Business

Zagreb’s ZICER Innovation Center: Providing fertile ground for Croatian entrepreneurship

(Editor’s note: This post on ZICER Innovation Center and entrepreneurship in Croatia is part of Dispatches’ Tech Tuesdays series. We cover tech because so many highly skilled internationals are entrepreneurs and founders.)

Frane Šesnić

Croatia and entrepreneurship – they’re two words that you’d rarely find put together in a positive context until recently. The waters are choppy for entrepreneurs in this country. They’re also notoriously murky and Croatia’s masochistic love for bureaucracy and the over-politicisation of almost everything have hindered the startup environment.

Things ha ve turned around quite markedly over the last few years, however, and startup incubators like
ZICER are the pioneers.

Headed by Frane Šesnić and focused on the organic growth of startups, ZICER uses a versatile approach to turn light bulb moments into something tangible.

Transforming high-tech dreams into functioning startups, ZICER provides individualised consulting sessions to would-be entrepreneurs at various stages of startup development, all while elucidating the
process.

Here are just a few of the remarkable Croatian startups ZICER has not only gotten off the ground, but which have firmly placed Croatia, formerly known for little else than tourism, on the innovative startup map.

Sportreact

Financed by Croatian capital, Sportreact is an idea that rapidly began enjoying widespread popularity. This is an innovative system for training and testing the reactions and agility of various athletes. How it works is simple but fascinating – it’s all done based on the collection and processing of data that enables sports coaches to analyse and train the motor and cognitive abilities of sportspeople.

In layman’s terms, Sportreact’s system is a combination of timed photocells, which function as smart stopwatches, and reaction development lights, which serve as training devices. Through the analysis of progress, coaches are able to gain a clearer insight into, for example, how fast their athletes typically run or alter their direction of movement.

They can also see which neuro-cognitive patterns are key to their decision-making on the field, and as such, how to improve injury prevention with a reactive response. Training plans can then be developed for sportspeople on a highly individual basis when all this data is collected – and it all comes in one single app.

Spoolio

3D printing technology now plays an important part in design and production. Challenges are common, however, and one of those is posed by 3D printer farms. These systems involve several printers producing the same or complementary parts. The reliability of their work is the focal point, and problems can become enormous should something go awry.

That’s where Spoolio comes in.

Croatian entrepreneurs Goran Josipović and Bojan Spahija developed the Spoolio web application, which makes it easier for users to manage systems using multiple 3D printers. Making things more streamlined, Spoolio is an add-on which turns a mere 3D printer into an Internet of Things (IoT) device.

The device records the printer’s RFID label, while theapplication provides an insight into the printer’s “health”, as well as the status of the materials being used. Ideal for larger businesses relying heavily on 3D printing, Spoolio lets the user know the state of printer availability and, using the RFID labels on the rolls being used by the machine, the device keeps track of how many metres of material are left. It sends the information via the local WiFi network to a server, where users can see the current status of their 3D printers.

Flaster

The brains behind Flaster are an innovative Croatian duo – Filip Carić and Luka Glavaš. They created a tech marketing company that enables brands to measure the visibility of their mobile outdoor advertising, and bridge the gap between offline and digital communication. Their unique technology allows for a detailed insight into campaign performance, and there’s even a heatmap provided – letting clients see precisely where their campaign had the most impact. This thermal map showcases the streets where advertising campaigns enjoyed the most exposure and did best.

Sarmenta

Operating out of ZICER, Sarmenta states that its mission is to create value-added products to preserve human health and provide an improvement to our overall quality of life – from cosmetic and medical products to pharma preparations and supplements. They also created their very own products under the CLINMEDIQ brand, providing their users with all kinds of products spanning different therapeutic areas.

One therapeutic area which has soared in popularity on a global scale since the COVID-19 pandemic is immune system health, and Sarmenta has a range of products which target precisely that.

Unitfly

From intelligent document processing and content management to business process automation, the Croatian startup Unitfly offers an array of services which are tailor-made, regardless of the industry they’re aimed at or the size of the business. Incubated at ZICER, this startup has become known as a premium business solutions provider.

Founded back in 2017 by a group of tech enthusiasts, Unitfly strives to create an attractive environment for those who strive for excellence. Helping their clients improve their business processes, Unitfly provides quality software solutions to its clients, putting Croatia on the map as a people-centred leader and leveraging business potential using technology.

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Read more about Croatia here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more from Lauren here.

Lauren Simmonds

Lauren 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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