The most outstanding innovation leaders in Central and Eastern Europe were announced on 26 November 2015 and four Croats are among them. A proud moment for Croatia – indeed! Matija Kopic, Jan Jilek, Valent Turkovic and Miroslav Vrankic have all made the list of the Top 100 innovators from Central and Eastern Europe who are changing the world and improving people’s lives with ideas that scale up in the digital world.
The Warsaw-based journal Res Publica, Google, the Visegrad Fund, and the Financial Times selected the top 100 list of these superb professionals and thus recognised their courage for innovation, expertise in emerging technologies, unique skills and social outreach that are having a global impact in today’s world.
Here is a bit about the Croats who made the list
Jan Jilek – is a pioneer of online advertising in Adria region. He started his online advertising career in 2002 in Httpool – the first online advertising network in Croatia. After a year of learning about online advertising and in cooperation with biggest Slovenian search engine Najdi.si he started full-text search engine in Croatia Pogodak.hr, later sold to Slovenian Telekom. After Pogodak.hr he started first Croatian contextual intext advertising network Xclaim.hr and in 2008 sold it to biggest Polish Internet Company Internet Group S.A. He also started online advertising network ad-net and adOps company Adserver.hr which he sold to Austrian adOps Company in 2015.
His newest adventure is big data internet audience measurement startup Dotmetrics.net. Few months ago Dotmetrics started operations in Croatia and it is already present in Serbian and Bosnia and Hercegovina, but also some bigger CEE countries are in a pipeline. Because of the need for funding of his newest startup adventure, which lacks in Croatia, he started the 1000startupsEU movement. He is trying to understand growth problems which European startups are facing in EU. The goal of the project is to gather more than 1000 EU startups who will together push for structural reforms and building of pan-EU startup infrastructure.
He is also president of IAB Croatia and a member of IAB Europe brand advertising committee and research committee. AB Europe’s mission is to protect, prove, promote and professionalise Europe’s online advertising, media, market research and analytics industries. As IAB Croatia president, Jan assembled and managing Croatia’s leading Internet media and digital agencies and rendered the association the leading body in the field of interactive marketing in Croatia.
Matija Kopic– is CEO of Farmeron, a web data service that farmers can use to aggregate information about their animals: diet, health, reproduction, milk production and medicine or drug dosage. Matija created a single, unified database that they can use. By bringing farmers and their production data online, Farmeron is rethinking how agriculture must meet the newest global challenges – of feeding more and more people with more than ever scarce resources.
Miroslav Vrankic – is a professor of electrical engineering at University of Rijeka and founder and a CEO of E-GLAS.
When still at University studying engineering, he once read a poster that said “Merge your skills with your ideals”. Instantly reaching his heart, those words became his life’s motto. After completing his PhD in Engineering in 2008, he decided it was time to put his life’s motto into practice. Finding his life’s mission in helping people, he founded E-Glass, a university-based start-up company. Its main product is Servus, a voice-controlled assistant that helps people with special needs to perform simple home-based tasks, that are otherwise out of their control. The little silver box, about the size of an external harddrive, allows its users to put on the lights, open the doors, turn of the radio or log on the internet. Servus is designed to be speaker independent, which is why Miro and his team are traveling and recording hundreds of voices – so even if the user has a cold, the system will recognize the voice and execute the demands. The device is multi-language, operating in English, German, Italian, Dutch, Croatian and Slovenian.
The idea of Servus came to Miroslav while he was doing his first volunteer assignment, helping a person in a wheelchair. Seeing how challenging simple tasks like turning on the lights or operating a computer can be for people with disabilities, he set his heart on developing an electronic system, which would allow them to regain at least a little bit of their independence, improving not only their lives, but the lives of their families as well. “Seeing the happiness in their eyes makes everything worth it,” says Mr. Vrankic.
Valent Turkovic – launched Projekt Otvorena mreža (Project Open Net) in Croatia in 2009 to promote the ideas of independent internet infrastructure and the internet as a public good. Based in Osijek, Croatia, Mr. Turkovic has a degree in electrotechnical engineering. He volunteered for Multimedia Open Laboratory in Osijek and for Multimedia Institute (Multimedijalni Institut) in Zagreb. He also blogs at kernelreloaded.com.
In the autumn of 2015, Otvorena mreža answered to the wave of refugees entering Croatia in a remarkable way. The activists set up human WiFi beacons, mobile hot spots carried in backpacks to small border towns where refugees lack internet access. The initiative has since then expanded to Slovenia, and an interactive map allows for keeping track on its development. Otvorena mreža provides internet access also to refugee camps, and have recently installed 12 hostpots in Slavonski Brod refugee camp under the auspices of the Minister of Interior Affairs of Croatia and Croatian Army Forces.
Congratulations to Jan, Matija, Miroslav and Valent – love your work and dedication to advancements for the betterment of the human race and its life. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)