Sunday, December 26, 2010

When youth have the breath of wisdom

We sometimes forget how wonderful the world of ideas, visions, wishes and smiles can be, and that we only need good-will to realise our innermost wishes. And that a sincere thought and intention can attract everything it needs for realisation.
Let the directness and playfulness of children reopen the door to the world of adventure, hope, manifestation and personal fulfilment. Dan carries these qualities inside. Simply. Openly. Sincerely. And more. He is aware of his joy and lives and shares it unreservedly. Even though he is 13-year old boy. His penetrating, yet slightly distant, gaze can see further and deeper.
Let us end this unique and demanding, yet rich, year on the wings of Dan's energy. Let us start the new year with the purity of children's unrestrained directness and clear thought – a new year, an age and a lifetime. This is Dan's story.

Photo: Dan Poljšak

VB: Who is Dan Poljšak?

DP: I am a rather joyful 13-year-old; a sailor and a constructor, born on Valentine's day.
I live in Škofja Loka, but have had a connection with the sea, and sailing since I was little. I was born into a family of sailors. I enjoy building model sailboats and I love to paint on canvass.

Dan Poljšak:
- Sailor in the "Optimist" class (the Optimist is a small class boat, specifically for children aged 7 to 15; the most broadly used sailboat in the world):
- runner-up at the Italian national championship in 2006;
- twice the Slovenian national champion (2007, 2008) in the category of boys under 12;
- 1st place in the "Cadets" category at the 2007 Touring Trasimeno International Cup;
- member of the Slovenian national team in 2008, 2009 and 2010; competed at the EC's on Lake Garda in 2008 and in Strunjan in 2009;
- Artist:
- individual exposition at his primary school in 2008;
- first prize in the Volvo Ocean Race international contest for his painting of a sailboat of the future (over 100 entries from children from 30 countries; absolute winner in all age categories);
- Constructor:
- design for an antique galleon, and making of models with remote control of steering and sails. The sailboat is made of wood. It is covered with a plastic layer to improve water-tightness. Its buoyancy was tested both in a lake and in the sea;
- design and making of an original pirate schooner of 4,5m in length.
VB: What are your delights, your dreams?
DP: When I was eight, my favourite film was "Bratovščina Sinjega galeba". Afterwards, I wanted to see every film featuring courageous captains and pirates. I would like to be the captain of a ship. Whenever I am at the marina, I watch other sailboats and imagine what my own boat will look like.
Photo: Dan at work

VB: What do you feel when you are creating?
DP: I am in my own world when I'm creating, and I like to have peace and, perhaps, some good music. I prefer Italian singers. When at the seaside, I like to sail with Škrga in the company of my friends, but I don't mind going out alone either. I enjoy my ability to manoeuvre the boat and control all five sails by myself.

ŠKRGA: a sailboat; Dan Poljšak's innovative project; his original pirate schooner of 4,5m in length:
- he first presented his idea at the InCo Conference in Ljubljana, in April 2009. The process of making the sailboat was documented by the national television and used as a pilot for a series entitled " Mladi inovator" (Young Innovator).
- The sailboat is intended as a training boat for children learning sailing skills. When building the boat, the young constructor benefited greatly from the knowledge shared by his father and other professionals and participated in every step of the building process.
- The sailboat has been in the water almost two years and many children have gained new experiences during their sailing adventures.

Photo: Dan's sailboat Škrga

VB: This is quite an expensive hobby. Who helps you with it?

DP: I am grateful to have the support and help of my family whenever my wishes and plans are especially demanding.
It's really great that mom can sometimes get us sponsorship. I got my first Optimist class boat from a sponsor from Italy, which is something I am very proud of. That boat was my luckiest so far. I recently also received a computer and design tools.

