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State Secretary Kirbiš Rojs at the Vanguard Initiative Annual Political Meeting 2021

State Secretary Kirbiš Rojs today participated in the Vanguard Initiative Annual Political Meeting. The Vanguard Initiative is a network of over 30 European regions that made a political commitment to use their smart specialisation strategies to advance technological developments and stimulate industrial modernisation through interregional collaboration.

The initiative works as a platform bringing together regions to compare their development strategies, as well as businesses, clusters and knowledge centres to connect and collaborate with like-minded partners, share know-how and experience and exploit complementarities identified in smart specialisation strategies to create value chains. Slovenian Business and Research Organisation has been participating in the Vanguard Initiative since its foundation in 2013. Since 2018, when Slovenia’s two cohesion regions became fully fledged members of the Vanguard Initiative, the interested innovative Slovenian businesses, institutes, members of Strategic Research and Innovation Partnerships (SRIPs) or chains have been participating in the initiative and collaborating with counterparts from EU regions.

In her introductory remarks, the State Secretary presented the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency to the Council of the EU. The Presidency is focused on supporting the recovery and resilience of the EU, deepening the EU single market, boosting the progress regarding the green transition and digital transformation, achieving digital autonomy, ensuring strategic autonomy of the EU and supporting SMEs and start-ups. The State Secretary also outlined the goals of the Slovenian smart specialisation strategy, saying that the ambition of Slovenia is to join the leading regions in niche, innovative high-tech areas, such as smart factories and cities, smart health, tools, mobility, circular economy and technologies, advanced materials, sustainable industry, tourism. The State Secretary underlined that ‘’in terms of cooperation between the regional policy makers that are responsible for smart specialisation strategies, we see huge potential that still needs to be tapped to better harness research and business opportunities that come our way. Sharing of experience, good practices and ideas can make an important contribution to further internationalisation.’’ Enabling platforms, integration in key innovation communities and institutions as well as bilateral and multilateral collaboration should pave the way for internationalisation.

The State Secretary stressed that Slovenia significantly strengthened its activities in the area of international multilateral and bilateral cooperation between 2014 and 2021. Given the increasingly complex research, development and innovation processes and Slovenia’s small size, the country needs to go international, according to the State Secretary. ‘’Slovenia is a member of four major European regions that include many other countries; it belongs to the Danube region, the Adriatic-Ionian region, the Mediterranean and the Alps. This diversity allows us to take part in various international alliances and provides opportunities for further collaboration, which is something we are also striving for as a member of the Vanguard Initiative,’’ concluded the State Secretary.