The news that Slovenia is #21 on Bloomberg’s 2020 Innovation Index, with its rise over the last 12 months due to strong patent performance, is a reminder that there’s a lot more to the country than tourism and cultural heritage. Perhaps to the surprise of visitors who only make it to Bled and Ljubljana Old Town, Slovenia is a modern country with a broad-based economy, its position strengthened by the many research projects its scientists are involved in.
In case you missed them the first time round, here’s a brief review of some of the developments and discoveries we’ve noted on TSN over the last year or so.
A Slovene team has developed a tandem solar cell that transforms solar energy into electricity in the most efficient manner seen to date, an important step towards photovoltaics becoming more competitive in power production.
The move to renewable energy will require new kinds of devices to store the power produced, and, Slovenian researchers are working on batteries that could end the need to mine certain minerals outside of Europe, as well as on aluminium batteries that have a greater capacity that current ones, and also contain less damaging and more readily available materials.
However, no matter what developments there are in terms of renewables, climate change is already having an impact on the environment. One sign of this is the proliferation of jellyfish blooms in the Adriatic and elsewhere. Such infestations are inspiring researchers to look for new ways to use an oversupply of jellyfish – as food, as fertilizer, and, in Slovene/Israeli project, as a way to remove microplastics from the oceans. To achieve this the project is developing a filter that makes use of jellyfish mucus to trap the tiny pieces of pollution.
Of course, the future will be dominated by computers that are becoming ever faster, smaller and smarter, and here Slovenia also plays a part. For one, UNESCO is sponsoring a global AI research centre that will be based in Ljubljana. For another the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI - Institut "Jozef Stefan”) and a team from Switzerland have confirmed the existence of two kinds of atypical anyon quasiparticles in a special kind of quantum magnet, Ruthenium(III) chloride – said to be a key step towards the creation of a topological quantum computer. The JSI is the country’s leading research centre, and last year researchers working there discovered an entirely new kind of matter based on “electron jamming”, one that as yet cannot be understood with existing physics.
Source: Wikimedia Doc James CC-by-SA-4.0
Turning to the life sciences, researchers at the Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine, the biomedical centre Celica and the National Institute of Chemistry, discovered a new molecular mechanism of action in ketamine that has potential for the development of fast-acting antidepressants. While a team involving Slovenians also published a ground-breaking cell differentiation paper that could help revolutionise personalised regenerative medicine and the use of stem cells. Another cutting edge cell technology is the CRISPR gene-editing technique, with researchers at the JSI working on new applications for this.
Another medical discovery, one that draws on one of the country’s most famous animals, is the decoding of the olm’s genome, with this creature perhaps better known as the “human fish” or proteus. Among the olm’s remarkable attributes are the ability to live up to 100 years, to survive (and thrive) for long periods without food, to overeat with damage to its organs, and regenerate lost limbs.
Moving from the karst to the coast, a team based in Piran watched the dolphins in the bay and learned that they share the area based on time, not space. Finally, the humble bumble bee, one of the world’s most important pollinators and another icon of Slovenia (in the form of the Carniolan Grey), has also attracted the attention of the Jožef Stefan Institute. A team there has applied machine learning to help understand the sounds the bees make, and the importance of temperature for their colonies.
You can find more discoveries, inventions and achievements in our section Made in Slovenia.
This week is Chinese New Year, so what better time to read about the growth of Chinese tourism in Southeastern Europe? Dragon Trail has an interesting article titled “The Southeastern Europe Chinese Tourism Boom”, by Sienna Parulis-Cook. It looks at recent trends in travel from the Middle Kingdom to this part of the world, and the states of the former Yugoslavia in particular.
"My Green Travel" -Slovenia has a Chinese website
It notes that the region has seen some of the world’s highest growth rates for Chinese tourism in recent years, with Montenegro more than doubling its tourism numbers in the first nine months of 2019, while in the first half of the year Slovenia saw 46,032 arrivals and 71,571 overnight stays by Chinese tourists, up by 22.5% and 37.6%, respectively. To put those numbers in context, the entire Chinese outbound tourism market grew by just 12% in 2019.