VB: What about knowledge?
DP: I learn a lot from my dad and from the professionals who work with us. I get even more information from the Internet and by reading and watching television programmes on sailing. I learn a lot by myself – from my mistakes and discoveries. I also like to spend time with my friends and sail and share ideas with them.
Dan's childhood: He started drawing and constructing interesting compositions of coloured wooden cubes when he was two. He was encouraged in his play and continued to develop his talent. He always wanted to participate in all home repairs and got his first real tool kit (like grown-up handy men) and a wooden workbench for testing his tools when he was four.
The first model he built was a simple copy of the Titanic; afterwards, he started building with Lego cubes.
Initially, he followed existing designs, later he developed his own. He was always including various mechanisms (wheels, hoists, springs, gears and shafts, etc.). Thus, his models came to life with functionality. He also continued drawing and exhibited great talent for spatial representation and multi-dimensionality.
During his first school years, he mainly created sketches, plans and models from Lego cubes, wood, cardboard and natural materials.
He was mainly encouraged by his family, but his kindergarten and school teachers also recognized his talents, especially in arts and technical classes.
VB: How do your schoolmates, friends and teachers feel about your work?
DP: Very differently, but most people at school already know I like sailing. At the end of last school year I invited all my schoolmates and our class teacher on a field trip to my sailing club. Everyone had the opportunity to sail with Škrga. We also visited Piran and had ice cream together. I was happy to show this part of my life to my schoolmates. People in Škofja Loka generally don't know much about sailing.

VB: What sort of a schedule do you keep?
DP: I stay in Škofja Loka during the week, while every weekend, my family goes to the seaside.
Mom says we are leading a slightly nomadic lifestyle. Sometimes we sleep on the boat, and sometimes in Trieste at my nana's.
We spend our days training at the club or competing in regattas in various places. On weekdays, i spend my mornings at school and most of my afternoons building models. Lately, I've also been enjoying painting oil paintings on canvas. My dad and I also go to ki-aikido training.
Through his family's lifestyle, Dan has had a close bond with nature since birth, which has taught him a lot. Every year, he spends months close to the sea and sailboats. This enabled him to learn to observe nature, from the weather to sea water. His view of the world gained a new dimension when he saw what was inside a drop of sea water; he saw crystals that contain energy. In his 1st grade he challenged the traditional division between the animate and inanimate worlds, for he saw water as a living element with a memory of its own. His bond with nature is also driven by this love of the saltern where Dan spends his summer holidays as a child of nature, separated from his computer and TV.
VB: What do you find most difficult? What brings you the greatest joy?
DP: I don't know yet what I find the most difficult. I can't think of a single thing. I am happiest when I receive new materials to create with. The models I would like to build are very expensive, so I often have to wait for several months before I get them. I also enjoy holidays and spending time at the saltern. Especially, when my friends join me on my boat and we go exploring together. This year, my dad allowed me to sail our 13-meter sailboat Sandokan. I greatly enjoyed taking it to the wharf and mooring it by myself.

Photo: Dan is painting

VB: What do you think your life will be like when you grow up?
DP: I am currently living a day at a time and don't make any big plans. Perhaps I will be a ship captain sailing around the world. What I'd like even more, would be to own a 15-meter wooden sailboat. I'm not sure whether I will build my two-mast schooner myself, or not. I will probably buy it second-hand and fix it. I would also like to have a family.

Photo: Dan Poljšak

VB: A question for Dan's mother ... How is your family experiencing Dan's development? What do you usually do?

DP: Our family's bond with the sea and sailing is a way of life. Whenever we have an interesting idea we try to realise it. For example, after several years of effort we finally succeeded to enrich sea water with natural energy using a method unique in Slovenia and in the world. In one of the salt funds at the Sečovlje saltern we are producing special energy salt. We also wrote a book about it, entitled "Energy Captured in a Salt Crystal". In this project, we completed the circle SEA = LIFE = LOVE... Lately, we have been developing shading solutions and technology using "sun sails". Our experience with sailing is very helpful in implementing our idea of "tricking" the sun with the help of the wind. Dan was encouraged to develop his ideas in a similar way since he was little.

VB: How do you manage your finances?
DP: We are usually capable of overcoming obstacles; however, such activities are very demanding financially.
All the materials for creating, the models, all the precious materials and paints …, and especially all the trips to the coast, training, sailing equipment and all trips to distant regattas – are all very expensive. Both children are promising young sportsmen, members of Slovenian national teams, and this is often too much to handle financially. Initially, only Dan was winning trophies; later, he helped with the development of his sister Lara who has already surpassed him with her achievements in sport. Nevertheless, we are happy their efforts and work have been confirmed with results.

