Top ten startups from the 2017 European Utility Week – Amsterdam

European Utility Week 2017 Amsterdam RAI

An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic


problem solving pulsar

The company where I am working as a Project Sales Manager – Loclain Energy Flow Solutions – was selected as one of most innovative European startups and got a free-of-charge stand on the European Utility Week Initiate! Startup Hub. This was a perfect opportunity for us to present our patented technology to the EU market and to get a full immersion in the global smart energy community.

EUW 2017 Amsterdam RAI

Loclain Energy Flow Solutions – our plan and my pitch

We’ve came to Amsterdam because LocPower® is a first-of-its-kind energy harvesting control valve designed to improve flow control and energy efficiency of water and district heating supply utilities and water intensive industries. Our goal for this fair was to look for partners that would help us implement LocPower® in an innovative application, the one that would lead to zero-emission energy efficiency, such as power-to-hydrogen and smart storage projects.

Therefore my one sentence pitch was: Imagine a situation where the energy recovered from pipelines is used to convert sustainable electricity into hydrogen for mobility, or where offices or water treatment plants get their electricity from a nearby reservoir or a heat storage. This is now possible thanks to the LocPower®.

Loclain Energy Flow Solutions on the European Utility Week 2017
Loclain Energy Flow Solutions on the European Utility Week 2017

2017 European Utility Week in Amsterdam was also a best place for us as a company to get a full immersion in the energy transition trends and technologies. So, here I bring some of the most interesting startup ideas that might help all members of smart utility community in speeding up necessary energy transition. Because, as Sietske Jacobs, Initiate! Project Manager stated:

The focus on transitioning to a sustainable energy future could not be more pronounced than now. Woven throughout this process is a critical factor: the passion to achieve it collectively.

Top ten Startups on the Initiate! Startup Hub

In short: hardware for efficiency, software for measuring and networking, and blockchain as panacea

Initiate Startup Hub_European Utility Week 2017
Initiate Startup Hub_European Utility Week 2017

1) Definitely the best discovery of the whole EUW is Asperitas Immersed Computing. These guys developed a new concept driven by sustainability, efficiency and flexibility. Immersed Computing® includes an optimised way of work, highly effective deployment, flexible IT and drastic simplification of datacentre design. They’ve also made it to the final of the Accenture Innovation Awards 2017! Together with four other innovations, they are still running with Immersed Computing within the Circular Economy category of this prestigious innovation competition.

2) Best one-sentence-explanation of what is bitcoin (reward for modern miners that invest their computer power in the decentralized mega computer) and blockchain goes to our neighbouring startup Toblockchain. These guys and girls are big startup stars in The Netherlands. This is because TOBLOCKCHAIN team is proud winner of the Energy Track at Dutch Blockchain Hackathon Groningen in February 2017. TOBLOCKCHAIN team also won a special prize at Hyperledger Hackathon, Amsterdam in October 2016.

3) Our extremely cool neighbours from Solar adTek were pitching simultaneously with us and our video presentation remote control signals mixed too often. They provide solar powered LED lighting systems for the illumination of outdoor advertising displays such as bus shelters and billboards. The system combines a proprietary Solar Control Unit and customized LED lighting modules with efficient solar panels and batteries to deliver autonomous, reliable and cost effective solar lighting solutions.

Asperitas on the European Utility Week 2017
Asperitas on the European Utility Week 2017

4) Beon for best solar micro-inverters check this great startup.

5) For innovative, durable and much lighter wind turbine blades check the website of our neighbours from Rotoby.

6) For Smart Inspections through Image Analysis chek, one of the initiate startup award finalists.

7) Ecoisme is a home energy monitor that tells you how much energy your home appliances use and how much money you are spending on them. It eliminates grid and solar energy overuse and notifies you if something is about to break.

8) ElectricFeel provides the most intelligent platform available to build, run and scale shared electric mobility systems.  

9) Electron is a London-based tech company harnessing blockchain to design new platforms and services for a decarbonising, digitising, decentralising and democratising energy sector. Recognising the potential for these new technologies to transform the shared virtual infrastructure of the grid, Electron is taking a top down, collaborative approach to platform development and working with various key stakeholders in the energy industry.

10) In Lightyear they are building a commercial solar car: the Lightyear One. Check their website and blog, they are doing a great job!

In the next article I will speak about the best “established” and technology transfer companies I’ve met on the 2017 European Utility Week and how close we are to realise our plans set for this fair. 

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Mr. Valenti: originator of Imola’s packaging valley district and tireless innovator

cover foto

An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic


problem solving pulsar

I have met Mr. Dante Valenti while working as interpreter for his company, the Tek in Pek from Imola. He needed to sale packaging machine to a foreign client and I have help them during the negotiation process.

