POPRI 2023: Twenty years of developing new generations of entrepreneurs

On Tuesday, 4.4.2023, 36 teams, or 113 out of a record 474 competitors, competed in the final of the national competition for young entrepreneurship ideas POPRI, organised by the Primorski Technological Park, in Nova Gorica. The entrepreneurship jury decided who had best developed their idea into a business model and presented it. Teams competed to win in the categories of primary, secondary and youth up to 29 years of age, which bring cash prizes and the chance to participate in international competitions and professional excursions abroad. This year marks the 20th edition of the competition, which has been organised with a rich programme.


POPRI's twentieth season was a record-breaking one, with forty percent more young people entering the competition than the year before. One hundred and sixty-eight teams (474 contestants) from all over Slovenia prepared business models for their ideas with the support of 116 mentors in 80 educational institutions. The best 116 made it through the regional preliminary rounds, which took place at the regional partners: the Ljubljana Technology Park for Central Slovenia, the Zasavska region and Gorenjska, the SAŠA Incubator for Koroška, Savinjska, Podravka and Pomurje, the Novo mesto Development Centre for South-Eastern Slovenia and Posavje, and the Primorska Technology Park for the Goriška, Primorska - Innerjska and Obalno-Kraško regions and the region abroad. The Director of the Primorska Technology Park, mag. Tanja Kožuh, Director of the Primorje Primorje Region, on the occasion of the 20th edition of the POPRI competition, said:

"POPRI developed in 2003 from a European project in which we set ourselves the goal of giving young people their first contact with entrepreneurship. POPRE was the first time we held it in Nova Gorica and the surrounding area. After the end of the project, we realised that something really big could come out of it. We started to connect educational institutions and business, involving the support environment, mentors, local and national authorities. Many people did not believe we would succeed, but with a dedicated team, anything is possible".


Popri connects educational institutions with business. The competitors' written business models were judged by 87 entrepreneurs. The final act was a pitch in front of the national jury, which consisted of

Teja Bajt, founder and director of INNOLAB   

Mic Melanšek, co-founder and marketing director of Hooray Studios

Lovro Peterlin, Managing Director A1 Slovenija d.d.  

Nejc Škoberne, Co-founder and Director of Meetings.bio

Matej Peršolja, Co-founder and CEO of Protectus Technologies, Inc.

Elvis Janežič, Director of Instrumentation technologies

Lucia Lučka Klanšek - Founder and Director of LLK

Nika Kristina Butina - Co-founder and Director of EPIDEMIC

Manca Šalehar - Marketing Manager, Wolt

Blaž Zupan - Assistant Professor at the Department of Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, entrepreneurial coach and serial entrepreneur


Financial awards

The jury selected the top three teams in each category. The third-placed teams received EUR 700 gross each, the second-placed teams EUR 1300 gross each and the winners EUR 2000 gross each from the prize fund provided by the co-organisers of the competition: the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, SPIRIT Slovenia, the Public Agency and the Slovenian Enterprise Fund. All teams that made it to the finals already in the preliminary rounds received EUR 500 gross each to improve their business idea and additional mentoring support.

Minister of Economy, Tourism and Sport Matjaž Han said of the support for POPRI:"It is the duty of the state and of us politicians to enable young people to realise their potential. That is why, as co-organiser of the POPRI competition, we at our Ministry are actively and strategically promoting entrepreneurship among young people. In this way, we want to give them the opportunity to develop their own ideas, experience entrepreneurship and learn from their mentors in business. Their spicy ideas and business models are proof that nothing is impossible - you just have to look outside the box. And that's what young people do best! "

Non-financial awards

POPRI is also opening doors to the world, with the first-placed students participating in the POPRI International EUSAIR Youth competition in Sarajevo on 23 and 24 May 2023, and the top three student teams also competing in the Genius Olympiad in New York State, USA. In addition to a cash prize, the top three teams among the primary school students will also go on a professional excursion to the Technical Museum in Vienna, made possible by the Intellectual Property Office.

Special Award

This year, Primorska Technology Park has also awarded a special prize, made possible by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. The high school student team and the university student team with the most convincing presentations will take part in an expert excursion to Norway.


In addition to the competition part, the Finals also offer a wide range of entrepreneurial content and experiences. In the afternoon, the competitors and their mentors took part in a panel discussion entitled: From POPRI to a successful business. How a (young) entrepreneur should protect his knowledge, innovative solutions and name. Their experiences were shared by Andrej Pelko and Valentina Bojanec (startup HEIJUS; second place in POPRI in 2019, today entrepreneurs participating in Start Slovenia), Tjaša Jazbec, co-founder of the startup Scherz Chilli, incubated in Primorska Technological Park and POPRI mentor, Boštjan Jerončič, CEO of Incom Leone and mag. Karin Žvokelj, Director of the Intellectual Property Office - co-organiser of POPRI, which also facilitated the roundtable.

The finalists also got their first experience of entrepreneurial networking. The event was financially supported by the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad and Slovenians Abroad, co-organiser of the event for the first time this year. Minister Matej Arčon said. "I am happy and proud to have followed and supported the POPRI story since its beginnings, this year for the first time as a Minister of the Slovenian Government. Events such as this one also offer the opportunity to network, to make friends, nationally and internationally," and called on everyone to continue to network and to proudly preserve the Slovene identity in our hearts.

The young people were accompanied by entrepreneurs, members of the Commission, and representatives of the support environment from Slovenia and abroad - with an original performance by stand-up comedian Gašper Bergant. The event ended with a cake to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the POPRI competition.

On this occasion, the Primorski Technologski Park also prepared a photographic exhibition on the 20 years of the competition, which is on display under the arcades of the Municipality of Nova Gorica.

