The innovation ecosystem needs to be supported in the regions

With the Hopero project, together with another European Centre for Digital Innovation (EDIH) EXPANDI 4.0, we went to the regions and this time we visited the city of Žilina. With the support of our partners Inovia and the University of Žilina, we organised an event to discuss artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0, getting funding for digitalisation and how the innovation ecosystem supports entrepreneurs.

The event was opened by the President of the Žilina Self-Governing Region Erika Jurinová and the Mayor of Žilina Peter Fiabáne.

Our regional innovative guest was Tomáš Lodňan from the company Good Request, who talked about how they manage to achieve and set the growth of the company, how to scale, how to find talents, or why it is important to focus on foreign markets and not just stay in Slovakia.

At GoodRequest, innovation is a necessity, and during the discussion, he explained that even for a small company, it is important to have a process in place to collect and evaluate innovative ideas, and he stressed the importance of small, incremental innovations as well. He also described his positive experience with supercomputing as an interesting tool to motivate companies to innovate.

In the panel discussion How the innovation ecosystem can help entrepreneurs to grow, the guests Róbert Mojsej (MIRRI), Vlastimil Kocián (Inovia) and Ján Pavlík (Žilina Self-Governing Region) met.

Mr Pavlík stressed the need to build local intellectual capital and to create attractive conditions for regional entrepreneurs so that regional cities could face competition from Bratislava or Košice.

Róbert Mojsej presented the possibilities of financing digitalization from the recently approved Operational Programme Slovakia or from the ongoing Recovery Plan and drew attention to the upcoming regional support centres, to which entrepreneurs will be able to turn.

The speakers agreed that although the strength of Slovak companies is often their technological prowess, they are lagging behind in business aspects and their ability to sell on foreign markets. However, innovation centres such as Inovia can help and advise on this through experts.

Juraj Popovič from Hopero and Artur Bobovnický from Expandi 4.0 explained to the audience the motivations and background of the creation of EDIHs and presented the portfolio of their services. An important factor is that entrepreneurs can get expert training or advice on many technological, business and financial issues from EDIHs for free through the receipt of state aid.

At the end of the event, Anna Brziaková from Hopero drew the attention of entrepreneurs to some types of challenges that are upcoming and relevant for the SME segment. These are in particular calls for the purchase of digital technologies and services for those who want to go digital and R&D calls for suppliers of digital solutions.

Networking was also an integral part of the meeting, which enriched the participants with quality new contacts and meetings with experts from practice and experienced entrepreneurs. For upcoming events, please visit our Hopero website

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