Today, BTC City Ljubljana’s Crystal Palace saw the 5th Forum: Society 5.0 in Slovenia. The event was organised by the Slovenia–Japan Business Council in cooperation with BTC and with the support of the Republic of Slovenia Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia, and the Embassy of Japan in Slovenia. The event addressed the question of how to successfully do business with Japan. The participants showcased successful Japanese-Slovenian projects and issued calls for cooperation with a view to developing innovations for a better and fairer society.
The event brought together more than 140 representatives from various industries, the academic sphere, politics, and the media. The guests discussed opportunities and challenges presented by Slovenian-Japanese collaboration in the field of advanced technologies affecting life in general and business in particular. The event focused on the Japanese development initiative Society 5.0, whose goal it is to foster harmonious coexistence between the virtual and the real world, balance economic development, tackle societal challenges, and create a better, super-smart, and more comfortable society with people at the forefront.
Mag. Aleksander Mervar, Chairman of the Slovenian-Japanese business club and Director of ELES, explained the purpose of Society 5.0: “Humanity and technology have been closely linked since the beginning. We cannot even imagine the future of humanity without rapid scientific and technological development. With Society 5.0, we are taking on the extremely challenging task of organising human society in such a way that scientific and technological development will benefit all people, protect our environment, and facilitate the longterm development of human society. The Japanese development concept Society 5.0 is a suitable foundation for Slovenia since it encompasses all the issues currently faced by humanity as a whole, in addition to which Slovenia is in a good position to cooperate with this economic powerhouse to begin with.”
Already, Slovenia has forged excellent partnerships with Japan in many fields, such as mobility, logistics, robotics, energy, medicine, and others. The concept of Society 5.0 enables collaboration on a much higher level. Slovenia has the opportunity to become Japan’s European partner in the common development of this incredibly complex idea. In realising this vision, the plan is to establish a joint expert team, which will prepare a strategy for the implementation of Society 5.0 in Slovenia.
Jože Mermal, President of the BTC Management Board, emphasised the leading position of BTC City Ljubljana in advanced development infrastructure in Slovenia: “At BTC, we are committed to technological transformation inside and out. In addition to introducing new technologies for our own business purposes, we manage the unique ecosystem of the BTC Living Lab, which possesses a diversified physical and digital infrastructure. We make it possible for our partners to enjoy a real research and development focused environment for the testing of advanced technologies in the field of logistics, smart grids, commerce, robotics and mobility, as well as their interaction with people. We have the optimal ecosystem for our Japanese partners to adapt the strategy of Society 5.0 to the European environment right in the heart of Europe. Despite the geographic and cultural remoteness of Japan, I see a lot of common ground here, ranging from the introduction of new technologies up to the careful management of natural resources, which is something BTC has highlighted in our own developmental strategy. By cooperating in the Society 5.0 initiative we are building a smart future, one where technology enriches peoples’ lives.”
Event participants were inspired by dr. Yoshiaki Ichikawa, visiting professor at Japan’s Tokyo University, expert on advanced technologies and standardisation, senior chief engineer at Hitachi, and chairman of the technical sub-commissions ISO/TC 268/SC 1 (“Smart Community Infrastructures”) and IEC/TC 111 (“Environmental standardization for electrical and electronic products and systems”). As an experienced expert in his field, he presented his views on the implementation of Society 5.0 in Slovenia: “Society 5.0 is the next stage after the information revolution; it represents the advent of new technologies such as A.I. Big Data, and IoT. But technology is only one aspect of Society 5.0. The second aspect is business. Society 5.0 will promote innovation and a collaborative business ecosystem, in which a combination of different types of companies will work together to promote each other in a mutually beneficial manner. The final, third feature is the sustainable aspect. It is really nice for human beings to become happy while also ensuring sustainability and environmental protection, and this society aims to achieve sustainability in accordance with SDG 17 goals. All of these three aspects combined represent the new style of a future society. In that sense, it is not easy to materialize it because in order to do that, we need to change the business behaviour in the relevant country. I think that in Slovenia, BTC is a great place, kind of like a pilot testing field for anything new, so I very much expect that BTC will have the main role in implementing Society 5.0.”
The event also resonated in political circles. Participants included Zdravko Počivalšek, the Minister of Economic Development and Technology, who said: “The goals of Society 5.0 are aligned with the Slovenian economic slogan ‘green, creative, smart’, so we definitely strongly support this initiative. I can even claim that we live it in Slovenia. Cooperating with Japan is of incredible importance to Slovenia, because we are bonded by the same values, a hardworking and highly educated workforce, an environment that is beneficial to investments, and innovation. We already have a series of successful projects behind us – and the common denominator of them all is technological development. I am convinced that together we will successfully tackle the challenge of how to utilise technology to the benefit of humanity also in the scope of Society 5.0. After all, it is the essence of our striving for a better tomorrow.”
There are many projects that testify to the liveliness and success of economic collaboration between Slovenia and Japan. One of them is project NEDO, which involves the Japanese agency NEDO, Hitachi, and ELES. Its aim is to establish a smart grid in Slovenia. In addition to project NEDO, the event showcased many other different types of projects and companies, including Toyota Adria, which is developing new modes of mobility with an emphasis on co-sharing, and LIT-Transit, which is developing public transportation solutions for a mobility of the future. Cosylab presented the Slovenian Proton Center, which will bring together partners from the fields of medicine, science, and the economy, making way for the most modern forms of oncological treatment, and Yaskawa and RoboticsX introduced Slovenia as the European centre of robotics.
About the initiative Society 5.0
Society 5.0 is a development-oriented concept, whose initiator is the Japanese business federation Keidanren. Its goal is to foster harmonious coexistence between the virtual and the real world, balance economic development, tackle societal challenges, and create a better, super-smart, and more comfortable society with people at the forefront. The Japanese government is promoting the initiative all over the world. Among other things, it was presented at the World Economic Forums (WEF) 2018 and 2019. The initiative represents an opportunity for a deeper collaboration between Slovenia and Japan in the fundamental fields of Society 5.0, such as robotics, energy, mobility, and artificial intelligence.
Maja Oven, Director of Market Communication and Public Relations Sector
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PHOTO: Studio Bomba