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San Jose, September 20, 2016. On its first day, the Slovenian Business Development Delegation to the Silicon Valley visited the IBM SW Executive Briefing Center, where the participants were given a presentation on the prospects for societal transformation, fostered by the 4th industrial revolution. Emphasis was placed on Industry 4.0, cognitive solutions and on the Internet of Things.

Representatives of 26 companies from various industries as well as research and academic institutions from Slovenia therefore started this year's Business Development Delegation by becoming familiar with global technology, newest trends and developments firsthand. These were presented by excellent speakers; Carol Edelman, Briefing Consultant IBM Executive Briefing Center, Perry Hartswick, Distinguished Engineer, CTO, IBM Global Government Industry, Keith Stewart, Director of Solutions Sales, Industrial Products, WIoT, Phil Abrahamson, Watson Discovery Research Manager and Amit Fisher, Cognitive IoT lead, IBM Watson IoT.

The speakers emphasized that IBM is not merely an ICT company, it also puts great emphasis on research, on which it spends as much as USD 6 billion per year. It has also received numerous awards in science, including 6 Nobel Prizes.

Perry Hartswick explained how rapidly the significance of data is changing over time: "If we were talking about big data in 2013, the main topic of 2014 was already how to learn from data and in 2015, the focus was on disruptive data. For 2016, cognitive solutions are considered the center point."

Amit Fisher stressed that the intention is not for Watson (cognitive solutions) to replace human beings, but rather to have a digital assistant, able to absorb more information and propose good solutions. He also emphasized the speed at which change takes place, as his team, in only three months of collaboration with Local Motors, completed an exceptional project of a thinking, self-driving car Olli. The car can already be found on the roads in Washington and is coming to Europe soon (more on the link).

Self-driving cars, smart kitchens and the likes are not only for science fanatics, but something that is very real and is already happening.

Andrej Črepinšek, Technical Manager for IBM Central and Eastern Europe, welcomed the group and said: "Today's event was very important for us, because we exchanged many ideas. I think that we all learned a lot and that the participants heard a lot of ideas from all over the world, which will enable us to achieve a lot with new, common ideas."

Lovro Peterlin, Director of Linea Directa and a member of the Slovenian Business Development Delegation, expressed satisfaction with the Delegation being located in the heart of the creation of new business models and trends, and emphasized: "I decided to join the Delegation because it has given me an opportunity to meet and learn about the most innovative companies in the world. Visiting IBM gave me exactly what I had hoped for. An insight into new technologies and into future technological developments."

In the upcoming days, the Delegation will visit the following companies and institutions: Cisco, HPE, Nasa, BCG Digital Ventures Center, Microsoft, Salesforce, Uber, Celtra, Tesla, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Stanford University and the official opening of the ABC Accelerator in the Silicon Valley.

The Business Development Delegation is organized by AmCham Slovenia, with the support of the SPIRIT Slovenia Public Agency.  Delegation participants will gain an insight into the thinking and functioning of the leading development centers and companies, which are establishing the key platforms for digital transformation. The Delegation will also consolidate the "Slovenia – a green reference country in digital Europe" initiative.

After last year's Delegation to the US, led by the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, PhD, this year's initiative came from the businesses themselves, under the auspices of AmCham Slovenia. These businesses are aware of the momentum and opportunities offered by the 4th Industrial Revolution, but at the same time know very well that it is essential to adapt, and even more – to play an active role – without waiting.  With the support of the Prime Minister, this year's Government Representative, joining the Delegation, is Boris Koprivnikar, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration, who is also coordinating Government efforts in the field of digital transformation under the "Slovenia – a green reference country in digital Europe" initiative.

More information about the Delegation can be found here.