The Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) is a governmental investment and trade promotion agency of the Slovak Republic. The agency was established in 2001 and operates under the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic. SARIO aims to attract investments to the Slovak Republic and to support export activities of Slovak companies on the global market. Their success stories include investment projects of companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, KIA, Groupe PSA, Amazon, Volkswagen Slovakia, MinebeaMitsumi, Johnson Controls, Embraco, Honeywell and many others. Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the organization? SARIO: The Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) attracts the foreign direct investment to Slovakia while supporting the export activities of Slovak companies on the global market. Therefore, the main areas of SARIO´s activities are to provide support to investment and trade in the Slovak Republic. SARIO provides future investors with the in–depth information about Slovak business environment, cooperation opportunities, investment incentives, setting up a business as well as suitable locations and real estate. Services are tailor–made to the particular investors’ needs. SARIO SERVICES FOR POTENTIAL INVESTORS Business environment overview;Sector and regional analyses;Selection of the suitable real estate;Consultancy on investment incentives and R&D super–deduction;Identification of local suppliers;M&A partner selection. SARIO SERVICES FOR ESTABLISHED INVESTORS Identification of local suppliers;Assistance with company expansion;Ad-hoc and systematic problem solving on a regional and national levels;Support of innovation, R&D activities and diversification of the portfolio;Consultancy on Investment incentives and R&D super–deduction. TRADE SUPPORT SERVICES SARIO provides comprehensive services aimed at supporting the export of Slovak producers, as well as services for foreign companies interested in Slovak production and product cooperation. Events focused on networking and matchmaking are highly effective tools for identifying and connecting foreign business partners with Slovak exporters. SERVICES FOR SLOVAK EXPORTERS Search for potential foreign business partners according to specified criteria;Organization of business missions, forums and individual B2B meetings using online tools as well;Regular information about foreign tenders and calls;Providing participation on selected fairs and exhibitions;Educating in the field of export through seminars and webinars;Assistance in finding subcontracting opportunities. SERVICES FOR FOREIGN PARTNERS INTERESTED IN PRODUCTS MADE IN SLOVAKIA Finding Slovak suppliers or subcontractors;Providing information on the Slovak business environment;Assistance in organizing business negotiations with domestic companies;Helping in creating a joint venture or another form of partnership with Slovak entities. E.E: What’s the news for 2020 about new directions? SARIO: Recently responding to the experience of investors and Slovak companies we came up with new services as a direct response to their needs and created SARIO Innovation Services, SARIO Diversification Services as well as an ongoing project PRACTICE FOR UNIVERSITIES, SOLUTIONS FOR COMPANIES supporting the cooperation of universities with the private sector. SARIO Innovation Services is a matching platform connecting the needs of large corporations with competences of cutting edge Slovak technology companies. SARIO Diversification Services are aimed at connecting foreign companies with Slovak partners working in promising high-tech areas as well as supporting entry of new Slovak companies into these areas. ACTIVITIES WITHIN SARIO INNOVATION SERVICES Sourcing activity for investors established in Slovakia and abroad to innovate their technological processes & products;Business matchmaking and identification of the competitive Slovak technology suppliers;Focused mostly on industrial process optimization, product development & services sector. ACTIVITIES WITHIN SARIO DIVERSIFICATION SERVICES Consultancy on Slovakia’s emerging high-tech sectors and possibilities of establishing own production or R&D facility in the country;Matchmaking with potential business or R&D partners in Slovakia;Focused especially on space and aviation industries, smart and green mobility, or medical technology. E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? SARIO: Global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region of Central Europe in 2019 decreased for the fourth year in a row. The slowdown in the growth of the European and world economy was also reflected in the Slovak Republic, whose economy is dependent on external demand. Despite the difficult macroeconomic situation in 2019, SARIO closed 39 investment projects, the implementation of which has the potential to create almost 4,010 new jobs and the total amount of investments should reach around 286 mil. EUR. By the end of third quarter of 2020 we had been working on 55 investment projects. Orientation of the agency towards the growth of investments with higher added value remains our long-term goal. In 2019 we finalized 21 projects with higher added value (54% of the total number of completed projects in 2019), while aiming to place new investments in regions with a higher unemployment rate as much as possible. Slovakia has been and remains an attractive investment destination with its high quality workforce, euro currency, and until recently, regular and strong economic growth. Although the global Covid-19 pandemic has changed the macroeconomic factors and disrupted the economic progress globally, repeatedly up to 90% of established investors have confirmed in surveys that they would invest in Slovakia again. However, it was inevitable that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on ongoing and planned investment activities of companies all over the world. Due to the situation, the decision-making processes of several investors were postponed or interrupted, or investment projects as such were cancelled. Although the current unfavorable development as a result of the pandemic was reflected in the Slovak export-oriented industry, as promptly as our agency reacted and transferred our activities to the online space as much as possible, Slovak companies did the same. The opportunity to trade, cooperate, present, offer products, technologies or free capacities did not completely disappear, it gained a new virtual form. E.E: What estimations do you have for 2020? SARIO: The contraction of Slovakia’s economy during the second quarter of 2020 was smaller than originally expected. The country’s GDP fell by 12.1% y/y for constant prices during the second quarter of 2020, which is the deepest fall in Slovakia’s history so far. Moreover, the Slovak Republic will continue to have deficit budgets during the following three years due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Facing the global Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to bear in mind that one side of the support of Slovak entities is provided by state measures and support programs and schemes, which are currently crucial for the survival of many companies. On the other hand, the companies should consider the different approach to the current crisis – seeing it as a growth opportunity – developing and investing into new technologies, skills, portfolio adjustments and last but not least, adopting advanced marketing tools and SARIO is here to help them on the way. The crisis may function as a catalyst for future growth revealing the potential of future market priorities, and those who react fast and are flexible already in times of crisis have a great chance to succeed! To digitize and innovate is the advice for all companies!