I was amazed by the fact that with a portfolio of 20 patents, 40 years of experience, and truly global coverage with his inventions, Mr. Valenti is just a regular engineer that loves innovation and enjoy to solve problems. Therefore, I wanted to interview him here in order to understand in more details what is the innovation for entrepreneur that is the undercover hero of dynamical constant innovation. Also, I wanted to understand how a micro enterprise Tek in Pek manage the process of innovation that is responsible for some major breakthrough in the global packaging industry.

Small warehouse in Imola’s industrial area is a headquarter of inventor that has made this city famous. The valley of packaging as the local and global players in packaging industry know Imola was born in the head of this man. Quiet, polite, workaholic engineer, that enjoys to breath live into metal. After few minutes of conversation with Mr. Dante it is easy to understand why 40 years ago, as he told me, he took his pen and left IMA S.p.a. (one of the biggest local multinationals). This gentlemen do not like to argue, he is not into politics, and he is not just into making money, but making innovative and sustainable solutions. This man is an innovator at its best. So, he knew that the resources that counts (innovation ingenuity) are on his side and he started his own enterprise dedicated to constant innovation.

Mr. Dante Valenti - CEO and Engineer at Tek in Pek, Imola

During this 40 years of continuous innovation he created all kinds of machines for packaging, from corrugated cardboard to polypropylene. Presently Tek in Pak is world leader in design and production of machines for manufacturing of special die cutting dies for the hot stamping of die cut products with sealed flutes. 

Here are the Q&A from the interview we had with Mr. Dante Valenti earlier this week.

About the products

Q – What is the smart part (added value) of your products?

A – After I left the corrugated board packaging industry I have searched new materials for packaging and discovered polypropylene. Here the major innovation introduced was the system that I have invented for a hot air sealing of die cut products (so called Vame system). This was a major breakthrough for the industry and the product was welcomed with success in the international market. This system allows closing the sides of boards making the material sterilised and utilised in different steps during the pelletisation process e.g. bottle and jar separator. Moreover, polypropylene is highly resistant, depending on the thickness of material combined it can be much more resistant than wood or even metal.

The peculiarity of the sealing process of Tek in Pak machines is that no smoke is made because the sealing is not touching the cartonplast sheet and this way the thickness of the sheet at the edges on the whole perimeter is kept the same as the original sheet thickness.

Box pallets made of this material are easily folding if edging is correctly designed and this can lead to enormous savings in the transatlantic transportation industry because the palette our machines made are reusable, they do not have to be treated with protective paint for wood or metal and after the delivery they can be compressed to 6 time smaller size, which leaves a lot of space for other shipping to be made. In US they are using our machines to produce the protection from tornadoes which is replacing the wooden protection used until now.           

Tek in Pek Imola Packaging Machine_TF3

The products made of polypropylene are recyclable, environmentally friendly and ideal for industry because this material:   

Emits less CO2 emissions during production when compared with other materials  

Ensures the total recyclability at the end of the product life

Ensures high chemical resistance and high outdoor durability

Is sterilize and has natural water repellency

Is resistant to acid, alkaline and salt solutions, and as well bacteria, mold and algae resistant

Is lightweight and customisable: thickness, weight, color, etc..

Is printable: screen printing, digital and flexo printing

As well, we are searching a business partner that would work with us on commercialization of the highly resistant and lightweight polypropylene rucksack I have registered as utility patent in December 2016. This rucksack is entirely printable, it requires less material for production than other similar products because it uses  hot air sealing.

Ho anche progettato e brevettato una soluzione innovativa per eliminare rifiuti e inquinamento prodotto dalle attuali capsule utilizzate per le macchine da caffè. Inoltre questo prodotto permette al consumatore di elaborare personalmente la miscela di caffè.

– How did you get the idea?

– Innovative products are always born out of the strong research spirit and the capacity of realizing solutions.

– How did you get the funds for realization of your ideas

– By my opinion in Italy, financial instruments are reserved for Multinational Companies that are able to lobby to get the state and bank funds. I was never approved an application for product development and all of my products are realized with self-financing and loans.

– What were the key barriers (administrative, operational, technical, financial)

– Once I have finished the detailed prototype design of the machine or other products the biggest obstacle is finding a way to finance further development and application of the solution and to commercialize the idea. Therefore, we are still engineering design studio and the production process is left to other global companies.  

Tek in Pek Imola - Vame System - Hot air polipropilene sealing


– If any, how was the support from the development institutions/agencies (city/province/region/country/global)

We did not received any support whatsoever.

– Are you a part of/do you have plans to make public-private partnerships? (Universities, incubators, clusters)

– No.

Do you plan to apply/have you already applied for HORIZON 2020 entrepreneurship/innovation support programs?

– I am not planning to apply for such funds.


– Inhouse or outsourced business consultancy/grant application management?

– Our products are truly globally presented and we have our machines from US, Mexico, Japan, Bulgaria, Italy, Russia, France, Peru. We worked with some multinationals such as Procter & Gamble but we are only engineering design studio and all management and consultancy processes are done in-house.

