Last year, the public agency Spirit Slovenia allocated a total of more than 39 million euros in aid to the Slovenian economy. Many companies have thus more easily overcome the energy crisis and the challenges of the post-covid era, according to the acting director of the agency Rok Capl.
As Capl said in an interview with STA, in addition to the payment of aid, they also started the implementation of measures for companies within the framework of the recovery and resilience plan and concluded contracts for 118 million euros and paid out 3.9 million euros in subsidies from the plan.
“The agency also announced more than 188 million euros in incentives for the transition to a circular economy, research and development projects, pilot demo projects and investment projects, and we successfully conducted a public tender to encourage large investments for greater productivity and competitiveness. Based on this, we 63 approved a total of 95.5 million euros for investment projects,” he emphasized.
Last year, Spirit also successfully implemented the first measure to help the economy based on the intervention law on helping the economy due to high increases in electricity and natural gas prices. “For this purpose, we set up a special online application for submitting applications, and last December we paid out the first part of aid in the total amount of 40 million euros to 1,130 beneficiaries. This year, we also established a new application and carried out a new aid measure to mitigate the consequences of the energy crisis, where we received 1,980 deposits with a total value of almost 400 million euros,” pointed out Capl.
The agency is also very active in attracting foreign investments. The global environment for international business and investments changed dramatically again in 2022, mainly due to the war in Ukraine, he emphasized. Despite this, according to him, they continued and upgraded the activities that they started already in 2021.
“Last year, we managed to acquire 30 new greenfield potential investors. With companies with foreign equity capital that are already present in Slovenia, we identified the possibility of 18 new investment projects for business expansion. We recorded three new approved projects for greenfield investments and as many as 13 approved projects for the expansion of operations, of which many investment projects were still in the decision-making phase, which should be adopted shortly.” he is sure.
The estimated value of the newly confirmed investments (greenfield and expansion) amounts to 460 million euros, which also includes Lek’s investment in Lendava, and should bring more than 1,100 jobs, says Capl. At the same time, he points out that these data are only estimates, as companies often do not disclose all data when investing, because it is a trade secret.
“Recently, we have noticed that expansions are not so much about increasing the number of jobs, but rather that investments are mainly aimed at automation and increasing productivity. It is a trend that is primarily the result of the unavailability of a suitably educated workforce,” assessed Capl.
Ten years of operation
“Spirit celebrated the tenth anniversary of its independent operation a few days ago. During the years of operation, we have stringed together a series of successful stories, including the World Expo in Milan and Dubai. We are especially proud of the Expo in Dubai, which was the largest presentation of Slovenia and its economy in history. “In six months, the Slovenian pavilion hosted almost one million visitors, more than 200 events and almost 600 Slovenian companies, which presented themselves as part of 34 business delegations. A successful presentation is already known from the cooperation of Slovenian companies with companies from the Middle and Far East.” emphasizes the acting director of Spirit, who assumed the mandate more than a year ago.
Capl also assessed the trends in the field of foreign direct investment in the last decade as positive, as investments are increasing. Most of the requests from foreign investors come from the EU, especially from traditional markets that know Slovenia well and the advantages of its investment environment, he explained. This trend is stable and testifies to the fact that foreign direct investors consider Slovenia a suitable location for the implementation of their investment projects.
Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland
“Since 2016, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland have maintained their position as the largest foreign investors. Germany followed them as the fourth most important investor until 2020, but in 2021 Croatia replaced it in this position, which in 2020 had an investment value of increased by 706 million euros compared to the previous year, which is the highest absolute value of the increase of any country in one year,” he said.
Spirit will also continue to take care of the further internationalization of Slovenian companies. According to the government’s internationalization program, priority markets for internationalization are traditionally geographically concentrated within a radius of 2,000 kilometers. These include Germany, Italy, Croatia, Austria, France and Poland, where more than 57 percent of Slovenian exports go.
Despite the traditional business connection with nearby markets, Slovenia, especially recently, also due to global changes, is focusing on markets outside the EU. These include the US, China, the Middle East and Japan. Spirit will prepare various presentations and business meetings for Slovenian companies in all these countries, which will make it easier for them to perform, Capl also announced.