The unofficial part of the Assembly began on Monday, November 15, 2021 with a virtual presentation of the Digital Center of Slovenia and some of the best and most innovative projects found in the Slovenian economy. The participants in the SME Assembly learned how Slovenian companies are tackling the digital transition in order to ensure further sustainable and green development.
The afternoon part included a lecture by professor and climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj. She spoke about the effects of climate change on SMEs, focused on the role of SMEs and businesses in achieving the transition to a sustainable economy, and explained how companies could prepare for and adapt to tackling climate change.
The day ended with an evening reception at which the Slovenian Presidency presented some Slovenian traditional crafts, arts and cuisine. Jernej Salecl, Director of the Directorate for Internationalization, Entrepreneurship and Technology at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency and spoke about the need to place green and digital transformation at the heart of all SME strategies. .
Official opening of the SME Assembly held on Tuesday, 16 November 201, with introductory speeches by Thierry Breton, responsible for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), Zdravko Počivalšek, Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and Christoph Leitl, President of Eurochambres.
It is in the introductory address Minister Počivalšek commended the Green Agreement, which will allow countries to reshape their economies and bring them to climate neutrality by 2050. The Commissioner spoke of our collective responsibility to ensure that SMEs embark on a recovery path as soon as possible, and the President of Eurochambres emphasized not only the backbone of the European economy, but also the backbone of our society.
The official opening was followed by a series of parallel panel discussions and workshops. Discussions focused on topics ranging from the impact of the SME Conference on building an entrepreneurial culture, new opportunities for family tourism, the role of SMEs in area- and place-based industrial policies, SME support, to a mission to rebuild our oceans and waters by 2030. Success stories were also presented, involving entrepreneurs who were successful during the COVID-19 pandemic and were preparing for a sustainable and digital recovery. In addition, there was a political hackathon on ensuring the EU’s strategic independence in MedTech and a discussion on the importance of intellectual property for SMEs and new ways of working. One discussion focused on empowering girls and women with entrepreneurial and digital competencies. The discussion focused on the importance of entrepreneurship for women and girls and the skills they need to develop in the education system, including digital skills.
On the second day in the evening, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards and the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards were presented. In the category Support for Sustainable Transition, the Slovenian company Iskraemeco won with the Green Penguin project, and the Slovenian Center for Creativity was also among the finalists.
The last day of the conference was devoted to discussing recovery and resilience plans that will mitigate the economic and social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and make the European economy and society more sustainable and resilient to challenges. At the end of the Assembly, Slovenian SME Envoy Jernej Salecl officially handed over the organization of the SME 2022 conference to his Czech counterpart for SMEs, Marian Piechi.