– Are you planning to internationalize?

– 90% of our products is sold on the foreign markets, among which African countries, US, Japan, Asia, Europe, but we are not present in China and Balkans.

– Are you willing to pay for the market analysis?

– Yes I would, but in reality, since we are a microfirm and we do not have means for hiring consultancy firms I do market analysis by myself. The principle is next. I am doing my best to be present, alone or with firms that are producing my machines internationally, on biggest global fairs in this industry. There I have a chance to see the latest global trends and needs and to present my products.

In this way I am able to analyse the competition and to prepare machines that suits the need of the market.

Tek in Pek Imola - Lightweight polypropylene rucksack - Utility patent


– How would you define innovation?

– Innovation is driven by the spirit of research and experimentation and concertized with the capacity for implementation. When developing a new innovative product you must never forget costs and time it needs to be created.

– What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

– In partnership with one US company we are presently working on the  solution for innovative product made from folding polypropylene blocks and sealed with our hot air method. So, continuous implementation of our approach that have clear market value is our strategy for the future. We are also working on variety of solutions of box pallets for US market. However, I have noticed the trend that underdeveloped countries are those more focused on innovation because this gives them opportunity to catch up and maybe outrun developed countries. That is why I am currently negotiating to export some of my newest machines in Kenya and Ecuador.

– How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture, and how is it being optimized.

– The best way to make your company innovative is to be open for new solutions and to visit and discover other markets, in this way you can understand  market needs and consequently design a suitable solution for that needs.

– If you could hire few new people (to develop a product of your dreams what unconventional skills would they have?

– I do not know who I could need to develop the products of my dreams but in order to continue to work on present machines I need accountant, engineer and production facility.    

– What can your company offer for free that no one else does?

– We can offer young people, if they are interested to do internship with us, and to experience the pleasure of making something out of nothing, because that what engineering is, it is breathing life in what before was just a bunch of metal and having the pleasure of seeing it working and producing something useful.


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Američki patent za srpskog dizajnera – Nikola nije Tesla, ali jeste the next best thing

Heart Plate SMART_ A Design Award_Cover photo final

Fotografije Smart Heart Plate-a. Image by [Nikola Vučićević]

An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic


problem solving pulsar

Posle intervjua sa Nikolom napunite se pozitivnom energijom! Ovaj čovek ličnim primerom i postignućima daje motiv svima da istraju u ostvarenjima svojih snova i planova. Zbog toga verovatno na internetu već postoji toliko intervjua sa njim. Ja sam samo želeo da popričam sa Nikolom o njegovom “izumu”, posle saznanja da je registrovao patent, ali sam na kraju ipak rešio da priču sa njim preko skajpa pretočim u… storytelling.

Prvi aspekt razgovora odnosio se upravo na njegov patent – tanjir za srce (Heart Plate), gde sam želeo da iz prve ruke, od izumitelja, čujem objašnjenje celog koncepta. Drugi deo razgovora se odnosio na procedure registrovanja patenata u SAD i biće objavljen u jednom od narednih tekstova.

Dizajner, džentlmen i lider

Nikolu Vučićevića poznajem sa programa “1000 mladih lidera”. Upoznali smo se na radionicama na Paliću 2007. godine, i nedelju dana smo se družili i radili zajedno. Tada je moj prvi utisak o Nikoli, koji se i do danas zadržao, bio da je vrlo ambiciozan i posvećen čovek koji živi život punim plućima i koji istovremeno drži do precizno definisanih principa. Taj pristup životu je lepo uspeo da prevede i u brend svoje firme Dizajner i džentlmen. Dizajner po profesiji, džentlmen po manirima, lider po karakteru. Po jednom od izvoda sa njegovog sajta može se lako zaključiti da voli posao koji radi i da je ta ljubav ono što ga čini uspešnim.

“That is why I love my work and this industry. It allows you to play and enjoy while doing something serious. When I look back on my career, I have proven that I am able to do award-winning work and bring publicity to the client, I can produce financially stunning results and even strong social awareness.”

Elem, Nikola je 2013. godine otišao iz Srbije u Ameriku i zato o njemu i pišemo u rubrici Braindrain Powetrain. Otišao je, kako i sam kaže u jednom od intervjua, zato što:

“Na kraju, kad se podvuče crta, bilo je previše pokušaja i premalo realizovanih projekata. Malverzacije, namešteni konkursi, politička previranja.”

Nikola se sada ubraja u jednog od najuspešnijih svetskih i srpskih dizajnera. Ima 37 godina, a već se smatra dizajnerskom legendom, a na 24. je poziciji među najuspešnijim dizajnerama u Americi za 2015. godinu! No, do sada vam je valjda postalo jasno s kim imate posla. Sa nekim ko će uskoro postati prvi i ko je zasigurno lider u svome sektoru. Imajući to u vidu, bezmalo proročanski zvuči njegova izjava za jednu televiziju da Srbi prave najbolje karijere u inostranstvu.


