Thursday, 18 February 2021

Sisak-Moslavina Development Agency SIMORA Named Best in Europe!

February 18, 2021 – After so much bad news from Sisak-Moslavina County recently due to earthquakes, there finally comes some positive news. Thanks to best practices in regional development, the Sisak-Moslavina development agency SIMORA was named the best in the whole of Europe.

To identify best regional development practices, EURADA, the European Association of Development Agencies based in Brussels, evaluates the best development agencies through their projects. In the sea of numerous and successful European projects, as well as the agencies that design and implement them, it is difficult to find the best on the list of those chosen by the EURADA expert jury. However, for 2020, the Sisak-Moslavina development agency SIMORA, which is also the first award winner from Croatia ever, succeeded.

36 start-ups in the gaming industry

Namely, with numerous projects in entrepreneurship, rural development, strategic planning, social funds, and EU funds, development agency SIMORA created 217 new jobs and preserved over 1000 of them. The EURADA thus recognized it for improving life in Sisak-Moslavina County.

"The European Association of Development Agencies has informed us about the selection, and we expect an invitation to take over the award soon. We were already in the top five European development agencies in 2017, but the first place is really great news for us!" said Mario Čelan, the director of SIMORA.

In selecting SIMORA as the best European development agency, the EURADA jury particularly emphasized the concept of how to develop the region and how to employ young people. It was also important how to educate young people to make video games, mentor them to become entrepreneurs as easily as possible, support their start-ups, and use state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in the PISMO business incubator in Novska.

"Becoming gaming expert-capacities upskilling" is the name of the practice, which was awarded thanks to SIMORA. Ultimately, it resulted in the opening of 36 start-ups and solved the problem of youth employment in a specialized and fastest-growing industry – the gaming industry.

SIMORA also has the best Croatian EU project

"It is a great recognition to receive the status of the best European development agency,' especially since we are the first agency from Croatia that managed to get this title. The year 2020 brought us a lot of written and approved projects, and this award is just the crown of the entire work of SIMORA, which this year celebrates 15 years of work," said Čelan.

On this occasion, he commended all employees who work on all projects, as well as ministries and public administrations from state, regional, and local levels. Without them, he said, SIMORA's projects would not come to life. He also thanked all clients and partners for recognizing SIMORA.

The EURADA award is prestigious because it is not only awarded to members of the association but also all other development agencies based in Europe. In addition to being the best European development agency in 2020, SIMORA also got an award for the best Croatian EU project – the PISMO business incubator in Novska.

Source: Simora

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Tuesday, 22 December 2020

SIMORA and A1 Croatia Collaborate on Business Incubator in Novska

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Project PISMO Novska Voted Most Successful EU Project in Croatia

October 13, 2020 – In a competition of 21 projects, one from each Croatian county, the project PISMO Novska from Sisak-Moslavina County won the title of the Most Successful EU project in Croatia, according to the people's choice.

The project "Creating a stimulating business environment in Sisak-Moslavina County by establishing the Business incubator PISMO-Novska“ won a convincing victory with as many as 30 percent of the votes in the online poll and was declared the most successful EU project in Croatia in 2020, in the category of contribution to entrepreneurship.


Gaming and metal industry

The Croatian public thus supported the PISMO (eng. letter) project the most, which focuses on the development of the gaming industry in Croatia. As we reported earlier, gaming is an industry that has seen great expansion in recent years. In Sisak-Moslavina County, this project has enabled the equipping of its infrastructure.



Gaming equipment inside one of the two renovated buildings in Novska / PISMO


Also, the vision for Sisak-Moslavina's town of Novska is to become not only the Croatian gaming industry center, but the regional center as well.

Namely, in only a few years, two new buildings have been equipped in Novska for the needs of the business incubator, and young video game developers have already started attending lessons at Sisak and Novska high schools.

In the future, the construction and opening of a faculty campus and an arena for sports are planned.



In addition to the gaming industry, the PISMO project also encourages the development of the metal industry, which has a long tradition in Sisak-Moslavina County with still untapped potential. The goal of the project is, of course, the development of entrepreneurship and the creation of conditions for new jobs in this county with a high unemployment rate.


Competition of 21 projects

The competition for the most successful EU projects in the Republic of Croatia was conducted by Jutarnji list in cooperation with the Croatian Union of Counties, the Office of the European Parliament in Croatia, and the Ž project.

To participate in the competition, a five-member jury selected 21 projects, one from each Croatian county. Each of them was presented to the public in the printed edition of Jutarnji list newspapers and on the portal, from August 20 to September 7, 2020.

The election itself lasted from September 19 to October 10, when an online poll was open to the public. As part of the same competition, a five-member expert jury will also award prizes to projects in other categories such as contributions to the local and regional community, cross-border cooperation, and science and innovation.




The second place went to the project of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County entitled "Mala Barka 2: Preservation of the maritime heritage of the northern Adriatic" with 23 percent of votes, and third place went to Brod-Posavina County with the project "Innovative mind to smart schools - SMART SCHOOLS" with 13 percent of votes.

"Thank you to everyone who supported us, gave their vote, and helped the PISMO project to proudly win the title of the best and most successful EU project in Croatia!" reads the page of the PISMO Business Incubator.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Novska High School Introduces Course for Video Game Developers

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

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

The opening of a student dormitory planned

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

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


Specially arranged classroom with computers / Copyright Donatella Pauković

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

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

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

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

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

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

The program gives priority to practice

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

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

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



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

New space, new professors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Novska in the lead

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Gaming Evolution in Croatia - Construction of Campus in Novska

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strategic investments

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

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