Two of the most viewed Chinese language videos on Slovenia on YouTube
Why such growth? One reason is the ease of visa-free entry in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the fact that both Croatia and Montenegro allow entry to anyone holding a Schengen visa, while Slovenia is already within the free movement zone. Another is the growing business connections between the region and China, most notably via the Belt & Road Initiative to link Eurasia and Africa, with Southeastern Europe being a key route to Northern Europe.
A third is the growing sophistication of Chinese travellers. While those coming to Slovenia are likely still travelling in groups, they’ve probably already been to the AAA must-see sights and cities in Europe – with Paris now receiving some one million Chinese tourists a year. Lesser known destination are thus the new frontier, and with such travellers are said to be less interested in shopping for top brands in luxury stores than in having experiences in terms of culture and outdoors. And as Ana Špik, who works for the Slovenian Tourist Board, notes, Slovenia is increasingly popular for Chinese pre- and post-wedding photography, so it’s also attracting more couples.
The whole article contains a lot more of interest, on Slovenia and the wider region, and can be read here.
STA, 22 January 2020 - Thirty years to the day, the Slovenian delegation walked out of the 14th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in Belgrade, in what participants as well as historians deem one of the key moments in the dissolution of Yugoslavia, one that presaged Slovenia's independence.
The delegates of the League of Communists of Slovenia walked out of the congress on the third day of sessions following the rejection of all of their proposals.
Slovenian representatives had called for more autonomy of party organisations in Yugoslav republics and had several proposals aimed towards greater democratisation of Yugoslavia and decentralisation of the League of Communists.
The remaining delegates reacted to the walkout with applause, laughter or boos, with the Belgrade unit of the national television labelling the move as an ill-advised act of separatism.
Following the walkout, the head of the Croatian delegation Ivica Račan proposed that the congress be suspended until the party organisations of the republics examined the situation and found solutions.
The head of the Serbian League of Communists, the future Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, said that this would constitute a dissolution of the congress and called on the remaining delegates to continue the session.
The congress was suspended in less than a week as it was held without representatives of Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia, in what many see as the start of the disintegration of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia.
The 30th anniversary of the event was marked with a ceremony on Monday hosted by President Borut Pahor, who was among the almost 120 Slovenian delegates to leave the congress on 22 January 1990.
Sociologist Franci Pivec said that the walkout had effectively ended the congress and practically excluded the "ever present" Central Committee of the party from political developments.
Pivec, who was also among the Slovenian delegates, noted that the exclusion of the the League of Communists of Yugoslavia from the political developments at the time was a major event in the run-up to Slovenia's independence.
A month ahead of the congress, the League of Communists of Slovenia adopted a document in which it "expressed its full programme of independence" and called for more Europe-oriented policies in Yugoslavia.
"We came to Belgrade determined that we are going to Europe with Yugoslavia, or without it, if they don't want to go," said Pivec.
He added that even before the congress, it had been clear that the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was "increasingly identifying itself with political views of a military junta" and "openly opposing democratisation."
Ciril Ribičič, the then president of the League of Communists of Slovenia and head of the Slovenian delegation at the congress, said that the plan was to convince others of the need to reform society and the ruling party.
He believes that leaving the congress was the right decision, as "many who were on the opposing side at the event are now sitting in the waiting room for the EU."
Ribičič admitted that it was not simple to maintain unity about the right moment for the walkout, but the delegates nevertheless had left the congress "united, with heads held high and even more convinced that we are on the right path."
President Pahor said that the walkout did not mean that Slovenian communists "returned to Ljubljana with a clear vision that we want to have a Slovenian state".
But the decision did force them to think about alternatives, while at the same time "weakening the federal authorities, in effect lessening their resistance to the democratic aspirations of Slovenians."