Image by [Nikola Vučićević]

Na pitanje jednog od novinara magazina, koliko se razlikuje posao dizajnera u Srbiji u odnosu na posao dizajnera na američkom tržištu, Nikola odgovara:

Poslovi su isti, ali se razlikuje poslovna etika, produkcija ili budžeti i mnogo brže se posluje. U Americi poslovni svet brže odgovara na mail poštu, pitanja, koncizno se odgovara. Nemaju problem sa rečima “ne mogu”, jer svaki rizik svode na minimum. Reč “ne” u Americi je dragocena, jer štedi vreme u radu koji nema perspektivu. Zato, lično cenim odgovore “može” i “ne može”.

“Svako treba da ima svoj cilj, kakav – takav, bilo mali ili veliki svakoga dana. I tako iz dana u dan. Borba za bolje.”

Pobednicki rad_Nikola Vučićević_Design_Platinum_Award_2016

Image by [Nikola Vučićević]

Trudom i fokusom do patenta

Ipak, taman kada sam pomislio da me Nikolin fejsbuk profil više ne može iznenaditi nagradama i priznanjima, predavanjima na univerzitetima, jer je to već postalo očekivano od njega, nedavno je ipak uspeo da me iznenadi. Pregledajući vesti na Fejsbuku pročitao sam i sledeću poruku:

Nisam Tesla ali imam patent. 🙂

Moj projekat Heart Plate ulazi u novu fazu: trade mark je tu, kao i patent! Nakon više od godinu dana rada na papirima, dokumentaciji, tvrdnjama, tehničkim crtežima, prototipu, tehnologiji i taj korak je završen. Nastavite da sanjate velike snove, naporno radite ka cilju jer trud i fokus se uvek isplate. Bila je ovo dobra nedelja. Hvala svima! #beginning #heartplate #diet #obesity

Kognitivni nesklad između reči dizajner i patent me je naterao da potanko proučim sav materijal koji sam našao na linku. Zbog nepoznavanja različitih načina zaštite intelektualne svojine, mislio sam se patenti prijavljuju isključivo za mehaniku, fiziku, medicinu, tehnološke procese… Stranica se otvorila i preda mnom se pojavio heart plate. Bilo je to sve u jednom: i tehnologija, i medicina, i dizajn, i filantropija. Moram da priznam, pregledajući stranice Heart platea i sajt “Designer and gentleman” zaista sam dosta toga naučio.  

Heart plate: jedinstvo dizajna, dijete i (big) data

Nikolin proizvod, koji na originalan način kombinuje big data, dijetu i dizajn, nastao je kao odgovor na problem gojaznosti koji je vrlo rasprostranjen u SAD-u. Takođe, namenjen je jako profilisanom tržištu (na primer, ljudima na lečenju i oporavku, sportistima, ljudima koji se bave modelingom, javnim ličnostima, gerijatrijski centri), jednom rečju svima kojima je stalo do toga da jedu pametnije i žive zdravije.

Heart Plate SMART_Nikola Vučićević_patent

Image by [Nikola Vučićević]

Po Nikolinim rečima, u vremenu kada zahvaljujući tehnološkom napretku sve ide ka tome da bude smart i kada nam ukrštanje neviđene količine podataka i njihovih odnosa daje toliko novih uvida, moći i mogućnosti, zašto to sve ne upotrebiti i u cilju smanjenja gojaznosti, koji je jedan od gorućih problema u Americi. Zašto smart pristup u dizajnu posude iz koje jedemo ne upotrebiti i za zdraviju ishranu i zaštitu životne sredine.

“Obesity is as much a psychological as physical issue. Hear Plate will be a constant and gentle reminder to reduce your eating portions. On a cognitive level it might help you change your eating habits. Since we know that all big changes start with small steps. By making small changes in plate and portion sizes, you may be encouraged in a long run to make other more significant ones.”

Upravo zato heart plate product portfolio se sastoji iz tri sledeća distinktivna proizvoda:

Običan One Heart Plate sa mogućnošću ugradnje logotipa određenog klijenta koji bi imao promotivne svrhe. U planu je da proizvod bude izrađen od porcelana, a predviđena početna cena biće 14.99 ili 19.99 dolara

Biorazgradivi Bioplate Heart Plate koji bi bio napravljen od prirodno razgradivih materijala (pirinča, bambusa, itsl.) i koji je namenjen svima ljubiteljima prirode koji žele da svoju hranu konzumiraju u prirodnom okruženju i da budu uvereni da njihovi tanjiri, čak i ako ih bace van kanti za smeće, neće ni na koji način doprineti zagađenju planete i okruženja.

Smart Heart Plate sa senzorima za krvni pritisak i temperaturu jela koji je povezan sa pametnim telefonom i koji na osnovu datih podatka i ugrađenog softvera predlaže određenu dijetu ili šalje podatke klinikama i medicinskom osoblju. Početna cena ovog tanjira kreće se u rasponu od 100 do 200 dolara.  

