Violeta Bulc

 Former EU Commissioner for Transport

* Founder and curator of #Ecocivilisation: #EcocivilisationTalks, #EcocivilisationInAction, #YearOfUbuntu, #GlobalOpenHouse
*EU Commissioner for Transport (2014-2020)
*Deputy Prime Minister of Republic of Slovenia (2014)
*Founder and general manager of Vibacom (2000-2014):
*G100 Global Chair Member, Ecocivilisation Wing

Curious, committed, open, engaging, dedicated to love, truth, collaboration, joy, compassion; building trust to serve my higher self and higher good; traveler through space and time.

Politician, entrepreneur, innovator, engineer, author, sportsperson

* Member of the government of the Republic of Slovenia, member of the European Commission (6 y)
* Founder and general manger of Vibacom (14 y):
* Founder & coordinator of InCo movement (6 y):
* President of the Boad of Umanotera, Slovenian Fundation for Sustainable Development (4 y)
* Vice president, Telemach, telecommunication provider (1 y)
* Director, Telecom Slovenia, carrier business (5 y)
* Member of Advisory Board for Innovation Journalism, Stanford University (5 y)
* Innovator: many national awards for business and social innovation, 3 x best consultancy project of the year in Slovenia

University Ljubljana: Faculty for Electrotechnics
Golden GGU: Master of Science in Information Systems
Shamanic Academy
Martial Art Academy
* Member of many global and domestic associations, NGO initiatives (IEEE, ISSS, ZM, Slovenska Znanstvena Fundacija)

Professional basketball player, member of the junior Yugoslavian team
Slovenian champion in javelin,
black belt in TaeKwanDo & HapKiDo

Rhythms Of Business Evolution:
Magic Of Contribution:  
Contribution of chapters to various books of multiple authors
Poet, Song writer: Narod moj (radio hit)

Goran Šoster

Director of the Prlekija Development Agency

University graduate economist with more than 30 years of work experience in the fields of rural development, regional development, green tourism, and ecology. Since 1998, he has been employed as a director at the Prlekija Development Agency, which is a leading partner of LAG Prlekija and a partner institution of the Mura Regional Development Agency. In the years 1989-1998, he was the director of the company Mikrokozmos, in which he and his partners were pioneers of organic agriculture in Slovenia. In 2002, he co-founded the Slovenian Rural Development Network, which he chaired from 2008-2014. Representative of Slovenian Local Action Groups in the European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD). A prominent member of PREPARE (Partnerships for Rural Europe), where he served as coordinator and chair. Representative of PREPARE in the bodies of the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD). Since 2011, he has been an initiator of the initiative of rural parliaments, co-president of the European Rural Parliament 2017-2019. Author of numerous articles and publications, and co-author and editor of the book “Rural Parliaments – Emerging Participatory Democracy”. Co-author of a monograph on the LEADER programme in Slovenia. Invited lecturer and collaborator at rural development projects in Slovenia, in the countries of Northern and Central Europe, the Western Balkans, the Black Sea countries, and China.

Sergej Krajnc

CEO Termodron, sodobne tehnologije d.o.o.

Sergej Krajnc, alongside key partners in the field of agriculture, has provided substantial outcomes in precision agriculture: using state-of-the-art technology, drones and satellites, and on-site field inspections have enabled discovering fields’ hot spots in time and yielded great cost savings on the farmers’ side. Having awareness of numerous daily farm tasks and their reporting, a Termodron Forms app was created to easily manage a farm in various agricultural areas. 

dr. Jože Podgoršek

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food

Dr Jože Podgoršek was born on 17 March 1974 as the fourth child in a traditional farming family and grew up on the family farm.  Having an innate understanding of agriculture and working with the soil, he began his education at the Grm Secondary School of Agriculture and continued his studies at the Biotechnical Faculty, where he obtained his doctoral degree in agricultural economics.

He began his professional career in the economic sector, where he became well acquainted with vegetable production and the vegetable cultivation sector in Slovenia. While working at the company Zeleni hit d.o.o. from 1997 to 2004, he developed, together with his colleagues, the production of vegetables and introduced new technological solutions to Slovenian vegetable growing farms.

From 2004 to 2018 he was employed at Grm Novo Mesto – Centre for Biotechnics and Tourism (the former Grm School of Agriculture), where he became familiar with the functioning of the public sector. During his time at the school he headed a group for the reform of educational programmes in agriculture, helped establish and subsequently became head of the Grm Inter-Company Educational Centre, helped establish the Grm Research and Development Institute and was head of this Institute until September 2018, headed a working group for the preparation of starting points for the establishment of the Grm Landscape Governance College in Novo Mesto, where he served as the first Dean with full powers until his appointment as State Secretary.

In March 2015 he was appointed the first Food Supply Chain Relationships Ombudsman. His main tasks included monitoring actions by stakeholders in the food supply chain, raising awareness among purchasers of food in the food supply chain with regard to the legislative provisions and moral principles that apply to the purchase of food, raising awareness among producers and processors as intermediaries in the food supply chain with regard to the legislative frameworks for the sale and purchase of food and the rights of food sellers.

