Between December 1st and 5th 2015, the Prime Minister of Slovenia dr. Miro Cerar and his delegation visited key U.S. enterprises in the field of ICT development and signed cooperation agreements. Prime Minister was joined by a business development delegation, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia and SPIRIT Slovenia, public agency, which consisted of 21 representatives of businesses, trade associations and a faculty from Slovenia.
In light of the Digital Agenda for Europe and the digital single market, Slovenia can become a reference country and an active player of transformations in Europe, driven by digital technology. This opens up space for innovative business models and changes the value chains and networks in all sectors. In a partnership between the state and the economy, opportunities lie in shaping an environment, which will be conducive to and open digital society that will enable the development and growth of digital solutions that provide a higher quality of life.
Delegation representatives wish to develop partnerships with the very best, so they met with the developers of the latest trends in order to find solutions on how best to introduce digital technologies to Europe and how to develop a comprehensive digital ecosystem, considering the important fact that Slovenia, in addition to its reference environment, also offers Slovenian knowledge. The delegation visited global headquarters of key U.S. companies in the field of ICT development in New York, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, namely IBM, EMC2, Oracle, Cisco and Microsoft. The government also signed agreements on cooperation with all of them.
Members of the business development delegation were strategists, who make decisions that have a strong effect on the economy. They are representatives of important Slovenian companies with a regional impact, namely; Petrol, Pošta Slovenije, NLB, Gorenje, Telekom Slovenije, Zavarovalnica Triglav, Dars. The delegation also consisted of innovative businesses, which are introducing new concepts into the global environment; Cosylab, XLAB, Avant car and 4th Office. In addition to businesses, the delegation also consisted of representatives of the University of Ljubljana and the business accelerator as well as the president of the Association of Informatics and Telecommunications at the Chamber of Commerce, which connects more than 200 companies in the field of ICT.
Both the government and business development delegations were hosted by Dan Pelino, General Manager of IBM's global public sector business, at the IMB Watson Center. Upon signing the cooperation agreement, the emphasis was on cooperation between IBM and the Slovenian government in encouraging strategic growth in the fields of cognitive computing, cloud computing, analytics and security technologies, which assist in transforming existing operations for improved competitiveness in today's economic environment. IBM also emphasized that Slovenia, as an exporting country, has a great opportunity to export knowledge and thereby improve the lives of people around the world.
"IBM is working with governments, academic institutions and businesses worldwide, by helping them solve the most complex problems and challenges," said Julij Božič, Country Leader, IBM Slovenia. "We believe that advanced technologies play a crucial role in the integration of the economy, government bodies, academia, universities, researchers and start-up companies into an intelligent and efficient ecosystem that will encourage growth and competitiveness of the Slovenian economy," he added.
At St. Cyril’s Church, an important center for Slovenians living in New York, the government and business/development delegations met with the “local” Slovenian community. The guests were hosted by Father Krizolog Martin Cimerman and welcomed by the Prime Minister Miro Cerar, PhD, and Božo Cerar, PhD, Slovenian Ambassador to the U.S. Prime Minister stressed the importance of the Slovenian church, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, and added: "I am delighted that this is an important place where Slovenians meet, I am always happy to come back here."
At the investment breakfast, co-organized by the Embassy of Slovenia in the U.S. and the European-American Chamber of Commerce, the participants were addressed by the President of the Chamber, James D. Rosener. The opening remarks were followed by a discussion hosted by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, whose main message was that Slovenia is looking for long-term strategic partners that will invest in our country and provide new jobs.
Aleš Cantarutti, MSc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (MEDT), presented the Slovenian business environment and specific regions with an emphasis on legislation and tax incentives, as well as technological readiness of Slovenia. Potential investors were given a guarantee that they are welcome in Slovenia, and a promise that the key tasks of everyone at MEDT and the SPIRIT Slovenia, public agency are to facilitate foreign investors' entry into Slovenia.
Imre Baloh, CEO of The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) presented the investment opportunities in Slovenia, offered by BAMC. He also added that, having lived in Slovenia for 2 years, he might sound somewhat biased, but can nevertheless guarantee that Slovenia is an excellent opportunity for investors and concluded: "Size matters. Slovenia is convincing exactly because of this - it is close to everything, which is an excellent starting point for Europe, but it also has excellent people and an outstanding quality of life."
The government delegation led by Prime Minister continued its way to Boston, where they met with leading representatives of EMC2. They were hosted by Amit Yoran, President of RSA, The Security Division of EMC2. On this occasion, the Prime Minister received a letter of intent with the purpose of deepening their cooperation with Slovenia. Paul T. Dacier, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at EMC2 commented on the occasion: “We are happy and proud to welcome Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Miro Cerar, PhD, and his delegation to EMC. This landmark occasion reiterates our commitment to our customers and partners in the nation. We look forward to embarking on the next stage of this exciting digital transformation journey, working with the Prime Minister’s Office and the wider government to foster an environment of innovation in the rapidly developing nation to drive economic diversification and community engagement.”