Photo: Family portrait

VB: What poses the greatest challenge to your family? What is your greatest satisfaction?
DP: The greatest challenges for our family are maintaining a close bond with each other and nature, yet realising our projects and ideas. We also wish our efforts and activities would provide us with financial independence.
To conclude, here is a holiday greeting from DAN and his family. The words were borrowed from a Slovenian poet, Lili Novy.
"Everyone of us, as if on a boat,
Is sailing an uncharted course;
This moment you should try to hold,
And love whatever else you keep afloat,
as long as the daylight lights your oars."
We wish you a happy and delightful 2011. Vibacom Team. p.s.: We donated our funds for greeting cards and gifts to Dan to help him realise his dreams; thank you for being with us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethical management has a market value

The conference that was organized by the »Forum on Ethics in Leadership« and held at the European Parliament, impressed me in a significant way. Not only because it dealt with a topic that is nowadays a probable key to the further development of our civilisation, but also because it brought together many thinkers, managers, leaders and young potential from around the globe in search of a new foundation for more ethical development and coexistence on the planet Earth. And especially because it brought together people who are at very different levels of ethical awareness;. in one place, at the same space. With a single purpose: to make a step forward towards global social prosperity, towards a life worthy of human kind and in harmony with the planet Earth.

“World Forum for Ethics in Business (WFEB)”:
• Platform for promotion and protection of an ethical approach to development of companies and corporations.
• Dialogue and cooperation between the private sector, academic circles, government agencies, international organisations, media, spiritual and other non-governmental organisations as well as other stakeholders, based on fairness, basic human values and with the aim of restoring public confidence in the business world.
• Development of responsible business networks based on exchange of views, experience and best practices.
These words might seem too ultuistic, or overambitious to you; you might say they will not earn wages or pay retirement benefits; you might find them inappropriate for this day and age. You may think the priority is to re-establish the economic balance. However, having attended this meeting I am even more firmly convinced there is no way back. We will never re-establish the old economic balance. The old systems are crumbling, and demand new structures. The space is filled with a critical mass indicating the need for change. The only question is, what the next evolutionary stage will bring.

A short summary of the messages of the solemn, serene and poignant Brussels meeting:
• A new social paradigm is necessary and is being formed...
• Changes are taking place at the structural and individual levels
• Global corporations that opted for systematic compliance with ethical principles are more successful
The transformation of business operations towards ethics and sustainable development is implemented through a strong focus of top management and through leadership by example
It is a fact that the current leading economic elite, is losing its structure of power; on one hand this is due to individuals who are increasingly more aware and aggravated, and on the other, due to systematic and persistent global positioning of spiritually broader and stronger structures that do not think about centuries or quarters of the year.

*“We need a new paradigm, a new type of leadership. We must rediscover our responsibility and dignity. This meeting is a small step forward…”
Mr. Nirij Deva, Vice President of the Development Committee in the European Parliament
“Without political will there is no economic growth. Abandoning of ethics leads to arrogance. I am unconvinced that a true will to change the system exists.
My proposal: establish global structures to prevent financial disasters, such as the current one…”
Amb. Jean-Paul Carteron, Chairmen and Founder Crans Montana Forum
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
The key topic of the two-day meeting was ETHICS (which was already highlighted by professor Tadeja Jere Lazanski, PhD, at the 2010 InCo Conference, see, Wednesday, 21 April 2010): the ethics of leaders and individuals who form the new social paradigm, - from ethics, to business, to social and state structures, civil initiatives, and back to ethics. This 5000 year old model of social co-dependency was elaborated on by Sri Sri Ravi Sankar in one of his appearances. Regardless of where in the cycle we participate and raise awareness, we influence all of its parts.

