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Connecting science and startups at Podim 2022

As one of the partners of this year’s Podim conference, we got the opportunity to present the Cogsteps platform, hold a Fireside Chat and a panel discussion on the topic of deep-tech startups, connect with different stakeholders who are interested in joining the platform, and have researchers from our partnering institutions – University of Zagreb, University of Ljubljana, Graz University of Technology, and Know-Center, pitch their deep-tech startups in front of a diverse crowd during the Researchers’ Meetup.

Podim is one of the biggest international tech and startup events in Europe, this year, from 16th to 18th of May, gathering more than 1000 business-oriented minds from 36 countries with one goal – sharing their enthusiasm for startups and entrepreneurship. During those three days our researchers were able to hear different business experiences from speakers at talks, panel discussions, and workshops, as well as create new connections and network with investors and other researchers.

At the opening of the conference during the pre-conference day, Jakob Gajšek from Ljubljana University Incubator and Matija Srbić from the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing got the opportunity to present their country’s ecosystems along with other stakeholders from six more countries: Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Albania, and Kosovo.

During his pitch, Matija presented our project and its purpose to solve the problem of unused potential in the three partnering countries – each country and its institutions have brilliant researchers and scientists who are not yet involved in the startup ecosystem and starting spin-offs. Through the project, we are working on changing that and are now raising a few deep-tech startups. Our partners have also presented the platform which will provide all educational materials created during the program, but also help researchers connect with the startup ecosystem and work on the commercialization of the results of scientific research.

On the second day, we held a Researchers’ Meetup where researchers, stakeholders, investors, founders, and others interested in deep-tech startups have discussed the problems in developing them. Firstly, Gergő Gulyás from iScale Hub held a talk on the topic of The Challenges of Developing and Presenting Deep-Tech Startups, after which researchers from our partnering institutions pitched their startups and received feedback on their presentations. Some of the researchers who pitched have been a part of our Startup 101 bootcamp in January, while others showed their interest in joining the next Cogsteps program “From research to MVP”, happening in July.

On the last day, we had another program block powered by Cogsteps. Firstly, Matija Srbić hosted a Fireside chat with Dr. Dubravko Babić from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in which he told the story of his journey from Croatia to Silicon Valley and back. As an engineering PhD who has been a part of startups in different positions, he has learned that working on startups can be challenging, but you get much more from it by gathering different types of knowledge and experiences. Also, he now knows it’s important to realize when it is time for a change which he learned by changing positions from CEO to CTO in his first startup, Alvésta Corporations, and eventually by deciding to shut it down. This knowledge also helped him in starting his second startup, and eventually third one, Eridan communications, which has recently raised an investment worth $46 million.

Later on, Jakob Gajšek moderated a panel discussion on the topic of The Challenges of Developing Deep-Tech Startups. Participants in the panel were Dr. Dubravko Babić, Naveed Syed, Founder of Network Development Hub, and Matija Gatalo, Co-founder & Managing Director of ReCatalyst.

Besides the program powered by Cogsteps, researchers from our partnering institutions were able to participate in different networking and knowledge transfer activities. From one-on-one meetings, workshops, talks, and panel discussions to the networking party, Podim has provided them many opportunities to acquire new knowledge and connect with different stakeholders in the international startup ecosystem.

We want to thank the Podim team for giving us the opportunity to present our project, as well as everyone who showed their interest in joining the platform. See you again next year at PODIM!

Meet us at the next startup event in Zagreb from 2nd to 15th of July 2022, for the “From research to MVP” incubation program for research teams who would like to learn how to transform their research results into startup projects. We will make sure you have enough time for remote work in necessary, but also enjoy your summer in Zagreb. If you are a researcher from our partnering institutions interested in joining us, apply via link, contact your local Cogsteps partner (Ljubljana University Incubator (LUI) for Slovenia and Know-Center for Austria) or feel free to reach us directly at cogsteps@fer.hr.

Cogsteps promo materials (source: personal collection)