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NEXT Youth Conference: a day dedicated to young people – organized by young people!

Split Tech City

Split Tech City


This past Saturday, the first Split Tech City NEXT conference for future generations was held in the Amphitheater of Dom mladih in Split. The main organizational team consisted of three young Split Tech City volunteers – high school students Lana Todorovski, Timea Podrug, and Karlo Marasović.

Lana Todorovski, Karlo Marasović, and Timea Podrug

These students of the second year of Split’s School of Design, Graphics, and Sustainable Construction, who are majoring in web development, brought great lecturers and panelists to NEXT from whom we had the opportunity to hear inspiring stories from the world of entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, and personal development.

There were hundreds of high school students, university students, and other young people in the audience.

The attentive NEXT audience
You don’t need to go from Split and Croatia to create global success!

In the first part of the program, we listened to two lectures: “Never give up!” by Đulijano Nola and “Young Minds and Social Networks” by Željka Radnić.

Đulijano took us to the very beginnings of his entrepreneurial journey with interesting memories; he told us how his first company failed five times in the first two years, and the name Crno Jaje (English: Black Egg) actually came from the name of the restaurant “Bilo Jaje” (English: White Egg).

Đulijano Nola

He does not agree with the haters who keep saying that all Dalmatians are just lazy and he convinced us of the opposite through his presentation.

The most important thing we should all remember is the very title of the lecture – “Never give up!”

Because only with persistence and effort can we grow and develop.

Pedagogue and psychotherapist Željka Radnić spoke about the impact of social networks on youth mental health and got us thinking when she referred to the data from 2022 that 47% of young people spend one to three hours on social networks every day.

Today’s Generation Z are young people born with mobile phones in their hands, but also young people who are more aware and tolerant than generations before.

Željka Radnić

On social networks, we express the need to belong, communicate with dear people far away from us, and build self-esteem. Social networks cannot be only good or only bad.

A lot depends on us and how well we are built as individuals!

Associations for young people, artificial intelligence, and illustration – there is something for everyone at the NEXT conference!

During the panel discussion “What will I do with myself?” we heard from the panelists Suzana Špika Šimera, Josip Bujas, and Toni Trivković. All of them shared some of their life wisdom with us and revealed what they were like in their younger days.

Toni Trivković, Suzana Špika Šimera, an Josip Bujas

Suzana, as the pro HR manager that she is, gave us some tips for applying for a job. Josip advised us to be careful with whom we spend our time, and Toni advised us not to spend the first amount of our hard-earned money on buying a car!

Pinija Poljaković (ArtMedia) did an excellent job of leading the panel, as well as the entire program.

The NEXT MC, Pinija, in action, while being aided by Lisi, her four-legged, assistant MC

Before the networking session, we were also introduced to three associations that create content and events for young people in Split: Klub Zona, Jedna Mladost, and the F&ST association.

The sponsors of the event, and Pipi, made sure that everyone recharged their batteries for the rest of the program.

Thanks to Pipi and the attendees were well energized

The second part of the conference was reserved for the remaining two lectures.

Mislav Malenica, CEO and founder of Mindsmiths, as well as the president of the Croatian Association for Artificial Intelligence – CroAI, held a lecture titled: “How AI is changing the world?”

Mislav Malenica

He explained to us how powerful and useful a tool AI is to humans. Today, people who are capable of creating a symbiosis of human and artificial intelligence are most valued, and to have as many such people as possible in the future, we must start changing the education system now.

The final lecture of the first NEXT conference, titled “A to Z – from Andrijana to Zombijana”, was held by Andrijana Vešović.

Andrijana ešović – Zombijana

Andrijana is an illustrator and visual artist from Montenegro, and she is best known to the public for her Instagram profile Zombijana, where she uses illustrations to highlight important topics that need to be talked about more: mental health, personal development, speaking out against any form of hatred, women’s rights, etc.

Some NEXT impressions

The comments from the audience confirm that everyone had a great time at NEXT.

“I really have to praise every part of the NEXT conference: from the carefully selected sponsors to the moderator who is cheerful, relaxed, and who fits perfectly into the whole story, all the way to the excellent lectures and panels.

I must also mention the huge amount of icing on the cake that literally blew my mind, and that is certainly the fact that today’s event was organized by students who are only in the SECOND grade of high school. Bravo!!!

I am still under the impression of that information and can only give them words of praise and sincere congratulations. They proved that anything is possible when you want it, and when there is work, will, desire, effort, perseverance, creativity, and motivation.” – Jure Bulović, EFST.

“Given that the main organizers of NEXT are our students who are only second graders, and that they managed to gather young people in such numbers, as well as maintain the organization of this event at a high level, for me, it is a great thing and we are very proud of them!” – Nikolina Smilović, the teacher of Lana, Karlo, and Timea.

The youth of Split once again proved to adults and the city that anything is possible when you want to and that, apart from being a tech hub, Split is also a city for young people! 😀

In the end, we’d like to thank the NEXT sponsors AGILO and Bitcoin Store, as well as all the NEXT volunteers who made this conference possible!

Article by: Katarina Nožina
Photos by: Ivan Gracin


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Split Tech City

We are the first formal association of Split’s tech community which includes companies, associations, institutions, meetups, and individuals.

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