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Japanese investors discover Slovenia
Photo: Yaskawa

A decade ago, there was hardly any business going on between Japan and Slovenia. Now Japan is the 12th largest investor country in Slovenia, while many Slovenian companies see the Olympic games as an opportunity to enter the Japanese market.

In the last ten years, Japanese investors have discovered Slovenia and its unique advantages. The breakthrough came with Yaskawa’s decision to build its European robot production and development center in Kočevje, a small town south of Ljubljana. Immediately after the start of operations in Kočevje’s factory in late 2018, Yaskawa began to expand its capabilities and added a mechatronic plant. Another company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, built a medical elastomer factory in Logatec, near Ljubljana. Regular production started in 2020, but Sumitomo already announced that it will be expanding its capabilities, making the plant in Logatec the company’s major manufacturing location for medical rubber products within the group.

Lendava based welding equipment manufacturer Varstroj was taken over by Japanese Daihen in 2014: Daihen Varstroj is now increasingly focusing on advanced automated and robotic welding machines. Another success story is that of paint and varnish maker Helios, which became part of the Kansai Paint group in 2019.

The Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and Hitachi, together with Slovenian power grid operator ELES, have built a smart cloud-based energy management system. Slovenia was the perfect location for such a pilot project both due to its size and its level of technological sophistication.

A high level of expertise is also why Toyota’s Medicare company develops rehabilitation robots together with Fujita Health University from Nagoya and Ljubljana’s University Rehabilitation Institute. Apart from an advanced technological level, there are two other reasons why Japanese companies are coming to Slovenia. Firstly, its geostrategic location and logistic infrastructure is optimal due to the major Adriatic port of Koper. Secondly, a level of skills and precision comparable to Switzerland or Germany, but at a competitive price.

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