Practice: Start:up Slovenia SUMMARY:Start:up Slovenija is a national contest of start - up companies, initiated by Tovarna Podjemov,an incubator and career centre oriented towards the support of entrepreneurship. It was firstcarried out in 2007 in cooperation with several partners – JAPTI, Ministry of Economy, theTechnology park Ljubljana and the Business Angels of Slovenia. The contest aims to recognisethe best business ideas, entrepreneurial teams, business plans and start – up companies inSlovenia, support them and find contacts with potential investors, award their efforts andpromote them among the general public.The Start:up Slovenija contest is intended as means of wholesome support of the innovative andentrepreneurial activity as well as a business culture in Slovenia. It is based upon the recognitionof innovative business ideas, assistance in forms of workshops and schools and professionalopinions in regards to the submitted business plans.The access to the contest can be either direct or through qualifications via minor or regional(within Slovenia) contests.Along with the contest and the support activities mentioned above, the networking is asignificant factor, allowing connections, exchange of experience and good practices within the100% Start:up forum and the international PODIM conference.The contest winners are chosen from the categories: Best business idea Best business plan Best start-upThe best ideas are presented on the Slovenian Innovation Forum, while the start-up of the yearis announced at the PODIM conference.
START:UP SLOVENIA – GOOD PRACTICE OVERVIEW:Brief description Start:up Slovenia is a national contest of start up companies. The original idea was conceived by Tovarna Podjemov. Tovarna podjemov is the business incubator at the University of Maribor and is developing a non-profit institution IRP. The partners in the organisation of the contest are also JAPTI, Ministry of Economy, the Technology Park of Ljubljana and the Business Angels of Slovenia. The contest selects the best business idea, the best business plan and the best start-up. Contestants may enter directly or through smaller / regional qualifier contests. Along with the contest itself, there are support activities such as forums, schools and business plan evaluation. The contest promotes winners as well as an entrepreneurial mindset and innovation as values among the general public.Results achieved In the last three years, 105 start-ups took part in the contest. For their growth and development, they were in search of 31 million Euro. 21 finalists and 3 winners had been chosen. The events, such as workshops, schools, etc. were participated in by over 2500 entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs.Impact Over 150 articles about the contest had been published up to this point. The interest for the contest can thus be considered good with the organisers constantly striving to improve it further. As far as the results of the contestants go, the organisers follow the business paths of the winners, all of which are operating positively, some even above average.Success factors The success of the contest is measured by the number of event attendees, number of competing start – ups and their quality as well as the publicity generated. In light of the above, the organisers are very happy with the results so far, but strive to go beyond the achieved and improve the results further.Transfer Recommendations The contest model is certainly transferable to other regions with minor adjustments to regional characteristics and the characteristics of the institutions taking part. With similar contests already going on in Austria and Germany, it is perhaps a good idea to consider a multiregional or even
European contest with the winners of regional and / or national contests taking part.
Practice: Hekovnik SUMMARY:Hekovnik is a project that consists of three project phases, the central of which is also namedHekovnik. The phases are divided as follows: Izzivalnik – this phase represents a search for entrepreneurship potential amongst students, at the institutes, universities, etc. A development team visits such institutions and invites the best among the presented into phase II. Hekovnik – a physical and intellectual environment for young would be entrepreneurs to give physical shape to their ideas and form their enterprises, consisting of offices, a computer room, a meeting room, as well as support activities such as brainstorming sessions etc. It lasts to the point of the completion of a business plan. It is, essentially, an university incubator with an individual twist. Brezmejnik – those judged best at the end of the Hekovnik phase are selected for a trip to Silicon Valley, USA, where investor readiness coaching sessions and later presentations before potential investors are held. The final stage, upon return, is a presentation of results in Slovenia.The key idea of Hekovnik is to address the lack of entrepreneurial mindset within the Sloveniansociety, specifically among young experts. It is intended to stimulate the necessary knowledge,courage, motivation, etc. Hekovnik focuses primarily on the IT sphere and aims, among theawareness raising and other local goals, to also establish a firm connection between Slovenia andSilicon Valley for the purpose of finding investors for young, promising knowledge basedenterprises.So far, one trip to the Silicon Valley has been organised and there was limited success in findinginvestors. Within Slovenia, the echoes of the first batch of young, knowledge basedentrepreneurs to visit Silicon Valley have increased the interest to participate in the programand attempt to develop both their idea and a business. Thus, in general terms, the project can bedeemed a success. It is to be noted that it is a young project in itself, but growth anddevelopment are clearly visible.
