Innovation: Croatia’s Crucial Crossroad

Innovation: Croatia’s Crucial Crossroad

Innovation is not just the engine of growth; it’s the fuel for Croatia’s competitive edge in a global landscape where technology and science shape the future. As we navigate the Digital Age’s potential for supercomputing and AI and the revolutionary impact of biotechnologies and nanotechnologies, Croatia faces a stark reality. Positioned at 42nd on the Global Innovation Index 2022, we’re at a crossroads, with a decade of stagnation behind us and the urgency for a dynamic change ahead.

Our nation’s quest for innovation reveals critical gaps—from limited university-industry collaboration to underdeveloped business ecosystems. It’s clear that fostering a fertile ground for innovation is not just desirable but essential. We must rally around national innovation events, hackathons, and robust R&D programs that transform ideas into competitive businesses.

Forging Ahead: ‘Innovation Force 4 Cro’ and the Norway Grants Support

Our initiative “Innovation Force 4 Cro” is a direct response to Croatia’s innovation imperative, supported by the Norway Grants within the Croatia Call Business Development, Innovation, and SMEs Programme. This project, starting today and lasting until April 30, 2024, is laser-focused on the strategic domains of Green Industry and Blue Growth, reflecting the priorities of the grant call.

Major part of the project is a dynamic three-day ‘Innovate Now Croatia’ event poised to catalyze innovation throughout Croatia and pinpoint two ideas poised for business success. This event will unfold concurrently in four key Croatian regions—Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, and Split—ensuring accessibility for all innovation enthusiasts, irrespective of their location in the country. The event will also prioritize diversity, offering sessions specifically for women innovators to discuss their unique perspectives and prospects in entrepreneurship. It will also feature region-specific focuses—Green Industry in Zagreb and Blue Growth in Split—with expert-led hackathons, lectures, and panels.

By nurturing two business ideas coming out of those hackathons, we aim to transform them into market-ready enterprises that embody increased business acumen and competitiveness. Our partnership with Smart Innovation Norway is instrumental in this regard, enabling a fruitful exchange of best practices between Norwegian and Croatian entities.Those two business ventures sparked by this project will, together with some other promising Croatian startups, also have the opportunity to be introduced to potential investors.

As a cherry on top of the project, the CRO STARTUP online educational platform will serve as a pivotal resource to sharpen the competitive edge of our members. And with an eye on the horizon, we’re also dedicated to building the capacity of our project teams, thereby ensuring sustained growth and robust support for Croatia’s evolving business landscape.

A Collaborative Triumph

The realization of our vision is a testament to the vibrant enthusiasm of our community, the collaborative spirit of our partners Algebra, CISEx, and Smart Innovation Norway, and the generous support of Norway! 

Supported by the Norway Grants 2014-2021, in the frame of the Business Development and Innovation Croatia Programme.