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The best innovations of 2023
SIJ Metal Ravne developed special steels for the ITER, world's largest fusion reactor. / Photo: SIJ Metal Ravne

Ten of the best innovations receive the national Golden Innovation Award: the winners come from some of the country's largest companies, Slovenia based R&D centers owned by global groups, as well as from family businesses and entrepreneurs.

The pharmaceutical industry has been one of the sectors receiving the largest number of awards since the prize’s beginnings. This year is no exception: three gold medals went to Slovenian pharma developers. Lek, a Sandoz company, received the National Gold Award for the development of Sugammadex, “an injection solution used for the reversal of neuromuscular blockade after anaesthesia”. Krka, a Slovenian generic drug manufacturer, won first place for its range of medicines for type 2 diabetes. A Slovenian subsidiary of Novartis convinced the jury with its breakthrough technology for more environmentally sustainable and efficient production of biological molecules.

Two golden innovation awards were won by members of Slovenian Steel Industry (SIJ) group. SIJ Ravne Metal developed two special steels and one alloy used in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), described as “the most complicated engineering project in human history”. Very few companies around the world can develop materials for a reactor where plasma reaches a temperature of 150 million degrees Celsius. SIJ Acroni won the gold for its SINOXX 1100 very high strength premium steel used in constructions where a high strength-to-weight ratio is crucial.

The automotive sector is represented by Hidria. The tech company received the top award for its electrical connection of the exhaust gas system which “drastically reduces harmful emissions during a cold engine start”. BSH Nazarje, Slovenian subsidiary of Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte group, is the largest small home appliances manufacturer in Europe with a prominent R&D center: the company got awarded for its innovative Ergomaster hand blender. Cetis, which specialises in security printing, received the golden award for developing the new Slovenian biometric identity card which combines “cutting edge technology, sophisticated security design, and the highest requirements of international standards”. In Spring Cetis’ design also won the title of “the best new national ID card in Europe, Africa and Middle East” at the High Security Printing EMEA Conference in Abu Dhabi.

Another golden award went to family business IQwood: the company constructs buildings with wooden elements without any adhesives, chemicals, or metals. The elements are joined together with wooden dowels not visible from the outside – a perfect solution for healthy and eco-friendly homes. The tenth Golden Innovation Award went to an entrepreneur. Neurobeans is a unique brain training method for adolescents combining movement and brain exercises. The method developed by cognitive trainer Gregor Bohnec aims at bettering performance in school, at work, or in sports.

In addition to honouring the ten best innovations of the year with the Golden Award, the organiser also recognized other outstanding innovations with 22 Silver and 11 Bronze Awards. Alongside these accolades, a special award was presented for groundbreaking innovation, while two additional awards were given for "innovation challenges". The national award ceremony in September was organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia.

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