Support for international R&D cooperation in Croatia

Project completed
The founder and managing director of lighting company REFLECTA presenting his lighting project with the aid of a flipchart.
The founder and managing director of lighting company REFLECTA presenting his Swiss-backed lighting project. © SDC

Croatia ranks above average in terms of investment in new technologies compared to other EU member states but lags behind in the development of new products. Innovation is a key driver of economic development and therefore important to a country with a high unemployment rate. Switzerland is therefore contributing CHF 1 million to support Croatia's Eurostars programme. This programme promotes international R&D cooperation between Croatian SMEs and European partners.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
01.05.2017 - 31.05.2024
CHF  1’000’000

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.

The Eurostars programme comes under the auspices of the research initiative EUREKA, which involves over 40 countries and the European Commission. The programme promotes transnational cooperation and makes businesses more competitive by facilitating access to new partnerships and funding. Successful applicants can use the funding to develop innovative products, processes and services and launch them on the market. These new developments help to improve people's day-to-day lives and also create new jobs.

Technical and methodological support for Croatian SMEs

When submitting Eurostars applications, Croatian SMEs often face difficulties as they do not have sufficient experience in developing projects and making a persuasive business case for their innovations. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in cooperation with the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), provides assistance to SMEs to help improve the quality of the applications submitted. Switzerland provides training courses and advice to help up-and-coming Croatian SMEs acquire the necessary skills and expertise. It also helps to establish partnerships between high-potential Croatian and Swiss SMEs.

Successful project implementation

For the period 2017–22 Switzerland intends to attract five Croatian SMEs, which will receive funding for their projects if they meet the Eurostars eligibility criteria. Three years before the end of this period, four Croatian projects, focusing on biotechnology, energy and ICT, have already received Eurostars funding. This demonstrates the success of the Eurostars project in action with the backing of Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged EU.

Example of a project: new technology in lighting control

Lighting company REFLECTA is a Croatian SME receiving support from Eurostars. It is working on cutting-edge technology in lighting control. This innovative technology deploys touchless control units, instead of standard light switches, which can be mounted behind furniture or entire walls. These hidden panels can be controlled by hand movements. Sophisticated control system technology and considerable research into individual components are required in order to realise the project. Large apartment blocks or buildings, such as banks, would potentially benefit from this enhanced technology. A major advantage of this technology, as well as the innovative design, is that it conserves energy.

This project demonstrates how a startup's initial project proposals can be elevated to international level through the advice provided by SERI and its Croatian partner agency, HAMAG-BICRO. Eurostars approved the funding for the lighting company in 2018. The ambitious and dedicated team at REFLECTA are planning to launch their product in 2020.

Hand in front of gesture recognition sensors
With the touchless gesture recognition sensors, lights and electrical installations can be controlled by way of hand movements. © REFLECTA
Hand in front of gesture recognition sensors
This technology offers an innovative design that is easy to use and conserves energy. © REFLECTA