The project Open Scientific Infrastructural Platforms for Innovative Applications in the Economy and Society (O-ZIP) is a capital structural project by Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI) for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) valued at 72 million euros. The project was shortlisted by Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports for ERDF in 2012.
The primary objective of O-ZIP is to improve parts of the RBI with the greatest commercial potential and proven excellence in providing European and applied projects. The focus of the project will be in synergy with the strategy of 'smart specialization', i.e. the so-called 'Key Enabling Technolgies' (KET) in which the RBI is either the best or among the very few best in Croatia and in the region, namely: biotechnology (pharmaceutical and food industry), advanced materials and manufacturing technologies (detectors and sensors, smart materials, radiation technologies), ICT: eScience, photonics (optoelectronics), health (diagnostic and therapeutic methods).
This focus will ensure better harmonization of both, the RBI and Croatia, with the EU priorities, such as smart growth, sustainable and inclusive development. Also, this will boost our potential for active participation in the Horizon 2020 program.
O-ZIP is actually a witty wordplay with the verb un-zip, implying, 'unzipping' equipment, knowledge, skills and intellectual capital of the RBI.”
A key component of O-ZIP will be stronger interaction with the Croatian and European economies. O-ZIP will accomplish these goals by careful and systematic investments in the entire RBI infrastructure and capital equipment, in line with the numerous changes in the RBI business processes which will be enabled by a new constitution and new policies that shall put emphasis on: excellence, maximum openness of the existing equipment in the future, the importance of commercialization, and the flexibility and mobility of scientists.
By focusing on RBI’s most propulsive KET technologies, and likely Croatian Smart Specialization components O-ZIP will be able to create the basis for an innovation based economy in Croatia and provide development platform for start-up labs, SMEs and innovation incubators.
The Ruđer Bošković Institute is regarded as Croatia’s leading scientific institute in the natural and biomedical sciences as well as marine and environmental research, owing to its size, scientific productivity, international reputation in research, quality of its scientific personnel and research facilities.
Today, the Ruđer Bošković Institute gathers over 300 scientists and researchers in more than 80 laboratories. The RBI scientists actively participate in higher education in 78 undergraduate, 245 graduate and doctoral studies, thus making the RBI an equal partner to universities in the Republic of Croatia and abroad.
Moreover, the RBI is the leading and internationally most competitive Croatian institute by virtue of its participation in international research projects, such as the IAEA and EC FP5-7 programs funded by the European Commission, NATO, NSF, UKF, SNSF, DAAD and other international scientific foundations.
Due to its manpower and well-organized infrastructure including a large number of valuable experimental devices which comprise 50% of all scientific equipment in Croatia, the Institute is able to maintain its activities at the highest level.
The RBI capital equipment is worth more than 100 million kuna. However, as it has been a common practice in Croatia, a large part of the high-tech equipment, unfortunately, was not available in a transparent and easy way to the general scientific and academic community or industry. Therefore, creating the preconditions for a more open and transparent availability of the existing as well as future capital equipment of RBI becomes one of the O-ZIP main goals.
O-ZIP applies the Anti-Robin Hood principle.
The RBI aspires to contribute to increasing competitiveness of Croatian economy and meeting the challenges of modern society through strengthened research and innovation capacity of Ruđer Bošković Institute while nourishing all three key priorities of the Horizon 2020 program: excellent science, industrial leadership and addressing societal challenges.
Such capital investments in infrastructure and equipment will improve the quality and accessibility of research, equipment and expertise of the RBI to the wider Croatian academic community and industry, thus contribute to even better integration of the RBI in the European Research Area (ERA) as a top scientific research centre.
The basic methodological starting points of O-ZIP are firmly founded on the principles and tools used in EU funds financing; logical framework approach (LFA), project cycle management (PCM) and internationally accepted standards and tools for creating pre-feasibility studies. In line with the current project stage and conscious choice of a widely defined scope of the project, the methodological starting points have been appropriately operationalized into concrete research questions which were attempted to be answered in the process of drafting the Study and its final output (cf. appendix III Study draft methodology – research questions).
Following such methodology of assessing investment projects used by the European Commission, the backbone of the methodology applied was assessing certain project qualities according to the following areas of interest:
Operationally, this Study was drafted throughout June 2012 via an intense consultancy process including verbal and written interaction between technical assistance provided by consultants and RBI scientists. A commission appointed by the Scientific Council was in charge of drafting the Study.
This commission used and harmonised scientific proposals and materials of numerous Institute’s scientists from various scientific fields and almost all Divisions and Centres, while expert assistance was also provided by EU funds and regional development experts from the Zagreb Company Razbor d.o.o.