Dr. Jure Knez, president and cofounder of the high-tech company DEWESoft, which is developing its measurement devices for NASA (amongst others), talked to us about the challenges of finding highly motivated employees, the importance of Maribor for high-tech companies, and the meaning of partnerships for results that could not be achieved without partners. But also about the PODIM Conference, saying: “It is really wonderful to see young entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey, as PODIM is an opportunity for them to show off and ‘measure’ their business idea in front of a broader public.”
A lot has changed over the past year; after all, DEWESoft is now also present in Maribor, the hometown of PODIM. The arrival of such a high-tech company is also a good reference for the city. What do you think about the activation of talents in the entrepreneurial environment?
“In our business, we look for talented people from all across the world. With our work, you need to be close to customers, so we have branches in fifteen countries. On the other hand, for product development, it’s very good to have a team close to the parent company. Maribor is a city with rich tradition, so this decision made sense. It is a great pleasure that young talents in Maribor see their future in DEWESoft.”
All-around shortage of technical staff
Is the problem of finding good and suitable staff a challenge for you?
“Of course, everywhere, not just in Slovenia, you can notice a shortage of technical staff. I think that with good motivation of young people, also in choosing their studies, this is a good opportunity.”
How does DEWESoft collaborate with the environment in Maribor? Is collaboration with faculties and other R&D institutions still taking place? Is it maybe getting even stronger?
“Collaboration with the University of Maribor has been at a very high level for quite some time. Due to good experiences, we are trying to find new opportunities and collaboration possibilities on both sides.”
The team of DEWESoft, which is a company that was founded in 2000 and has branches in sixteen countries across the world, now consists of more than 250 members.
The activities of the support environment so far indicate an incredibly lively startup spring. There was a huge number of applications for the pre-selection of Slovene Enterprise Fund’s P2 tender. Do you also sense this entrepreneurial bubbling in DEWESoft’s accelerator Katapult?
“Katapult is working great, companies within Katapult are successful, but we currently have a problem that we cannot accept new companies because we’ve simply run out of space. If someone said that 1700 square meters after almost two years will not be enough for startup companies in Trbovlje, I would not have believed them.”
“PODIM is an excellent event that you should definitely attend”
How much potential for new products and solutions, which could be the start of new startups and scaleups, do you see in your field of measurement instruments and connected tech fields?
“A lot. Since the beginning, we have not been able to do everything that our clients demanded of us. Startup Monodaq is a good example of how we can address a much larger group of clients with more affordable solutions and the same DEWESoft equipment.”
To what extent do other startups and scaleups turn to DEWESoft for partnerships, joint development and market performance, and how many opportunities and synergy effects do you see in this domain?
“DEWESoft currently has more than twenty product partners, from startups to bigger companies. We could not develop as much technology by ourselves as we can in collaboration with partner companies.”
As a company or a company founder, have you ever thought about taking the role of a business angel or startup investor?
“Of course, certain companies in Katapult also wanted such help.”
Is there any message you wish to give to the PODIM audience?
“PODIM is an excellent event that you should definitely attend. It is truly wonderful to see young entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey, as PODIM is an opportunity for them to show off and ‘measure’ their business idea in front of a broader public.”