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SLOVENIAN SMART SPECIALISATION STRATEGY (S4) is an operational plan facilitating the shift to high-productivity economy


- through boosting innovation potential,

- fostering structural transformation and industrial diversification and

- supporting growth of new and fast growing companies.  





I. The mission of S4 is to facilitate Slovenia's transformation from a follower to a co-creator of global trends in identified niche areas. 


More specifically, concrete goals of S4 are as follows:
1. Increasing the added value per employee,
2. Improving Slovenia’s competitiveness on global markets by increasing the share of knowledge-intensive and high-tech exports in total exports,
3. Increasing overall entrepreneurial activity.


II. Added value: S4 complements the already adopted national innovation-related strategic documents and adds new dimensions: 


a) Niche orientation through identified priority domains,
b) Cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders,
c) Targeted, comprehensive and tailored policy mix,
d) Globally integrated approach

==> Breakthrough, consistent and focused innovation policy at the implementation level.


III. Why S4?


(1) in order to leapfrog its economy and get on a par with world's most productive economies, Slovenia needs to rethink and transform its development paradigm. That said, the country needs to take on board that high productivity necessarily involves staying on top of competition in niches, being integrated in global networks and strongly involved in the pre-development stage. Accordingly, this is connected with intensive investment, high risks, the need for high responsiveness/proactive approach/speed and uniqueness/originality. This can only be achieved through collaboration, i.e. intertwining of (investment and intellectual) potentials, sharing risks, creating a top innovation (S4) ecosystem, and designing a comprehensive and focused innovation policy.


(2) In the next multi-annual financial framework, S4 will act as the enabling condition; indeed, S4 will be the precondition allowing the country to access the resources needed for the goal ‘Smart Europe’, in figures, this totals at least EUR 600 million for RTDI, digitalisation, entrepreneurship, education and training. 


IV. What’s in it for enterprises?


a) Human resources:

  • Educational system (long-term vision): systematic workforce planning which involves forecasting future human resources and skills needs; adapting education programmes and curricula and adjusting the number of enrolment places to match the labour market needs; career guidance and orientation, well-thought-out scholarship policy,  
  • Training in terms of short-term needs: tailored on-the-job training programmes, joint training programmes of different companies (competence centres for human resources development) and training courses on an ad-hoc basis;

b) Design and implementation of complex development projects by:

  • Bringing together the relevant national players and pooling their knowledge, expertise and capacities,
  • Providing state support in priority areas ==> RTDI, infrastructure, public procurement, pilot projects,
  • Fostering and encouraging the development of breakthrough and/or integrated new products and services (multidisciplinary teams, cutting edge research, studies, lectures, future labs and trends);

c) Global positioning and opening doors by:

  • Joining and co-creating international projects,
  • Having access to original equipment manufacturers (OEM),
  • Joint venture on international markets, lobbying and promotion.

V. Slovenian NICHES = S4 priority domains ==> at 4 levels:



  • Digital
  • Circular
  • (S)Industry 4.0


  • I.1 Smart Cities and Communities; I.2 Smart Buildings and Home, including Wood Chain;
  • II.1 Networks for the Transition to a Circular Economy; II.2 Sustainable Food; II.3 Sustainable Tourism;
  • III.1 Factories of the Future; III.2 Health-Medicine; III.3 Mobility; III.4 Materials as Products


Products ==>

  • III. Focus areas and technologies for each priority domain with clearly defined
  • IV. Areas of joint development (=niches) within each particular focus area 

More ==>


VI. Where do I learn more about Slovenian niches?


For relevant information see individual SRIP action plans


VII. How were priorities identified? Do they change over time?


Once the three pillars and the nine priority domains with corresponding focus areas and technologies were defined, a wide range of stakeholders engaged in a series of deep consultations held throughout 2014 and 2015 to identify the relevant priorities. Strategic Research and Innovation Partnerships (SRIPs) defined the areas of joint development in their action plans; these documents not only outline joint development activities but also specify how joint venture will be carried out in terms of human resources development, internationalisation, promotion of entrepreneurship and other joint action.  

Action plans are being regularly updated; as such, they represent the dynamic, evolving part of S4 which will help innovation policy gain more focus and greater concentration on key niches.

Additionally, S4 will be subject to a thorough review in 2019, and, if necessary, a revised version of the strategy will follow.


The government, which has gone beyond its original role and become a facilitator of change, and the nine SRIPs are working hand in hand; this new development model supports a stronger and more complementary interaction between stakeholders on the ground, i.e. business community, knowledge institutions, other players and the state.

