The 40 best innovations of 2016 were presented at the Innovation Day with Innovation Forum last Fall: a joint event by the public agency SPIRIT and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As expected, most the awards went to the most respected Slovenian large companies, including Krka, Gorenje, Adria Mobil, Lek and Hidria. Some of these companies are subsidiaries of large international groups that have recognized the young nation’s potential for R&D.
Take for example pharma giant Novartis, one of the largest investors in Slovenia. When it took over Slovenian generic drug manufacturer Lek many Slovenians were afraid that Novartis will close down Lek’s labs. The multinational instead went into the completely opposite direction and invested heavily in Lek’s R&D facilities. Lek received two Golden Awards at last year’s Innovation Day: one for the “efficient and sustainable carbon-carbon cross-coupling and its use in the Synthesis of Sitagliptin” - Sitagliptin is a type two diabetes drug - and the second one for “a novel approach for the highly efficient production of Omeprazole”. Omeprazole is a medication used in the treatment of ulcers, reflux and some other gastric syndromes.
Another example of a large company with a very strong development center in Slovenia is Bosch. Its Home Appliances division has a strong R&D center in the small town of Nazarje, some sixty kilometers east of Ljubljana. BSH also received two Golden Awards last year: for its MultiTalent 3 Food Processor and for i EQ.9 Fully Automatic Coffee Machine. SIJ Acroni from Jesenice is controlled by the Russian group Koks: they received an award for their highly efficient process of acid-free pickling of hot and cold rolled steel strips.
A few other awarded innovations: Adria Mobil developed its first camper featuring a slide out rear wall. Akrapovič’s new lightweight exhaust system for motorcycles is made of carbon and titanium. A joint team from strategic partners Gorenje and Panasonic has developed a new generation of washing machines dubbed Autocare, which operate with very little noise as well as being highly efficient.
This year marks the first time the awards given out by the public agency SPIRIT and those of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (CCIS) were merged together. The CCIS’s innovation awards had had a slightly longer tradition that those of SPIRIT: in its 13 years CCIS had given awards no less than 2,200 innovations! The minister of economic development and technology Zdravko Počivalšek announced at the event that the government had earmarked 276 million euros to support research and innovation processes within enterprises. We can hardly wait to see the results of this support in next year’s editions of Innovation Day