In Zagreb, on June 19th, 2018, the “Innovation Day” conference was held at BIOCentar in Zagreb. The conference was welcomed by the members of the Board of Directors of HAMAG-BICRO, Mario Turalija and State Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Education, Tome Antičić. The introductory speech emphasized the importance of innovation for sustainable economic growth and the contribution of a significant number of innovative and technologically advanced entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium-sized, contributing to and influencing the development of the innovation system. The conference was attended by representatives of program users and evaluators of HAMAG-BICRO, ministries and other public institutions within the innovation system as well as representatives of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The conference ended with a discussion at the round table on innovation system development from the Second Technology Development Project (STPII) to the Structural Funds. Participants in the discussion were dr. Zoran Aralica, senior research fellow at the Institute of Economics, Zagreb and SmartEIZ project coordinator; Nenad Buljan, business adviser from Modus Melior Ltd.; Managing Director of Smart Sense Ltd., Radovan Rusan; Director of Technological Innovation Center Međimurje Ltd, Ivan Plačko; a private sector specialist from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Todor Milchewski and Bruno Grubešić from the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts.
The purpose of the discussion was to present views from different perspectives on experience with STP II programs and what these experiences brought about as well as whether STP II contributed to the present work in the Structural Funds.
In the debate, it was emphasized that the process of innovation is long-lasting, as research and development activities are often mistakenly perceived as a cost rather than investment and that IRI projects need time and continuity. Most of the participants in the round table are of the opinion that the system still needs work to raise awareness of the risks and risks of investing in research, development and innovation in order to achieve the desired transformation of the economy through the continuity of financial investments, measures and institutional capacity building. The expertise and knowledge required for research and development activities are specific, workplaces are complex and entrepreneurs need the state’s assistance in financing such specific high-skilled workers.