The Slovenia Times

Sell Your Innovation



According to the 2011 Global Innovation Scoreboard, Slovenia is among the followers when it comes to innovation; behind the leaders but ahead of moderate innovators, the group in which it found itself in the last report. Unfortunately the Pro Inno Europe initiative - the organisation behind the scoreboard, dedicated to analysing countries' innovation performance - says that the followers are still "far behind the innovation leaders". A good reason to dedicate this year's Centre of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation and Process Control (COBIK) to the subject of translating innovation to successful market implementation. COBIK is one of eight centres of excellence in Slovenia, focusing on creating cutting-edge solutions and implementing them into industrial processes or upgrading them through new partnerships.

Put the customer first

Wim G. Biemans, professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University Groningen, was the main speaker at the event. He stressed the importance of understanding the customer and their needs in the earliest phases of innovating. He also emphasised the need to create and manage connections within a firm, as well as between the innovating firm and outside partners such as suppliers, and customers. All these relationships need to be managed carefully to translate an innovative new product idea into a successful new product, he argued. And he said it was important to take a risk sometimes: "Innovating is not rocket science; you should experiment and not be afraid of failure."
Dr Špela Stres from the Jožef Štefan Institute emphasised the positives: that Slovenia has a relatively high number of published papers in scholarly journals, that investments in research and development (R&D) are considerable and that progress is fast. But he agreed that the nation is lagging behind in terms of successful commercialisation of innovation.


There were some positive examples on show. Hubert Kosler talked about how his company from the small town of Ribnica has made its way onto the global market. "The established approaches had to change, which has been a positive consequence of the economic depression," he said. He put the success of Motoman Robotec and Yaskawa Ristro down to careful after sale services, investing in employees' training, and the R&D-based philosophy of the company.
Matevž Rašković presented the results of a survey of 160 small and medium-sized businesses in Slovenia which revealed an ongoing dedication to research. It showed that - compared to 2009 - they invested more in R&D in 2010. He argued that the main obstacles to better commercialisation and innovation are employment of aliens, tax legislation and the lack of development finance.
The COBIK conference identified issues but also revealed many positives. The challenge now is to address the issues and make sure that Slovenia reaps commercial rewards from its innovations.


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