Takođe, pogledajte nedavno objavljenu video prezentaciju kako biste upotpunili predstavu o inovacijama koje u ishranu i dijetu uvodi Smart Heart Plate.

Video by [Designer & Gentlemen]

Samo jedan od mnogih “naših” mozgova

U iščekivanju novih nagrada i budućih priznanja za Nikolin rad ostaje nam da vidimo koliko će se brzo tanjir za srce ući u svakodnevnu upotrebu. Do tada, možemo samo da mu se zahvalimo što nas svojom kreativnošću i pozitivnošću podstiče da se trudimo više i radimo bolje. Zato što to i jeste namera Braindrain Powertrain platforme:

Promovisati preduzimljivost, umrežiti talente i podsticati razvoj novih poslovnih projekata i društveno korisnih inicijativa.

Na kraju, moram da napišem nešto o još jednom nagrađivanom Nikolinom radu, koji je meni najdraži. Ova slika deo je marketinške kampanje za organizaciju Serbian Tennis Bridge i zaista govori hiljadu reči ciljnoj grupi kojoj je namenjena, a za stvaranje takvog marketinškog remek-dela zaista treba mnogo iskustva i znanja. Takođe, to je još jedan primer uspešnog projekta pokrenutog saradnjom “naših” ljudi koji žive i rade u inostranstvu, a koji je na najbolji način povezao domaće potencijale, stručnost i svetsku potražnju za izvrsnošću.

Nikola_Vučićević_Designer_&_Gentlemen _Serbian Tennis Bridge_campaign

Serbian Tennis Bridge marketing campaign. Image by [Nikola Vučićević]

Korisni linkovi:

Lektura teksta Jelena Veselinović


problem solving pulsar

Jelena Veselinovic – LANGUAGE SUPPORT (SR/EN) Professor of Serbian Language & Proofreader – Is a professor of Serbian language and literature. Got her degree on the Faculty of Philology University of Belgrade and later worked in the IPS Media publishing house and in the Diplomatic Fund Club in Belgrade. Presently working as top-notch proofreader. Loves to read and write about books.

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Green energy from the urban aqueducts: Loclain innovative startup

global water

An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic


problem solving pulsar

When I was a child, I loved to build dams on mountain springs and rivers. As I lived in a remote mountain village, there was plenty of water all around. Even now, when I play with my son close to the water, building dams with look alike turbines is our favourite game – alongside with throwing stones into the water, of course.

Why am I telling this to you? Because the article you are about to read deals with an innovative water flow regulation valve that actually works the same way as the dams I used to build as a kid. But, of course, this valve harnesses the energy potential of the urban aqueducts.

How cool is that! Small dams beneath our feet built on the city water supply pipes. Finally, some startup with a truly great and green idea. So, without further adieu, Sigma Infty presents you the company behind this game-changing solution: LOCLAIN.

Zero emission energy efficiency

Water is the resource of the future, and green energy is the present objective of our society. Innovative solutions in water management systems and green energy are surely to be profitable and everyone is ready to invest in the R&D of innovative solutions in this field. This should be obvious having in mind that the potential of the smart city market is huge.

Smart city market is estimated to grow from USD 312,03 Billion in 2015 up to USD 757,74 Billion by 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 19,4%. Moreover, according to the New Climate Economy (NCE), investment demand for sustainable infrastructure is estimated to be around USD 6 trillion annually over the next 15 years, up from some USD 3 trillion invested in all types of infrastructure today. Finally, as people from Loclain told us, the control valves and water services sector amounts for 18 bn USD and has an annual growth rate of 5%.

All this should mean that the startups trying to innovate in this field can easily find financing. I took an interview with a local startup from Imola, Italy, that was awarded as the innovative company in the 2016 Bologna water technologies fair ACCADUEO in the category pumps, machines and plant design. Their story is highly interesting and gives a completely different insight, as it proves that it is not so easy to find the financiers of good ideas, even in a steadily growing sector.

tensions on water food land resources info-graphics

A self-explaining infographics. Source: OECD Science, Technology and  Innovation outlook 2016

Research and development as an investment

Before being awarded as an innovative startup, they also won a prize for their patent. Yet, they struggled to find investment for their business plan. No bank or regional institution were willing to help during the startup development process. They found the solution for funding their research and development activities and flow testing machines only by selling 20% percent of their founding capital to a business angel from northern Italy. 

Once their half a million EUR machine for water flow testing was installed, and all necessary certificates acquired, they were ready to hit the market. They also wisely chose the market entry point. Bologna International Water Exhibition is one of the leading fairs in Europe and it is only 30 km from Imola where the startup is based, so they really felt like home.

