Chapter 38. Slovenia

Figure 38.1. Structure and performance of the SME sector in Slovenia
Figure 38.1. Structure and performance of the SME sector in Slovenia

Source: A, C, D. OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics Database 2018, ( Source: B, E. OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics Database 2018, Employer Business Demography dataset.


SME business conditions and access to strategic resources

Institutional and regulatory framework

The costs associated with business start-up in Slovenia are among the lowest in the OECD area. The national online business portal e-VEM was updated in 2016 to reduce the time and cost for starting a business. E-VEM is the first level of the SPOT system, a system of one-stop shops on four levels, designed together by the Ministry of economic development and technology, and the public agency SPIRIT Slovenia. The second level is SPOT Information Points, the third level are 12 SPOT Advice Points and the national (fourth) level is SPOT Global (for investors and investments). Besides the SPOT system, the services of Institutions of innovative environment (technology parks, incubators etc.) are being supported. Simplifications were also introduced in the tax system for the self-employed, with the creation in 2016 of pre-filled social-security contributions accounts in electronic format. At the same time, the Ministry of Economic Development monitors the implementation of mandatory SME tests in all new laws since 2016. The Action Plan Slovenia – the land of innovative start-ups (2018) highlights 36 obstacles to start-ups and measures for their elimination, of which only 20 are being implemented due to intra-governmental coordination requirements. A report on the implementation has been prepared as well as an updated Action plan with proposed solutions and activities.

Market conditions

Slovenia has increased its domestic value added in exports by over 50 % over the past two decades but forward participation in GVCs remains below the OECD median. The 2015-20 Programme for Internationalisation includes measures to support SME internationalisation through the development of new business models, the establishment of partnerships to enhance participation in GVCs, the creation of one-stop-shops for exporters and investors, feasibility studies and export plans, and the exploration of new international market opportunities.


While ICT investments and fixed broadband penetration in Slovenia are close to the OECD median, mobile broadband penetration is lower than in most OECD countries. The Digital Slovenia 2020 strategy aims to have ultra-fast broadband cover 96% of households and fast broadband covering the rest by 2020, above the Digital Agenda for Europe Goals. The Next Generation Broadband Development Plan sets a roadmap to reach these goals by 2020, including the development of the infrastructure in underserved areas, with the provision to firms of a digital highway to access global e-services. These efforts are complemented by a Cyber Security Strategy.

Access to finance

SME lending has halved over 2011-16 while interest rates have declined. In 2017, a EUR 253 million Fund of Funds was created with EC Cohesion Funds to support SMEs, R&D and innovation, energy efficiency and urban development. First funds were allocated in 2018. The Slovene Enterprise Fund also supports MSMEs through multiple instruments (grants, microloans, seed capital, guarantees etc.) and “smart money” by combining instruments, especially seed capital and convertible loans, with mentoring, coaching and training. The SID bank implements, besides a Fund of Funds, different loan funds for SMEs, investments, internationalisation, tourism and wood processing. The Patient loans (with lower interest rate and longer grace period) are still active. Public loan guarantees varied widely over recent years, amounting to EUR 520 million in 2016 – up from 0 in 2015 but only half the 2013 level. In 2016, the government opened credit lines with long grace periods aimed at promising but over-indebted SMEs. A call was also issued for SMEs that received the EC Seal of Excellence but could not be funded by the Horizon 2020 SME instrument. It supports feasibility studies (up to EUR 35 000).

Access to skills

In spite of significant progress in educational attainment and workforce upskilling since the 1990s, life-long learning opportunities remain limited and several vocational occupations show signs of labour shortage. Skills development of employees is supported through Human Resources Competence Centres. These partnerships of sectoral institutions and companies (including SMEs) identify skills gaps and implement training programmes. In 2017, a call was issued for creating 11 new centres, where 240 companies are now involved. Digitalisation and digital competences in SMEs are also a priority: a call for tenders on incentives was issued in 2018 (EUR 2.6 million) and digital innovation hubs were opened in 2019 as one-stop-shop. Measures were launched in schools to strengthen entrepreneurial skills and facilitate the transition to the labour market (e.g. apprenticeships in secondary vocational education).

Access to innovation assets

SME R&D intensity is relatively high by OECD standards in Slovenia, but does not translate into high innovation rates. In 2019, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology introduced a voucher system to improve SME business processes for quality standards, IPR, internationalisation (trade fairs, forums, trade analysis and delegations abroad) and digitalisation (digital strategy, digital competences, digital marketing and cyber security). A EUR 9.45 million call for e-business for SMEs that go international was published in 2018. Sector-specific incentives encourage SME innovation, e.g. in the wood sector with innovation grants up to EUR 40 000 since 2016. Innovation clusters in Smart Specialisation areas – which must include SMEs – are also supported. In 2016, nine strategic development and innovation partnerships were established by 400 companies and 100 knowledge institutions.

The full country profile is available at


EC (2018), Digital Economy and Society Index 2018, Country Report Slovenia, European Commission, Brussels,

EC (2017), 2017 SBA Fact Sheet Slovenia, European Commission,

Government of Slovenia (2015), Programme for Internationalisation 2015-2020,

OECD (2017), OECD Economic Surveys: Slovenia 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris,

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