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Maribor: from old industry to circular economy

Maribor was hit hard during the transition to the market economy. Now the second largest city in Slovenia is a pioneer in circular economy, a strong entrepreneurial hub and an educational and research center of growing importance.

Maribor: from old industry to circular economy

In the last century Maribor used to be one of the strongest industrial centers not only in Slovenia but in the entire ex-Yugoslavia. The second largest city in Slovenia was a center of automotive, chemical, metal, wood processing and textile industries. Everything changed in the 1990s: with a few exceptions the old industries collapsed, and Maribor became synonymous with economic hardship and high unemployment rates.

Not any more. In recent times Maribor has found a new post-industrial identity. Now Maribor is a pioneer in circular economy, a strong entrepreneurial hub with many start-ups and an educational and research center of growing importance.

The city of Maribor was among the first in Europe to recognize the potential of circular economy. Maribor based its development strategy on circular economy. To implement the strategy the city formed an institute called WCYCLE – “a platform of the local utility companies to rethink their business models”. The institute’s practical results include, among others, a new automated waste sorting plant or a project to create various types of soil from organic waste. Maribor’s approach to circular economy is an innovation and serves as one of the best practices in circular economy on a European level.

The city near the Austrian border has also created strong infrastructure to support the development of entrepreneurship. Maribor’s annual PODIM conference, for example, is one of the leading start-up and tech events in the CEE region. The results of these efforts are measurable. Maribor has the highest value of fast-growing company index – a measure combining the total number of fast-growing companies and their share – among 212 Slovenian municipalities.

In 2019, European Commission selected Maribor as one of the eight centers of the EU's high-performance computing (HPC) network. Built by the experts from Maribor’s University the supercomputer will start to operate late this year with a capacity capable of reaching five petaflops. The supercomputer could prove to be vital to both research institutions and businesses. Moreover, it could help Maribor become a hub of regional and European cooperation.

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