And this is where I met the Loclain team. I was working as an interpreter for a Serbian delegation at the Fair. As soon as I saw the name of the innovation prize winner, I ran to their stand. As I am also from Imola, and I was launching the Sigma Infty think net, a startup as well, we noticed that we had a lot in common and agreed to meet for this interview.

So, these are the Q&A from our last week interview with Loclain executive assistant Alessia Bernardi.

Loclain executive assistant Alessia Bernardi

Loclain executive assistant Alessia Bernardi. Image by [Personal Gallery].

LOCLAIN srl – company ID

Year of establishment
No. of employees

Mechanics & engineering
Zero emission energy efficiency
Imola (BO)

About the product: LocPower valve

Q – What is the innovative part of your product?

A – We have integrated two previously separate solutions of the flow/pressure control valve and energy harvesting turbine into one product, the LocPower valve. Thus, we have decreased the price of production, the physical space for the installation of the valve, and the number of necessary permits for the installation. At the same time, we have increased the energy recovery level. The LocPower system converts energy dissipation into mechanical power and then into electric energy. All this with zero greenhouse gas emissions. The annual produced energy from one installed product is enough to create the energy 67 average italian households would need. Also, by using LocPower valve, 66,5 tons of greenhouse gases are saved from emission into the atmosphere.    

IMG_1943 (2)

LocPower valve. This image is copyrighted, and used with permission. Image by Loclain.

Q – How did you get the idea?

A – Lorenzo and Claudio, the founders of Loclain, have a background in the control valves sector, as they have both worked as consultants in this field. This gave them an excellent insight into the potentials and problems of the sector. They have joined their entrepreneurial and engineer capacities to make a valve prototype.

Q – How did you get the funds for the realisation of your business plan?

A – We did not get any financial help from bank, nor from regional or national funds for startup support. We have fundraised enough for financing the business plan by selling 20% of our share capital to a business angel from Milan.

Q – What were the key barriers: administrative/operational/technical/financial?

A – The key barrier was the financial one. We needed to invest around 500,000 EUR in the construction of the flow test plant. When we made our hydraulic flow test plant operational, this was already an enormous step forward. You see, this is maybe the biggest difference between the ICT startups and the industrial startups. Industrial startups are capital intensive and they need much more financing in order to start the business.

LocPower energy harnessing valve innovation made in Italy

LocPower energy harnessing valve is ready for installation. This image is copyrighted, and used with permission. Image by Loclain.


Q – If any, how was the support from the development institutions/agencies?

A – We did not receive any help whatsoever from regional or national institutions. However, we do care about the territorial aspects of our company and our strategic choice is to always look first for the suppliers and partners inside the local area. However, if we cannot find the necessary components locally, we look for them elsewhere.

Q – Are you a part of some cluster/incubator or do you have plans to make public-private partnerships?

A – For the time being, we are not part of any incubator nor cluster. Our strategic focus is on the partnership with universities. Since we have an area of 600 sq.m. for R&D where flow tests are performed, we would like to make this space available for university research. We just had our first undergraduate intern that conducted the tests for his graduate thesis in our laboratories. Starting from this year, we will host postgraduate interns. The partnership with universities is important for us, because it allows us to stay in contact with the most promising students who, if they perform well, could get employed in our company.  

Q – Do you plan to apply/have you already applied for HORIZON 2020 entrepreneurship/innovation support programs?

A – We did not apply for H2020, as this program is more focused on supporting basic research and innovation, while we are focused on applied industrial research and innovation.

Loclain headquarters

Loclain headquarters. Image by [Personal Gallery].

Management and consultancy

Q – Inhouse or outsourced business consultancy/grant application management?

A – We look for outsourced consultancy and grant application management only when we are not able to do it by ourselves. Consultancy firms cannot have a better insight on our products and needs than ours. We have our inhouse pull of experts that is responsible for these types of activities. It is composed by a lawyer, an accountant and myself. I am an economic development expert. Right now we are working on the application for the 2017 POR FESR regional fund.  

Q – Are you planning to internationalize Loclain?

A – Yes, but starting from 2018. First, we will need to collect the feedback from the Italian market. In this moment, all our suppliers are from Italy. During the first two years, our strategy is to develop and implement the product nationally. Then, during the third year we will start looking at the international markets. We are very interested in foreign markets, as our patent and certificates are valid in more than 50 countries.

Q – Do you already have partners in some of these countries/markets?

A – The Bologna fair was very important for us. It was our platform for creating worldwide partnerships.

Loclain water flow test laboratory.

Loclain water flow test laboratory. This image is copyrighted, and used with permission. Image by Loclain.


Q – What is the aftermath of the Bologna H2O fair innovation award?

A – The award did not have any impact on our activities. It has increased a bit our visibility, but the presence at the fair was even more important than that. A lot of contacts have turned into orders and contracts. So, we can say the fair was a springboard for us. We thought that the award would increase our chances to access regional funds. However, our recent application was rejected.

