Davor Ljubenkov


Outreach & Partnerships Officer


Ever since I have started my EIT Digital journey in 2015, the idea had been brewing in my mind how one day I could do something similar and contribute to the Community. Back in 2015 it was an EIT sponsored outreach (now ARISE) programme that had given me an opportunity to attend a winter school in Trento which changed my life forever. Four years have passed and my passion only grew, both academically and enthusiastically with each activity. Two Summer schools, two Winter schools, three Kick-offs, two Ambassador trainings, two Innovation days, two continents, many conferences and an incredible network of connections. All throughout this time I have witnessed EIT Digital ALUMNI elected Board govern under different Presidents - from Borče, to Francesco and currently Jeroen's mandate. Becoming an EIT Digital ALUMNUS also meant that I could finally be a voice of a wonderful community and this opportunity to compete in an Extraordinary Board Elections is extraordinary and special to me as well. Attracting new opportunities for my extended EIT Digital family, strengthening cross-KIC collaborations, getting familiar with branchy EU structures and deciphering our shared interconnected, intercultural, global future is everything that makes my heart and mind filled with creative, wild new ideas. I believe in bringing hope to the idea of strong EIT Digital and hence - stronger Europe. Balancing responsibilities, facing challenges, communicating with potential partners and having a laugh even when swamped with work is a combination I am ready for.

Vision for the community

As an Outreach & Partnership Officer, my vision of EIT Digital Community is an integrated ecosystem of:
a more competitive digital playground through the means of cooperation between different Co-Location Centres, study tracks and knowledge transfer events with the help of thoughtfully planned initiatives;
wholesome cross-KIC collaboration fostered by engaging students to reach to start-ups and vice versa - with the help of utilizing entrepreneurial mindset in an everyday life;
bettering and demystifying relations with the EIT Governing Board;
stronger synergy achieved by bringing innovative partners to the table with new opportunities, fundings and expansion possibilities.

Having in mind that Horizon 2020 terminates by the end of next year, we must take this opportunity to launch quality based initiatives that would be recognized and financed accordingly by the Executive Committee for the Horizon Europe (2021-2027), possibly starting some new traditions with the help of newly found partners and companies.

With two new KICs just around the corner, we will also need to be more versatile in finding collaborators that would fit within their core vision (for example, cultural and creative industries - CCI, to be launched in 2022).

Being from an ARISE country of Croatia (Split) which will be responsible for a presidency of the EU Council as of January 2020 and for a 6-month period, I have already taken on myself to prepare an application for the 2020 EIT Digital ALUMNI annual meeting and propose the future summer school there in collaboration with Venice (Italy) and Ljubljana (Slovenia) to be sent to Milena Stoycheva. Empowering ARISE countries and partners is also something I would like to discuss with EIT Governing Board member Ana Trbović.

Moreover, during my time as a participant at EIT Digital Conference, I have stayed in contact with directorates of newly created EIT Digital Satellite locations (such as Edinburgh in Scotland and their strong afinity towards security and privacy sector). In addition, my past summer period was spent attending many EIT sponsored summer schools where I have expanded my network in Den Haag (NATO), München (politics and policy making), Bruxelles (European Commission) and others. All of this could be utilized to strengthen the under-represented EIT Digital tracks (cyber security and visual computing) and make them more popular amongst future generations. We are also witnessing two newly created tracks (fintech and digital manufacturing) which will need a special care in finding their own identity.

In my 6-month time spent in the US, I have worked closely with EIT Digital Silicon Valley Hub which gives me an advantage of continuing to pursue that collaboration. Moreover, I would be happy to bring the culture and mindset of this far-away hubs closer to our students in Europe. This should be done soon as we are witnessing a rapid expansion of EIT outside EU borders (Tel Aviv in Israel). An additional idea I had for connecting audience with our digital world in a comprehensible way would be to intertwine this with a long dream of mine to open a personal YouTube channel.

I would like to encourage people to participate in hackathons, workshops or EIT sponsored summer schools and be active, this could be done by creating a simple map in collaboration with future Technology Officer of such events categorized by time and financial details.

As I can speak or understand a number of different slavic languages in addition to non-slavic ones I've learned while travelling around, I can bring more social cohesion when interacting with the Community. Not to forget, I am currently doing my additional studies in IT management and leadership so I will be more flexible when it comes to ALUMNI calls and meetings, events. For the most part, I will be spending the entire next year of 2020 being based in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2021, Copenhagen will also be my harbour until possibly moving shortly for 3 months to California, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Giving back to the Community, staying true to myself, passionately pursuing dreams and having a great dynamic with EIT Digital ALUMNI Board is something I very much look forward to.

Why people should vote for me

Psssst... Hey, you. Yes. You! :) 
I am a fresh data science ALUMNUS just out from graduation, currently taking additional education in IT management and leadership.
However, I have been enjoying my ride with EIT Digital all the way since 2015.
In that time I have witnessed 3 ALUMNI Board mandates, participated in 2 Summer schools, 2 Winter schools, 2 Kick-offs as a mentor, 2 Ambassador trainings, volunteered at Innovation days, co-organized CONNECT and much more.
Giving back to the Community and meaningfully extending incredible network of connections is something I feel passionately about.
As an Outreach & Partnership Officer, I would be able to do what I feel I can do best within ALUMNI Board.
Being from an ARISE and EU (Croatia), I am equipped with nuanced knowledge of approaching partners, gaining trust and being aware of European Unions' institutional structure.
Having done my thesis in USA also taught be much about presenting the EIT brand globally. 
I have spent an adolescence in multicultural and interdisciplinary environments, learning dozens of spoken languages which makes me agile in my storytelling pitching.
By attending an infinite number of start-up competitions, hackathons and EIT prize awards has embedded a mental map of an entire European entrepreneurial ecosystem in me. 
As no amount of text or LinkedIn stalking can completely persuade you to trust me if we have never met, feel free to drop me an e-mail and ask me absolutely anything before you cast your final vote.
So, I am asking you to remember how awesome your time with EIT Digital was as a result of many initiatives and think of making it even more eventful for future generations with our humble help.
I leave the decision in your hands. Let the voting begin! ️