Slovenian leaders had diverging views at the beginning of 1990, but the achieved unity, later confirmed at the independence referendum in December, should nevertheless be seen as something exceptional, Pahor added.
In the run-up to the independence referendum, Slovenia declared economic independence from Yugoslavia in March 1990, and the following months a coalition of centre-right called DEMOS won a majority in the first democratic elections in Slovenia.
Following the decisive referendum in favour of independence on 23 December 1990, Slovenia declared independence on 25 June 1991, which was followed by the Ten-Day War and eventual independence from Yugoslavia.
According to a Statistical Office report, there were 75,991 students enrolled in tertiary education in 2018/19. This is 0.7% less than the year before and the ninth consecutive year in a row that saw a decline in number of students enrolled in higher education. Currently 34.2% fewer students are enrolled in higher education than ten years ago, when there were 115,445 college and university students studying in Slovenia.
While number of students enrolled in the 1st and 2nd Bologna cycles (Bachelors and Masters Programmes) is on decline, the number of doctoral students seems to be rising. Compared to the previous academic year, the number of enrolled students in the 3rd Bologna cycle rose from 2,824 to 3,089, or by 9.4%.
As for field of study, the largest group of students in the 2018/19 academic year were in study programs of engineering, manufacturing and construction (13,974 or 18.4%), followed by business, administration and law (13,784 or 18.1%), and health and social security (10,224 or 13.5 %). In contrast, the fewest students were enrolled in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary medicine (2,320 or 3.1%) and information and communication technologies (3,842 or 5.1%).
For more information on this data, please click here.
STA, 22 January 2020 - Slovenia has sought to convince the European Commission to loosen rules on the protection of large carnivores when populations of the animals are booming, but EU officials appear to have poured cold water on the idea at a meeting at the Environment Ministry this week.
The Brussels officials said the key goal of European policies was cohabitation with large carnivores, which means prioritising protective measures and paying out compensation in the event of livestock loss.
"The extreme measure in the event protective measures are not working is culling, provided ... that the favourable state of the population is being maintained and does not worsen," the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
It is the job of the state to strengthen communication and awareness raising, especially in the countryside and in areas where populations of large carnivores are growing, the EU officials were quoted as saying.
The statement came a day after the ministry organised a meeting on Tuesday featuring EU officials and the members of a national task force for the management of brown bear, wolf and lynx.
The populations of brown bear and wolf have been expanding in Slovenia in recent years, leading to push-back from locals living in affected areas and demands that culling, the principal management measure used in Slovenia, be intensified.
In 2019 just over 170 bears were culled out of a rapidly rising population that is estimated to number just under 1,000 animals, and five of the estimated 88 wolves on Slovenian territory.
But despite the extensive culling, Slovenia had sought additional loosening of EU-wide rules on protected species to make it even easier to control the population.
Environment Minister Simon Zajc thus called for a more flexible approach at an EU ministerial in December, with the argument that the specifics of each country ought to be taken into account.
The EU officials have now said that no such change is currently planned. Procedures may be initiated assuming such motions are backed by hard science, but the procedure is exceptionally long, the Environment Ministry said in a release after the meeting.
All our stories on bears in Slovenia are here
STA, 22 January 2020 - The household appliances maker Gorenje, owned by the Chinese conglomerate Hisense, will streamline its production by reducing the number employees in support services in production by 176 in different ways by mid-April, the management said on Wednesday. Gorenje decided for the move "because of poor business results".
The measure will affect some 720 warehouse employees, dispatchers, technologists, planners, quality control, production management and similar positions, including those that have been moved from Velenje to Ljubljana as of this year.
The share of indirect production workers at Gorenje currently stands at 29.2% and is thus 8.6 points higher than in a comparable company within the group, Hisense Refrigerator.
The Gorenje management thinks this will help boost the efficiency of production, improve the use of resources and cut labour costs.