Jasmina Stritar, EMC2 Regional Director for South-East Europe, stressed that: "Knowledge, motivation and agility with an outstanding technology are the key ingredients that will bring success to Slovenia. Its knowledge and strategic location in the heart of Europe provide opportunities for Slovenia to become a leading digital reference community and a reference country in digital Europe. "
Upon visiting Oracle in San Francisco, the delegations were hosted by Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle. Discussions were mainly on new trends in the ICT industry and digitization. The Government of the Republic of Slovenia and Oracle signed a memorandum of understanding, through which both parties expressed their intention to cooperate and in which Oracle, with its expertise and experience, will help Slovenia become a green reference country in digital Europe. On this occasion, Rajko Novak, Director of Oracle Slovenia, said: "The Government and business delegation visit to Oracle headquarters is an outstanding opportunity to discuss potential projects with which Slovenia could become a reference country in digital Europe. Slovenian ICT companies will thus also have significantly higher chances to sell solutions, based on Oracle innovative products, in global markets."
The delegations continued their trip by visiting Cisco, where they were hosted by Anil Menon, Vice President of Cisco and president of Smart+Connected Communities. He talked about the latest trends and best practices in areas such as country digitization, e-health, as well as Internet of Things: "As we move into an era of digitization, where technology begins to connect everything from people, processes and data to things - we need to rethink how we approach national infrastructure on a grand scale. Cutting edge digital infrastructure will increase a country's GDP, reduce spending and create jobs. It will allow governments to extend the reach and impact of public services by converting insights into action. It will enable new and diverse groups of entrepreneurs to build businesses, whilst providing more accessibility and opportunities for education and technology-based careers."
"For Slovenia, at its core, Country Digitization can be translated into a process of planning, and ultimately building, a sophisticated and forward-thinking IT network ecosystem on a cloud-basis, that will allow for greater connectivity, productivity and security and drive a positive impact in areas such as citizen services, education, e-health and smart cities. Cisco is committed to work with the Government of Slovenia, by further strengthening the Cisco Networking Academy program and also to share expertise and to provide knowledge on the Government's strategic ICT implementation roadmap. We also confirmed this commitment by a Letter of Intent handed over today to Prime Minister Cerar," added Peter Hajdu, General Director for Cisco South East Europe.
At Stanford University, the Prime Minister and the delegation met with the founder of the revolutionary d.school: Stanford Institute of Design, prof. Bernie Roth, PhD, who stressed that the key to solving problems is empathy. The Prime Minister and Minister Koprivnikar also joined the discussion. Cerar stressed that the key is for empathy and science to work hand in hand for the common good.
A Slovene, Jure Leskovec, PhD, a highly respected professor at Stanford University, pointed out that for a transformation of the society, cooperation between universities, the industry and government is the key. He pointed out the extreme importance of Prime Minister's visit at a time, when the whole world is looking for solutions, and at a time in which a country like Slovenia can offer answers and become a leading example: "I am pleased that our government is proactive, and I am happy to help you as much as I can." Prof. Nikolaj Zimic, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Computer and Information Science of the University of Ljubljana, handed a letter of intent on cooperation to a representative of Stanford University.
In San Francisco, the business development delegation and the Prime Minister were hosted by the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in the U.S. Božo Cerar, PhD, and Honorary Consul Thomas J. Brandi. More than 130 members of the Slovenian community in San Francisco were excited about the determination of Prime Minister Cerar, upon his presentation of the development vision of Slovenia as a reference country in digital Europe, in which he also stressed the importance of people, who should remain at the center of all efforts.
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia also signed a memorandum of cooperation with Microsoft. The document expressed an interest for cooperation, which will further support the intention of Slovenia to become a green reference country in digital Europe. A meeting between the Executive Director of Microsoft Satya Nadella and Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Miro Cerar, PhD, confirms the desire to strengthen the partnership between Microsoft and Slovenia. The main purpose of the meeting was to reach an agreement and confirm the interest of both parties to cooperate, which will contribute to the development of cutting-edge digital solutions for the needs of the Slovenian economy and the public sector. Slovenia will also be able to set an example and use the best solutions from home to address the challenges in other countries.
"Microsoft's mission is to empower each individual and organization to achieve more. We are proud of cooperation with Slovenia in its digital transformation,” said the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella. "For two decades, Microsoft and Slovenia have been cooperating and strengthening mutual trust with a view of promoting growth and providing better public sector services to citizens," added Nadella.
More background information as well as information on the delegation members is available here.
See the photo gallery HERE.
Petra Kocjan, Head of Communication and Advocacy, AmCham Slovenia
031 606 333, firstname.lastname@example.org