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Business Development Delegation to Silicon Valley: Day 3
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Mountain View, San Francisco, September 22, 2016. On the third day of the Slovenian Business Development Delegation to the Silicon Valley, Delegation’s 26 representatives from various industries as well as research and academic institutions visited Microsoft, Salesforce, Uber and Celtra.

The Delegation started its third day with a visit to the Microsoft Technology Center, where the participants were given a presentation on the future - touching upon all the main aspects of digital transformation, such as the Internet of Things and large data. Microsoft Technology Center also presented its holographic computer HoloLens as well as Surface Hub. The first is a holographic computer for an entirely new user experience that enriches the real world with digital information. Surface Hub is an advanced tool for teamwork and cooperation, which combines online meetings, content sharing and graphic applications on the big screen.

Hubert Golle, Product Manager of Robotina, in view of the fact that Robotina develops its own technology, pointed out the following upon visiting Microsoft: "It is extremely important to understand global trends in implementing solutions on technological platforms. It is therefore interesting to hear how leading global companies think about the future. At the same time, we are interested in how we could use our own platform, in cooperation with large global players, to find common niche solutions that would enable a breakthrough."

Tanja Skaza, Director of Plastika Skaza, stressed that companies like Microsoft are searching and creating added value through solutions that facilitate the operations of both companies and their customers.

»Technology has always been the spark for change and empowerment. Today, technology is increasingly inside everything; data volumes continue to rise, generated by sensors and other “things”; and connectivity has become pervasive, leveraged by cloud services that fuel intelligent action. The opportunity to think and operate like a digital company is disrupting markets, shaping growth, and providing the catalyst for new business models, products, services, and experiences. At Microsoft Technology Center we are delighted to show Slovene businesses how they can, with the help of Microsoft, capitalize on this opportunity of digital transformation to meet the changing needs of their customers and capture the new business opportunities of tomorrow.« Robert Trnovec, General Manager, Microsoft Slovenia.

Salesforce had a special surprise for the Delegation, which got the opportunity to meet Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, a futurist, innovator and a designer of the future. He also participated in several movie scripts, including the blockbuster Minority Report. The Delegation also met Andrew Zinger, Director of Partner Sales Development and Jen Brown, Senior Manager of Customer Evangelsim.

"Digitalization and automation are significantly changing and transforming the ways and modes of work as well as the employees and businesses in general. Salesforce is a great example of  'The Future of Work' company, where 22,000 employees in different countries actively help to create a culture of the company. I am extremely honored to have had the opportunity to meet their Vice President Peter Schwartz, a charismatic visionary who took us into the next decade and outlined some starting points that will soon significantly transform our ways of work and life. Salesforce is an excellent example of how to manage a company today and how to set up a culture that is a magnet for new talents and generation Y. As Peter pointed out, employees will continue to be the heart and soul of the organization. Robots / artificial intelligence will, however, simplify the work and make it even more interesting," said Laura Smrekar, Partner and Head of Marketing and PR at Competo.

Nevenka Črešnar Pergar, Director of NP Consulting, was impressed by the presentations and pointed out that Salesforce allows companies to offer its customers the best possible service, thereby changing our way of working and thinking.

Uber is a high-tech startup, founded in 2009 in San Francisco, with the aim of changing the design of urban mobility. Uber is currently present in over 500 cities and 75 countries around the world including 21 EU Member States. It is a digital platform that connects riders - users of the app - to partner drivers in a simple and reliable way through the Uber app which can be downloaded free of charge for anyone. Uber brings users the option of safe, comfortable and affordable transportation around the world. In fact, through the Uber app more than seven million trips are made each day. In the area of Central and Eastern Europe Uber is present in Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania and the Ukraine. They expressed satisfaction with the Delegation's visit and with good cooperation with Minister Koprivnikar. Uber hopes to enter the Slovenian market soon and help Ljubljana maintain its development in the field of mobility, also within the "European Green Capital 2016" award.

Upon visiting Uber, Mr. Boris Koprivnikar, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia pointed out: "The great challenges and opportunities that the modern society is facing due to digital transformation are reflected in the development and the rapid rise of the so-called collaborative platforms. Within the framework of Slovenia as A Green Reference Country in Digital Europe, we want to ensure an orderly and a fair environment for such platforms to thrive. Uber brings radical changes to urban mobility and has a positive impact on employment opportunities, a general economic development and a better quality of life. Transferring platforms that were developed in the US, to Europe, presents particular challenges, which can only be met by close cooperation between proactive governments and a partner, who understands different concepts of the functioning of the European Business Ecosystem."

