On March 28 – 29, 2023, Bratislava became the center of discussions about innovations and startups in the CEE region. Thanks to SAPIE Forum 2023, inspirational leaders from around the region and beyond could bring their knowledge and expertise to reinforce the local innovation spirit.
Captivating speakers such as Peter Vesterbacka, Mary MacPherson, Nicolas Brien, Peter Kolesar, Eve Peeterson, Martina Kolesarova, Michaela Krskova, Majo Porvažník, Kristina Korcekova enriched the audience with many thoughtful remarks. Read some of those below in this article.
The panelists shared their thoughts on the definition of innovation. Everyone contributed with something different: Innovation as a driver of positive changes in society (Martina Kolesárová, Executive Director, PONTIS Foundation), innovation as the art of making the impossible possible (Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia), or innovation as something as natural to humans as breathing (Michaela Kršková, CIO at the Slovak Government Office). Until Peter Vesterbacka, serial entrepreneur and one of the brains behind the global success of Angry Birds, declared in his characteristically honest and open way that people who keep mentioning innovation usually don’t have it. The topic of attracting the best brains in order to boost the innovation ecosystem resonated strongly among the panelists. Peter talked extensively about the importance of talent density. The need for talent is huge and it is even more pronounced in the tech industry. As he explained, Finland itself needs around 13 thousand tech professionals and fulfilling this need for talent will be the key determining factor when it comes to successful innovations. He also described interesting strategies aimed to help attract global talent, such as a program aimed at teaching Finnish to kids in Vietnam and Uzbekistan, who can then attend a Finnish high-school as they already know the language.
Marián Porvažník, Managing Co-Founder, Vacuum Group, talked about the challenging task of bringing top talent to a Slovak company. Slovaks living abroad were the obvious first target due to existing family ties. However, some limitations, such as salary possibilities, can’t be overcome and the right strategy should focus on highlighting what we have to offer, as well as providing the best possible support with settling in and living here. Nicolas Brien, Chairman, European Startup Network, added that it also requires changing our vision of the society we want to live in, as it is a big shift to go from a country which the people are leaving to a country which openly welcomes people from abroad.
The discussions at SAPIE Forum give us a good reason to believe that Slovakia is ready to take an active part in the digital revolution, and that Nicolas Brien was right about the CEE region being much better prepared for the second digital revolution than it was for the first one.
In the midst of changing times, when we’re looking towards a more tech-based future, it is great that we continue to discuss the topics of innovation, support the debate on what the strengths and pain points of the ecosystem and showcase successful examples to follow.
Innovate Slovakia was one of the community partners at the forum organised by Slovak Alliance for Innovation Economy, one of the founders of this initiative.