Tech

Technology Park Zagreb: A starting point for Croatian innovation and tech

(Editor’s note: This post on Technology Park Zagreb is part of our Tech Tuesdays series. Dispatches covers technology and startups because so many of our highly skilled internationals are entrepreneurs.)

Zagreb has gone from being an overlooked European capital that just happens to be located in “that” country with the gorgeous coastline, to a bustling culture and tourism hub in its own right.

Somewhere in amongst all that, a thriving tech and startup community flourished, and the Croatian capital has truly taken on an entrepreneurial character over recent years. Attracting foreign and domestic investment alike, Zagreb continues to prove itself to a demanding, tech-oriented audience.

This technology wave has extended throughout the country, even spreading eastwards, much to the surprise of most who had all but written off the likes of Baranja and Slavonia. Entrepreneurship in a country previously extremely hostile to such ideas has materialised, and startup incubators are seeing company after company pull Croatia into a very different light on the global stage.

A vision dating back to 1994

I’ve already discussed the fabulous ZICER Incubator, but that establishment isn’t the only one laying down stepping stones to success to would-be entrepreneurs and their promising tech startups. Technology Park Zagreb has been playing this game since long before tech reached the dizzying heights it has today – more precisely since 1994 – when Croatia was engulfed in the Balkan wars which ripped apart the former Yugoslavia and resulted in independent republics.

Few were thinking of tech or starting businesses back then, but this technology park clearly had a vision, and it wasn’t one of easy living and mass tourism.

Croatian startups and entrepreneurs wanting to dip their toes in the typically very choppy waters of tech have a helping hand owing to the Technology Park Zagreb. That helping hand provides everything from idea assessment and finalising plans to get things off the ground, to offering detailed investment plans, networking and funding at later stages.

So far, the park can claim:

  • 113 sucessfuly incubated companies, 203 awards for innovation, 15 patents,
  • 51 start up companies,
  • 1,100 meters2 of space with 40 offices, 100-percent occupancy,
  • International partners from the region and EU,
  • Investment Plan – new Science and Technology Centre Nikola Tesla

With both European Union and international partners to boast of, as well as an investment plan from the Nikola Tesla Science and Technology Centre, a great many tech startups from Zagreb and beyond have been able to spread their entrepreneurial wings thanks to their cooperation with the park.

A Croatian tech centre in the truest sense of the term, Technology Park Zagreb engages with and assists tech-oriented startups from start to finish. Providing support services during the stages of early development, to sources of financing and capital later on, it has incubated more than 100 tech companies. Without services like this which monitor and encourage growth and stability, the Croatian entrepreneurial scene – which has bloomed over the last half a decade or so – would never have reached its current level of success.

Fast track to success

Funded by the Croatian Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts, the park itself is managed by the Zagreb Development Agency, otherwise a key player on Croatia’s impressive tech scene. Technology Park Zagreb has been recognized 200 times, and has a respectable15 patents under its belt. It comes as no surprise that this tech park has racked up so many awards in its support of innovation from development teams and young startup owners.

Offering individualised pre-incubation and incubation, as well as connections with prominent partners and angel investors, emerging tech-based companies have a much shorter path to success in Zagreb as a result of its existence.

The Republic of Croatia has gone from being known across Europe as a cheap tourist destination where you could get more bang for your buck than in the likes of Greece or Spain, to a respectable EU, Eurozone and Schengen nation boasting an enviable startup community.

The tech scene here often has people left with their jaws agape when they learn about it. From geniuses such as Mate Rimac and Damir Sabol, and from incredible domestic startups like Sportreact and Infobip, it should no longer come as a shock that the ever-ambitious Croatia is not remotely delusional in its close following of the Estonian tech example.

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Read more about Zagreb here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more from Lauren here.

Lauren Simmonds

Lauren Simmonds is the editor of Total Croatia News, the largest English language portal in Croatia. She lives in Zagreb, Croatia, and is a translator, content writer, interpreter and the co-author of "Croatia - A Survival Kit for Foreigners," which was published in 2022.

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