Croatian Startup Develops Application to Monitor Spending of Public Money

Lauren Simmonds



As Novac/Matea Grbac writes on the 21st of May, 2020, the innovative Croatian startup, Fortis Labor, has developed an application which promotes transparency aimed at cities and associations for the monitoring of the spending of public money.

The move represents a new upgrade to their ”Email notification system” app, better known as SOM. Although the whole system was created primarily as an auxiliary tool for sports associations, it quickly became clear that it could quite easily be applied to all kinds of associations, and that it can also serve as a tool for the more clear cut and transparent monitoring of the distribution and spending of earmarked funds paid from the city budget.

Its main feature, points out the founder of this Croatian startup, Lorenzo Gasparic, is that the application can be accessed from any device, whether it is a mobile phone, tablet or simply a laptop.

”Through this system, the city always has an insight into how and in what way public money is being spent. So far, this hasn’t been possible. Namely, at the beginning of the year, the city would announce a public tender to which associations would apply, which would then be allocated a certain part of those funds. They would then justify the money spent to the city only at the end of the year by submitting a yearly report. In this way, through a just a few clicks, associations can immediately enter data, or attach an invoice for the funds spent, and this information is then visible to everyone and is made available in real time,” he explained.

In addition to easier and faster entry of invoices, associations have an insight into the remaining funds through this Croatian startup’s useful system, while cities receive all the data in one place, and a more transparent way of doing business with reduced paperwork is thus provided.

Gasparic added that this system is really impossible to cheat because even if someone receives funds for one item, and tries to justify the money spent in some way when it was actually spent on something completely different, everything is always made perfectly clear through this system and there can be no such cover ups.

”Let’s put it this way. If some association has received funds for the maintenance of a field, and instead a bill from the restaurant is attached and someone accepts it as a valid excuse, later on, during the check, someone can catch you committing that sort of fraud. Which person approved it remains in the system, and I doubt that someone would risk playing with their own career by trying to cheat like that,” he noted.

Currently, this Croatian startup’s system is used by about 200 associations which are mostly sport oriented, they’re from Bjelovar, Sisak, Vodnjan and Rovinj, while Vrbovec was the first to use this system to monitor the work of 89 sports and non-sports associations within the city.

”We started engaging in negotiations with cities back at the beginning of the year, and now we have five more cities that want to use our system. Of course, these conversations have now come to a halt due to the coronavirus crisis, but our goal is to offer our application to everyone. I think that only now, after the pandemic, has it become clear just how important transparent and digital business truly is,” he said.

The value of the entire project stands at a huge 1.3 million kuna, of which 80 percent has come from European Union funds, which marks the second project of a Croatian startup from Zagreb financed in this way. Fortis Labor doesn’t plan on stopping there, either.

Next year, they plan to offer cities a similar programme through which the digitisation of applications for public tenders can be enabled. In this way, they would connect the new system with the existing one and thus almost eradicate the infamous and daunting Croatian paperwork which is typically involved in such processes.

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