HEKOVNIK – GOOD PRACTICE OVERVIEW:Brief description A project, consisting of three phases, intended to guide young experts from ideas to business plans to investor readiness. Starting with visits to universities and institutes, it then takes place in its own physical area where those moving on from the first phase work on their own projects as well as sharing experience and learning the skills and knowledge of entrepreneurship through common activities such as brainstorming sessions, weekly meetings and a general positive environment. The program then takes the best of those to Silicon Valley, where they are coached for investor readiness and presented to investors with goals of securing investments. It is crucial to point out that a mechanism of financial support is being formed as an exchange fund, wherein all members of Hekovnik invest. There is also an idea of forming a common pre – seed / seed fund within the framework of the program.Results achieved Out of the first batch of 5 companies that have passed through the whole program, one has managed to secure an investor in Silicon Valley, another is in continued talks with several contacts, while others remain operational and actively seeking ways to develop expand and promote their business. In the USA, the companies visited between 5 and 10 events, obtaining between 30 and 80 contacts, as well as taking part in a varied number of individual meetings.Impact The continued promotion of the program, assisted by the encouraging results of the first round appears to be motivating new candidates to join Hekovnik while some from the first round remain within the program to continue pursuing their goals. It is, at this point, difficult to judge the exact scope of the increase of interest, as the promotion of the second round is still in progress with visits to universities, institutes, etc. being carried out.Success factors The basic success factors would have to be represented by a securing of investments by an enterprise that has taken part in Hekovnik. Secondary success factors are of course encounters with potential investors and obtained contacts. However, another key factor has to be the strengthening of the ties between Slovenia and Silicon Valley and an acknowledgement by foreign investors, thus putting Slovenia and its young experts on the world map of success potential as well as raising awareness among said young experts about the need to think and act globally.Transfer Recommendations The practice in question, Hekovnik, is an easily transferable form, best suited to be conducted by Technology Parks in close connection with the academic environment. However, instead of simple copying and application in other European regions, a systematic transfer of the practice and a link between similar projects Europe – wide could prove
even more beneficial and successful in regards to the projects main goals.
Practice: GoGlobal SUMMARY:GoGlobal is the final stage in a program of the »start-up center«. It is a gateway for the start-ups onto foreign market with the assistance of the Technology Park Ljubljana and the TovarnaPodjemov incubator from Maribor.The start-up center itself, including the Academy of Business Excellence, is a preparation for theGoGlobal program, which can be joined through the involvement in the Start-up Sloveniacontest and the PODIM international conference. The program will be carried out for the firsttime in this year.The PODIM conference will host foreign representatives to whom the GoGlobal candidates willbe introduced – in this years case, India. A formation of the connections with India, Brazil,Russia and China will follow. There will be connections between technology parks andincubators, as well as the Silicon Valley. At some point, there is also a possibility of working withIsrael.The GoGlobal program offers meeting and networking events and shall enable local companiesto visit the companies, incubators and technology parks in the above mentioned areas. Shouldthe countries that are being cooperated with desire to enter the European markets, this programwill also enable their companies to visit and seek opportunities in Slovenia.
GOGLOBAL – GOOD PRACTICE OVERVIEW:Brief description Starting this year, GoGlobal is a program by Tovarna Podjemov and the Technology Park of Ljubljana to bring promising Slovenian start-ups closer to global markets through participation on the Start-up Slovenia contest and the PODIM international conference, all leading up to visits in partner countries. As the program is being carried out for the first time, there are little results, however it is intended to accelerate global networking for Slovenian companies as well as to open the door for the companies from the partner countries. All interested companies, members of Technology Park Ljubljana, are invited to participate.Results achieved There are no measurable results as the program is only being carried out for the first time this year. However, the predictions are for at least 3 – 5 companies to pass through the process.Impact As the program is only in its initial phases, it is difficult to talk of measurable impact, however, interest was shown from several sides and the word appears to be spreading.Success factors The program will be considered a success if the goal is achieved and the expected number of companies pass through the program, as well as if some of them find the connections and opportunities to enter foreign markets.Transfer Recommendations The program, being international, is easily transferable as a practice. However, the implementation would, of course, require interested parties and readiness to connect and open doors to the partner countries and their entrepreneurs, because the GoGlobal program is set up to work both ways.
