Tibor Szanyi

Former member of European parliament

Born in Budapest (Hungary) in 1956.
Married, with five children.
Graduated in economics at the Karl Marx University (currently Corvinus University) in Budapest in 1980, extended to doctorate (PhD) level in 1987.
Worked with trading companies, served as a diplomat, a Government official and later became an international consultant.
In 1998 he was elected as Member of the Hungarian Parliament under the Socialist’s flag, for four consecutive terms, i.e. 16 years, altogether.
He participated the Hungarian Government as State Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development (2002-2004) and as State Secretary for Economy and Transport (2004-2006).
In 2014 he was elected as Member of the European Parliament (S&D) for the legislative period 2014-2019.
Currently he has been elected for vice-president of his new party, namely YesSolidarity.
In addition, he works as a freelance advisor/consultant for digitization projects, in particular those aimed at ‘Smart Villages’.

Melita Čopar

Director of the Municipal Administration of the Municipality of Krško

Melita Čopar was born on March 4, 1971 in Maribor. She spent her youth in a family of six in the countryside in Ljubno ob Savini. Today, together with her partner and sons Domen and Matija, she lives in Kremen in the municipality of Krško.

After graduating from the Gymnasium in Velenje, she continued her studies at the Faculty of Economics and Business in Maribor, and after graduating in 1996, she began her business career in the City of Ljubljana at the Department of Finance and Budget.

In 2000, she accepted the business challenge in the municipal administration of the Municipality of Krško, where she soon took over the implementation of internal audit.

In 2007, Mayor Franc Bogovič appointed her director. When she took office, she said: “I believe that together we will be able to successfully build positive relations and courageously continue the development strategy of the municipality of Krško.” The commitment is being boldly implemented, as the Municipality of Krško is one of the most successful development-oriented municipalities in Slovenia and takes care of the balanced development of both urban and rural areas of the municipality.

Melita Čopar is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Waste Management Center for the Dolenjska, Bela krajina and Posavje regions, and since April 2009 she has also been a member of the Supervisory Board of Kostak, d. d. At the Association of Municipalities she is the President of the Commission for Legal and Legislative Issues, andas of 2021 she took over the management of the Association of Directors of Municipal Administrations.

Kristina Ogorevc Račič

Director of Center for Entrepreneurship and Tourism Krško

Work experience:
A total of 14 years of work experience in the field of rural development,entrepreneurship and tourism
-Director of the public institution CPT Krško since 2019
– Director of Agro Posavje d.o.o. from 2014 -2019
-Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and the Environment of the Republic of Slovenia from 2012-2013
-Head of the Technical Office of the Local Action Group (short LAG) Posavje 2009 – 2012
-Senior Adviser in the field of Rural Development at the RDA Posavje
-Member of the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Krško for the term of office 2018 – 2022
-Lecturer within the measure organic farming from the Rural Development Program of the Republic of Slovenia for the period 2014-2020 (EC measure)
-Chair of the LEADER Drawing Committee within the DRSP 2010
-Member of the Board of LAG Posavje 2019 – 2020 and
2021 – 2027
-President of the CLLD Project Selection Committee at the Posavje LAG 2016-2019
-Head of local projects co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
-Head of local projects co-financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

-university graduate engineer of food technology;
Title of diploma thesis: Market valuation of traditional cheeses in Slovenia; Mentor: prof. dr. Emil Erjavec, co-mentor: dr. Aleš Kuhar; scientific field: Food; University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty

Mark Boris Andrijanič

Minister without portfolio responsible for digital transformation

Mark Boris Andrijanič graduated with honours from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, and he holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from the University of Oxford. As of April 2021, he has chaired the Strategic Council for Digitalisation of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. From 2016 to 2021, he worked for the American technology company Uber, most recently as Head of Public Policy for Central and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining Uber, Mr Andrijanič was a Visiting Fellow at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels, where his research focused on the EU’s digital and economic policies. Before coming to Brussels, he advised the Government of Sierra Leone on economic reforms. In Slovenia, he co-founded and led a number of NGOs aimed at promoting active citizenship and entrepreneurship, including Mreža idej (Network of Ideas). He still leads the Oxbridge Club Slovenia, which brings together Slovenians who have studied at Oxford or Cambridge. Since 2017, he has been a David Rockefeller Fellow at the Trilateral Commission and a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council. In 2021, he became a member of the Rotary Club Ljubljana. He has been a speaker at numerous international conferences on new technology both in Europe and the United States.

Peter Pustatičnik

Prior employments: 

  • University Medical Center of Ljubljana (UMCL) as the Head of Economic sector, 
  • Private health insurance company Vzajemna as member of Board of directors 
  • Health insurance Institute of Slovenia (HIIS) as Director of Sector of Controlling. 

He is an assessor for EFQM, CAF and DNV DIAS quality hospital standards. He has successfully implemented these business models in UMCL, Vzajemna and HIIS. He has received several awards for his work in the development and implementation of business models. He has successfully led development and establishment Smart System of integrated Health and Home Care, which was recognize as an international example of good practice in EU programs HOPE in HoCare. 

Marko Zevnik

Founder and director of Sopotniki

In 2014, Marko Zevnik, founder and director of the Sopotniki (meaning: Co-travellers) organisation, and a group of friends set up a free transport service for the elderly from three municipalities from the Karst and Brkini region. With the rapid growth of satisfied users in the following years, the enthusiastic initiative grew into an organised and systematised service, which today operates in 16 municipalities, where over 350 volunteer drivers with 18 dedicated vehicles provide transportation to more than 3,400 elderly users and employ 16 people. Recognised social innovation as a mobility solution is based on our developed technological solutions, and at the same time, directs all attention to genuine contact between volunteers and users.