The company also plans to modernise its technological processes, increase automation, introduce IT solutions, and optimise the work process.
The management said it would conduct all procedures related to this in line with the law and in talks with the trade union. "The procedure is expected to last until mid-April."
Several workers have already been transferred to similarly paid jobs in direct production, while some will retire, the management said.
Meanwhile, the in-house trade union expressed concern, with its president Žan Zeba telling the STA that they expected the total number of dismissals to be rather high.
The total number of workers will go down also because work contracts will not be extended for nearly 240 people at the end of January, said Zeba, adding that the union was informed about this today.
"When you add up the numbers, it gets quite worrying. They are far from forecasts about production increase," he said, also expressing worry that Gorenje would start outsourcing some of the services that are now provided within the company.
In the next phase of optimisation, the group plans to reorganise the business processes in the newly founded Hisense Gorenje Europe in Ljubljana, which has employed 880 indirect production workers as of 1 January.
Last December, the Gorenje Group estimated its last year's loss at EUR 40 million. The goal for this year is EUR 30 million in profit.
All our stories on Gorenje are here
STA, 22 January - The Public Administration Ministry is working on changes to the system of performance-based remuneration, also to make jobs in the public sector more attractive to experts and for young people who are increasingly looking for opportunities in the private sector. It also wants to change the system of promotion.
The plan was discussed at an international conference in Ljubljana on Wednesday, with Minister Rudi Medved noting that the austerity measure freezing performance bonuses in the public sector would expire in July.
Medved said that it would be ideal if the proposed changes were implemented by then or, if not, in the autumn at the latest, after they were tested with a pilot project and a consensus was reached with public sector trade unions.
The basic solutions were presented by Peter Pogačar, who noted that the current system allowed for someone to have up to 48% higher wage than another employee who did the same job.
The differences are not a consequence of the performance, but seniority, explained the head of the ministry's public sector directorate.
According to him, the government wants to abolish annual evaluation as the basis for promotion for a total of ten wage brackets. Under the proposal, promotion would be automatic over a longer period of time, up to five wage brackets.
Variable rewarding of performance would be introduced, and considerably more funds would be earmarked for this purpose, with an individual being able to receive performance bonus equalling up to 30% of their base pay.
Minister Medved said that one of the reasons was that the public sector was already facing problems with attracting experts, for example in digitalisation.
Wages in the public sector are not high, and the sector has become unattractive for young people, who are looking for opportunities in the private sector as the economy is growing and good job opportunities are popping up, he added.
For this reason, the plan is to make the system more stimulative, Medved said, adding that the experience of countries which had a long tradition in this field had been examined, even at today's conference.
Daniel Gerson of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that performance-based remuneration models should be implemented cautiously and gradually, and unwanted consequences should be monitored.
The conference also heard that the capability of the management to evaluate how well someone performs and how high the reward should be should also be questioned, and that the criteria to be used would also need to be negotiated.
Jakob Počivavšek, one of the top public sector trade unionists, referring to Gerson said that the two main problems were the competences of the management and prudent implementation.
"I claim that we have major issues in Slovenia with this," he said, adding that there were already elements in the pay system related to performance and quality of work that could be applied in Slovenia today.
Počivavšek labelled as misguiding the claim that promotions had so far been exclusively tied to seniority and said that the new system must not be introduced at the expense of the basic pay.
But Medved reiterated for trade unions today that they could not count on an "influx of fresh funds from the budget" for performance bonuses and that the wage bill would not be increased significantly.
The ministry highlighted in a statement in the afternoon that the purpose of proposed changes was not to reduce funding for wages in the public sector, but to increase opportunities for variable rewarding.
STA, 22 January 2020 - The Slovenian men's handball team made it among the top four teams at the European championships after finishing second in the main round Group II play in Sweden's Malmö. Slovenia will play reigning European champions Spain in the semi-finals on Friday.