Practice: Akademija Poslovne Odličnosti (Academy of Business Excellence) SUMMARY:The Academy of Business Excellence is a programme that is intended to help attendees,members of the Technology Park of Ljubljana, Slovenia, to acquire necessary skills to functionas an enterprise, as well as to reach foreign markets and investors and find more, and better,business opportunities. It is now in its second year.The company representatives, who take part in the Academy, are given theoretical lectures andpractical exercises on a variety of entrepreneurship related topics. However, in place oftheoretical models, the lessons and assignments are applied directly to their companies, with thegraduation actually being the establishment of a full enterprise at the level where there is a clearbusiness model, market, business plan, etc.The theoretical lessons are held once weekly, the practical later in the week with practical tasks,homework, to be completed over the weekends, arranged by modules (e.g. marketing,finance,…)The approximate number of attendees is between 15 and 20 companies per cyclus, each cycluslasting half a year. The time, devoted to each module is approximately 14 days, with a weekintended for individual in depth studies of subject matter after that.Classes also host external experts (e.g. accountants) and there are individual counsellingavailable for the attendees.Among the most notable things to point out is also the cooperation among attendees themselvesin performing tasks and tackling entrepreneurial issues.
AKADEMIJA POSLOVNE ODLIČNOSTI – GOOD PRACTICEOVERVIEW:Brief description The Academy of Business excellence is a series of theoretic and practical classes for the members of the Technology Park Ljubljana, along with individual counselling, which helps guide and instruct them in running an enterprise. It is not performed on theoretical models. Instead, all exercises and tasks are applied directly to the companies. The basic idea entails guiding the attendee to the point where the company has a clear business model, a business plan, a defined market, etc. External experts are also invited to lecture and assist in providing quality material for the lessons. One cyclus of classes lasts for 6 months, with the program itself in its second year now.Results achieved The Academy of Business excellence is in its second year now, with attendance of 15 – 20 per each cyclus of the classes. There is clear interest with a clear difference between the attendees and the non attending technology park members in terms of performance and understanding particular park services.Impact The Technology park as the organiser of the Academy follows the companies through the course as well as afterwards, thus measuring not only the results but also the impact on the start-up and general knowledge based business community. There is a clear distinction between the attendees and the non-attendees in the fields of business performance, but also when it comes to cooperation and networking, with the attendees consistently performing better. The interest for the Academy grows, with even some established members of the Technology park looking to either take part in the Academy itself, or inquiring about similar courses, adjusted towards the companies in later stages of development.Success factors The success factors are measured in the performance of the companies that went through the Academy as opposed to the ones that did not in the fields that the Academy covers. In all senses, the former attendees perform better. Additionally, there is a growing interest in the Academy, also demonstrating that it is a successful and desired program.Transfer Recommendations Transfer – wise, infrastructure such as a technology or science park is needed, with dedicated members of such an institution also desired, as they are easier to guide and involve. The requirements for the establishment are not overly complex, and Technology Park Ljubljana is ready to share its experience with the interested parties, perhaps towards the formation of a trans-European network of such academies which would enable larger networks and even more sharing of knowledge and experience also on international level.
Practice: The Innovation Voucher SUMMARY:The Innovation Voucher was started by JAPTI, the Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia forEntrepreneurship and Foreign Investments as a voucher – based system whereby the development andgrowth of enterprise would be supported from the aspect of covering the costs and providing thecontacts in the fields of support counselling, education and training services.The system offered the following: Incentives for counselling services for the protection of intellectual property, Incentives for raising the level of knowledge and skills of the workforce, Incentives for mentor support to enterprises kick-starting their operations and those engaged in development projects.The voucher system has proven necessary and efficient, with fast accessibility and flexibility of thesupport services.After the year 2009, the system has been reshaped. In 2009 and 2010 it has taken shape of a classicpublic tender. The companies sent applications to JAPTI, where an expert board reviewed them anddecided, which shall be approved for co – financing. Based on the issued acts and signed contracts, thecompanies could then take advantage of the co – financing in the approved cost areas.The first public tender in 2009 represented a pilot for the new approach with very limited resources(100.000 €) and lower co – financing possibilities. As it was accepted positively among companies,the 2010 saw the repeat of the tender with a larger financial base and notably higher individualsubventions. Once again, companies showed great interest which saw all of the funds, intended for thetender, actually also spent. Out of 98 applications, 65 ended with co – financing contract signings.
