Darko Horvat: We’ve Opened Path to Commercialisation of Croatian Innovation

Lauren Simmonds

As Novac/Adriano Milovan writes on the 1st of November, 2019, innovation is the basis of further economic growth, and Croatia is a land of huge potential when it comes to innovation, states a message from the conference “Croatia – a Place for Innovation and Smart Investment”, organised yesterday by the Ministry of Economy and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) at the Westin Hotel in Zagreb.

The aim of the conference was to connect innovative Croatian companies with investors and other partners. These involve more than 300 projects, which have crystallised on thematic innovation councils, with an estimated value of more than 5 billion kuna. They are all open to investment, which is why matchmaking meetings were organised at the end of the conference.

Although Croatia has a long tradition in innovation, the realisation of any of it has so far been stalling and lagging behind far more than it should be. Simply put, it lacked the path for the commercialisation of its innovation. However, Darko Horvat, Minister of Economy, is convinced that a step has now been taken in the right direction.

”Networking the real entrepreneurial sector, academia and local and central government officials and getting all of that through a maze relatively quickly, all this was done this year and in the future we’ll talk no more about speed but acceleration,” Horvat stated at the conference, adding that things are definitely changing for the better in Croatia.

Luka Burilović, President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, recalled the long tradition of innovation in Croatia and said that Croatian innovators are stilling following global trends.

”Today, we have a new generation of minds, who are pushing our economy into a new, digital age,” Burilović pointed out, pointing specifically to Rimac Automobili’s owner, Mate Rimac.

Tomislav Sokol, MEP, warned that the EU is lagging behind the US, China and India in innovation. One of the main reasons for this, at least according to Sokol, is the overregulation of the European Union, which is why the aim is to reduce red tape by a third.

Despite its aspirations and goals, Croatia still lags behind others in R&D investment. For example, according to Eurostat’s data for 2017, appropriations for this purpose in the EU accounted for 2.06 percent of GDP, and in Croatia, they amounted to 0.86 percent of GDP.

On the other hand, in Israel, these expenditures, according to Nili Shalev, director-general of the Directorate for Research and Development at the Israeli Innovation Agency, have reached 4.3 percent of GDP, with the largest share being provided by the private sector. The main driver of investment in innovation in Israel are large multinational companies, but the state, and especially the military, are both contributing, Shalev said.

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