What’s wrong with innovation in Croatia?

Croatia flag

I often hear totally wrong talks about innovation in Croatia.

Public opinion about innovators is that those are people, that got rewards on Innovation Fairs. So, when the header in newspapers say: Our Innovators got 3 gold and 2 silvers medals on Innovation Fair, most people think something like:

Well, we have so clever people who have ideas, what’s the problem with our economy?

But, the truth is so much different.
Surely, we have clever people, but this clever guys that got awards(mostly inventors which – at the end – cannot place their ideas to the market) are not the kind of innovators that we need. Innovators should exist everywhere, in every company, in every organization.

Innovation should be the topic that is covered in most companies, in every school or faculty. Innovation success stories should be on headlines on portals & newspapers. There is a lack of success stories from SMEs, or in agriculture business. This stories should be published and new innovators will then be encouraged.

Today, innovators are sometimes more-or-less supported by state or local agencies, but this help is offered to entrepreneuers or SMEs. Big-size companies which have to be changed in order to become truly innovative are not covered so far. Innovation Management is still not known as a discipline inside the country, there are no mention of it in the press, no interest for seminars and on international conferences I never saw fellow countryman. To be honest, neighboring countries have the same problem.

So first, this wrong perspective should be changed and we must be honest and say:  We are now, not so good in innovation (of course, we have some exceptions mostly in startups related to ICT).

Some quick steps could be done in order to change things:

  • make easier way for “birth” of a company
  • creativity lessons should be introduced in high schools and universities
  • big companies should become modern & innovative
  • introduce newest methods to SMEs like “Lean Startup
  • build connections between universities and companies (also build connections to cities or counties)

What’s wrong in Croatia can be easily seen in European Innovation Scoreboard, annual publication which reflect state of Innovation in Europe:


We are good at the secondary level education, but below average in tertiary level education. State of croatian industry is marked with terrible score in Intellectual Assets (patents, trademarks, licenses) or R&D expenditures both in public & business sector.

What is very indicative?
The level of international scientific co-publications is above average of EU, but the level of “Number of scientific publications among the top-10% most cited publications worldwide” is very low. Maybe this indicates what should be changed first? Universities should focus on something “interesting” – interesting inside and outside country and interesting to business sector (public-private scientific co-publications well below average).

In one sentence, Croatia should revamp educational system, make linkages between universities, business and government and foster education in big companies with similar help to SMEs.

Easy, not at all, but there is no alternative…

(image source: http://www.cepa.org/issues/croatia)

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