INNOVATION VOUCHER – GOOD PRACTICE OVERVIEW:Brief description A voucher system, devised by JAPTI, the Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments intended to help SMEs with the costs of counselling and education. In 2009, it was reshaped into a classic public tender for co – financing which continues to successfully help Slovenian SMEs in securing support services, unrelated to the expert matters of their industry (e.g. intellectual property protection, accounting …)Results achieved As a voucher, the system was increasingly popular with services sought and perused. Upon its reshaping into a public tender, the project started 2009 with very limited resources, all of which were spent for the purpose intended, showing that the concept is popular and useful. In 2010, starting with a considerable amount of funds, 65 out of 98 applicants to the tender signed contracts to have their support service costs co – financed, with all of the money intended for the tender also spent.Impact The steady increase in demand for the co – financing of services is indicative of an increase in demand for such services and consequentially, an increase in the awareness of their necessity. As such, we may speculate or perhaps even conclude that there is a progress in the Slovenian environment, wherein a shift of mentality from the innovators zeal to an entrepreneurial mindset is evident.Success factors The success of the program can be measured by its implementation and, indeed, its impact. As such, the fact that the funds, channelled into the program have all been spent is an achieved factor of success from the perspective of full implementation. A steadily growing interest in services, required for an enterprise to function properly within a business environment is an indication of the growing entrepreneurial mentality and thus an aspect of success in terms of impact.Transfer Recommendations A transfer of the practice to other European regions is plausible, albeit strongly dependent on regional and regional policy body autonomy. As Slovenia represents a single region in European terms, the program was executed at a national level which also represents the regional one. It was carried out by a national agency. When transferred to other European regions, it would be advisable to tailor the approach to the local self management policies and consider bodies such as regional chambers of commerce as potential candidates for the carrying out of a similar program.
Practice: P2 tender SUMMARY:P2 is a public tender, set up by Slovenski Podjetniški Sklad – the Slovenian Entrepreneurshipfund – which is intended to support new micro, small and medium companies, coming frominnovative environments, with state grants. The companies are typically knowledge based, withhigh added value per employee, their work is aimed at global markets and they are in a sensitivestage of company development. The tender is intended to provide grants for such companies tocover the start up and expansion costs or basic need costs, to strengthen their financial situationand thus facilitate their development and focus on their primary activities.The grants are issued based on the applications, which must include the expenses that theresources will be spent on (i.e. allocation of received resources). There is a list of eligibleexpenses, ranging from business plan creation costs to employee wages, etc. The highestavailable subvention for the 2011 edition of the tender is 70.000,00 €, spaced out through threeyears; 20.000,00 € in the first, 40.000,00 € in the second and 15.000,00 € in the third year.In 2010, there were 299 applications to the tender, out of which 278 were complete and 156approved, seeing all of the resources, allocated to the tender being dealt out. There is no dataabout the 2011 edition, as the tender is still open with the applications still coming in.
P2 TENDER – GOOD PRACTICE OVERVIEW:Brief description The P2, carried out by the Slovenian Entrepreneurship Fund – a state institution for the support of entrepreneurship – is a tender, oriented specifically towards knowledge based, innovative SMEs. It is a public tender for grants, meant to support development and expansion costs of SMEs, in order for those to more easily focus on their primary activities. The costs its meant to cover are anything from material to wages with some exceptions (e.g. purchase of a vehicle).Results achieved The tender always receives a fair number of applications, the number generally on the increase. All of the resources intended for the tender have thus far been spent.Impact The tender itself is better and better known and visibly better accepted, with growing interest among knowledge based SMEs. More and more attend the preparation workshops and informative seminars and the number of applications is generally on the rise.Success factors The success factors of the tender can be measured in the interest shown and the resources spent – as such, the success is positive and the execution close to 100% for the past couple of years. The state institution carrying out the tender, Slovenski Podjetniški Sklad, follows the grant recipients and judges their performance and results as good, considering the tender to fulfil its purpose and play a significant role in promoting and accelerating knowledge based entrepreneurship. While off to a slow start, it had recently become a staple in the forms of financial support, that the government of Slovenia offers to knowledge based enterprises, and was thus approved as a tender, that will also be carried out in the future.Transfer Recommendations The carrying out of the P2 public tender is relatively simple, as it is a regular public tender, intended for a particular target population. As such, the main transfer challenges lie in finding regional bodies, parallel to the Slovenski Podjetniški Sklad and in a position to carry out such public tenders – the particular situation arises from the fact that Slovenia has a particular position in the EU as a country and a single region, thus having SPS operate on a national and simultaneously Euro – regional level with the powers of a national institution.