Q – What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

A – Energy efficiency is a global trend driving companies towards constant improvements. Loclain’s objective is to be a forerunner and to anticipate the latest trends. If possible, we would like to have the first-mover advantage over our competitors.  

Q – How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture, and how is it being optimised?

A – Innovation is the Loclain’s asset. As far as the technical aspects of the innovation are concerned, we have a production area of 3600 sq.m. and 600 sq.m. of space for R&D, and our first product has already won the innovation award. As every innovative company, we are trying to organise our management processes in innovative ways. This is best seen in our organigram. We have introduced the position of “innovation director”, so as better to emphasize the importance of innovation for our company culture.

Q – What can your company offer for free that no one else does?

A – Well, the answer is energy recovery. Having in mind that our product is a dissipating valve with an integrated energy generating turbine, this will allow customers to have the chance to harnessthe energy of the water flow from their conveyance water pipes without additional investments.


Image by [Knowledge@Wharton].



Slobodan Ocokoljic – FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE PROBLEM SOLVING PULSAR THINK NET Researcher / Manager / Translator – Constantly on the move and in pursuit of missions impossible to accomplish. Slobodan studied Political Science and Local Economic Development. After 6 years of working both as a researcher and project manager, in 2016 he started working as a freelancer. He lived, studied and worked in Belgrade, Trento and Budapest. Two years ago, he moved with his family from his homeland to Italy. Thus, he is interested in connections and influences between places and people, economic development and human development, environmental protection and human rights, as well as urban/regional development and business innovation. He firmly believes that no other force has stronger gravitational pull than knowledge, that’s why he chose the name Sigma Infty, as a synonym for the infinite thirst for knowledge.



Sara Polidoro – LANGUAGE SUPPORT (Italian A | French B | Russian, English, Serbian, Croatian C) Freelance Conference Interpreter – Sara has been pursuing her dream of becoming a conference interpreter since her childhood. She has earned an MA’s in Conference Interpreting from the Advanced School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators (University of Bologna), and she has lived, studied and worked in Brussels, Moscow and Belgrade. Her career as a freelancer started in 2008, and since then she has been travelling for events and conferences regularly. Her professional activities include consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, community interpreting for healthcare facilities, as well as interpreter training. She is an instructor of Russian>Italian liaison and consecutive interpreting at the University of Macerata and a language tutor for Russian>Italian consecutive and simultaneous interpreting at the University of Bologna.

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European SME week – optimism, innovation, and Serbian potential

Europe from space nasa image

An article by Ilija Stojanovic      ilijaproblem solving pulsar

Three days of highly interesting and useful content for all participants.

The final event of 2016 European SME Week was held from 23rd to 25th November in Bratislava. I took part at the event as a delegate at the SME Assembly to represent the organisation nominated for one of the six prize categories of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

During the workshops, panel discussions and various interactive modules at the Incheba Expo Centre, we have discussed the current situation and the guidelines for the future. The event has been organised together with the 2016 SME Assembly and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony.

This was the event with huge advocacy potential. Participants were some of the most important stakeholders in the entrepreneurial world, for example: Entrepreneurship Unions, the EU and the EU members states institutions, Civil Society Organisations, international startup ecosystems, etc. I’ve noticed that networking among participants was not the only objective of the gathering. At least equally important was the message sent towards the wider community of entrepreneurs and different target groups.

How other stakeholders perceive the event and the SME’s community is clearly seen as important.

Image by [Ilija Stojanovic].

The European SME Week is a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. It helps existing entrepreneurs find information on available support and tries to encourage more people to set up their own businesses. Coordinated by the European Commission, this campaign consists of events throughout the whole year. The main event of the European SME Week is organised every autumn together with the SME Assembly and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards Ceremony.

SME’s are more than just a catchphrase.

In more economically developed part of the Europe, when compared to Serbia, SME’s are more than just a catchphrase.  I will paraphrase the official host of this year’s event, Slovakian Minister of the economy: Big multinational systems are important for macroeconomic stability and export, but SME’s are generating quality of life by providing new jobs, products and services tailored to fit to each of the local communities. And whole event was designed accordingly: excellent organisation and management, efficient use of technology and multimedia documenting. Personally, I think this event could have been organised with less resources but modesty was not the essence of the message sent from this gathering. It was optimism!


Image by [].

European SME sector is again full of optimism.

The World Economic Crisis is passe. You don’t hear anyone speaking about finding the way out of recession, nor even about the recovery from it. Everyone is focused on the creation of more favorable environment, increasing participation of particular social groups: youth, women, rural population, etc. which weren’t equally involved in the entrepreneurship, opening of new markets, creation of efficient  support mechanisms, and so on.   

My impression is that current activities are structured in order to articulate a new wave of entrepreneurial spirit, rather than initiate it. The results achieved are presented as a good basis for the future activities, and reasons for optimism are found in rapid development of innovation mechanisms, which are the only tool that can increase and preserve global competitiveness of the European economy.