It is only the second time in the nation's history the handball team made it to the medal round at European handball championships, following Slovenia's silver medal at home in 2004.
Slovenia entered the main round as an undefeated team in the preliminary group F in Gothenburg, racking up three consecutive wins against Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Slovenians followed up the winning streak with a 30:27 victory over Iceland last Friday, and then suffered their first loss at the tournament on Sunday at the hands of Hungary (28:29).
On Tuesday, Slovenia defeated Portugal 29:24 to secure their first goal at the tournament - a berth in one of the three qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Today, Slovenia lost 30:33 to the still undefeated Norway, but had already made it to the semi-finals prior to the match as the main rival for the top two spots, Hungary, lost to Portugal 26:34 earlier today.
Slovenian head coach Ljubomir Vranješ told reporters that "it is a great day for us" and that "this is my best defeat ever", referring to Slovenia having already qualified for the semi-finals before the match.
He said that the tactics for Norway had not been used at all, as the players "put it in the pocket for later", adding that he was saving the energy of his players a little bit for Friday's encounter against Spain.
In the semi-finals, it will be important to be both physically and mentally ready, and "we are going there well prepared and fully focused," Vranješ concluded.
Regardless of the outcome of the medal round in Stockholm, Slovenia will play at one of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments, hosted by France, Germany and Norway between 17 and 19 April.
Only the winner of the ongoing European championships will get the direct ticket for Tokyo from Europe, in addition to the reigning world champions Denmark.
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
Nada Drobne Popović becomes full-fledged Petrol chairman
LJUBLJANA - Nada Drobne Popović was appointed as the full-fledged chairman of Slovenia's largest energy group Petrol, after she shifted from chief supervisor to acting chairman following the resignation of the Tomaž Berločnik-led management at the end of October. She was picked as the best of three candidates who had presented their vision of Petrol's development, and given 21 days to form her management team, which will need to the supervisors' endorsement to be appointed for a five-year term. The official reason for the resignation of the former management was differences in views on Petrol's strategy with the supervisors.
Cerar discusses Libya, Iran, and Rupnik verdict annulment with MPs
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar discussed with MPs on the Foreign Policy Committee the situation in Libya and Iran and the recent annulment of the 1946 verdict against a collaborationist Slovenian general. Cerar commended the EU's determination to boost its diplomatic efforts for Libya. He noted the conflict there was affecting the entire region, so if it continued, there was a risk of terrorist groups growing stronger and illegal migration intensifying. As for Iran, he said the EU was still making efforts to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. Opposition SDS MP Andrej Šircelj asked about a report by Iranian press agency IRNA about Slovenia allegedly supporting Iran's position that the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani was a violation of international law, which Cerar said was an example of "fake news".
Top court: Non-parliamentary parties not unequal in election campaign debates
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court has rejected a petition by the non-parliamentary Sloga party to examine legislative provisions allowing public media to host separate campaign debates for parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties. In a 6:3 vote held last December, it rejected the petition because it had already ascertained in the past that such distinction in the media in election campaigns is not unconstitutional. Judge Klemen Jaklič issued a dissenting opinion, arguing the obligation of at least one or two such debates or face-offs "would be a major value added to any democracy".
Upper chamber to challenge bail-in legislation in Constitutional Court
LJUBLJANA - Nearly a fortnight after the central bank requested a constitutional review of the legislation providing legal recourse to those who lost their investments during the banking sector bailout of 2013, the National Council decided to follow suit. It believes that the legislation should be annulled, arguing that the act is unconstitutional in that it prevents the bail-in participants from taking the central bank to court if they decide to apply for a lump sum compensation by mid-March. Moreover, councillors said that the act did not meet its purpose, that is to provide solutions for segments of the banking act that had been found unconstitutional.
