The knowledge economy is characterised by sustainable investment into education, particularly into innovation research. However, Slovakia lacks a supportive infrastructure, and our talents keep leaving to study or work abroad. It’s time for a change. Let’s give these people the necessary education and the opportunity to build professional expertise “in-house”.
The automotive industry has become Slovakia’s signature, worldwide. We are the world’s number one in car production per capita, there are more than 350 subcontractors in our market, the industry accounts for more than 13% of our GDP, represents more than 50% of our industrial production, and contributes to Slovakia’s export performance, as well as its employment rate. Surely, though, we can agree that there’s always room for improvement. We shouldn’t slow down — instead, let’s build on a strategy of research and innovation, to create an intelligent specialisation for Slovakia. The trends are clear and their direction is given not just by the EU, but also by the state of our planet, which desperately needs a helping hand. To put it simply, if we want to keep our position in the market and advance towards a greener future, Slovakia has to actively address the progressive trends in e-mobility, and fully prioritise research and development within this area. What’s the current situation like, what needs to be improved, and what can the future bring, if we choose to walk in the right direction and, most importantly, with the right people?
THE DATA SAYS IT ALL: THE EUROPEAN E-MOBILITY MARKET IS RAPIDLY EXPANDING
The rapid growth of electromobility in the world, but also in Europe, is irrefutable. We need to learn how to keep pace with it. Just look at the numbers! Consider that, last year, there were around 70 fully-electric vehicles available in the EU, and that, by 2025, this number is expected to rise to 180.
Combined with plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, the number of vehicle models using alternative fuels could rise up to 330.
The question that remains is how will car manufacturers react to these trends? How will they customise their portfolio, and how will these trends be reflected in the sales structure of their vehicles, in terms of their drivetrain systems? This graph provides us with a possible answer, expecting that the sales of hybrids and EVs could, as early as at the end of this year, represent 15% of all car sales within Europe.
THE QUESTION IS: CAN WE KEEP UP WITH THESE TRENDS?
Slovakia’s location is, of course, ideal — annually, more than 4 million cars get produced within a 500km radius. Did you know that 19 vehicle models, manufactured in Slovakia, already have drive systems with some level of electrification? You can see which ones I’m referring to in this picture:
It’s a great springboard, but we can’t forget about the wider considerations — transforming our economy from industrial to knowledge-based, and proper support for R&D centres and innovations — so that we can catch up with other countries. Let’s move on to the most important factor, though. Human capital. None of the changes will be possible without motivated and talented people. The good news is that there are already many local and foreign experts working in Slovakia, who can help our country become a superpower, not just in the automotive industry, but also in the area of e-mobility and battery production.
SLOVAKIA WILL BE THE CRADLE OF SPECIALTY BATTERY MANUFACTURING
Our innovative company, InoBat Auto, has entered the Slovak market only recently. From the start, our aims were clear: to bring unique research and development strategies, help Slovakia transition to a knowledge-based economy, secure the competitiveness of its automotive industry, and bring innovative technological solutions to customers, where electric vehicle batteries are concerned. At the beginning of June, we started the reconstruction of our unique R&D centre in Voderady, which will include a pilot line for the manufacturing of our batteries. It’s also worth mentioning that we’re one of the few European companies operating in this area, and we differ from the competition in our approach to battery production. While our competitors prefer the so-called catalogue approach and offer their clients standardised products, we’re developing the chemistry of our batteries in a way that fits the customers’ attribute requirements. It makes more sense, don’t you think? If we’re supplying batteries for a family car, the attributes will be wholly different from those of a sports car or a bus. Last but not least, we’re also going to recycle batteries at InoBat, which will support the circular economy and help protect the planet. Two questions remain: When will the construction of our unique facilities be completed, and when will the first Slovak custom batteries get manufactured? The answer to both is the second quarter of 2022.
NO COMPANY CAN MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT THE RIGHT TEAM
I think we can all agree that none of this would be possible without having the right people, functional operations, or prospective clients. A company also requires good marketing, it needs to secure funding, and someone has to coordinate it all. Everything stands on the shoulders of our people. Maybe you haven’t heard this yet, but there are many leading world experts working for InoBat — people bringing their experience from Silicon Valley, Wildcat Discovery Technologies, Aston Martin, Nissan, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover, and many other companies. What’s even better is that, in addition to contributing their know-how, these people are determined to pass on their knowledge and experience to young and enthusiastic talents. They represent our future and have the potential to change the world. That’s why it’s more than necessary to progress in the area of education, too. In Slovakia, there’s yet to be comprehensive education in the area of e-mobility, battery business, or the related R&D. At InoBat, we’ve started taking small steps to make up for this deficit. For example, by developing stable cooperation with academia, and providing educational and shadowing programs for students. Some of them will already have a chance to participate in InoBat’s daily operations this summer. In July, our shadowing program (which is part of our larger educational BATTERYacademy project) will select 2 students, who’ll then have a chance to spend an intense week working by our side.
PUTTING THE THEORY INTO PRACTICE, UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF EXPERIENCED MENTORS
As the saying goes, it’s never too early or too late. What’s better than letting young people build their professional expertise and gain unique practical experience, while they’re still in school? I think we’ll all agree that this is the best way to reach one’s professional goals. Can you look at the world from a visionary perspective? Do you have a positive outlook and a passion that you’d like to foster? Are you active and creative? Do you not shy away from challenges? Or do you know someone else in your circle who fits these criteria? Lend them a helping hand and let them follow their professional dreams, by telling them about the BATTERYacademy project and our unique shadowing program. InoBat’s doors are wide open!
- Our mentors’ introductions and other interesting information can be found here:
- More information about the shadowing program is available here:
- The BATTERYacademy project:
VICTORIA VERNARECOVÁ, Chief Human Resources Officer
PETER DUBOVSKÝ, Project Director for Project Management & Logistics Voderady
VADIM USTINOV, Chief Program Officer
SIMONA BLAŠKOVÁ, Head of Investor & Public Relations
PAVOL KROKOŠ, Project Manager and Board Member
JOZEF URBAN, Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors
OTO PISOŇ, Project Manager in the Board of Directors‘ Advisory