Photo: James Osborne, Pixabay
Talking Tom is one of the world's most popular – if not the most popular – virtual pets. The app was downloaded an incredible eight billion times. Talking Tom was developed by Slovenian video game and software developer Outfit7. One of the few Central European unicorns (start-ups with value exceeding 1 billion US dollars) was sold to Chinese investors in 2017 and counts as one of the biggest success stories of the Slovenian software industry.
The biggest in financial terms and in publicity – and untypical for the industry in Slovenia. Most of Slovenian software companies develop more business-oriented products and solutions, often in very narrow, if not downright esoteric niches.
Slovenian information and telecommunication industry employed over 20,000 people in close to 3,900 companies creating 3.7 billion euros of sales in 2018 – close to four percent of the total revenues of the national industry. Approximately one half of these companies belong to software developers. Many these companies are very small. Typically, the sector is populated with start-ups and some of the best Slovenian start-ups belong to software industry. Slovenian start-ups are among the leaders in blockchain and cryptocurrency related software solutions. Companies like Bitstamp, Eligma, Iconomi or OriginTrail are well known in global blockchain community – just a few examples. And it is not just blockchain tech. ViAR develops virtual reality systems like REWO: “a knowledge documentation and distribution solution, which drastically improves capturing, visualizing and communicating knowledge to anyone within the company’s ecosystem”.
On the other side of the spectrum there are more conventional mid-size companies developing solutions for businesses. These companies are typically mid-size with 200 and more employees. Yet the name of the game is again narrow specialization. Adacta employs 440 people and operates in eight countries of the region. Its speciality: IT solutions for insurance companies. Koper based Actual IT develops systems for various industries, including port management systems, and solutions for transport and logistics, oil, gas and energy. Actual IT is a part of Italian DBA Group. 3 Port is another software developer which started with solutions for port management. Now 3 Port offer an information system for public administration, including solutions for smart cities and communities.
A very important niche for Slovenian software developers are life sciences with medicine and pharmaceutical industry. Biosistemika is one of the global leaders in software development for laboratories working in the area of life sciences. Cosylab’s focus is on control software for medical devices, especially for radiation therapy systems.The company was founded in 2001 by seven young students of physics in Ljubljana. Now Cosylab employs 200 top experts from all over the world and evolved into “the world’s leading provider of control systems for the planet’s most complex machines; nuclear accelerators, optical and radio telescopes, fusion reactors, cancer therapy systems and much more”.
Another example of a software developer with products used in medicine is X Lab with its MedicView, the 3D dental and radiology imaging application with an emphasis on image visualization and analysis. While Cosylab develops control systems, X Lab’s specialty lies in the field of distributed systems, cloud computing and information visualization. Infotehna from Novo mesto was the leader in document management system solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. In 2016, the company was taken over by Luxemburg based group Amplexor and operates within the brand Amplexor Life Sciences.
Slovenia’s software industry is populated by virtually hundreds of globally oriented and narrowly specialized companies – some still in start-up phase, other already mature. The few examples we present here offer just a glimpse into this dynamic field. It is hard to expect that companies like Cosylab or MIL Sistemika – a developer of command, training and simulation software solutions for the military - will ever produce anything as popular as Talking Tom. Yet for many applications their solutions are essential.