Initially, I found the conference confusing because I was unaware of the difference in understanding of ethics, which is a key social component. However, after the first day I began to realise that the greatest achievement was in bringing together so many different leaders, with diverset views on the essence and significance of ethics, to be sitting together in the same room. The aim was to be heard, to listen and to enable interstructural learning on the path of seeking new foundations and base topics for a modern society. I see the above as the biggest achievement of the meeting.

Signs of rebirth with respect to ethics in the corporate world came from various environments, such as Siemens, Unilever, Egyptian Exchange, Educom Solutinos and similar organisations, who supplement or even base their business models on social responsibility, either due to personal beliefs and a high level of awareness, or simply because they recognise that a business opportunity is paying off.

*“We always have a choice. I am managing a company with a strong foundation of social responsibility. This approach has paid off. The key importance is not in HOW MUCH profit you make, it is HOW you make it. Ethics pays off…” (V.B.: more than 10.000 employees in 27 countries)
Mr.Shantanu Prakash, CEO, Educomp Solutions limited
*“The Egyptian Exchange has implemented an ‘Index of Social Responsibility" for more comprehensive monitoring of companies. Egypt is now negotiating with the World Bank on how to transfer this model to the rest of the world…”
Mr. Mohmound Mohieldin, Managing Director, World Bank
*“Creating value for all links in the value chain has proven to be an excellent business decision. We have measured the carbon footprint of all our products. We have made a shift from value per share to value per shareholder…” (V.B.: this year's corporate award recipient)
Mr.Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Vice-President, Global External Affairs, Unilever
*“The implementation of an ethical business model following the 2006 scandal has paid off considerably. Siemens has never before been as successful as in the post-scandal period. The CEO’s public declaration that Siemens will never again resort to bribery in acquiring business was a key moment. It resonated with all our employees. Our main business focus is on eco-efficiency and social responsibility…”
Mr. Josef Winter, Chief Compliance Officer, Siemens AG
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
The audience exhibited enthusiasm and apprehension twice - when listening to the thoughts of two great men from the international arena who, in addition to the structures and systems of ethics, strongly stressed the role of the individual and the importance of understanding our emotions and actions at the level of personal responsibility. History teaches us that the most ordinary people often take part in the most horrific of crimes. The reason is a lack of understanding of personal responsibility and the consequences of own actions, including the broadest context thereof. Thus, the call for better understanding of our own emotions was correct and justified.

Perhaps the countries where ethics have reached the lowest point are the ones that can contribute most to the shaping of significant changes. Unethical behaviour of global corporations in Africa, Asia and Latin America is the responsibility of everyone who buys their products and thus supports their growth. This is an area where we can take action, while the quarrelsome and corruptible local authorities are perhaps a challenge each country will have to take on internally. This is an opportunity for all of us to understand what we are paying for when we buy products and services, or when we vote.

*“Our lives are directed by our inner worlds. This is the source of our thoughts and activities. Nevertheless, we rarely take time to consider our emotions. Lack of education about our personal emotions leads normal people to commit horrific acts. Crimes are committed by normal people…
Only education and awareness of every individual can lead to better quality of collective consciousness... Young people need role models...”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, International Association for Human Values,
(leader of the largest non-governmental organisation in the world)
*“Serious problems result from an imbalance between needs and responsibilities. Create leaders who will understand they are leading for the benefit of the society as a whole. We need steps and decisions that will create more happiness and content rather than fear among people…
The emphasis needs to be on the structures rather than individuals … we must always carefully monitor our behaviour and the essence of the structure we are operating in... In criminal organisations people strictly observe the rules; if not, punishment will follow; the rules of the structure itself are very brutal…”
Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
*“In Africa, we have skipped copper wire communication and transferred directly to digital and wireless connections. Perhaps such a leap can be achieved in management style as well... Africa is tired. It is looking for a new paradigm, based on ethics. We rely on our youth…”
Mr. Dale Olujede, CEO and Publisher, Timbuktu Media (the only recipient of the Pulitzer Prize from Africa, this year’s individual award recipient)
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
Let me conclude this summary of thoughts from the 7th International Leadership Symposium on Ethics in Business with a few words from a former astronaut and current chairman of a corporation that develops engines for spacecraft, who said that “humanity probably won’t realise the beauty of Earth and appreciate its wealth until it sees it from another planet”. He also stressed, somberly and very convincingly, that our understanding of ethics starts within the family, i.e. the civil society that influences the values, which influence ethics in business, which influence politics, which influences …

