Day 31. May 2023 posted Anemari Pediček

The closing event of the prestigious Slovenian Start:Up of the Year 2023 competition, held this year at the SiTi Theatre in Ljubljana, brought a new recipient of the crystal award, with more than 250 entrepreneurial enthusiasts eagerly waiting to see who won. The title was given to ReCatalyst, a startup company that develops, manufactures and sells next-generation catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells.


The award, presented for the sixteenth consecutive year by Start:up Slovenia in cooperation with the Slovene Enterprise Fund, the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, Labena Ventures and active stakeholders of the Slovenian ecosystem, was thus awarded to the company that, through its achievements, actions, reputation and development potential, represents a new generation of innovative Slovenian entrepreneurs.


Winner selected at the Slovenian Business Club headquarters

For the second year in a row, the final selection of the winner for the Slovenian Start:Up of the Year took place at the headquarters of SBC - Slovenian Business Club, one of the competition's partners. The 5 finalists, Gentler Stories, Paradigma Technologies, Quantifly, ReCatalyst and Woice, pitched to a jury of six experts. 


Minister of Economy, Tourism and Sport Matjaž Han, who announced the winners, summed up his thoughts on the finalists:

»I am very impressed by all five finalists. They are all top class and all have great potential. I think each of them has a success story to tell.«

The judges assessed the candidates on four criteria: successful validation of the product's value in the market; securing investment from domestic or foreign investors; the competence, commitment, experience and organization of the team; and the potential for rapid growth in foreign markets. 


This year's jury consisted of Tanja Skaza (Skaza), Borut Čeh (Labena), Luka Renko (Silicon Gardens), Maja Tomanič-Vidovič (Slovene Enterprise Fund), Rok Habinc (Pan-Adria Partners) and Borut Markelj (Glovo).


Members of the Slovenian Start:Up of 2023 jury

Among the jury members was the Director of the Slovene Enterprise Fund, Maja Tomanič Vidovič, who attended the event and said:

"The selection of the Start:up of the Year is a highlight of the startup ecosystem in Slovenia. The Slovene Enterprise Fund is happy to have many good friends in the ecosystem, because this is the only way we can grow and achieve all that we do. Every element is important. When we are united, we are even stronger and we can show that Slovenia can create good startups with a promising future. Thanks to all co-organizers and partners. Thank you to the Ministry for supporting us so that we can continue in the direction we have chosen".


As for the winner, she said that "deep tech" companies, linked to science, development and research, are our future. "Sustainable development will help us live a better tomorrow. ReCatalyst shows just that. The European Commission will certainly support such projects, we will support them and I believe this is a good stepping stone for the future," said Maja Tomanič Vidovič.


Jury member Borut Čeh from Labena and Labena Ventures said that the event was excellently organized. He said that it was important to note that all five of those shortlisted were excellent. He believes that ReCatalyst deserves the title of Slovenian Start:Up of the Year and says that Slovenia has a lot of knowledge, but startups should be given more support.


ReCatalyst is the Slovenian Start:up of the Year 2023

The ReCatalyst team impressed the judges with their innovation and won the award. The company develops, produces and sells catalysts for the next generation of hydrogen fuel cells, a technology that they believe will provide a significant opportunity for the decarbonization of transport. Batteries will solve one part of the problem, and fuel cells will help the other.


The ReCatalyst team

Their production is based on a patented process that makes better use of expensive and rare platinum. The process partially replaces platinum with more accessible and cheaper metals, and a microscope reveals an even distribution of platinum alloy nanoparticles. Even at the current stage of the product, they achieve a reduction of more than 40% in the amount of platinum without compromising the performance potential of the fuel cell.


The product looks like black powder, but under the microscope, a uniform distribution of platinum alloy nanoparticles can be seen on its surface.


Commenting on winning the Slovenian Startup of the Year 2023 award, ReCatalyst's co-founder Tomaž Bizjak said:

"This is definitely very encouraging news for the company, not only internally but also externally. After all, we are a public research organization and we see a certain recognition from the public that they value the transfer of knowledge that takes several years to develop and then several more years to commercialize. That is recognition from the public. But the weight of the award is the responsibility we have in the next year to really consolidate our position in the market and pave the way for other start-ups."


Grand final at SiTi Theatre with Klemen Slakonja

On Tuesday, 30 May 2023, at 6 pm, the Slovenian Start:Up of the Year 2023 was announced at the SiTi Theatre in Ljubljana.  It was a real spectacle hosted by Klemen Slakonja, who ensured that the evening, full of popular melodies and humor, would be remembered for a long time. 


The prestigious award was presented to the winner by Matjaž Han, Minister of Economy, Tourism and Sport, and Jure Knez, co-founder of high-tech company Dewesoft.


Knez said of the event:

I think any event like this, especially at this level, is a celebration of entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit. All 5 finalists are outstanding, so I believe the winner - ReCatalyst - has a chance to go into orbit.”



Content support for recipients of P2, SK75 or SI-SK financial products under the "de minimis" scheme is co-financed from the Slovene Enterprise Fund and the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund. This is implemented on the basis of the Content Support for Funds Recipients (SMEs) Programme in the 2018-2023 period, under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of the European Cohesion Policy 2014-2020.


Startup MGRT SEF Slovenian startup of the year
Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.