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards reward those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. Initiatives from all EU countries, as well as Iceland, Serbia, and Turkey can take part in the competition. Since 2006, over 2,800 projects have entered the awards and together they have supported the creation of thousands of new companies.

The objectives of the awards are to:

identify and recognise successful activities and initiatives undertaken to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship

showcase and share examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices

create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in society

encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs.

Selection criteria:

Originality and feasibility

The impact they have on the local economy

The improvement of local stakeholder relations

Transferability of the project to other regions in Europe.

Image by [Ilija Stojanovic]

Innovation as a keyword!

Innovation personified in ever growing startup ecosystems – companies optimised for fast growth based upon innovative products designed for the global market – is probably  the most important category in the contemporary SME discourse. Significant number of workshops and panel discussions on product and process innovation, and mechanisms for support of SME’s inevitably leads to this conclusion.

innovation in financing of the creative industry; crowdfunding; virtual reality; entrepreneurial education; international startup ecosystems – are only some of the innovations many names.

Even promotion of the entrepreneurship needs to be innovative. For this occasion Get In the Ring concept is used. This implies two startup representatives inside the boxing ring fighting for the support of the audience, and the winner takes the investment for development of the product. Not that I support all this Donald Trump style banalisation of the entrepreneurial activity, but to be completely honest, he won the elections, and did so by innovating the whole approach to political marketing.  


Image by [].

Serbia has the potential

And for the end I’ve saved the best. Even if I think of myself as a world citizen, I couldn’t help myself feeling some kind of pride for being  part of a Serbian delegation, which has had finalists in two out of the six categories for which European Enterprise Promotion Awards are being presented to.

In Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit category, Serbia was represented by an organisation I was involved in at the time – SEE ICT a.k.a. Startit. Their I know we can campaign targeted Serbian IT community and was aiming to motivate people to become part of the fastest growing global industry that offers jobs and salaries, significantly above the Serbian national average.

In the category of Green Markets and Efficient Use of Resources, Office for Local Economic Development of the City of Novi Sad won the award with their project Linden Honey for Sustainable Development of Danube Macroregion. Project was designed to provide a system of support to beekeepers and production of honey with licenced geographical origin and certified quality. My sincere congratulations to them. Their award has been hard fought and well deserved.

Image by [Ilija Stojanovic]

How to convert potential energy into kinetic energy

These two examples are proof that Serbia is ready for big things. Even if they still are only islands of good hope, we can say that something has already started to move in the right direction. Finally we have received European recognition, a reference that many times before it had been a make it or break it factor behind the perception of domestic entrepreneurial initiatives.

So, our quality is now recognised by  Europe. This fact is well known to people from the Ministry of Economy which coordinated both initiatives.

To sum up, this information should be heard not only by the large number of people but equally important by decision makers. We have individuals with a great potential, capable of doing great things. Creating a favorable environment for them to work in, has to be our next priority.

The award categories are:

Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit – promote an entrepreneurial mindset, especially among young people and women

Investing in entrepreneurial skills – improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills

Improving the business environment – support enterprise start-up and growth, simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses

Supporting the internationalisation of business – encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU

Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency – support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking, as well as funding

Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship – promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, legal migrants, disabled, or people from ethnic minorities.

The Jury’s Grand Prize can be from any category and will go to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

An article by Ilija Stojanovic


Ilija Stojanovic – PROJECT COORDINATOR & STARTUP DEVELOPER – Born in Leskovac, Serbia, studied in Belgrade, Serbia, Trento, Italy and Ljubljana, Slovenia. He holds a Masters Degree in Comparative local development and he is PhD candidate in Balkan studies. He has six years of experience in project cycle management within several fields: youth policy, public administration, media and IT. Ilija is currently the head of the Project Office in Startit Center Belgrade, the leading Serbian IT hub and unofficial headquarters of the national tech-community. At the moment he is working in the team implementing ambitious strategy aiming to educate and prepare 100.000 young Serbian people to effectively participate in the IT industry and compete on global scale.

Contributor and proofreader Slobodan Ocokoljic


Slobodan Ocokoljic – COORDINATOR OF THE PROBLEM SOLVING PULSAR THINK NET Researcher / Manager / Translator – Constantly on the move and in pursuit of missions impossible to accomplish. Slobodan studied Political Science and Local Economic Development. After 6 years of working both as a researcher and project manager, in 2016 he started working as a freelancer. He lived, studied and worked in Belgrade, Trento and Budapest. Two years ago, he moved with his family from his homeland to Italy. Thus, he is interested in connections and influences between places and people, economic development and human development, environmental protection and human rights, as well as urban/regional development and business innovation. He firmly believes that no other force has stronger gravitational pull than knowledge, that’s why he chose the name Sigma Infty, as a synonym for the infinite thirst for knowledge.

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