Startup-Hub Maribor

Maribor is the second-largest city in Slovenia with more than 105.000 citizens. It is also the economic, administrative, educational, and cultural center of eastern Slovenia. The city of Maribor was also a European Capital of Culture in 2012, which proves richness of culture and heritage in Maribor and the surrounding area. There was always historically located industry and technologically developed companies of their times, like TAM (Tovarna avtomobilov Maribor), MLM (Mariborska Livarna Maribor), Mikro+Polo, Henkel, Mlinotest, Košaki, TVT Boris Kidrič, Pošta Slovenije, Dravske elektrarne Maribor DEM, SwatyComet, Farmadent, etc. Economically companies in Maribor region had the advantage of connections towards nearby Austria (15minutes drive away), Croatia, and Hungary. Through recession in 2008, the industry was hit hard and for the last 10 years, the area is trying to get back on track, clean the economy and support the best companies, dynamics, and transformation. This way, many new companies have the potential to enter in a more advance, digital, modern way.

It has been developing nicely in the last 10 years due to economic growth and companies, which became more international and competitive than before the 2008 recession.

It has transportation advantage due to highway connection to nearby countries (Ljubljana, Graz, Zagreb, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest) and an international airport, which used to had passenger and cargo transport. Presently, only cargo transport is operating at the airport.
Academia wise, Maribor has its own University of Maribor, with 17 faculties and with 1.800 employees, serving roughly 20.000 students. This is a way smaller poll of students than in Ljubljana but is still interesting and important to operate with them for local companies and start-up ecosystem. University of Maribor ranks among the top 5% of universities in the world ranking 534th of 12.000 world universities.

The start-up environment is very alive in Maribor, especially Slovenia and international start-up society knows yearly congress for start-up and investors PODIM, organized by Tovarna Podjemov.

Start:up Maribor is a consortium of partners, including financial partners, Initiative Start:up Slovenia, and other stakeholders from the start-up community. It is an open platform, which invites individuals, and companies who wish to contribute to the development of a vision of the dynamic, entrepreneurial, and talent-supporting region and city. Inside are programs for the education of future entrepreneurs, list of mentors, community assistance, co-working spaces like Start:up Geek House, lecture rooms, offices, informal meetups through Start:up Musli program, individual consulting to start-ups, etc. The Main operator of Start:up Maribor program is Tovarna Podjemov, the main actor in the start-up scene in Maribor and Slovenia.

Tovarna podjemov is an entrepreneurial incubator of the University of Maribor. The mission of Tovarna podjemov is to promote and support the entrepreneurial spirit of students, researches, and professors of the University of Maribor and broader stakeholders. The organization itself includes all needed activities and tools to support an individual as well as teams entering the business world. They assist them in intellectual property, promotion, sales, offices, consulting to entrepreneurs in all needed fields, incubation of projects to reach growth phase, etc. With a goal to develop new services and solutions for supporting entrepreneurs, Tovarna podjemov is collaborating with partners also in regional (Podravje), national (Slovenia), and international projects (Europe). Examples of companies coming out of Tovarna podjemov are G1, Izvorna Celica, Bionika, Drugi vid ,etc. “Tovarna podjemov” is most famous in Slovenia for organizing international reputable start-up conference PODIM, which hosts more than 500+ visitors from the start-up ecosystem, mostly entrepreneurs, start-ups, and investors. It is the leading yearly conference in the Alpe-Adria region on the topic. It is a 2-day event, overbooked with participants from the international environment and worldwide distinguished guests. It is also the biggest networking event in the start-up ecosystem in Slovenia and as such a must-be-present for an individual or a start-up company from Slovenia and the broader region. Besides that is also the main stakeholder in the national competition of young companies Start:up Slovenija (,  has developed a whole specter of tools, and services to support business planning ( Tovarna podjemov has an operation of 500m2 space for startup support and on top of all support, they partnered also with the biggest newspaper in the region Večer for special partnerships for startups.

INNOVUM is the Technology Innovation Center, an innovative platform of the University of Maribor established to decrease the innovative index between the western and eastern part of Slovenia. It focuses on connecting and supporting the transfer of innovations between faculty researches and SMEs in the region through managing modern research infrastructure and establishing an organized support environment that will include different support actions (entrepreneurial incubator, technology transfer offices, technology parks, etc.). In this transfer and cooperation, ideas, pivot products, etc. will get support in commercialization, marketing, and market penetration. Soon, there will be also physical infrastructure with buildings, equipment, and human resources. INNOVUM will connect the local community, economy, and government in this technology transfer hub for reaching higher added value on the global markets. Through INNOVUM, SMEs will get the possibility to work with research departments, possible usage of research infrastructure, and support from University researches in their product development.

Vetrinjski dvor is a coworking space situated next to the big city square in a mansion and a really nice space. It is focused on cultural and creative individuals and NGO programs, supporting their exhibitions, creativeness and international cooperation. It has technical and locational possibilities that are available on a tender base, which is open all the time. Their rooms are public cultural infrastructure open to support the production and presentation of cultural content.

STP – Styrian technology park: The main scope of STPs activities is focused on the provision of comprehensive support for SMEs in Podravje region, in different stages of their lifecycle – from the “setting up the business” stage, to the stages of growth, development, internationalization, restructuring activities, etc. STP acts as the Regional Center for Technology Development. It is at the same time a business incubator for the development of dynamic, innovative business ideas of micro and small enterprises, with substantial input of knowledge in their products and/or services.

SPS - Slovenski podjetniški sklad (SEF-Slovene enterprise fund) is the main national organization supporting a start-up ecosystem with finances for start-up incentives, seed capital, venture capital, microcredits, guarantees, and special incentives. Located in Maribor with its operations and employees, they are morally empowering the local ecosystem. Their services are covering from product development, entry into the markets, global growth and scale-up growth. Since establishment in 2009 until 2018 it was approved 1.040 million € financial incentives, 7.385 supported projects, and almost 2.000 million € generated investments. Through national activities, there were almost 50.000 retained jobs and almost 9.000 new jobs. 30% of the projects were technologically innovative. Every year they are publishing calls with financial support for SME and Start-ups. The selected companies receive synergy services and support of mentorships, consulting, and other services, which are partly supported also by partner organizations to SEF. SEF is a partner in a national network for supporting startups through different schemes, competitions, start:up Slovenia initiatives, etc.