*“Only when human kind moves to other planets will we understand the exceptional gifts of Earth and change it into a cosmic park where people will go on vacation…
Just look at the atmosphere today; over 20,000 objects are floating above us and many of them without a return ticket… Who is responsible for this?
Ethical principles are learned at home … we are bound by strong responsibility to transfer our ethics to our children…”
Dr. Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz, President and CEO, Ad Rocket Company (7 space flights)
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
I hope this issue will help you identify your own ethical grounds and critically review and assess why and how you integrate them in your daily life, work and creativity. I found these two days very helpful. I am grateful to the organisers for the invitation and opportunity to become aware again of my inner beauty, strength and energy for future activities. Once we are able to look back through the prism of the new consciousness we will find many actions, decisions and initiatives of the past difficult to understand. Illegal and criminal behaviour will be subject to the rule of law in each individual country. The rest of us, citizens of our respective countries and inhabitants of Earth, have to decide how to act today and in the next decades and centuries. I know this might seem a bit farsighted, but it is actually very grounded. All social development starts with the decision of an individual. With the first small step that is later given meaning with the mass of the steps that follow in opening up the path for further development. I would like to conclude with a thought that was inspired by an old Chinese proverb: “A vision without action is futile; action without vision is dangerous.” I hope our long-term views will be supported by thoughtful actions and based on ethical principles. Let’s try, they say it’s worth it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Civil movements, it is time to claim your role in the innovation ecosystem!

Value creation, as a primary factor for the generation of wealth of modern society, has been driven lately by innovation. However, innovation has not been only a driver of economical prosperity. Its true nature is a calling for a much deeper change, in order for its full manifestation to be implemented. It is a calling for cooperation, co creation, and open societies without fear and restrictions on good initiatives. It is a calling for social change, for structural change, for evolution to take the next step. It is inviting each individual, you, me, my kids and fellow citizens, bankers, stakeholders, scouts, teachers, workers and presidents, to fully live their inner essence.

But where can I join the social transformation?

In your little garden, job, family, the circle of friends, but most importantly, within yourselves. On any level, in any community, in any organization that consists of people that care. That is what civil movements are all about. To take a step, no matter how small it is, how awkward or slow it seems.
“And when the first steps are taken, I can see a change. The first and very important one is, that the money to finance civil movements will no longer be channeled from governments and special interest groups, but we will be self supporting. Through our tax money, that will be transferred to a special open society foundation before it reaches the governmental constraints. It will be led by a group of the wise ones, those trustworthy, and beyond the reach of the current political will and interest. Then civil society will be able to claim its true role in an open innovation ecosystem and contribute its share to sustainable progress for the good of the majority.” This is my vision.

Photo: InCo/ChangeTheGame event

On October 18th we sent a message out. From the National Council of Slovenia. We made apparent the rhythms of civil society. We made new connections and exchanged visions. We showed that we are alive. That we are, with a miniscule budget, already creating an open space where it was not hitherto seen, yet, truly dynamic and worthy of the human race. Today’s story is about a small wave from Slovenia that is making its way to the shore. Join the resonances, and by the time we reach the shore, we will have enough strength to clear those paths long neglected. I can see beyond the negative stories and thoughts. I know that you can too.


- to show the importance and the role of NGO movements or initiatives in establishing an open innovation ecosystem (on a regional, country, community or organizational level).

- to show, based on the InCo movement experiences and models, the possible tools, structures, projects and groups of participants that are needed for running such initiatives.

- to show the importance of diversity of initiatives yet that support each other in order to improve the social capital, and contribute a progressive change in society towards open innovation.

- to emphasise the importance of cross-regional and cross-continental networking and cooperation for successful development of regional and local innovation ecosystems.

