A unique embracing of the Austrian government, a United Nations economic development organization and a Slovak regional chamber of commerce will combine forces to play matchmaker for Slovak and foreign industrial firms at Techmart '96, a conference on technology and investment opportunities that will take place in Trenčín from November 13 to 15.
Techmart '96 is the brainchild of Slovak Ambassador to the United Nations and the Orgainization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Daniela Rozgoňová, who lobbied the Austrian Foreign Ministry to provide $140,000 for the conference, the first of its kind in a post-communist country.
To get the funding, Rozgoňová employed an argument that parallels the conference's theme of generating more business for Slovak and international partners. "We realized that the best target to concentrate on [for funding] would be the Austrian government," Rozgoňová related. "I gave them all the arguments that because of their geographical proximity [to Slovakia], that it would open new possibilities for ventures."
While the Austrian government backed the conference with cash, an international organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is managing it, with local logistical support from the Slovak Chamber of Commerce in Trenčin, a city located in the heavily industrialized Váh River valley in western Slovakia.
This area boasts a high density of Slovak enterprises in heavy manufacturing industries such as chemical, pharmaceutical, engineering, electrotechnical, wood processing, building materials and environmental protection. Interested companies, both Slovak and foreign, were required to fill in detailed application forms defining their enterprise, and listing what they were requesting or had to offer, said Juraj Pavlík, chief of UNIDO's industrial section in Vienna. Approximately 150 Slovak businesses returned the completed forms, which UNIDO compiled into a booklet, Pavlík added.
Not all those firms will be personally at the fair, though. Pavlík estimated that 30-40 Slovak company representatives would be at Techmart '96, while preliminary indications show that investment promotion offices and company officials from 10 foreign countries will make the trip. Of those foreign business representatives, the greatest concentration will be in the engineering and chemical sectors "because most offers and requests are in those fields," Pavlík added.
While technology requests and offers make up the official platform for the event, conducted in Slovak and English, organizers are hoping that Slovak and foreign entities will go beyond that and strike some deals.
"The ultimate goal of course is to transcend technology transfers and concentrate on where both parties - those that offer and those that request - can meet and pinpoint companies they can work with," Rozgoňová said. "Techmart '96's success will be measured by the contacts made and the deals that are made." "This is nothing special compared to any industrial fair," Pavlík added. "But the difference is we're trying to match the parties. The foreign partner is going to know who it's going to meet and vice-versa."
In addition to the fair, Pavlík said that plans are underway to take foreign business managers on visits to the arms factory in Dubnica, the growing rubber producer Matador in Púchov, Letnicke Rovne and the shoe manufacturer -- in Partizánske, though he quickly added that nothing has been finalized.
Despite the goodwill generated by visits, Rozgoňová and Pavlík realize that Techmart's future rides on just how much dealmaking is done, because newly-formed partnerships would buttress their plans to expand the concept on a regional basis perhaps two years from now.
23. Oct 1996 at 0:00 | Richard Lewis