Panel discussion on makerspace successfully held in Zagreb

A panel discussion about makerspace was jointly organized iz Zagreb on 17 May 2019, by Interreg project Urban M and Croatian Association of Towns (National URBACT Point). The panelists presented examples of good practice, public policies that encourage the development of such spaces and how to finance them in cities through EU funds.

The participants were informed about innovative approaches to promoting and enhancing entrepreneurship through collaborative development of creative ideas and prototypes in maker spaces that encourage young people to explore their interests, learn how to use new (physical and virtual) tools and develop creative projects.

In the introductory part of the panel discussion, ODRAZ director Lidija Pavić-Rogošić presented the Urban M project and concept of maker space. Marko Ercegović from the Association of Towns explained how the Urbact program can contribute to the development of maker spaces.

The following panelists participated in the discussion:

  • Marko Helfrih, Zagreb Innovation Center - ZICER
  • Paolo Zanzerović, IRIM - Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity / Croatian Makers
  • Deborah Hustić, Association Radiona / Zagreb Makerspace
  • Svjetlana Maleković, City of Zagreb, City office for economy, energy and environmental protection
  • Zrinko Rebrina, City of Zagreb, City office for programs and projects of the European Union

Moderator was Lidija Pavić-Rogosic from ODRAZ who pose two sets of questions.

The summary of the panel:

Marko Helfrih explained the history and the purpose of ZICER, a company owned by the City of Zagreb, founded with the objective to stimulate and promote entrepreneurship, provide entrepreneurial education and support private business initiatives, especially in the areas of development and high technologies.

They offer pre-incubation, incubation, post-incubation programs and co-working services to regional technology-oriented companies. ZICER members are provided with the advisory and mentoring services in all aspects of business development and stages of their growth.

Entrepreneurial centre Plavi ured (Blue office) provides comprehensive general and specialized entrepreneurial education and training, as well as advisory and counselling services.

Additionally, ZICER is continuously developing and implementing local and transnational EU-funded projects in close cooperation and partnerships with various European business support organizations. Projects mainly focus on development of new and improved services and solutions that accelerate SME development and growth as well as development of a more favourable entrepreneurial environment.


Paolo Zenzerović from IRIM (Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity) explained their activities and intentions. They develop and implement the largest extracurricular STEM programme in EU - the Croatian Makers movement, which now includes over 120,000 children in Croatia and abroad (Serbia, BiH and Kosovo), where IRIM and local partners deliver IRIM-designed major projects (with initial funding from IRIM). Some programs are joint regional activities.

IRIM donates a large amount of equipment, but only as foundations for wide and deep knowledge distribution using that equipment, through organized activities, teacher education (more than 3,000 teachers educated in Croatia only), content development etc.

Their focus is on development of digital and scientific literacy, technological and other competences within the STEM area for youth in Croatia and other countries, to become equal citizens of the 21st century. However, they see STEM activities as a tool for achieving important competencies and key skills such as learning skills, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and personality traits such as curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, social and cultural awareness. Some of IRIM's projects are Croatian makers league, Digital Citizen, ProMikro and STEM cars.

About IRIM / Croatian Makers

Deaborah Husic explained that Radiona has been founded to enhance the visibility of makers' open source culture and self sustainable production, and with an aim of  connecting STEAM fields (Science/Technology/Engineering/Art/Mathematics). Their objective is to create new realities of networked and collaborative intermedia and new media practices in line with DIY (do-it-yourself) and DIWO (do-it-with-others) cultures. Radiona.org focuses its activities on education, research processes, artistic projects, curatorial practices, residencies, international and domestic inter-sector collaborations, renewable systems and social awareness related issues…

About Radiona / Makerspace - Association for Development of 'do-it-yourself' Culture

Svjetlana Maleković from the Office of Economy, Energy and Environmental Protection of the City of Zagreb explained the City's motivation for supporting a different/alternative approach of doing business. The City of Zagreb has recognized the lack of innovation and the space for development of creative ideas that will stimulate market competition. The City adopted the Programme of inhancing Crafts and Small and Medium Entrepreneurship, which places the emphasis on digital competences, co-working and also maker spaces. They are planning to use funds from the ITI mechanisms for reconstruction of additional ZICER space, which will be intended for 'maker space'.

Zrinko Rebrina from the Office for EU Programmes and Projects of the City of Zagreb explained the City's motivation to join the Urban M project. The City recognised the importance of tools used in the project and the possibility to learn from the practice of other cities, the importance of linking participants at the local level, but the main motivation was to introduce 'maker space' into community and to encourage entrepreneurship development, providing better support and development of innovation infrastructure through "maker spaces".

Panelists have demonstrated, through their examples of good practice, that there may be different types of maker space but what is common to all is the need to connect different stakeholders to achieve more successful results.

A vivid and engaged discussion was followed after panel, that was continued in non-formal mode over the lunch provided by URBACT.

The panel discussion was organized jointly by the Interreg Urban M project and the Association of Cities in the Republic of Croatia (National Urbact Point).

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