Startup Diaspora Leaving Croatia

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Many of the most talented young entrepreneurs have decided to move their businesses abroad.

Croatian demographers and economists are becoming more concerned about the growing emigration of extremely talented young people who create modern and promising projects, but decide to implement them abroad. They warn that such trends will have negative long-term consequences for the economic growth of Croatia, reports on October 12, 2016.

Most of young entrepreneurs believe that their projects can be much easier to implement in a strong financial and business centre such as London. Marija Butković from startup Kisha, which produces smart umbrellas and was started by a young team from Rijeka, moved to London in 2014. “We had a reason to relocate to London, since we estimated that such a move would bring us more opportunities for connections, growth and access to foreign investors”, said Butković, noting that software development and production of umbrellas have been kept in Croatia.

“In the near future, we do not plan to change anything, because our main investor is in London, and we are currently opening sales channels in Western Europe, which is much easier to do from London. At the same time, the number of opportunities here is much higher than in any country of central or eastern Europe, since the British capital is the major tech hub of Europe in general. Internet of things is in a big upswing here, so we see this as an excellent opportunity for further growth and development”, said Butković, pleased with the results so far.

Saša Šarunić said that his motives for moving to London were similar. He is involved with the AgentCash card payment system, which he started with his friend Ante Kotarac. Last year, they submitted their project to a competition for ideas from innovative companies organized by one of the world’s leading banks Barclays. They have a sales office in London, but they have kept development and operations departments in Croatia. “Croatia has excellent IT professionals, but the problem is that potential investors in most cases condition their investments with opening of a company in the United Kingdom or Germany”, said Šarunić, adding that the main reason is Croatian legal system.

Zvonimir Savić, the chief economist of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, said that such trends are by no means good for the Croatian economy. “It just deepens negative demographic tendencies, and bring a loss of the most vital part of the population which is capable of high-quality involvement in modern development processes”, said Savić. He added that Croatia invests too little in encouraging scientific research and does not provide adequate institutional and financial support for startups.

Given that Croatia is in the group of countries with very low potential GDP growth, Savić warned that losing the young, educated and innovative population would mean less stable and sustainable economic growth in the future. “If we do not take appropriate measures and activities to keep young people in the country, Croatia will not be able to follow the dynamics of development processes in European economies, and will thus fail even further from the EU average”, concluded Savić.


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