I. The initial thoughts that set the wave, Violeta Bulc, Vibacom
"Innovative dialogues", multimedia performance, Lado Jakša

1. "The role of National Council in modern societies, the missing link between the needs of citizens and policy makers", Blaž Kavčič, the President of the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia.
2. “Why do we need civil initiatives in the development of innovation ecosystems", prof.ddr. Matjaž Mulej, University of Maribor.
3. "InCo movement, - a civil initiative for progressive innovation ecosystems; The path that we have walked and the lessons we have learnt", Violeta Bulc, Vibacom.
4. INCO International, Diversity and implementation benefits in multicultural environment, Marija Kokelj, Pitea.
5. "Change The Game" initiative and why do we have an interest in InCo movement, Stefan Blachfellner, "ChangeTheGame" initiative founder & INDABA Corporate Consulting.
6. "Challenges of innovation ecosystems in Austria", Thomas Wallner, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.

II. Part: "Learning from the melting pot"
"The role of Art in Innovation Ecosystem", Lado Jakša, multimedia performance

1. InJo (innovation journalism), the beginning of the InCo. story "Stanford after Stanford, messages and lessons about InJo", Matej Praprotnik, InJo scholarship 2010, RTV SLO.
2. "Innovation Journalism: The changes in Slovenian media", Lenart J. Kučić, Delo; Mirko Štular, Val 202; Domen Savič, Innovatif, Round table moderated by Matej Praprotnik, RTV SLO (30 min).
3. InCo Jr, InCo Ba. (for the youth): "Why youth inclusion matters, in innovation ecosystems", Mojca Štepic, Vibacom, Andreja Križnič, Proaktiv.kom.
4. InLoCom (for innovative local community), Ana Savšek, RCL: "From InLoCom to sustainable regional partnership "Heart of Slovenia".
5. "InCo movement - the branding that made a difference", Ladeja Godina Košir, Delo.

III. Part "New seeds that show new ways" (5 min block)

Initiatives that co-created the consciousness:

1. Association for Fair Play and tolerance in sport, Milan Hosta, SPOLINT Inštitut.
2. Initiative "" for a healthy relationship with life, Nataša Gregorič, IMC.
3. Umanotera, NGO for sustainable development and environment, Gaja Brecelj, Umanotera.
4. "E-participation: NGOs way to innovative democratic dialogues", Simon Delakorda, INePa (got in late, so his presentation is at the end).
5. The role of expert associations in creation of open innovation ecosystems, Maja Makovec Brenčič, Slovenian Marketing Association.
6. "The role of professional association in creation of open innovation ecosystems", Sonja Šmuc, The Managers' Association of Slovenia.
7. "The National Scout Organization and their contribution to the open innovation ecosystem", Tadej Pugelj, MNO (the network of NGOs).
8. "Culture and innovation ecosystems", Samo Selimović, Bunker.
9. "Contribution of generation Y to open innovation ecosystems", Žiga Vavpotič, Zavod Y.
10. Katja Verderber, Presentation, Labyrinth of Art.
11. "The role of Art of Living in creation of open societies", Sabina Podjed, Andrej A. Chiaiutta, The Art of Living (NGO).
12. "Luna festival and its contribution to creativity", Barbara Zonta.

Photo: InCo/ChangeTheGame event

Introduction of the new InCo initiatives and contents, Violeta Bulc, Vibacom:
13. ”Innovation Excellence” – best innovation performance and sustainability in ecosystems”, Dražen Carić, i.c.i.c.
14. "Leadership for innovation ecosystems", Sonja Klopčič, Trimo.
15. "The story that was recognized at InCo 2007", Videolectures, IJS.
16. "New community tools for a new civil movements and engagements", Uroš Strel Lenčič, Ordo.

IV. Part "Future Outlook"

Comments from the audience

“The Pattern Language of Innovation Movements! – What can we learn from existing patterns to co-evolve global, regional and local innovation ecosystems?”, Thomas Fundneider & Stefan Blachfellner, "ChangeTheGame Initiative".

