Rok Uršič, leading researcher and successful businessman explains his philosophy: “consistent support for worldwide initiatives.” And admits “I partly contribute to lower European efficiency by saying that I’m proud that something was done in Slovenia”
Rok Uršič, Bachelor of Engineering Technology, is the 45-year-old founder, owner and CEO of the company Instrumentation Technologies that develops and designs specific technological solutions for particle accelerators, with its clients located on all continents with the exception of Africa. The company, which has shown record economic growth, employs 30 people and is located in the industrial zone of Solkan, a town adjacent to Nova Gorica, Slovenia.
Q What part does your company play in the global picture?
A The company has been present in the global market since its very establishment 10 years ago in a small room in Solkan. It developed from my vision that Solkan, a Slovene town bordering Italy, should become home to a company whose products and services would make it a world player. As soon as I graduated, I was attracted by the idea of being part of something transcending Slovene borders. This belief grew stronger when I started working in Triest and later in the USA and Switzerland. My goal has always been to work in fields that have a global dimension. Globality is the essential element of our company, the foundation stone upon which our values, culture and, last but not least, the image of the firm are based.
Q You’ve described the beginnings of your company in terms of geography. Does the fact that you are located in Central Europe, in Slovenia, in a border region bear any special significance?
A Not directly. Perhaps it has to do with the Slovene habit of always repeating that we are small and cannot go big. But greatness is a matter of heart. I know from experience that we have all it takes to write an important story here.
Q As a global player, how do you differ in terms of organisation, recruitment policy, and ongoing education?
A What really counts is the fact that the majority of the employees are proud to work here. And another important fact: when it comes to technological development, Slovenia still lags behind other countries, and lower flexibility of the support environment can sometimes work to our disadvantage. But the other side of the coin is that we are highly differentiated in such an environment and, as a result, a magnet for new staff. We offer an ideal working climate to people who are dynamic and willing to accept new challenges and a certain amount of risk.
Q How far is Europe, in your opinion, from achieving its famous Lisbon goal of becoming the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based society in the world?
A I believe there’s nothing wrong with the goal itself, we just have problems realising it. Americans, for example, are much more agile decision-takers than Europeans. Perhaps that is due to the fact that they already are the United States, while we still have to become united. Being more agile, they make mistakes, but they also correct them more rapidly. European and national structures should pay more attention to ‘bottom-up’ initiatives. Just by establishing the infrastructure that will facilitate co-operation between research and development, and industry, they will not make that happen. Besides, they should also support those breakthrough initiatives that boast global potential. Europe should adopt both approaches simultaneously. It should also develop a system of supporting those initiatives that cannot conveniently be pigeonholed at present. If someone had said ten years ago: “What the hell are you going to do with high tech in Solkan?” our story would have never begun. When the Slovene Prime Minister Janez Janša paid us a visit, we presented him a far-reaching initiative that doesn’t only concern our company. His positive response and his immediate support for the project proved a positive experience for me.
Q Europe is characterized not only by strong national interests, but also by strong national nonsensical claims. Do the fields of knowledge and technology reach beyond the national or even continental?
A I have never separated knowledge from the emotional element that is always present in people, and part of this emotional element is national affiliation. I have to admit that I partly contribute to lower European efficiency by saying that I’m proud that something was done in Slovenia. The feeling, “Yes, this was done in Europe” comes only later. I’d say it’s the other way round in the USA. On the one hand, such attitude towards nationality, which will not die out that soon, makes Europe slower, but on the other it has many advantages. x