The most ecological sneaker in the world, the largest Croatian tracker of traceability of agricultural products and the launch of one of the fastest-growing startups in Croatia today are the results of less than two years of existence of the first green or cleantech accelerator in Croatia. Until two years ago, green or cleantech startups were not discussed here. Then, in the spring of 2019, Zagreb’s Zicer, in cooperation with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), launched the first Croatian green accelerator, EIT Climate-KIC.
In two generations, eight cleantech startups with 12 founders have gone through it. Today, they number 32 people, they have collected about eight million kunas in investments, of which 400,000 kunas in one of last year’s most successful Kickstarter campaigns and about 1.5 million kunas through grants from Zicer and the City of Zagreb. In addition to financial, they also achieved a solid green result.
Startup Miret has produced and started selling sneakers that contain 97 per cent natural materials. Maccabi Agritech has managed to develop microcapsules with bioactive components that increase the proportion of antioxidants, specifically lycopene, by 35 percent in organic tomato cultivation, and 76 per cent in chlorophyll salad, making food healthier. Startup VeeMee has ensured traceability for 10,000 tons of food and through its procedures has enabled as many as 750 tons of food not to end up in Croatia in 2020. Thanks to smart logistics, it prevented the emission of an additional 40 tons of CO2. Startup Ascalia, which enables easy conversion of old factories into smart ones, won the “Start.up! Germany 2019 Road Show” and recently became one of the Novac.hr TOP 10 startups to follow due to its growth and investment of 4.5 million kuna. in 2021..
Frane Šesnić, director of Zicera, says that he is satisfied with the result of the accelerators that, as one of the founders of the Croatian EIT Climate-KIC Hub, a consortium composed of seven organizations of different profiles determined to create solutions for climate change, launched two years ago. “The Cleantech ecosystem is developing extremely fast in Croatia. In the last generation of Zicer’s Startup Factory, most of the 18 teams emphasized that their projects and products are green,” says Sesnic.
‘We were noticed by investors, so we also increased revenues’
Iva Soža, who co-founded startup NuoTwo with Marko Brkljačić, which develops panels that turn the walls of buildings into forests, says that thanks to the Zicer and EIT accelerators, they survived earthquakes and pandemics.
– That sustained us and we managed to complete our MVP in 2020 – says Soža.
Marko Kozjak, the co-founder of Veemee, says that thanks to the accelerator ecosystem, he managed to increase revenue to 100,000 euros last year.
– It is one thing when you walk around the meetings alone, and another when the numbers are validated by the accelerator behind Zicer and EIT because it was noticed by partners and investors – says Kozjak.
Marko Vincekovic, director of Maccabi Agritech, says that without such support, they would not be able to start.
– Chemicals, lab – it all costs money! And we also won one Horizon 2020 project – says Vinceković.