Director of SPIRIT Slovenia
Ajda Cuderman’s business career began at an IT company in the field of electronic document and management in 2001, afterwhich she continued in an international consulting company in the field of sales process management. SPIRIT Slovenia was established in 2013 and provides support to Slovenia’s economy through innovation, technological development, entrepreneurship, international and foreign investment.
Ajda Cuderman joined the agency early in 2019 and in August of the same year was appointed director. Prior to joining SPIRIT Slovenia, she was director of Eltec Petrol in Belgrade from 2016 – 2017. Since 2010, Petrol Energy Solutions has been the leading regional provider of energy and environmental solutions in the business pillars of district energy, plumbing, efficient lighting and energy management of buildings. Since completing her Master’s degree from the University of Maribor in 2012, she has held positions at Mercuri International as Senior consultant for management and sales, Laser Computer ltd as Project Manager.
Ajda Cuderman interview
CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING GRANTED A FULL MANDATE AS THE DIRECTOR OF SPIRIT AGENCY. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU PERSONALLY?
I am honoured to be recognised as a person from the business world for my intentions to help the Slovenian economy become more successful in export, in positioning itself as a long-term business partner and lastly, to promote Slovenia as a country for investments in high value-dded industries. In this way at least I can be sure that our country shall become attractive for our children to live in and stay, as Slovenia is undoubtedly one of the most attractive countries to live, for its work and life balance and extreme diversity in quality leisure time spent.
WHICH INDUSTRIES DO YOU FIND THE MOST INTERESTING FOR INVESTMENTS?
I would say that we offer many opportunities for greenfield or brownfield investments for industries, which are highly automated and deliver high end technological products. That could be robotics, medical equipment, biotechnology, electronic devices, composite materials and many more. Our workforce and engineers deliver world‘s best quality that is valued and renowned for many decades in Europe and globally. Our main advantage is also creative
and cutting class R&D capabilities and people, and for this reason many foreign investors
choose us as their R&D global centre (pharmaceuticals, paint industry, building materials,
biotechnology, chemistry industry…)
WHAT IS THE AGENCY’S ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR OWN ENTREPRENEURS, AND HOW DO YOU HELP THEM ATTRACT FOREIGN INVESTMENTS?
We could write a whole article about that. Let‘s say in short, supporting the development of entrepreneurship from kindergarten to start ups with as much co-funding as we can, supporting scale ups to SME‘s with subventions for projects linked withtechnological development, digitalisation, getting them to operate in a sustainable and business excellent way with educational activities and co-funding, and last but not least, supporting them to export their products and services.
HOW DO YOU THINK “START-UP SCENE” IN SLOVENIA IS DEVELOPING?
A lot of them are moving toward the right attitude, innovate and start a business with your customer in mind, that means that the question ‘who will buy it and why?’ is answered more frequently. Our start-ups are as successful as foreign ones, but I see them innovating more sustainable green products and high technological cutting-edge products. Their R&D process is thus longer than usual.
WHAT ARE THE INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED BRAND FROM SLOVENIA?
I must start with this one – for the last 20 years, IfeelSlovenia is our national brand and whenever you see a product using this brand, you can be sure of its quality and sustainability, as more than three quarters of all products in Slovenia are made in an energy efficient manner.
I would make a long list of brands that come from Slovenia, but to put at least some in perspective there are some, that have a huge success internationally – food and beverages segment present Argeta – the healthiest pate ever made, Laško beer, Donat mineralmagnesium
water known for its health benefits, Cockta as a herbal alternative in cola segment. To go on with one of the oldest factories, Ilirija company made a huge success in beauty products segment with MorrocanOil line – hair care products.
Medex with its honey-based products has been continuously penetrating the health supplement market. To go on with sporting equipment producers, Elan with its skies, Slatnar with its ski jumping skies known for its innovative development. And Gorenje with small home appliances has been successful over decades too. B2B segment presents even stronger globally recognised brands, such as Akrapovič exhaust systems used in every racing motorcycle, Pipistrel ultra lightweight airplanes, Kolektor with its electronic components, Domel with innovative electromotors…
I could go on endlessly, as I feel very proud of our brands. They may not be globalised like Apple or McDonalds but are successful in their niches and carefully picked by returning customers. When my friends from France or Poland come to visit, they bring back home Donat and Srebrna Radgonska Penina (sparkling wine) in large quantities. That underpins something, doesn’t it.
HOW INTERNATIONAL AND INNOVATIVE ARE SLOVENIAN COMPANIES?
I would say that leading innovation globally is our natural quality – that is why Slovenia is 2nd in the world in the segment of hidden champions – companies that are global market leaders in their respective niche segments – Fotona with laser technology, Cosylab in laser technology for cancer treatment, Mikropis in health diagnostics, Biopharmaceutical companies, companies using composite materials in large scale production… Well, for sure we do have a lot to show and even more important, more than half of our companies have already turned to sustainable business models thus showing an excellent path for our future green business.
AFTER BUSINESS THERE SHOULD BE TIME FOR LEISURE. WHERE ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES IN SLOVENIA?
Hard to pick just a few, but our mountains offer endless hiking possibilities and on the same day you can go for a swim at the sea side and see colourful Piran. I love Jezersko in the winter, it’s a calm winter wonderland place to go. Lake Bled offers me a relaxing 5 kilometre walk around when I need to stress out. Sežana, Lipica and Škocjan cave in our Karst region offer our family a bit of retreat from time to time. I’m a bit of an active person so skiing in the winter at Krvavec which 15 minutes from my home is also a must. We are a unique, green, pure country with experiences to relax and recharge undoubtedly.
The Slovenia Restaurants: Top 201
THE Slovenia Restaurants top 201 predstavlja najboljše iz slovenske kuhinje sodobnih kuharskih šefov in restavracij.