Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Eighth Fastest Growing Swedish Company Boasts Croatian Employees

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of November, 2018, Visage Technologies is the eighth fastest growing high-tech company in Sweden, but it boasts many Croatian employees, in fact 60 of its 70 workers are based here in Croatia.

According to the co-founder of the aforementioned company and professor Igor S. Pandžić from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER), in practice, this is how digital transformation really looks. At the Digital Transformation (DTC 2018) conference, which began in Zagreb on Tuesday, Pandžić said he had founded the company in Sweden 16 years ago, because he could not do anything here in Croatia.

While being able to get the project off the ground in Croatia proved difficult, having Croatian employees seems to have aided the company in its success.

"An employee at a public university in Sweden owns the results of his own research, he can publish it and use it. Furthermore, with one document, he can get his research valorised and use that document to immediately set up a company,'' Pandžić stated.

It was easier to set up a company in 2002 and become a shareholder in Linköping, a city 200 kilometres from Stockholm, than it is to do on this very day in Zagreb. Pandžić pointed out that Croatia shouldn't be remotely surprised by the negative place it holds on the various competitiveness charts, the DESI index, the World Economic Forum reports, and other international indicators.

Visage Technologies, a company that continuously searches for developers in Croatia, and boasts a very large number of Croatian employees, otherwise deals with industry-specific computer identification technologies.

As far as global success is concerned, it may be best to point out that when Wired wanted to explain how something worked on the then brand new IPhone X, the first company they got in touch with was Visage Technologies.

The products of the Swedish-Croatian company are used by Fujitsu, Coca-Cola, Canon, BMW, McDonald's, Deutsche Telekom, Philips, Sony PlayStation, Škoda, L'Oreal, Novartis and Ogilvy, as well as famous faculties such as Princeton, University of Tokyo and Fraunhofer, just to name a few. Pandžić emphasised that they only started to grow significantly when Autolivov Veoneer became a client.

"Two years ago, they asked us if we could make up a team of 15 to 20 people who would work just for them, which was a great step forward for us as there were so many of us at that time. But for us, it was a step further in our own transformation, and today it's a part of our business,'' Pandžić added.

Pandžić also stated that the company produces 50 percent of the seatbelt buckles for cars all over the world.

The company is now developing a system where the car recognises the driver, as well as others in the vehicle. In Zagreb, in cooperation with teams from Sweden, the company is developing intelligent vehicle systems that will stop the car should it come into close contact with a human or another vehicle, explained Pandžić.

"It wasn't easy to arrive to this position, where today we've got clients who use our systems with robots, because if you've lived all your life at the academy like us, then you first have to reconcile with having no idea what the market actually looks like, who those customers really are, and which business models really work,'' added Pandžić.

Visage Technologies ''wandered around'' for the first six to seven years until it found a proper product-market fit. The same happened when in 2016 they expanded their business into the car industry. Deloitte announced last year that they grew by a massive 1600 percent to 8.5 million Swedish krona. According to Business Croatia's data, Visage recently increased its revenue from 2.9 million kuna to 9.9 million kuna last year, and enjoyed a net profit of 546.500 kuna.

"We're cooperating with the academy all the time, because this is important for digital transformation. From the very beginning, Visage has been in cooperation with FER through a scientific-research project,'' concluded Igor Pandžić.

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Click here for the original article by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik

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