Telekom looking for strategic partner to recapitalise Planet TV
LJUBLJANA - Telcoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije said it had launched the process to find a strategic partner to recapitalise broadcaster Planet TV, pointing out that its supervisory board took note of the launch of this process. No details have been released though. The newspaper Delo said it was questionable whether any investor would be willing to buy the broadcaster. The paper heard from several sources that there were considerations about the transferral of Planet TV to the bad bank.
Communist congress walkout a major independence milestone
LJUBLJANA - 30 years to the day, the Slovenian delegation walked out of the 14th and last congress of Yugoslavia's League of Communists in Belgrade, in what was one of the key moments in the dissolution of Yugoslavia, one that presaged Slovenia's independence. The delegates of Slovenia's League of Communists walked out on the third day of sessions after all of their proposals, which envisaged Yugoslavia's greater democratisation and more autonomy of party organisations in federal republics, were rejected. The Belgrade unit of the national TV labelled the move an ill-advised act of separatism.
EU not in favour of laxer management of large carnivores
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia had sought to convince the European Commission to loosen rules on the protection of large carnivores when populations of the animals are booming, but the EU officials said at Tuesday's Ljubljana meeting with the national task force for the management of brown bear, wolf and lynx the key goal of European policies was cohabitation with large carnivores. This means prioritising protective measures and paying out compensation in case of livestock loss rather than intensifying culling, the main management measure used in Slovenia recently.
Gorenje to cut number of staff
VELENJE - The household appliances maker Gorenje, owned by the Chinese conglomerate Hisense, will streamline its production by reducing the number employees in support services in production by 176 in different ways by mid-April. The management said this was "because of poor business results". Several workers have already been transferred to similarly paid jobs in direct production, while some will retire. In the next phase of optimisation, the group plans to reorganise the business processes in the newly founded Hisense Gorenje Europe in Ljubljana, which has employed 880 indirect production workers as of 1 January. The in-house trade union expressed concern, expecting the total number of dismissals to be rather high.
Slovenia in semi-finals of European Handball Championship
MALMÖ, Sweden - The Slovenian men's handball team made it among the top four teams at the European championships after finishing second in the main round Group II play. Slovenia will face reigning European champions Spain in the semi-finals, however it has already secured its first goal at the tournament - a berth in one of the three qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Conventa showcases record number of exhibitors
LJUBLJANA - Conventa, a two-day business-to-business event for conference tourism, got under way, featuring 146 exhibitors from 16 countries, including a record 30 new exhibitors. "Conventa is the only such trade show in the world where 85% of the invited guests are new," Miha Kovačič, director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau organising the event, told reporters. He said they turn away more than 60% of the registered invited guests in order to make the organisation of the event as high-quality as possible. Focusing on New Europe, the event is intended for B2B meetings, conferences and motivational travels.
Ambassador Rahten honoured with top Austrian decoration
LJUBLJANA - Former Slovenian Ambassador to Austria Andrej Rahten has been decorated with the Austrian Grand Decoration in Gold with Sash for his contribution to the strengthening of ties between the two countries. The second highest decoration for services to Austria was presented to Rahten by Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Sigrid Berka at her residence in Ljubljana on Monday. Rahten, a 46-year-old historian, served in Vienna between 2013 and 2017.
Pahor in Jerusalem for World Holocaust Forum
JERUSALEM, Israel - President Borut Pahor arrived in Jerusalem to take part in a series of events marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. He met his counterpart Reuven Rivlin, with whom he agreed that awareness is key if the world wants to avoid the same atrocities again. The pair said that relations between the countries were built on firm foundations and a true friendship. Pahor also met Holocaust survivor and Yad Vashem associate Miriam Steiner Aviezer, whom he decorated with the Medal of Merit in 2017 for her contribution to preserving the memory of Slovenian Righteous Among the Nations.