In September 2018 he was appointed State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. He held the office until October 2020 when he was named Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food.

Igor Zorčič

President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

Igor Zorčič, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, was born in 1978, and he holds a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Law, University in Ljubljana. After graduating from the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, he got a job in 2003 as a solicitor at the International Claims Department of a commercial insurance company. In the period from 2004 to 2009, he was an expert in criminal law at the District State Prosecutor’s Office in Krško. In 2006, he passed the State Law Examination. Three years later, he got a job at a law firm, where he worked as an attorney until 2014 when he was first elected Deputy of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. During his 2014-2018 term, he chaired the Committee on Infrastructure, Environment and Spatial Planning. As chairman of the committee, he advocated and encouraged investments into environmentally-friendly electricity generation technologies, especially the construction of a chain of five hydroelectric power plants on the Lower Sava, which simultaneously provide a renewable energy source and open new development opportunities for the local environment.

During the current term of National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia 2018-22, he was the leader of the SMC parliamentary group (Party of the Modern Centre) until March 2021. On March 5th, 2020, he was elected as the 14th President of the National Assembly.

In the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Brežice, where he has been working as a councillor since 2014, he strives for projects that, by creating new, sustainable jobs, will contribute to raising the quality of life of local residents and attract new, young residents. In his opinion, the key development projects are the construction of fibre optic broadband services in rural areas, the construction of tourist infrastructure and cycle paths with associated infrastructure, on which the future development of the Smart villages project in the border area of the Posavje region can be based.

Tony Jin Yong

Huawei Chief Representative to the European Institutions

Tony Jin Yong is Huawei Chief Representative to the European
He has years of experience in the telecommunications sector and has
served as Huawei CEO in several Latin American countries. He also served
as Huawei CEO for Spain between 2015 and April 2021.
He has a bachelor’s in telecom engineering. He started his career in
Huawei 20 years ago, five of which were in China, eight in Latin America,
and seven in Spain.


Huawei’s contribution to the Smart Villages and to the Long Term Vision for Rural Areas could be  divided in 5 main pillars, which are 5 areas in which our company is fully involved: 

Agriculture: Huawei has been working heavily on precision farming, smart irrigation  systems, soil monitoring systems, yield monitoring, precision livestock farming and the  monitoring of farms through drones which record high volumes of agricultural production  data. In order to make all this happen, Huawei provides not just rural connectivity, but  also a dense networks of connected sensors powered by Artificial Intelligence. 

Education: Huawei invests a lot in distance learning and live virtual classrooms (LVC) in  rural and remote areas, with a unified cloud platform for teaching which offers an end to-end solution that is available to teachers, classrooms and students and enables  interactive teaching in real time. More importantly, we provide schools in rural and  remote areas with broadband connectivity in order to bridge the digital divide between  rural and urban areas and provide equal access to quality education for kids in rural and  remote areas. 

Health: Huawei has been investing a lot in telemedicine, which allows patients in rural  and remote areas to enjoy medical services from urban-level hospitals in the comfort of  their own homes. We provide a lot of telemedicine solutions and applications, including  an HD video conference system, remote consultation and imaging data transmission for  remote diagnosis. It is also important to note that Huawei 5G is going to upgrade and  accelerate telemedicine technology heavily. 

Energy: the opportunities to produce renewable energy from sources such as wind and  solar are much higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Huawei has been working a lot  in the past years on Photovoltaics (PV) and Smart PV Solutions, notably new generation  string solar inverters. Huawei also provides micro-grid solutions to convert solar energy  into electric energy, which is essential for rural areas. 

Transport: At Huawei we believe that rural mobility has received far less attention from policymakers than urban mobility and there is a serious lack of various smart and shared  mobility options that are being deployed in many urban areas. In this regards, Huawei can  help provide solutions based on innovative mobility mapping and platforms. Huawei can  also provide charging infrastructures and deploy notably charging stations for electric  vehicles in rural areas.

msc Miran Stanko

Mayor of the Municipality of Krško

Miran Stanko, born on 28 March 1956, is a civil engineer who graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics, and a master’s degree in business and informatics, from the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana. He completed his specialization in public finance and tax consulting at the Faculty of Economics in Maribor.

He worked in construction operations for 14 years as a civil engineer, and in 1990 he founded his own company Hermes in Krško, which deals with business informatics and the development of IT technologies and business consulting.

In the period 1998-2002, he was appointed a member of the Krško NPP Management Board, and in the years 2006-2009, he was a member of the GEN energija Management Board. He was also a Member of the Management Board for the Fund for the Financing of the Decommissioning of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant and the Disposal of Radioactive Waste from Krško NPP for two terms.

From 1998 to 2010, he was a municipal councillor for the municipality of Krško for three terms, elected on the SLS list.

