The Slovenia Times

Commercially Attractive Science



COBIK was established in 2009 by four industrial partners and four Slovenian research institutions. Today it employs 83 highly qualified researchers who work in six laboratories between Nova Gorica, Ajdovščina and Ljubljana in the fields of control systems, instrumentation, bio-engineering, bio-sensorics and new materials. All the highly specialised and successful laboratories are horizontally connected by Laboratory for Open Innovation Systems (LOIS).

R&D Excellence

From its beginnings, COBIK's strategic orientation has been for fast development of solutions which are further enhanced, after the research phase, by industry. In two years, the researchers have created 27 innovations, developed 16 prototypes and put two patents in process. There are also a multitude of excellent achievements including the development of two unique education programmes and a number of research activities, which all promise results, to be transferred to industry in 2013. COBIK has also established its first spin-off. "Research and development excellence, deep market insight combined with excellent financial engineering, guarantee our success. This is our main advantage," says Rebeka Koncilja, CEO.
Since autumn 2011, COBIK has been executing the project "COINVEST" to establish a regional platform for connecting newly established high-tech companies and professional investors. On 24 October 2012, the first international investment conference will take place linking predominately South Eastern European high-tech projects with international investors. "The conference will also be attended by Silicon Valley investors via videoconference," says Marko Jaklič, Head of LOIS. One day later, LOIS will host its third annual conference at the Faculty of Economics, Ljubljana. Traditionally, the conference is a juncture of innovative ideas and research discussions; it also highlights the responsibility toward scientific research and development projects that create new added value and help the recognisability of Slovenia in international markets which is also part of COBIK's mission and its daily activities. This year's conference will focus on the financing of new development and research ideas in high-tech, small and medium-sized companies; presenting models and finance sources of prospective high-tech projects in various countries; with respected Slovenian and foreign speakers presenting examples of best practice.

International Links

COBIK is an initiator of intensive collaboration in R&D with other Slovenian Centres of Excellence. In 2011, they carried out intensive activities for international scientific and business cooperation, including a link with a MedTex cluster of 87 small companies from St Petersburg which was the opportunity for more concentrated integration with the fast-growing markets of the Eastern and BRIC countries.
In the future, COBIK/LOIS plan to continue their activities and after 2013, with particular focus on three key projects with long-term goals and strategic plans. Priority goes to the development of the COINVEST platform to "upgrade its activities with the integration of science and enterprise to aid the development of the growth of the Slovenian high-tech ecosystem and the country's international recognisability as a favourable environment for high-tech entrepreneurship," says Jaklič. Next is the development of the research institute for studying innovation while third is the development of an MBA study programme for researchers.

Government's Long-Term Plans

In Jaklič's opinion, all Centres of Excellence in Slovenia need to prove that high technology and science can ensure acceptable economic and social development, favourable also for the country's FDI situation, which they have done already: "It is vital that Slovenia opens itself to the world and connects with foreign technology ecosystems and international value chains." Maja Makovec Brenčič, Head of the COBIK Conference Programme Board, lacks opportunities and encouragement for learning and good interdisciplinary practice transfers: "Economy without encouraging investments in R&D will have a competitive future with difficulty."
"The Slovenian government should make a long-term commitment to support innovative development of the country," asserts Jaklič, while Koncilja believes the government should carefully decide which industries will be continuously supported as one-off investments cannot change the current Slovenian economic situation: "Ground-breaking scientific and research projects, which require a development cycles of more than 15 years due to their complexity, cannot be finished in four years with limited funds."


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