Gregor Mauko

Director, Toyota Adria

Gregor Mauko has been employed at Toyota Adria since 2003. As he says, he is the company’s most rotated manager. He was the regional director in charge of sales, director of Toyota Slovenia, regional director in charge of resales, regional director in charge of sales and marketing, retail director of the Toyota Center Ljubljana Group and since 2015, a member of the Management Board of the Toyota Adria Group, responsible for the commercial part of the company (commercial director). Since taking office, the group has doubled its revenue. Despite the COVID-19 situation, which, thanks to him, did not affect Toyota Adria and its business partners too much, in the last three years, he has been devoting a lot of time to the services of so-called new mobility. Thanks to him, Toyota Slovenia is one of the three Toyota & Lexus pilot distributors of new mobility in Europe. Projects such as Toyota DriveMe and ToyotaGo, which will be launched in the autumn together with the Municipality of Kočevje and the Sopotniki organisation, are just two projects in this field in Slovenia. “Start your impossible” and “Mobility for all” are not only marketing phrases for him but excellent and effective promoters of positive changes in Slovenian society, as well. This year, he again accepted the position of director of Toyota Slovenia as a challenge, as he believes that we are a market that is mature enough to go “Beyond the borders”.

Lambert van Nistelrooij

Lambert van Nistelrooij (1953) studied Social Geography at Nijmegen University, graduated cum laude in 1979. He was national president of the Dutch rural youth movement.  Elected in his local council in 1978 and in the Regional Council of Noord-Brabant in 1982. From 1991-2003 he was a regional minister and vice Governor of the region. He was elected during 3 periods in the European Parliament during 2004-2019 (CDA-EPP Group).  Lambert focused on cohesion policy, research and innovation, internal market and energy issues. He was EPP speaker for regional and urban policies. As rapporteur and negotiator on the EU Structural Investment Funds he stressed the role of local authorities. He worked on an outspoken role of the villages and rural communities: the Smart Villages concept. 

Actually Lambert is advisor to the Organisation of American States (in the American Competitiveness Exchange) and the DG REGIO Jury on the Regio Stars Awards. He has a guest professorship at the Being Normal University.  www.vannistelrooijregional.nl  

Smart Villages: next step for Europe

I am convinced that the European Union can address the local communities in a more direct manner. The demographic shifts in the Union, the social and economic developments, the environmental challenges and the growing integration in the Union ask for a bigger role of the villages.

I worked on the Pact of Amsterdam during the Dutch Presidency in 2016. The cities worked and lobbied for years on an official recognition a serious urban agenda. Step by step they convinced the European Council, Commission and Parliament. The role of the cities in the Union is stressed in a Pact, a partnership to get European support. Franc Bogovic and me debated the need for a direct recognition of the villages. We launched the Smart Villages concept in the negotiations on the 2021-2027 regional funds. Both the CAP (esp. pilar 2) and the regional development funds can give a push to villages that look ahead and strive to be in the forefront. Exchanging bottomup experiences and building networks is important, to reach another level of influence and performance in the villages. We are at the eve of a bigger role of the villages in the EU institutions. This goal can only be reached with a strong participation from the villages at forefront of many EU policies and programs.

It is essential that the Slovenian Presidency supports the Smart Villages concept. It is up to the representatives from all parts of Europe to formulate the position of the villages. At local level I feel the strong commitment from the Esbeek village, part of my home municipality of Hilvarenbeek. Esbeek looks to further integration and exchange. This can only be reached in a common commitment with other local communities and villages from all EU Member States. We need to get to an full dressed integrated Smart Villages agenda. The EU programs in 2021-2027 give the villages a starting point. I am happy to listen to your conference and assist in the next step to be taken.

Janja Jordan

President of the LAG Posavje and Senior Adviser for EU Funds at Municipality Krško

Professional Experience:
Professional Experience: 16 years

Senior Adviser for Housing in Municipality of Krško – 10 years

Senior Adviser for EU Funds – 6 years

President of the LAG Posavje in periods 2014-2020 and 2021-2027

Vice-President of the Commission for Urban Development at the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia – 4 years

Member of the Commission for development projects in the next Financial Framework at the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia 

Deputy Secretary for municipal elections since 2010 

Project manager for the Commission for the revitalization of the city centre 

Project manager in the field of urban marketing

Leader and coordinator of various projects co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

Leader and coordinator of various projects co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) 

Leader and coordinator of the interterritorial cooperation project Smart Villages for Tomorrow 

Master of Science on the topic of the right to adequate housing in the local community at the Faculty of Government and European Studies

Diploma on the topic of learning organisations at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana

Certificate for project management

Gregor Novak

Co-founder of SONCE Group and director of SunContract

Gregor Novak is an accomplished executive with nearly 2 decades of experience in the
Power Industry. Before the establishment of the SONCE Group, he worked in two of the
most important national energy companies in Slovenia. As head of informatics, he
participated in the establishment of the company BORZEN. Later, he took over the role of
Director of the ICT department at ELES. More than ten years ago, he and his partners
founded the SONCE Group, which deals with investments in renewable sources and
construction of solar power plants. In 2018, as director with an international team, he
established the first P2P energy marketplace, based on blockchain technology, SunContract,
which enables direct trading with electricity between producers and electricity consumers.