The gala event with the award ceremony took place at the SNG Nova Gorica. The audience was addressed by Matej Arčon, Minister of Slovenes Abroad and Internationally, Matevž Frangež, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, and Samo Turel, Mayor of the Municipality of Nova Gorica, who also presented the prizes. The audience was delighted by the greetings from the world of celebrities, prepared especially for the POPRI contestants by Tilen Artač.



 teamEducational InstitutionMembers of the teammentor
first placeOn StageInstitute and Academy for Multimedia, Higher School of MultimediaLovro Rakar, Nejc Jezeršek, Mihael GolobEnej Gradišek

With the cutting-edge OnStage product, you will have the ultimate experience as a musician while playing, because it gives you a better live performance! The product consists of 3 key components; clip-on microphone, digital interface, mobile/computer app. The clip-on microphone picks up the signal from the acoustic instrument, the sound then travels to the digital interface where it is processed with extremely low latency.

second placeVolkar sausages and roastsGrm Novo mesto - Centre of Biotechnics and Tourism, Vocational SchoolTilen Volkar, Gašper Pršina, Jernej Gačnik, Nejc HudoklinAndreja Gril Novak, Ana Marjanović

Our idea is based on sausages and roasts. They are made from quality rabbit meat, exclusively of Slovenian origin. They are aimed at people on a diet, people who like healthy local food and are willing to pay a little more money for it, sportsmen and rabbit meat lovers. Meat products will be delivered to your home/agreed location and will also be sold at the market.

third placeHOBBY BOBY starting-light/Tadej Enci/

The HOBBY BOBY starting light is first and foremost a technical aid, which is an indispensable aid for every deaf and hard of hearing athlete in athletics competitions. The device converts the sound signals of the starter's commands into a light signal with the help of a built-in microphone, thus helping athletes with hearing impairment to a more equal start.


 teamEducational institutionmembers of the teammentor
first placeHIT - HOTSrečko Kosovel Sežana School Centre, Gymnasium and School of EconomicsTaj Ražem, Sajra Makić, An SemoličLucija Filipčič KrižajPatricija Kastelic Volf

Hit Hot is an app for ordering food. The advantage is that the pick-up is very fast and there are fewer queues, as the order is in advance and cashless. Users are mainly students, pupils and employees who have limited snack time. The app is free for the user and can be installed on any mobile device where the desired meal would be ordered. The app would be installed by the caterers and their customers would order their food via the app and come to the caterer's headquarters at the agreed time to pick up their food.

second placeBacTerraVelenje High School Centre, GymnasiumKatja MogilnickiJan Skok, Petra Mastnak

BacTerra is an organic fertiliser that works with the help of bacteria. The bacteria produce substances that help the plant grow and resist. They convert nitrogen from the air into an ion that the plant can use, and they also contribute to the amount of phosphorus and potassium in the soil. The living bacteria produce fertiliser continuously and therefore the effect of the fertiliser is more long-lasting than conventional fertilisers (up to 6 months). By using such a fertiliser, we can increase our yields by 20% to 30% and at the same time help to improve the health of the plant.

third placeInspired DisinfectantsAgricultural school Grm in biotechnical gymnasium Novo MestoKaja Dragan, Lea Lisec, Pia Rak, Kristina SinurMitja Turk, Anja Jakše

Inspired Disinfectants is a range of pleasant-smelling, hand-friendly disinfectants that don't dry out the skin. Users can sanitise their hands at any time and at the same time scent themselves with the delicate scent of lavender, Christmas or herbal sanitiser in two convenient packs. The smaller dose (50 ml) is for personal use for those who want to feel cleaner and safer in their daily lives, while enjoying the pleasant smell and feel that hand sanitisers leave on the skin after use. The larger dose (0.5 l) is intended for restaurants, spas, private medical practices that want to give their employees and customers the feeling of a safe and clean environment and to make them feel better and brighten up their daily life with the fragrant scents of our disinfectants.


 teamEducational InstitutionMembers of the teammentors
first placePaličnjakMilojka Štrukelj Nova Gorica Elementary SchoolTian Kobal, Tinkara Kozjan, Nika MamičPetra Brankovič, Matjaž Kljajić

Paličnjak is a plant support stick - it is an extendable bamboo stick for supporting plants, which can be extended very easily and quickly when the plant outgrows it. This saves time, effort and money, as we don't have to go to the countryside or to the shop to buy a new stick. So even people who would like to have ornamental plants can afford them. but don't have enough time for them.

second placeSmart-binOrmož Elementary SchoolTim Šoštarič, Jaka Vaupotič,  Lan ŽalarMaja Korban Črnjavič

Smart Bin reduces the volume of plastic packaging waste by using a push platform. This would make it as easy and practical as possible for our users to manage the packaging waste that accumulates in their households. The Smart Bin idea was created to enable households and other potential consumers to manage plastic and other packaging more economically. From an ecological point of view, the accumulation of packaging waste, especially plastic packaging, is a growing problem, and we are very aware of it.

Third placeGO2GETHER Grm Novo mesto Elementary SchoolDavid Nograšek, Manja Nograšek, Eva Podkrižnik, Urban Bukovec, Patrik TaljatJana Pečaver

GO2GETHER is an app that allows you to pool your children's transport to different extra-curricular activities in and around your city. It is designed for parents and families who can use their time more efficiently, at least halve the cost of transport, and act in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way by reducing their carbon footprint. GO2GETHER makes it easy to connect and coordinate several parents for transport to after-school activities, on a "today I drive" basis (e.g. four children transported by one parent).