Šarec discusses AI in public sector
DAVOS, Switzerland - Attending the World Economic Forum (WEF), Prime Minister Marjan Šarec participated in a debate on bringing artificial intelligence (AI) closer to the public sector. Artificial intelligence has the potential to serve humanity and benefit individuals and society, he highlighted, adding that all stakeholders should work on AI development and management to reap its benefits. Slovenia also plans to focus on this issue during its EU Council presidency in the second half of 2021, he said.
Bad bank starts presenting its housing plan to MPs
LJUBLJANA - The management of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) started presenting to MPs its initiative to use the assets it has not yet sold to pursue housing plans, which would mean extending its life beyond 2022. Some political parties are reluctant about the idea, with the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deeming it worthy of consideration.
Passports that saved many Jews on display in Maribor
MARIBOR - A documentary exhibition Passports for Life opened at the University of Maribor Library, honouring the Polish diplomats who issued fake passports of Latin American countries in Switzerland's Bern during WWII to save Jews. The keynote speaker at the exhibition opening was Uri Strauss from Switzerland, who survived the Holocaust thanks to a fake Paraguayan passport. The exhibition, produced by Poland, is part of a project bringing a series of events across Slovenia's that commemorate the victims of the Holocaust as part of events marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
SFC launching comprehensive online database on Slovenian film
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Film Centre (SFC) is planning the completion of eight new feature films and three documentaries this year, and launch a Slovenian version of IMDb, the first national web platform offering comprehensive information on domestic film since its beginnings. SFC director Nataša Bučar told the press the centre had been granted EUR 5.5 million from the state budget for 2020. The sum is slightly higher than in 2019, but Bučar noted a November 2018 decision by the parliamentary Culture Committee that the funding was to increase proportionately each year to EUR 11 million by 2022. Last year Slovenian films attracted an audience of 160,000, 20% more than the year before.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
The National Institute of Chemistry reported last week that it has acquired a new European project, NAIMA (Na-ion materials as essential components to manufacture robust battery cells for non-automotive applications), in which it will participate as a partner in the development of new sodium-ion batteries.
The NAIMA project aims to demonstrate the cost efficiency and robustness of sodium-ion batteries and prove them to be one of the best alternatives to the current lithium-based systems of energy storage. The new energy storage solutions would address the current problems of lithium-ion batteries, mostly produced in Asia, and allow for the localization of the entire chain of production. The main problems with lithium-ion batteries are in the scarcity of materials and sometimes safety, when flammable electrolytes are used in high energy density appliances.
The new EU-funded NAIMA project was kickstarted in Amiens, France and awarded a Horizon2020 programme grant of almost €8 million by the European Commission. The duration of the programme will be 36 months, having started December 1, 2019.
The project will test six prototypes of Na-ion batteries in three different business scenarios. These scenarios will provide concrete evidence of the technology's competitiveness in three real-world settings – renewable production, industry and households.
New carbon materials will be developed at the Department of Materials Chemistry of the National Institute of Chemistry for use in prototype anodes of Na-ion batteries.
Euronews reports that Slovenian researchers at the National Institute of Biology (Nacionalni inštitut za Biologijo), working in cooperation with a team from Israel, are developing a way to remove microplastic particles from the oceans – using jellyfish mucus. The gelatinous mucus, which the jellyfish secrete when under stress, is being used to develop a TRL 5-6 prototype microplastics filter that could, if successful, could be one approach to reduce sea pollution.
Slovenia is especially well-suited for such work, as the Adriatic often suffers from “jellyfish blooms”, destructive invasions of these simple yet fascinating creatures, caused by climate change and overfishing.
The work, which is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative, is part of the broader GoJelly project, which is also examining the use of jellyfish, caught or farmed, in agricultural fertilisers – due to the high levels of phosphate, nitrogen and potassium they contain – and as a food, with jellyfish already consumed in parts of Asia (see the related papers “Mediterranean jellyfish as novel food: effects of thermal processing on antioxidant, phenolic, and protein contents” and “The attitudes of Italian consumers towards jellyfish as novel food”).