we've worked together on many scientific and professional projects, and often together we guide students in preparing their own seminars and diploma theses, and we also write professional and scientific articles for magazines and conferences,'' stated Pavic.

Thanks to that, added Pavic, they are well acquainted with the current trends in energy. For example, the European Union (EU) has a very ambitious goal to become a leader in the fight against climate change, so for that, savings in electricity consumption have a strategic, political component, which will affect both regulation and the economy.

''I'd like to point out 2030 as the deadline for increasing energy efficiency by 32.5 percent, and to achieve such ambitious goals a great burden will fall on the profession, so energy consultations should be democratised, and that's our goal precisely,'' stated Pavic.

He added that their personal energy consultant, Green Energy Pal, is a combination of hardware and software that collects real-time data on its electricity consumption at the user's location, analyses it and then offers recommendations based on the results. The user manages the entire system via a web interface. In the background, sensors and a microcomputer are located in its location in the distribution cabinet. They send data to the Green Energy Pal cloud and there that data is analysed by artificial intelligence.

''It's the brain of our product and it recognises each device individually, be it a TV or an oven, predicts future consumption, analyses peak power and much more,'' said Pavic.

He explained that based on all this, the user can be given suggestions as to whether it pays to replace a device with something more economical, change their tariff, change their heating method, make an investment, and even include alternative energy sources in the system, such as solar or heat pumps. In addition, it can assess the performance of the charging station for electric vehicles as well as the benefits of selling excess energy back into the grid.

Pavic stated that so far, small and medium-sized enterprises, especially those in the catering and hospitality industry, have shown the most interest in Green Energy Pal, and that in the end they plan to offer their solution to households as well. With their startup, they also entered FER's SPOCK incubator, and also joined the BAIF Programme of the Croatian Employers' Association, as well as the STup and Student DIGI Award startup competitions.

''We were happy to enter the Student DIGI Award of Jutarnji list, because it's a confirmation of our idea, which gives us a bit of wind in our sails for the future. It wasn't easy to break through,'' concluded Pavic.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Croatian High School Students Create Chatbot for School Work Help

May the 15th, 2021 - Two Croatian high school students from the continental Croatian town of Cakovec close to the Hungarian border have developed a chatbot aimed to help their fellow students out with school work.

As Novac/Visnja Gotal writes, with their software, learning is being made that bit easier. Croatian high school students Karlo Kolac and Dorian Mikulan from Cakovec have jointly designed a personalised chatbot for the repetition of school work and material. They've tried it out and said it worked.

After managing to master Newton's laws with the help of their invention, they confidently filled out the application form for the Student DIGI Award 2021. The duo's mentors, Nikola Friscic and Nina Mikolaj Varga, helped them out a lot.

''We work on various projects in robotics, our mentors support us and they're great. They're young and approachable,'' Dorian and Carlo agree.

The boys, Croatian high school students attending the Josip Slavenski High School in Cakovec, are both vastly talented across a variety of fields so it isn't much of a surprise that they turned their hand to the development of a chatbot. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making its way more and more slowly into the Croatian sphere of learning. The job of the boys will be to enter new data into the chatbot after the class is over and thus create an extensive database of all of the information which might need to be repeated.

''It works just like a chat does, like you're corresponding with a friend. It's an easier way to find the information you need and there's no wasting time flipping through a book,'' Dorian explained.

The point of their innovation, the two talented Croatian high school students say, is to get accurate and verified information in a short amount of time.

''It's an individualised bot with which we systematically repeat the learned material. By asking questions we get the answers we entered ourselves at some point in our schooling,'' they explained, making it sounds simple, and perhaps it is easy for them.

Dorian and Carlo share common interests, they attend computer science classes and optional robotics classes together but they don't hang out often outside of school.

''Robots have always interested me when you see them on TV series, lately I've started to follow what NASA is doing, I was very interested in the way robots are made. The perfect robot? A robot that cooks and does everything else we all need to spend a lot of time on every day. We could make better use of that time,'' said Dorian, adding that his mum certainly wouldn't be offended at the idea of a robot cooking for him instead of her, as she'd love a bit more free time.

He says of himself that he is quite serious and shy until he gets to know a person, and later on he is more relaxed and approachable.

His colleague Karlo Kolac is a third grade student and tere's no special desire as far as the function of a future robot is concerned for him.

''My robot shouldn't cook, I like to do that myself. These are the only moments when I have peace,'' he said, adding that when it comes to certain subjects such as law, he can't imagine studying for that.

''Just the very idea that I'd have to memorise entire books... I'm not feeling well now,'' he said, adding that he can admit that he might be just a little lazy at times.

When the professors told the pair about the Student DIGI Award, they quickly remembered the chatbot idea and got to work.

''We used the free programme Microsoft Azur, we used it to develop a database. In fact, the database already existed, but we adapted it to be useful to us. Ideally, each student should have a personalised chatbot that would be supplemented with new information after a class is over. It would work as a great aid to them. Students could share data with each other. If everyone added something, it would be a serious knowledge base,'' stated the Croatian high school students while wondering what direction to take their work in.

The next important step is to teach the robot to speak as well as recognise the language, store it in its memory, and give a voice response to a voice query.

''In this way, the chatbot would also help people with special needs. A visually impaired person could ask the chatbot something and it would answer it. It's a programme that uses artificial intelligence and a database to help people out with learning,'' the Croatian high school pupils explained.

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