STA, 13 August 2019 - Japanese and Slovenian partners signed two agreements in Ljubljana on Tuesday that pave the way for cooperation in development and research of robotised rehabilitation devices.
Fujita Health University signed one of the accords with the University of Ljubljana and the other with the Ljubljana-based URI Soča Rehabilitation Institute, and Toyota Motor Corporation.
The signing was attended by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti, who praised it as a major paving stone for further cooperation between Slovenia and Japan in the field.
"Cooperation between Slovenia and Japan has seen tremendous progress in recent years," said Cantarutti, praising the agreements as an "excellent example of cooperation between science and research and business", and a new opportunity to upgrade medical rehabilitation robotics.
Bilateral cooperation was also praised by Japanese Ambassador to Slovenia Masaharu Yoshida, who noted that Fujita Health University was a leading institution in the field in Japan. The university operates Japan's largest university hospital, treating 1.83 million patients a year.
"The agreement signed today will allow us to find a common path in development of rehabilitation robots and, above all, to put them on the market," said Robert Cugelj, director general of URI Soča.
The institute's main goal is to get its expertise and technology into the real world, and sell it. "In this way we generate value added mainly for patients, both those from Slovenia and elsewhere," said Cugelj.
The head of the institute's research and development department, Zlatko Matjačić, presented two projects that formed the basis for cooperation.
One is a rehab robot to train patients how to maintain balance and movement coordination during walking, which is being developed by the Slovenian institute, and the other is a robot developed by Fujita Health University and Toyota.
These are two exoskeletal devices focusing on two different areas. "The Japanese have focused on the leg's function and support during walk, while we're focusing on the integrated function of balance and coordination," Matjačić said.
They would now like to combine their expertise, technology and experience into a now concept to help in the rehabilitation of patients after stroke.
Fujita Health University professor and president Eiichi Saitoh was happy that the university was linking with the world's leading rehabilitation institutions, expressing belief that expertise is expanded and enriched through such cooperation.
Keisuke Suga of Toyota's BR-Medicare hailed the new partnership, which said would help implement Toyota's vision of mobility for all. The department headed by Suga specializes in development and production of devices used in patient rehabilitation.
The Japanese delegation already met Health Ministry State Secretary Simona Repar Bornšek on Monday and will be received along with URI Soča officials by President Borut Pahor on Wednesday.
STA, 8 April 2019 - The Japanese robot manufacturer Yaskawa, the world's leading manufacturer of industrial robots, inaugurated a new robot factory and a European robotics R&D centre in the town of Kočevje (SE) on Monday, two years after construction was launched. The facilities are to employ some 200 people.
The EUR 25m investment has been co-funded by the state, which chipped in EUR 5.6m.
The director of the recently founded Kočevje-based company Yaskawa Europe Robotics, Hubert Kosler, told the press after the opening that the new factory would complement the production capacities in Japan and China, satisfying some 80% of the European market's demand for Motoman robots.
The new factory in Kočevje is expected to produce up to 10,000 industrial robots per year, manufacturing seven types of them. At the moment it employs 50 people and aims to double the number by next year. By 2023, it should employ some 200 people.
The president and executive director of Yaskawa Europe, Bruno Schnekenburger, said that the new facility was Yaskawa's response to the growing demand for industrial robots in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia. The company is thus striving to localise its supply chains and reduce delivery periods.
Yaskawa also believes that the reconstructed railway line between Kočevje and Ljubljana will enable a quicker connection with the Port of Koper. Freight trains should start running on the railway in the coming days, according to the STA's unofficial information.
Addressing the opening, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressed satisfaction that the factory is located in an area that was often labelled as undeveloped and neglected part of the country. This sentiment was also echoed by Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.
Šarec prised Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič as well as the previous government, for seeing the project through. He said that Slovenia had good relations with Japan and that these would only improve. "The best ideas are born in cooperation."
Yaskawa Europe regional director Manfred Stern pointed out today that the company's investments in Slovenia as well as recent investments Germany, France, and Sweden were the strategic part of Yaskawa's European initiatives set out in its global corporate goals.
Yaskawa had picked Kočevje as the location of its first facility for industrial robots not only in Europe but also outside Asia. Slovenia will also serve as the distribution nexus point for the robots manufactured in Japan.
The robotics R&D centre will improve the company's cooperation with local faculties and institutes. Yaskawa already cooperates with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Electrical Engineering as well as the Jožef Stefan Institute.
The company first entered Slovenia in 1994 when Yaskawa Electric took over the Germany-based Slovenian company Motoman Robotec. Two years later, it founded a company for robotic cells production Yaskawa Ristro in the town of Ribnica near Kočevje. Yaskawa Slovenija is also situated in Ribnica and manages the company's sales in Slovenia and other markets of the former Yugoslavia.
Stern signed a letter of intent with the Economy Ministry and the Kočevje municipality in May 2018, aiming to launch facilities for the production of electric motors and electronic components, which would create up to 250 jobs.
The investment is estimated to be worth EUR 20-30m, with the production being scheduled to start within two years.
STA, 3 December 2018 - Yaskawa's emerging plant in Kočevje, which was visited by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Japanese Ambassador Masaharu Yoshida and the boss of the Slovenian subsidiary of the Japanese robotics group Hubert Kosler on Monday, will start test runs in January and become fully operational in the second half of next year.
Yaskawa is expected to obtain the operating permit for the plant, where seven types of robots will be manufactured, this month and launch test production in January.
So far the company has employed 30 people, but the number is to grow to between 60 and 70 by March and to 120-150 by March 2020.
The EUR 24.6m investment is then to start operating at full capacity in the second half of the coming year, with the production expected to reach 6,000 robots a year. By 2023 the headcount is to reach around 200.
Economy Minister Počivalšek sees this as a confirmation of Slovenia's status as "an excellent investment location", while Yaskawa's investment will also make the country an important regional player in robotics.
In addition to the plant, the Japanese group plans to establish an R&D centre to strengthen and upgrade cooperation with faculties and institutes including the Faculty Of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Jožef Stefan Institute.
Počivalšek also pointed out that this plant was a good initiation for another Yaskawa investment planned in Slovenia, a plant that would produce motors, servo regulators and inverters.
Production at plants in Slovenia is to satisfy about 75% of needs for Europe, Middle East and Africa. For the rest of the robots coming from Japan, Slovenia will serve as the main distribution hub.
All out stories on robotics in Slovenia are here