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CroAI Meetup: A Confluence of Minds in Tech, Health, and Policy

19 October, 2023 – In an era where technology, health, and politics are more intertwined than ever, the recent CroAI Meetup emerged as a groundbreaking forum for dialogue and collaboration. Esteemed participants including Martina Silov, CroAI Executive Director ,Dražen Lučanin, Head of Information System and Technical Service at the City of Zagreb, Anita Galić, CEO & Founder of Health Hub HR – Point of Connection in Healthcare, Mario Ravić, Head of IoT & Digital Health at Ericsson Nikola Tesla, partner at AI4Health.Cro and Vlado Rendulić, Business Consultant for Business Agility, Crisis Management and Corporate Entrepreneurship, engaged in insightful discussions, collectively recognizing the inseparable linkage between business, health, and politics.

 
Zagreb is positioning itself as a hub for startups and IT firms, showing a readiness to assimilate novel concepts and advanced technologies. Although not all solutions presented are tailored for the city, the scope for startups to forge new paths via collaborations with established corporations is notably substantial.

The meetup also shone a light on the essential role played by NGOs and think tanks. These entities were identified as key mediators in bridging the gap between the corporate sphere and public policy, thus nurturing an environment conducive to meaningful innovation.

This confluence of AI, politics, business, and healthcare sectors suggests a future replete with collaborative ingenuity. Mario Ravić, speaking at the CroAI Meetup, acknowledged the intricate challenges that accompany the adoption of AI, particularly in public domains like healthcare, education, transportation, and environmental conservation.

During the panel, each panelist presented their perspective on the current situation regarding the collaboration of cities, the state, and all public institutions (including healthcare). Following this, the discussion shifted to solutions. 

Dražen Lučanin, Head of the Service for Information Systems and Technical Affairs in the City of Zagreb, brought the perspective of a public institution, outlined the needs of the City and its institutions, the challenges they face, and the ways they are trying to solve them. He emphasized the significant need for public institutions, especially healthcare, for innovative solutions and modern technologies. 

Anita Galić, Founder and Director of Health Hub, agreed with the above and stressed the importance of institutions’ openness to innovative ideas, as this is the only way society can progress – if they are implemented in a way that facilitates and enhances life for society as a whole. From her experience in healthcare management, she observed how important it is to create an environment where new ideas can develop into products but also be ready to apply them. 

Vlado Rendulić, Business Consultant in the field of business agility, crisis management, and corporate entrepreneurship, highlighted the obstacles companies face when trying to implement their solutions in public institutions. He spoke extensively about public tenders, the problem of excessive bureaucracy, but also the importance of projects that facilitate and simplify this collaboration. 

Mario Ravić, Leading Expert in IoT and Digital Health at Ericsson Nikola Tesla and partner in the AI4Health.Cro project, highlighted how important it is to support the digital transformation of healthcare systems and organizations, SMEs, and small mid-caps. Affirming the stance of the GIAI4H initiative by the World Health Organization, Ravic stressed the necessity for considerable support and facilitation in this transformative phase. He lauded the AI4Health.Cro Hub for exemplifying the way startups might gain entry into the health sector, through consortia comprising public institutions, large tech companies, and other parties.

Participants concluded that the realms of business, health, and politics are deeply interconnected. Zagreb has shown an open attitude towards solutions presented by startups and IT enterprises, wholeheartedly accepting both innovative concepts and state-of-the-art technologies. It was emphasized that forging ties between startups and public institutions is not only essential but imperative for societal evolution and enrichment. Such collaborations can harness the power of contemporary technologies, thereby enhancing the living standards of the wider populace. In this landscape, NGOs, think tanks, and initiatives such as AI4Health.Cro emerge as instrumental, establishing pivotal connections between health agencies and businesses, setting the stage for the inception and integration of AI-centric digital health tools.

After the panel discussion wrapped up, the floor was opened for audience questions. Many sought clarity on enhancing collaboration between public entities and startups, as the latter’s innovations can benefit the whole system. Once the session ended, panelists and attendees further discussed the subject in a more casual environment. This allowed attendees to share thoughts about the discussion and pose questions they might have hesitated to ask earlier or ran out of time to address. This relaxed setting was pivotal in enriching participants’ insights into the offerings of AI4Health.Cro.

Hosted by the Croatian AI Association (CroAI) and AI4Health.Cro, this Meetup was illustrative of the immense possibilities born from a multidisciplinary stance. By facilitating direct engagement between policymakers and tech innovators, the event not only sparked immediate discourse but also set the stage for prospective collaborations.

With its burgeoning tech scene, Croatia finds events like the CroAI Meetup a precious catalyst for promoting a spirit of cooperation and innovation. This assembly is a testament to the limitless potential that can be unlocked when diverse sectors engage in collaborative efforts.

The successful event was organised within AI4Health.Cro networking activities

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