Vodice, 14-16 June 2018 – Today, the Ministry of the Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce with the support of the World Bank as the project advisory partner, hosted a conference on the Strategic Project to Support the Competitiveness Cluster Initiative, financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund.
The objective of the conference is to present the Project’s results so far related to the selected thematic priority priorities set out in the Croatian Smart Specialization Strategy (S3): Health and Quality of Life, Energy and Sustainable Environment, Transport and Mobility, Security, Nutrition and Bio-economy. These fields encompass 13 sub-thematic priority areas which were assessed in the S3 as having the potential to generate the highest added value and thereby contribute to increasing the competitiveness of the Croatian economy. Participants in the conference gathered representatives of the public, business and science and research sectors who through joint efforts and coordinated action should contribute to improvements in the Croatian economy.
“The project is crucial to the achievement of the objectives defined in the Smart Specialization Strategy: increasing competitiveness, specialization and transformation of the Croatian economy and structural changes in industry. Only joint efforts of the business, public and science and research sectors will achieve the objectives of this strategic project and take advantage of the opportunities offered within the framework of optimal use of European Structural and Investment funds in the fields of research, technological development and innovation. The growth of the Croatian economy in the coming decades must in fact rest on increased productivity through modernization and application of new technologies and the diversification of production through the development of new products and services,” said Nataša Kulakowski Kramarić, Assistant Minister of the Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts.
“Croatia’s innovative and considered approach to competitiveness has attracted interest from other EU countries that are seeking to implement and focus their own Smart Specialization Strategies. The competitiveness work that the Government of Croatia has undertaken is important not only for its identification of segments in which Croatian firms can be more competitive and better reach global markets, but also for its sustained dialogue and engagement with the public sector. It will be important that this dialogue continue to ensure the success of the ongoing efforts, and that the efforts themselves enjoy the support of central and regional authorities,” remarked Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia.
“We often say that we have a small and open economy, but this does not prevent our companies and research institutions from becoming parts of the global value chains precisely in those areas with the greatest added value. A small economy can be more flexible, agile and dynamic than a larger one. I believe that the results that we have achieved in the analytical phase of the project will serve as an impetus for all of us to continue more boldly and in a coordinated fashion to change business strategies and the environment in the addressed thematic priority areas. Our competitors will not wait for us. Today’s challenges are to master skills, work methods and life with comprehensive solutions, and not silos and partial solutions as was the case up until now,” concluded Tomislav Radoš, Vice President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy.
The Project’s milestones and results were presented at the conference including proposals for business environment improvement actions plans, covering themes such as: the methodology to implement the cluster initiative, methods used to analyze the existing industrial situation within the observed S3 priority fields, the selection of strategic segments and the associated strategic options, the challenges in further directing specific activities necessary to improve operations, primarily in the business sector and specifically in those segments more attractive to the market.
The World Bank, in its advisory role on this Project provided an objective overview of the business environment including its shortcomings, as well as guidelines for improvements to facilitate easier and faster transformation of the Croatian economy, primarily in those areas and markets that are emerging or are yet to come. A systematic approach to interventions as a response to the primary challenges and deficiencies in the identified value chains of the observed priority fields was also be described at the conference.