These days the ZICER space is empty. Presentation halls, kitchens, hallways, playrooms, creative rooms – all this awaits, hopefully, soon the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, exchange of knowledge and experiences will live again.
We learned how ZICER works these days from Frane Šesnić, the director of ZICER, who said: The essence of ZICER is togetherness and connection. But ten days ago, for the safety and health of our customers, we decided to close the space and ask startups to continue their work from home. However, for several startups that deal with 3D printing of necessary medical equipment, with mandatory compliance with all instructions related to protection measures and social distancing, we decided to ensure the continuation of work from our space.
The results are already visible and significant. Also, we have directed our human and other resources for the production of medical equipment. We have joined a volunteer 3D group and now, on our printer, which we acquired a year ago with EU funds, 18 protective visors for medical staff are printed daily. In addition to this part related to the crisis situation, we also try to adapt other activities to the situation. So last Friday we held the first online Live Pitch Day that will produce the second generation of EIT Climate-KIC RIS accelerators, which we are conducting in Croatia. We will find out the names of the teams of this largest European program for accelerating climate-oriented startups at the end of April.
For ten days now, we have been witnessing how the initiatives of proactive startups are helping to solve the coronavirus situation. Although fear and uncertainty related to challenges and business continuity are present, the desire to help and be part of an innovative solution is strong. Most startups incubated in ZICER these days develop their projects from temporary home offices, but startups that 3D print the necessary medical equipment almost never leave the ZICER space.
Thus, the startup 3DTech started ten days ago to make its own contribution in the fight against the spread and consequences of the COVID-19 virus. Innovators from 3DTech have noticed the main reason for the increase in the death rate in Italy – the lack of Venturi tubes for respirators. Since the mentioned tubes are medical consumables (they have to be changed every eight hours for each patient), young entrepreneurs started an appeal aimed at domestic and foreign state institutions and the general public through social networks and other communication channels. About the beginning of the action, Luka Biondić, the director of 3DTech, told us: Only a few days after the beginning of the initiative, messages and calls started pouring in from all sides. We have noticed that a lot of young companies, like us, have thrown themselves into the altruistic call of helping those who need it the most at the moment. We want to emphasize that we do this not out of profit but out of humanity and goodwill and to help activate as many other companies or individuals as possible who are in a position to provide assistance.
Medical aids are waters in which this startup is already swimming well. Namely, for the last year, 3D Tech has been intensively cooperating with dental practices for which they produce dental aids such as transparent braces. However, given the circumstances that caused the demand for dental braces to decrease, the startup decided to direct the materials at its disposal towards another goal. In addition to respiratory tubes, these innovators also designed plastic clips that, according to the principle of staples, allow any form of fabric to become a protective mask.
Ljubomir Lokin, the development engineer at 3D Tech, pointed out: So far, we have delivered about fifty Venturi tubes for respirators, more than 1000 protective visors for medical staff and more than 200 ClipOn hooks for protective masks. It is very nice to see that in crisis situations, innovation and solidarity know no boundaries. We are glad that citizens, institutions and other young entrepreneurs appreciate our contribution and want to get involved as well. That is our goal – to unite with like-minded people and do as much as we can. Thanks to ZICER, which has opened its doors, and in this age of bans, for a few of us who are actively involved in the fight against COVID – 19, we are now able to continue our innovative work to help others.
With the exception of startups that produce the equipment needed in these pandemic conditions, other ZICER-incubated startups have replaced the workspace with home offices. We asked its initiator and director Ivan Žuna how the Agilos IT startup adapted to the new working conditions.
Immediately after the outbreak of the first signs of a pandemic, we began, without panic, to work on a plan for doing business in extraordinary circumstances. We organized people to work from home, and part of the employees, due to reduced traffic, went on vacation. – says Ivan, whose focus is on optimizing business through the IT sector. Early noticing the seriousness of the situation, they organized in collaboration with Milan Mistrić, head of AI and Data Science team at IBM, created a hackathon on the topic of coronavirus and combined knowledge of applications with data science. Their effort resulted in creating a site through which you can educate yourself, but also do an online test on the likelihood of infection.
Our goal is to resolve this crisis as soon as possible, so we looked at how we can help. It all started with a debate over whether, in case we suspect a COVID-19 infection, we should go to the hospital or not !? We realized that many people do not know what to actually do in this situation, or that in panic they forget what they know. Therefore, we extracted the parameters on the basis of which we estimate the ratio of confirmed versus real cases, and we made a model of virus spread. It is important to note that, as the number of contacts increases, the likelihood of being exposed to the virus increases exponentially. This is the main message of this algorithm – reduce the number of contacts and stick to recommendations. We’ve also added a survey to calculate the likelihood that you have a virus. It is not any official data, nor is there an algorithm that can easily determine it. However, it serves as an illustration of how important it is to follow instructions and act responsibly! We were a little surprised by the interest in what we did because so far the site has recorded more than 20,000 visitors. In fact, very often the best things come out of crazy bouts of creativity. So it was this time too! – concludes Ivan. At https://www.covid-19-moja-vjeržajnost-izracun.com/ you can also take your test for the probability of infection.
Chatbots, computer programs designed to communicate with people, work by sending him a query, and he automatically respond to you in real-time – because he has already been taught exactly how to respond. Exactly such automatic robots are the focus of the startup Hero Factory, one of the winners of the last ZICER Startup Factory generation. Valuable experts from Hero Factory decided to help solve the current difficult situation. Together with the Croatian Institute of Public Health, they devised an innovative project and launched it in record time. Dario Begonja, director and founder of Hero Factory, told us exactly what it was about: “When the whole coronavirus situation started, we wanted to help in additional ways – in addition to just staying home. When we heard about the heavy workload of official telephone lines and hospital facilities, we wanted to help through time savings to all health professionals who work bravely and hard for us. We already knew about the foreign solutions of the coronavirus chatbot that helped in this plan in the USA (Microsoft), the UK, Spain and other countries, so we connected with the Croatian Institute of Public Health. With the support of ZICER and HZJZ, we very quickly designed and developed this tool that can be used on HZJZ Messenger as of today. “
In order to make it easier for us to procure food at this time of closed markets and recommendations for staying at home, the solution has an incubator startup VeeMee in ZICER. It is a digital platform that brings together more than 1,300 farms that offer a full range of domestic products – from fruits and vegetables, milk, dairy products and meat to seedlings.
In response to the current situation, VeeMee has developed a so-called Digital market. This kind of market connects customers with manufacturers. To make it easier and faster to use the VeeMee customer platform, contacts are categorized by counties and product types. Our goal in this time is to convey extremely important information quickly, transparently, accurately and free of charge. Farmers who have signed up for our platform tell us that their sales are continuous and that they are recording a growth of 50%. – says Marko Kozjak, director and co-founder of the startup VeeMee.
Innovation does not end here. Young hardworking people connected around ZICER are intensively directing their knowledge towards solving problems. You will find out soon about their valuable endeavours that you have just learned about, as well as about some completely new solutions!
Zagreb Innovation Center d.o.o. (ZICER) is an entrepreneurial support institution of the City of Zagreb that implements activities to support the development and improvement of the entrepreneurial environment and society as a whole. Through its activities, it contributes to the creation of a stimulating entrepreneurial environment, strengthening entrepreneurial competencies and promoting entrepreneurship. ZICER facilitates the path to sources of funding and provides support to entrepreneurs in turning an entrepreneurial idea into a product or service.