All the presentations are available on

Photo: Stefan Blachfellner and Violeta Bulc

The October 18th event happened because colleagues from Austria and the members of the »ChangeTheGame« initiatives wanted to hear how we have managed to start and evolve the InCo movement. But this simple invitation turned out to be more than just an exchange of ideas. It was a time to look back and to look forward. It was a time to understand that such a concentrated number of events and the actual results of InCo movement could not happen just because of one movement. The event became an opportunity to understand how closely we are all related. How much strength one can gain, not only from supporters, but even more from the co-creators of a new paradigm. Sometimes it is enough that you know about other initiative around you; that gives you a special strength that goes beyond logic and calculations. The fact that the event was happening in cooperation with the National Council gave the event additional meaning. This past 5 years of InCo and the described event are just a blip, but it is a real one and I can only hope, a little inspiration to those out there dreaming, hoping and making the changes that they believe in.

Friday, October 15, 2010

“Watch for people messing with the rules, because that is the earliest sign of a significant change”, J.A. Barker

In the last year I can perceive a difference, seeing the passion in people; in feeling the intensity that, around the world, minds are connecting with; in the search for answers to so many fundamental questions. I see sincere initiatives provoking and inviting people to act; to have personal opinions; to create and innovate; to manifest organizational innovation; and social ones too. Technology can no longer solve the real challenges of our civilization. It is time to change the game. This is a story of such initiative. About the vision and sincere beliefs that can make a real difference. A story about the man behind it. Allow it to open up your perceptions and sense yet another vibration of something new. Enjoy the reading.

VB: Who is Stefan?
SB: That is a tricky question. First of all I am a father and a family man, living in the lovely town of Salzburg in Austria. Secondly, I am an entrepreneur. I have my own company and I am involved with a number of other entrepreneurial designs working in Europe and China. Thirdly, I am also a part time university lecturer teaching 9 subjects at 3 universities in Austria.
Don't miss the event at the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia on 18 October, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., where we will exchange best practices of creating an innovation ecosystem and the preconditions for sustainable development. We will host guests from Austria and hold an electronic conference with speakers from India, Israel and Hungary. Together, we will correlate the key experiences of civil initiatives for promotion and development of an open space.Meet the "InCo Movement", "ChangeTheGame Initiative", "Stanford after Stanford" and other Slovenian initiatives that co-create an open society. Join us and participate in its creation!
VB: What is your passion?
SB: I am really into connecting people, in the sense of enabling vision, ideas and projects to emerge. Initially you need the right people, at best from different businesses, science, design, arts or social environments. I also love to work in emerging projects. The diverse teams and projects are usually full of energy and enthusiasm, and they take a holistic view of the problems and solutions.
Stefan Blachfellner (, the key projects: Cooperation with the center for knowledge management at the University of Linz in Austria, a great learning opportunity; »Learning Area Almtal«, where we connected people from three different communities covering a whole valley in Austria; personal intercultural learning in China working with one of the largest technical colleges in Shanghai, where we aim to establish a learning organization focusing on quality enhancements in education; the global Change the Game Initiative, an international innovation network and hub.
VB: »Change The Game«. What is it all about?
SB: About 3 years ago a small group of business intelligence, and information ethics experts introduced a round table on a very specific topic, entitled »business intelligence meets moral intelligence«. The attendees concluded , that there was something deeply wrong in the way we conduct business today and the impact of our practice have on society. These very personal statements were given before the economic crises really struck. We decided to start a small community and I was asked to be their host. While traveling home by train, somehow reflecting unconsciously upon the event, and the deep reflections we all had been part of, a quote by an American futurist, Joel A. Barker, flashed into my mind: “"Don´t wait for the trends to develop. Instead, watch for people messing with the rules, because that is the earliest sign of significant change. And, when the rules change, the whole world can change." And instantly I decided the name of the community should be »Change the Game Initiative« and that we need to connect people who mess with the rules.

Photo: Stefan Blachfellner in Violeta Bulc

VB: Who are the members?

SB: Dedicated entrepreneurs, leaders, executives, managers, civil servants, researchers, journalists, consultants, free agents, and artists meet today within the initiative. Some own businesses. Some work for companies, governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit organizations, universities, research labs, media, and local & world communities. Some have studied business, sociology, psychology, history, philosophy, communication, informatics, mathematics, biology, or arts. Some simply learn lifelong, students of living!

