Packed big hall of Technology Park Ljubljana at this year's 100 % Start: up PLUS+ forum proves that the entrepreneurial activities in Slovenia are becoming stronger and that we are in for a busy spring in this area. The entrepreneurial activity in Slovenia is followed by the support of start-up companies, moreover, The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology will give the most support in the history of Slovenia in the following five years with the help of Slovene Enterprise Fund. Europe is also strengthening the start-up support and the 100 % Start:up PLUS+ forum opened this year’s Startup Europe Week.
Forum 100 % Start:up PLUS+ helps entrepreneurs that are looking for funding, mentors and programs to fulfil their dreams with giving them all the key information about the P2 application, which got not only 54,000 euros worth of non-refundable financial incentive this year (this will be available for 40 companies – 20 from the east and 20 from the west cohesion region), but it also brings some important novelties, especially advantages for recipients.
Capital is not enough, that is why it is always paired up with content support
The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has identified a huge potential of start-up companies explaining that these are »companies with ambition to become fast growing companies with high added value, like Alenka Marovt, Secretary of the Internationalization, Entrepreneurship and Technology Directorate from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has explained in her introductory speech. She added that this is the reason for some of the efficient measures and programmes for encouraging companies in the early stages of their development, which includes free services from supportive environment institutions (SPOT consulting and IEE - innovative environment entities), as well as financial incentives from the Slovene Enterprise Fund in the form of initial investments for innovative start-ups, start-ups in problematic areas and seed capital.
“Both measures are combined with content support in the form of mentoring, consulting, training and networking. We are currently working on a new project, with which we will offer support to at least 120 companies through training or accelerator programmes abroad. But that’s not all. Very popular are the so called vouchers, which are basic forms of low value incentives.” Marovt said and continued: “We have also prepared a digitalization program and digital transformations with specific complementary measures. We find the brands strengthening also very important. When preparing measures, we are mostly listening to start-ups. That is why the Government of the Republic of Slovenia has passed the Slovenia action plan – the land of start-ups in the year of 2018, which covers challenges with which the start-up companies are facing, as well as activities and solution suggestions."
Ulla Hudina Kmetič, the deputy director of European Commission representative body in Slovenia said that the start-up environment in Slovenia has improved in the last couple of years. “We are noticing a positive trend – from the environment generators point of view, as well as the start-up companies’, based on their market success. The European Commission is promoting different measures, programmes and initiatives, as well as financial instruments. On the other hand, we are trying to encourage debt measures that prevail in Slovenia, but we are trying to encourage further development of financial engineering with the help of different instruments, such as venture capital. Especially in this area we see potential for Slovenian start-up companies, to make them expand from the Slovenian environment to the broader European one with 500 million inhabitants, which represents an amazing market and potential for Slovenian start-ups."
Nearly 6 million euros for almost 120 companies
In the year of 2019, the Slovene Enterprise Fund will offer 5,910,000 euros to start-up and young companies through start-up incentives (P2) and seed capital (convertible loans, capital investments) and this amount should be enough to support around 118 start-up companies. The P2 call, within which the innovative start-up companies can receive 54,000 euros of start-up funds to develop innovative and high-tech solutions, has already been released.
“This year, the convertible loan (SK75) of 75,000 euros will be available again and this loan enables young innovative companies to penetrate to the market and allows market expansion. The SK200 product is getting a new image, through which the young innovative companies with the global growth potential can receive cofounding with business angels and corporation up to 650,000 euros worth. We can also not forget that young companies with global growth potential can acquire venture capital through Central Europe Fund of Funds (CEFoF) with the help of selected venture and private capital companies for up to 8,000,000 euros” the director of Slovene Enterprise Fund Maja Tomanič Vidovič said about different funding possibilities.
Slovene Enterprise Fund supported more than 670 innovative companies with global growth potential by this time through following released calls. Of those, 590 got help through the P2 start-up incentive, 63 companies through SK75 convertible loan and 12 companies through SK200 capital investments. “All supported companies created more than 1000 new jobs with high added value, and they are continuing to grow and develop”, Maja Tomanič Vidovič stated.
The P2 preselection application brings benefits
Urban Lapajne, the Start:up Slovenia coordinator also said more about the P2 call preselection procedure, which is implemented by the Start:up Slovenia initiative for Slovene Enterprise Fund. Participants can participate in the pre-selection process and get up to 35 out of 100 points to get non-refundable P2 subventions in the amount of 54,000 euros, so we suggest participants to register beforehand.
"The preparation for DEMO day is a very important factor in the preselection process, you should not underestimate it”, Urban said to entrepreneurs, who will be in the running for 54,000 euros. The P2 brings a novelty this year– absence of cost proof, which will make reporting easier for recipients of the incentive report.