He was first elected mayor in March 2012, and then in October 2014. He was re-elected mayor of the Municipality of Krško in November 2018.

Views on Smart Villages and the EU’s Long Term Vision for Rural Areas:

The Municipality of Krško covers a very diversified area, as it has a typical urban area and industry, but most of covered area is rural, so as mayor, he directs a lot of activities and investments in rural areas. In particular, he seeks to improve farming conditions through investments such as land consolidation, agro-melioration, and the establishment and expansion of irrigation systems. At the same time, he is aware of the issue of population ageing and the consequent challenges that brings. His main goal is to enable quality living for the elderly in rural areas, so he actively supports and participates in the Silver Village project.

Zvone Černač

Minister for Development and EU Cohesion Policy

Minister for Development and EU Cohesion Policy Zvone Černač holds a university degree in law.

An important part of his career is marked by development efforts in the local environment. After the first democratic elections, as a member of the executive council of the Municipality of Postojna, he headed the area of internal administrative affairs. He continued his career in the economy. In the company Postojnska Jama, he worked as an assistant director and head of the general service and then took over as Acting Director of the newly established public institution, Kobilarna Lipica. Until he was elected to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia in 2004, he managed the Municipality of Postojna Housing Fund.

Even after being elected as a member of National Assembly, Černač remained active at the local level and, in the years 2005–2011, non-professionally performed the function of deputy mayor of the Municipality of Postojna, responsible for communal and wider social infrastructure.

After his first parliamentary term (2004-2008), he was elected twice more (2008-2011, 2011-2014). Between 2012 and 2013, he headed the Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning. He strived for a sustainable transport and energy policy and orderly and modern transport infrastructure, which, in his opinion, is crucial for regional development that is harmonious and balanced. 

Prior to his re-election to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia in 2018, he performed independent entrepreneurial activity. In the last convocation of the National Assembly, he was appointed chairman of the Committee on Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Local Self-Government. He was also a member of the of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning Committee, member of the Public Finance Oversight Commission, member of the Commission for the Supervision of Intelligence and Security Services, and an alternate member on the Commission of Inquiry. Within the expert council of the Slovenian Democratic Party, he heads the Committee on Infrastructure and Spatial Planning.

As Minister for Development and EU Cohesion Policy, he was sworn in on March 13th, 2020. The Republic of Slovenia Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, which he leads, coordinated the preparation of the Slovenian Recovery and Resilience Plan. The plan, approved by the EU Council at the end of July this year, will be one of the most important levers for the country’s digital transformation and green transition.

Ralf Capito

Director External Affairs, Vantage Towers AG

Ralf Capito joined Vantage Towers AG as Director External Affairs in August 2020. In this role, he is responsible for the Group’s public affairs, including policy, regulation and funding, as well as external communications and corporate security. Prior to that, he served across Vodafone’s European remit in various public affairs, regulatory and legal functions, most recently as Head of Media Policy at Vodafone Deutschland. Before that he represented Vodafone Group for more than four years on various competition and infrastructure related dossiers with the EU institutions.

Mr. Capito’s professional experience focuses on telecommunications and platform regulation, competition policy as well as media policy. A lawyer by profession, he graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Marburg (Germany). He holds a Master in European Law (LL.M.) from the University of Nottingham (UK).

Apostolos Tzitzikostas

President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of Central Macedonia Region, Greece

Apostolos Tzitzikostas was born on September 2, 1978. He studied Government and International Relations at Georgetown University, in Washington DC. After graduating in 2000, he had his first working experience at the Office of the President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the United States Congress. In 2002 he obtained a Masters Degree on European Public Policy and Economics from the University College of London. Following his studies, he created his own company on the field of production, processing and standardization of dairy products, based on organic standards.

In 2007, he was elected Member of the Greek Parliament with the Nea Demokratia Party (EPP) in the First District of Thessaloniki. In the Regional Elections of November 2010 he was elected Vice-Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia and Head of the Metropolitan Area of Thessaloniki. On the Regional Elections of May 2014 he was elected Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, and on the Regional Elections of May 2019 was re-elected Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia. On November 2019 he was elected President of the Association of Greek Regions.

Since 2015 he is a Member of the European Committee of the Regions. In July 2017, he was elected Head of the Greek Delegation and Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions. In February 2020 he was elected President of the European Committee of the Regions. He fluently speaks English and French and his articles are regularly being published in Greek and foreign newspapers and magazines.

Views on Smart Villages and the EU’s Long Term Vision for Rural Areas:

During the pandemic, in rural communities too many citizens had to travel long distances to get medical assistance, too many businesses were excluded from digital markets opportunities, too many students left without classes because of slow internet connections. We need a Rural Deal setting clear objectives and coordinating available investment tools to deliver a sustainable rural recovery. The EU’s long-term vision for rural areas can be our strategic tool to orient both emergency and longer-term investments.”