Conference on innovation highlights importance of cooperation

Ljubljana – Cooperation is the key to boosting innovation, agreed the participants at the Pan-European Innovation Ecosystem international conference, organised at the start of Slovenia’s EU presidency. There were also calls for cooperation between businesses and academia.

In a video address, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek stressed that the Slovenian EU presidency aimed to encourage debate on building a bright future for the coming generations.

“We believe we need to build a circular, creative and smart economy and society as a whole,” he said, adding that Slovenia will now need to implement the industrial strategy for 2021-2030.

“We want to accelerate development, innovation and competitiveness. Our aim is to strengthen the economy, so that it will be able to cope with green and digital transition. That is a key factor for success in the 21st century,” Počivalšek said.

Slovenia is among the more modestly performing countries in the European innovation rankings, said Tibor Šimonka, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia.

Nevertheless, some Slovenian companies have developed breakthrough innovations over the last 30 years, and Šimonka believes that such successes were achieved by those with a clear vision, open hands, eyes, ears and brains, willing to work together.

Isidro Laso Ballesteros, Cabinet Expert for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth at the European Commission, agreed on the need for cooperation in the field of innovation.

He said that Europe fell behind the path taken by the US twenty years ago, but could become a leader in the next generation of innovation if it could only manage to properly connect start-ups with industry, which is very strong in Europe.

The European Commission therefore wants to see a pan-European innovation system, involving local ecosystems and linking two key elements – human and financial capital.

Jernej Salecl, director general of the directorate for internationalisation, entrepreneurship and technology at the Economy Ministry, said that Spirit Slovenia, the government’s investment promotion agency, has a key role to play in establishing and coordinating the innovation ecosystem in Slovenia.

Salecl believes it is up to the government to increase funding for research and development, although he also called on business to spend more on R&D, and on academics to incorporate more entrepreneurial logic, as inventions also need to be sold on the market. “It is only by working together that we will be able to move into the future,” he concluded.

The conference was organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with the support of the Economy Ministry and Spirit Slovenia.