Mr Boris Koprivnikar is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia. He manages activities which are an integral part of the Centre of Government and focus on digital transformation.

As Chief Digital Officer he initiated an ambitious vision of Slovenia to become ‘a green reference country in digital Europe’ in which he aspires to bring together interests of the State, economy and citizens to establish a digital ecosystem.

In part one of our interview, Minister Koprivnikar explains what is means to be a green reference country in digital Europe.

“At the beginning of our term in 2014, we recognised the enormous potential for the state administration, and society as a whole, in the field of digitalisation. Digitalisation is merely a tool for faster development, optimisation of processes, collaboration and openness. It brings completely new organisational models, products, marketing forms, and ways of ensuring resources. That is why the initiative Slovenia, a green reference country in a digital Europe was coined.”

Green reference definitions

“‘Green’ is environment-friendly technology, and citizen-friendly, so that it improves quality of life and creates new and sustainable business opportunities.

‘Reference’ is building comprehensive systemic solutions at national level, with which we wish to show how new technologies, business models and open data can form more efficient public systems. We gladly co-create and share with other countries, and are pleased if [the systems] are recognised as good practice. Our fundamental focus is not designing new innovations, but using existing technologies and solutions.

Of course, the creation of such reference system solutions is not only a technological challenge; it incorporates so many various factors. This may be easier to establish in Slovenia than in a significantly larger country… I believe that a culture of collaboration, trust and co-creation is essential to successfully implement a number of advantages of modern technology.

The opportunity for Slovenia is in collaborating with global corporations, trendsetters and the numerous startups which have welcomed dialogue with the State with open arms.”

Creating conditions to innovate

“In the digital world there are no physical borders. For smaller or less developed countries, digital technology is an opportunity to gain on the global market or reduce their development gap.

The State is not only prepared to use new entrepreneurial ideas, but wishes to critically form them into system solutions. This is the direction we are taking with all our solutions and consequently are mitigating borders between ministries, businesses, and various social groups, and thus promoting understanding and cooperation. For this cooperation to take place, the State must understand in-depth the technologies and new business models, and design policies that represent [everyone’s] interests.”

Sharing the gains from development

“The well-being of the citizens must be in the forefront, and not adapting [society] for the narrow business interest of a particular corporation. The main focus in Slovenia lies on regulating new business models, which can come as a complete surprise to more traditional countries, and ensuring the safety and well-being of citizens, which with rapid development sometimes is forgotten.”

Slovenia in 2020, 2030, 2050

“We will witness countless technological innovations, which will be the driving force of future development of Slovenia.

I believe that the greatest advances will be the complex interconnected systems and technologies, increasingly intertwined and in closer communication. The result of this will be a cognitive environment which will ensure supply of basic commodities and clean energy, and anticipate our needs and wishes every step of the way. It will offer us such support that our work will be more productive and creative.

These technological innovations will quietly creep into our way of life – education, entertainment, work and communication – but our physical world will not be as radically changed as some might predict or was depicted by futurists in the past.

We will still climb beautiful mountains and we will still ride a boat on a picturesque lake. I will still enjoy windsurfing on our coast. However, the car will drive me there by itself. And when I come home after a long and tiring day, an energising drink will wait for me in the fridge and a fresh shirt at arm’s length, as the support systems will undoubtedly know that I am in need of refreshment and relaxation!”