Minister Koprivnikar also signed a joint letter of intent with Uber and said: "Uber has proven to be a responsible and a committed partner with whom we want to strengthen cooperation to jointly come up with an effective business model, suitable for the European environment. With this, Slovenia will be able to accelerate its development of new activities, while Uber will be able to rapidly expand its operations."

What is the viewpoint of someone, who was brought up in Slovenia and is now a co-founder of a globally successful company? "When I was sixteen, I went to the K4 Club ("a famous student-run nightclub in Ljubljana") for the first time. I picked up a bottle of cheap wine and cigarettes at a local gas station. It was a Thursday evening. The next day, I arrived to school around 3 hours late and spent the rest of the day in a nearby park with my girlfriend. At the end of the school year, I had a record number of skipped classes. Nobody judged me, as long as I was good at school, which I was. This was also due to the best teachers in the world, at the best high school in the world. They are one of the main reasons for my youth being the best in the world. That is the most your country can give," honestly said Matevž Klanjšek, Co-founder and Product Manager at Celtra.

Celtra is a global company that offers the best mobile advertising solutions with its AdCreator. AdCreator is a tool in which one can create, serve and measure ads. Large publishing houses, advertising and media agencies, creating agencies and brands as well as advertisers themselves, are among AdCreator's main users. Celtra currently has more than 3000 brands on its platform (among them more than 300 "Fortune 500" brands), more than 400 publishing houses (such as CNN, Bloomberg, Time Inc.). Within one year, Celtra delivers over 50 billion ad experiences. All three Celtra founders, Miha Mikek, Matevž Klajnšek and Maja Mikek, are Slovenians and among its nine global offices, Celtra's largest presence is still in Slovenia, with 45 engineers working there. The US is currently the largest market for Celtra, representing 80% of its total revenues, but their planned market representation for the future is: US 60%, Europe 20% and Asia 20%.

Miha Mikek, Founder and Chief Executive Officer explained why Celtra is keeping its R&D in Slovenia, despite its global presence: "Celtra is a US company with a Slovenian heart and brain. Our team in Ljubljana is not a result of a cost-benefit analysis, but rather a strategy of pursuing exceptional talents, which we can bring to our company - that is key!"

Maja Mikek, Co-founder and Chief Finance Officer added: "Celtra can thank, to a large extent, the Slovenian talent and the Slovenian infrastructure, from the education system, financial support and a favorable environment in general, for its success. This environment enables many Slovenians at home or around the world to fulfill our dreams and ambitions. With Delegations and exchanging of ideas, such as the one today, we are on a good path to realize even more conditions that will enable global successes either in business, science, leadership or governance - be it in the private or public sectors. In this way, we will spark several new, small "Celtras", which have a very positive impact on the development of the Slovenian economy and society."

"Digital transformation is an excellent opportunity for Slovenia and Slovenians and it's great for us to jointly reflect on how to best utilize it. A country's supply of ore, crude oil, or 'old capital' is no longer relevant. What matters is the quality and the number of ICT professionals, their ambition to win in the global market. Of course we must ensure that Slovenia is a pleasant place to live in, easy to do business in, a country with a good technological infrastructure, and good flight connections,” added Gregor Smrekar, Chief Operation Officer, on the purpose of the Business Development Delegation.

In the upcoming days, the Delegation will visit the following companies and institutions: Tesla, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Stanford University and the official opening of the ABC Accelerator in the Silicon Valley.

The Business Development Delegation is organized by AmCham Slovenia, with the support of the SPIRIT Slovenia Public Agency.  Delegation participants will gain an insight into the thinking and functioning of the leading development centers and companies, which are establishing the key platforms for digital transformation. The Delegation will also consolidate the "Slovenia - a Green Reference Country in Digital Europe" initiative.

After last year's Delegation to the US, led by the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, PhD, this year's initiative came from the businesses themselves, under the auspices of AmCham Slovenia. These businesses are aware of the momentum and opportunities offered by the 4th Industrial Revolution, but at the same time know very well that it is essential to adapt, and even more - to play an active role - without waiting.  With the support of the Prime Minister, this year's Government Representative, joining the Delegation, is Boris Koprivnikar, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration, who is also coordinating Government efforts in the field of digital transformation under the "Slovenia - a green reference country in digital Europe" initiative.

More information about the Delegation can be found here.