The head of the important development bank, the head of a large ICT company and state secretary of one of the ministries agreed that in Croatia that currently one of the most important battles is the battle for people, the educated, ambitious and talented people with the required skills.
The 12th edition of Open Integrations Day entitled 'Digitalization. Innovation. Revolution.' was about Croatia and its large-scale projects, its comparative advantages and disadvantages as well as the priorities in the time of global fourth industrial revolution. While Vedrana Kašić Jelušić, director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary Croatian sees advantages in the location, macroeconomic trends and free access to the EU market, she sees the shortcomings in insufficiently flexible labour market, high debt of Croatian economy and especially in a weak innovation and quality of the workforce.
Several illustrative data: EBRD has been one of the largest investors in Croatia with more than 3, 6 billion euros of investments in 195 projects since 1994. This gives weight to some conclusions by the EBRD: the biggest obstacle to investment is the administration and legal framework; capital market is shallow, and labour productivity is lower than in the EU 28, it is bigger only in the IT industry, finance and agriculture. In the Global Competitiveness Report 2016 to 2017, Croatia occupies the 74th place out of 138 participants in the survey, and the unfavourable ranking in the category of Innovation was mostly caused by a less developed infrastructure for innovation and the lack of cooperation between industry and educational institutions in research and development.
The property of Croatian state companies reaches about 80 percent of GDP, but despite the high value of the assets of state enterprises, revenues of state companies amount to only 15 per cent of GDP, below the level of comparable countries.
Also, the high amount of non-performing loans and high indebtedness increase the risk premium and reduce the number of creditworthy companies. Around 17 000 companies still fall under the category of highly indebted ones. The debt of highly indebted companies is very concentrated - 2.8% of indebted companies (roughly 200 of them) accounts for 60% of total debt.
At the opening the conference, which again this year brought together nearly five hundred participants, the CEO of KING ICT Plamenko Barišić noted with satisfaction that the confidence between clients and partners, led the company to excellent HRK 630 millions of consolidated revenue in 2016, to the employment of more than hundreds of new people and that thus strengthened KING ICT has a sound basis for further growth.
Barišić commented on the figures that must change - we have extremely weak position in the European Union according to investment in innovation and research, as we invest only 0.85 percent of GDP. He considers the withdrawal of money from the European funds a priority, but sees the biggest problem in the insufficient number of talented experts. ‘We cannot prevent them from leaving, but we are creating conditions that after several years of experience abroad make them want to return’, the CEO of KING ICT said.
Speaking of the Action Plan of 880 million HRK with which Croatia is marching towards an effective, prompt and fair public administration, Mihovil Škarica, State Secretary in the Ministry of Administration referred to the title of the OID conference. Among digitalization, innovation and revolution, the public administration needs mostly the latter, said Škarica explaining that digitalization has its meaning when all the pieces are ordered, all the organizational requirements and processes, all people and their skills. Therefore, he believes that the reform of public administration at the service of citizens and businesses is a huge project that has absolutely no political connotations because it is necessary for everyone. Among other things, he announced the project of e-commerce within which the processes and procedures that entrepreneurs ‘face’ will be digitalized.
Director of Dubrovnik Airport, Roko Tolić presented one of the first large Croatian projects which won the confidence of the European Commission, in the total value of 225 million euros. They say that Dubrovnik is a paradise, and as we know, paradise is hard to reach, said Tolić testifying however, that the heaven is reached many, as in 2016 Dubrovnik Airport broke the record - 294 million HRK of revenue, 85 million HRK of profit, two millions of passengers, cooperation with 55 airlines. Expansion and modernization of the Dubrovnik airport will benefit everyone in the Croatian south, and many Croatian exporters have found their place.
Another major project was presented at this year's OID conference – Croatia's accession to the Schengen area, a project in which most of the tasks have been performed and in which 116.7 million euros have been used, or 97 percent of the funds, which puts us on the fifth place among other countries of South-Eastern Europe according to the utilization Schengen instruments. Deputy Interior Minister Joško Dorić presented a series of successfully implemented tasks and projects under the common name of Schengen, including the control of the Green and Blue border.
And last but not least, a bear, a giraffe and a lion who just seem innocuous, but in fact are a real and growing innovative business spread to all continents which has as partners companies from the Forbes ‘list of 500’.
Josipa Majić told the inspiring story of students who, with no capital, infrastructure and knowledge of business in just a few years with innovations, taking into account clients' needs and learning, created a company that collaborates with the largest corporations and organizations, has a broad portfolio of patents and successfully manages its market niche – by biometric signals. Today, the former girls with a teddy bear, Teddy The Guardian, that measure children's body temperature, are serious entrepreneurs connected to research and development departments in large companies and based in London. It was one of the best stories about talent and innovation, perfect for this year's OID conference.
At the Open Integrations Day conference a lot of attention, as always, was given to the DEMO room in which a number of solutions, innovations and systems that protect, monitor, analyse and connect different processes were introduced, bringing safety and efficiency to business, from the airport to human resources management.
At a series of workshops, participants at the OID conference were first-had introduced to individual solutions and technologies