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In conversations with experts and written in media articles, the question would often be asked: “Can Split become the Silicon Valley of the Mediterranean?”
For us who have the love for Split running through our veins, and who would always choose to live and work in this city, the answer to this question has always been obvious. And now it has been solidified by the fact that more and more foreign IT experts are moving to Split, connecting with the local tech community, and continuing to build their careers here.
What will certainly affect the strengthening of the IT sector in Split and make the city deserving of the epithet of Mediterranean Silicon Valley is the construction of KozIT – a new technological center.
The project’s investor is an investment fund from the United Arab Emirates led by Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qosyt, with 65% co-financing from the European Regional Development Fund.
The center gets its name from Kozjak, which surrounds the town of Kaštela on the north side, and whose southern slope is very steep and full of gorges. Kozjak is a mountain with two completely different faces. On the coastal side, it gives an appearance of a powerful barrier that overhangs the narrow belt of the Kastela coastline. However, approaching it from the northern side will fool us by the feeling of being on a rolling plateau, making us think we are not on top of a mountain at all. Only when we reach the edge of this plateau are we stunned by the breathtaking sight before us! Therefore, we should not be surprised that KozIT is already being labeled as a utopia for digital nomads!
Since it is intended primarily for nomads, the complex will not have typical car access. Its users will hike using local mountain routes. This approach encourages them to develop and/or maintain healthy living habits and promotes connection with nature.
From our point of view, hiking is still an abstract form of commuting to work, but in Western countries, it has become a fast-growing trend. People there are moving from big cities and returning to nature en masse.
So that access to the complex is not limited, air approach with drones and flying cars, which can land on the rooftop landing pad, will also be possible. However, the possibility of road access depends on the Republic of Croatia’s execution of the planned Vučevica tunnel construction that is supposed to provide the connection from the base of the building.
In the second phase of the project, the planned construction of a rocket launch platform at a nearby location will be completed. In cooperation with SpaceX, this will enable the connection of Kozjak with a variety of locations across the world. SpaceX is currently in negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Croatia and, if everything goes according to plan, they expect to obtain a permit for the construction of Malačka Spaceport in the third quartal of 2022.
The complex will utilize exclusively locally-sourced building materials and renewable energy sources such as its kinetic facade that will turn the strong “bura” wind into electricity and the underground freshwater springs to supply drinking water for its inhabitants and cooling for the underground servers of Amazon and Google.
The building is intended to have the outlook of a small town with numerous ancillary facilities in which investors are willing to invest. In addition to offices, coworking spaces, and congress halls, KozIT will also have team-building facilities: skill ranges, paintball courts, and an area for drone piloting school. It will also have an honorary statue of the Croatian Hero Mate Rimac, as well as the Martian Chapel of Elon Musk.
We managed to arrange an interview (via Zoom) with the investor of this project that will change the future of Split’s tech community. In this conversation, he revealed that the Technology Center will extend over 150,000 square meters of space and that the total value of the project will be half a billion euros (500,000,000.00 EUR). This will also create new jobs for the local community because a minimum of 200 Sherpas will be needed to aid digital nomads.
“After successfully mastering the construction on the water (Belgrade Waterfront), the next challenge naturally arose – the construction in the mountains. In Kozjak we see the potential for the development of future technologies of the entire Split agglomeration.
The complex, not only logistically but also with its architecture, connects the coastline and the hinterland. I see the entire Split agglomeration as a metropolis whose expansion will not be limited even by this mountain range from the north. Also, the proximity of the airport was extremely important for us to decide to invest in a project like this. Whenever I landed at the Split airport with my family, I always wondered why the top of this beautiful mountain was not urbanized?”
“This is another endearing thing about Croatia that I like because one can get a building permit without an access road and all other infrastructure. Not only that but with the agreement of politicians, anything at all can be built in the most beautiful natural locations. In our country, such investments have to undergo much more complex scrutiny, complete with architectural tenders and detailed discussions with the professionals in the field and the general public. This can simply be bypassed here.”
“When I was at Marjan Hill, I saw that the locals have a habit of building at the very top and turning forests into construction zones, so I concluded that Kozjak too will one day be completely urbanized. As a result, the choice of this location is not so far-fetched and will certainly gain value when this urbanization is complete.”
“My grandfathers faced a similar issue when they were making the desert that my country naturally is into what it is today. We all know what Dubai represents in the world nowadays, and we want to transfer that creative energy to Kozjak and show your community that everything is possible with ambition, courage, and vision – even taming nature!”
“I am aware that you already have a small technology center in your city right at the foot of Marjan Hill. It was not clear to me why you would not strive for higher, bigger, and better, but be satisfied with the simple conversion of an existing building. Our horizons always need to be broadened and we should constantly strive to reach new heights, which is why I think that Split needs a project like KozIT.”
“We are familiar with the growing tech community in Split. We have noticed that you started creating content in English and find it very interesting to follow what is happening in the community and see there are people from different parts of the world who have decided to come to live and work in your community. This only strengthens our intention to make Split a hub of digital nomads.
We will organize a meeting with company representatives this month. Considering the infrastructure that we will have at our disposal, we want to share it with the companies that are members of Split Tech City. I look forward to having the opportunity to get together with company representatives soon to get their feedback on the needs this community has and possible suggestions they have for the improvement of this project.
To demonstrate our good intentions to the community, we are ready to donate funds to Split Tech City that will cover the operating costs of the Association for the next two years. I believe this will provide further aid in building up the local ecosystem.”
Imagine that you only need 2 hours of travel from Kozjak to Silicon Valley. That dream will soon, to the delight of all of us, become a reality – and Split will finally deserve the epithet that it got!
Let’s climb together to unimaginable heights!