The director of Technology Park Ljubljana Matej Cerar talked about strengthening the cooperation culture in the start-up ecosystem, which can lead to breakthrough accomplishments: “The mission of the innovative start-up ecosystem is to encourage cultural creativity, knowledge holders cooperation – the research-educational system, private law companies and policy makers – with the help of interdisciplinary synthesis of the social and natural sciences.”
We can achieve breakthrough accomplishments just by thinking outside the box and connecting disciplines, since this leads to a better quality of life for all of us, stated Cerar and added: “We, the innovative environment subjects in the start-up ecosystem are not an exception and the same rules also apply for us. We must also respect them and set an example to younger generations and show them the road to success that has been based on cooperation from the early days.”
Entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs with first-hand experiences
Young entrepreneurs talked about how to get to first costumers, investors and partners with product validation. There were also investors’ representatives present and they answered questions about who, when and with how much money is coming to Slovenia and to our wider region, before the new wave of start-up companies’ private funding comes.
Jan Dobrilovič from Beeping, the Slovenian start-up of the year 2018 talked about proving that they can manage the cleaning business market with a systematic approach, Marin Medak (Della Spina) and Primož Mahne (Gigodesign) offered an extremely interesting insight about how they have tested the market with a more modern approach, specifically in the traditional prescription glasses industry and Rok Upelj from Movalyse talked about a very important partnership between a start-up and an established company. The Moyalyse team is actually developing a modern motorcycle insurance with the help of Sava insurance company. “We are working great together”, said Rok about the partnership and about the financial incentives (Moyalyse received the P2, SK75 and SK200) that are ideal: “You can test the market quicker, you can break into the foreign market and you can also finish your story faster, in case it doesn’t turn out the way you expected.”
There is a lot of investment capital in the region, more is on the way
After talking to investors and after shared information that the Fil Rouge Capital fund is coming with their 42 million euros that they are planning on investing in Croatian start-ups and scale-ups, the region is about to receive large portion of the capital. Jakob Gajšek, the director of Ljubljana University Incubator talked about dozens of millions of euros that are arriving to the region in his conversation with Maja Tomanič Vidovič (Slovene Enterprise Fund), Branko Drobnak (Business Angels of Slovenia), Jure Mikuž (South Central Ventures), Aljoša Domijan (ABC Accelerator), Alexander Massart (Blend Ventures) and Peter Ribarič (Silicon Gardens). He also talked about public capital that is available, but there were also some reservations expressed about the differences between private and public sector investors’ expectations.
Jure Mikuž, the director of South Central Ventures (SCV) highlighted that from the ecosystem’s point of view, the most important factor is the ensured funding for companies in all stages, “so that all stages are covered, because it often happens that many receive the capital they maybe don’t deserve and then run into an obstacle, when they come to the next stage. A successful ecosystem development has to “cover” all the stages - if not locally, at least internationally.” Mikuž, who’s company is also a part of Croatia’s market and his fund entered the cooperation with German Vito ONE fund in January with a start-up DaiBau, which manages the MojMojster web platform, is welcoming the Fil Rouge Capital arrival to Croatia: “The biggest problem until now has always been that we couldn’t be involved as co-investors and every investor likes to have someone by his side, who helps him during the board meetings.”
The added value of this year's 100 % Start:up PLUS+ forum was the set of workshops, presentations and personal consultings, which were intended for start-up entrepreneurs. With the help of actual and useful information they can build their start-up companies in a more successful way. Especially interesting are the cross-border cooperation possibilities, which mostly involve the entrance and expansion into the Austrian market and this possibility was presented by Jürgen Kopeinig from the Austrian KWF and Mojca Cvirn from the Technology Park Ljubljana within the Start:up Alpe-Adria project. Vera Nunič talked about free mentorships and expert support possibilities that the Technology Park Ljubljana offers and also presented a very interesting Erasmus program for young entrepreneurs.
A set of roadshow events is scheduled after the forum
Representatives of the entrepreneurial support environment explained to the entrepreneurs, why it is good to apply for P2 pre-selection call and they will do the same thing also at roadshow events that are going to happen between March 13 and 19 in seven Slovenian cities. After Koper, Nova Gorica, Velenje, Celje and Maribor, the roadshow is stopping in the following cities next week:
- Novo mesto, March 19 at 8.30 in the Podbreznik incubator (program and appication) and
- Kranj, March 19 at 14.00 in the Information and Communication Technology Development Centre (program and application).
Timeline of the P2 call application
Deadline for the Start:up Slovenija pre-selection applications: March 26 2019 until midnight at prijave.startup.si.
DEMO day: April 16 and 17 2019 in Ljubljana.
Deadline for the P2 SPS call application: April 19 2019.
Photo gallery from the Forum 100 % Start:up PLUS+ event