It’s a cliché but the future truly is in the hands of the young. And despite the sewers of politics that pollute our lives daily or the terror that holds many of our streets in the world it is always a wonderful cheer to see young people succeed in their endeavours to better their and everyone else’s lives. And so I always keep my eyes open to see success and grip onto its positive energy of peace and thrilling ambition.
Not many carry on them a portable mobile phone or tablet charger or are near a wall-socket or USB plug in when their gadget’s batteries run out at the time they depend on them… Certainly, dependence of running power in these mobile devices has become a crucial factor in living daily lives for multitudes and self-standing, self-reliant, self-sustaining, solar-powered benches or similar installations strewn around cities has been an emerging competitive industry of innovation during the last couple of years, particularly.
But, Croatian Steora Smart Bench, made by the young Croat Ivan Mrvos’ InClude company in Croatia (which won the 2015 best startup company, best small enterprise, best innovation product in Croatia awards), is already praised internationally to be by far the most advanced solar smart bench on the market and is optimised for continuous public use. It was developed to satisfy the future needs of sustainable and smart connected urban spaces. By creatively harnessing green solar energy, the Steora Smart Bench provides USB and wireless mobile/cell phone charging, mobile WIFI Internet, area/street lighting, seat cooling, local advertising information, sensor and data gathering; it is said to have the capacity of storing 10 days worth of energy.
Young 20-year-old innovator Ivan Mrvos from Solin, near Split, is the man behind the smart benches and has with his colleagues built the Steora Smart Bench that’s taking the world by storm during the past months. Steora Smart Benches have been popping up in numerous towns and cities in Croatia and beyond. Ivan’s benches have started taking on the international market and have been placed in recent months in places like Sarajevo, Hong Kong and outside the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, and test benches are now being shipped to Qatar, Switzerland and USA while a large and newest deal will take the Croatian made smart benches to Australia.
“The new version has double-layered panels that were developed in cooperation with Croatian companies and have a stronger battery system. Phones can be charged via cables or wireless. It’s enough to just place your phone on the bench and it immediately begins to charge,” Mrvos said.
This invention is indeed a first in Croatia and it is truly a marvelous one from a young man. Mrvos called the bench Solarna e-klupa or “solar e-bench” in English. The bench, of course, is mostly used for sitting, but its extra features make it noteworthy. Mrvos said that he had the support of the Solin Council and his colleagues to build the bench.
“The whole project in making the bench took around four months and the materials to make it were financed by the Solin Council. I worked for free, and without the help from my colleagues Toni Leja and Ante Parcina, it would not have been possible to do,” he said.
“Today I can officially announce that two weeks ago a distribution contract of the Steora smart benches between the Include company and Australian Mtk Renewable Energy Investment company. A total of 2,700 benches in the next five years will be delivered, while the contract value is around 5.33 million Euro (US$5.9 million),” Mrvos, the founder of the Include company, wrote on his Facebook profile 14 July 2016, Vecernji List reports.
He added that these are the “results of continuous work of 20 young people who gave their 100% for this company, with some working 24 hours a day for 0 bonuses and stayed with us regardless of the fact that others said this would never be a large project.” He thanked the General Consul in Melbourne, Australia, Dubravko Belavic as he found a partner “in less than a week.”
The Steora smart bench draws its energy from solar panels installed beneath the seating surface and the Steora.com webpage states:
“Steora Smart Bench’s unique design provides self-sustaining green solar energy to power all large suite of applications such as cell phone charging, WiFi Hot Spot Internet Connection, area LED lighting, sensor data gathering capabilities and temperature control. Yes, it even has a built-in cooling fan system to keep the seating area below 80⁰F on hot days!
Because mobile technology is such an essential aspect of modern life, properties want to support and attract the mobile generation by providing more charging device options than ever before. Make your public spaces smarter and greener with the Steora Smart Bench.
Steora Smart Bench is a sustainable gathering space to socialize and stay connected. Steora also brings a note of ultra-modern design that can enhance or blend in with existing urban landscapes but will always draw attention. Being on the front edge of innovation, the Steora Smart Bench will make a visible and functional green statement for years to come.
Steora is by far the most advanced solar smart bench on the market and is optimized for continuous public use. It was developed to satisfy the future needs of sustainable and smart connected urban spaces. By creatively harnessing green solar energy, the Steora Smart Bench provides USB and wireless cell phone charging, mobile WIFI Internet, area lighting, seat cooling, local advertising information, sensor and data gathering.”
Roses weren’t always blooming for this young innovator and entrepreneur. In the beginnings of his project he encountered resistance from Croatian entrepreneurs and investors who didn’t believe in Ivan’s ideas, but he persisted with his goal of building a smart bench. Solin town Council came to the rescue and financed the production of the very first smart bench in Croatia and success followed. The town of Solin, its Mayor recognised the e-bench as a good idea and a quality project and hence, did what not many local council chambers do in the world, let alone Croatia: put money into a business idea of local young person and paid for the production and installation in Solin of the very first smart bench in Croatia. This is the Croatia I’d love seeing more of.
The 21st century is much about techno-business and the young Croatian talents are among the front-runners to brilliant possibilities! Yesss! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)