VIII. Strategic Research and Innovation Partnerships or SRIPs

are long-term partnerships between (1) business community, (2) research organisations, (3) state and municipalities, and (4) facilitators, innovation users and NGOs – so-called quadruple helix - to pool investment and intellectual potentials of Slovenian stakeholders, and help the stakeholders set up a comprehensive innovation ecosystem with the aim of entering global markets and improving the position in S4 priority areas. 


SRIPs have a total of 783 members of which 83% are enterprises, large enterprises accounting for 21% of these, with a balanced structure in both cohesion regions (for statistical data see here).


As SRIPs are and have to be open platforms of cooperation, new members and initiatives are always welcome (the number of members grew by 24 % since their establishment in 2016). 

More about contacts and action plans


IX. POLICY MIX – S4 as part of the national development policy in practice (TAILORED)


a) Delivery of S4 on the ground: calls for proposals and programmes worth over EUR 800 million, of which EUR 375 million are directly related to S4, have already been approved.


Statistical data by individual domains


Out of a total of EUR 817 million under the approved calls for proposals and programmes (by June 2018):

  • EUR 389 million or 48% goes to RTDI,
  • EUR 113 million or 14% goes to human resources development,
  • EUR 296 million or 36% goes to promotion of entrepreneurship, and
  • EUR 17 million or 2% goes to internationalisation.

List of calls for proposals and programmes


As many as EUR 375 million under the abovementioned calls for proposals and programmes is directly linked to S4 implementation, which is only a million euros less than planned in the approved version of S4 in 2015 where the figure stood at EUR 377 million; this makes the success rate as high as 99.47%!


For a closer look at the policy mix see the presentation above or click here.


b) A well-functioning COORDINATION SYSTEM established at the state level, spanning both strategic and operational level:

  • "Alignment with S4" has become a permanent fixture in the process of EU Cohesion Policy implementation,
  • Working Group of State Secretaries from 13 government departments, entrusted by the government to communicate with SRIPs and ensure coordinated action between the relevant players, SRIPs’ counterpart on the political level,
  • GODC, Smart Specialisation Unit, in collaboration with the relevant government departments, ensures operational coordination.

c) There is still much room for improvement in terms of closer cooperation between SRIPs and the government to remove administrative barriers and deliver structural measures. The following measures have already been delivered or are underway: cooperation regarding economic diplomacy, tax credits for tourism-related RTDI, the first steps towards public procurement of innovation. The latter requires much more joint efforts and energy to be improved. 



S4 goals for internationalisation:

1. Improving or upgrading Slovenia's position in global value chains (outward internationalisation),
2. Positioning Slovenia as an RTDI hub, making it attractive for foreign companies and strengthening R&D departments of companies, mobilising top domestic talents, and attracting foreign experts and dynamic (start-up) companies (outward internationalisation). 


Internationalisation of SRIPs is achieved through

  • Thematic cooperation and platforms (e.g. Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation),
  • Integration in key innovation communities and institutions (e.g. EIT, European Institute of Innovation and Technology), and
  • Bilateral and multilateral cooperation with regions and countries. 

S4 has importantly contributed to improving Slovenia’s integration in international development integrations or networks, e.g.:

  • Joining "Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation" which allowed TECOS as member of SRIP FoF to become co-lead region in thematic area "SME integration to Industry 4.0", and University of Maribor as member of SRIP Sustainable Tourism to become co-lead region in thematic area "Digitalisation and Safety for Tourism",
  • SIovenia as pilot country on systemic cooperation region/state – EIT,  
  • Memorandum of Cooperation with Climate-KIC,
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia/SRIP Sustainable Food as regional hub for KIC Food,
  • Geological Survey of Slovenia and Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute as regional hub for KIC Raw Materials,
  • Discussions underway for regional hub KIC Digital,
  • SRIP FoF as core partner encouraging the setting up of EIT KIC Advanced Value Manufacturing,
  • Slovenia joined the Vanguard Initiative to stand side by side with 31 most developed EU regions which seek to foster development cooperation on five pilot projects, 
  • Bavaria: a set of 28 joint development activities between SRIPs and Bavaria identified,
  • The Alps: integration with German, Italian, Austrian and French clusters, discussions underway for setting up an RTDI co-investment fund with support from ESI Funds,
  • India: technology bridge established, first companies to launch pilot projects.



Slovenian approach to S4 has been RECOGNISED as SMART STORY!

The European Commission included Slovenia in the Handbook as an example of good practice. The honour of being featured in the document was given to 20 excellent examples among 273 EU regions. 


CONTACT: s3.svrk(at)