VB: How does it work? What is the content?
SB: It evolved because of the coincidence people create when they start relationships. Of course, these relations need to stay alive, and I mean not only on a simple friendly level. Therefore, we are currently working on the next steps towards our vision of an innovation network and a hub. We want to discover the interdependence between ethics and innovation and its impact on the social, ecological and economic sustainability of business models, organizations and societies at large.
At the same time we imagined the "Change the Game Initiative" I met Alexander and Kathia Laszlo at the biannual International Federation for Systems Research Dialogues in Austria, where I have been invited the first time in 2008. They are both very inspirational. They not only encouraged me to bring the idea of this community to life, but also donated a wonderful quote: “Innovation without ethics is blind. Ethics without innovation is blind.” Our leading principles, and members of the »Change The Game Initiative« are certainly neither boring nor blind.

VB: Why now?
SB: I guess, because it was, and is the right time. By providing solutions that lead to prosperity we as humans created also a bundle of problems that lead to regression. The question remains, will we have the capabilities to solve these, for instance, environmental, social, and cultural problems? I think so.
I have spoken with many scientist and ordinary people who are already working towards possible solutions, "messing with the common rules". They might be the next paradigm changers. So we are dealing with a very serious consciousness, but also with a very playful mind, yet, with very serious topics. We are searching for life affirming paradigms in economic logic & value creation.

VB: How are such initiatives perceived in Austria? What is the public attitude towards innovation in Austria? Is there any grass-roots public (NGO) movement to support innovation?
SB: With our own public perception, well, that is a difficult question; we have no measurements (yet). Innovation is a public and established agenda in Austria, but this agenda is mainly driven by interest groups, like the chamber of commerce, or the federation of Austrian industries. Maybe because it is so well organized, there seems to be no need or space for grass-roots movements at the surface. Although we witnessed some exciting initiatives with the evolving trend of social entrepreneurship in Austria like the foundation of »The Hub« in Vienna, or the design and innovation community gathering at the Lift@Austria event »Enable! Profound Innovation in Society, Economy & Knowledge« co-organized by Thomas Fundneider and Markus Peschl, both members of our initiative, too. And our »Change The Game Initiative«, that too is a kind of paradigm shift itself.

Foto: Stefan Blachfellner in Violeta Bulc

VB: How are you organized?

SB: We have no legal body, declared ownerships, though we do have sponsorships, and no established business or political interest or pressure groups in our DNA. We are more a un-organization. I‘ve heard once, that our name is too aggressive or progressive for established industries or businesses. But a lot has changed since even the term »game changers« entered the terminology of innovation movements and the jargon of managers.
It is our intent to attract individuals more than organizations. Therefore, we decided to connect global minds rather than a region or a country. Today we connect people from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and USA.

VB: What are you aiming for in the future?
SB: Our next step is to strengthen the initiative. We have established an advisory board. Our first board members are also our most active members: Alexander and Kathia Laszlo, Thomas Fundneider, Stefan and Manfred Blachfellner, and you, Violeta Bulc. Although innovation and ethics will stay at the center of our activities we are experiencing a convergence with design as a new focus. But not only technological design, also social design. There is now a strong emphasis on co-creating an evolutionary system that serves not only our needs but also the needs of our environment and the needs of our next generations. It is about becoming meaningful, and to create value, leading to the questions, does it enrich my life, does it enrich other lives, does it enrich our community; these are the driving questions now.
Tangible and intangible results of the initiative: Intangible results are the connections between our members, which led to – you might call it – tangible results, published on our website, like many invitations to scientific and professional conferences in Europe and once even in Australia and several publications. We have established a research group that met within the initiative on »Controlling for Sustainability«, because we believe that we need to transform our measurement and steering systems in order to transform our perception and decision abilities. We are members of the International Federation for Systems Research on “Learning Systems for Sustainability”, were we are currently working on the further strengthening of an action research lab on the impact of innovative and ethical business practices. We have supported the establishment of a social entrepreneur cooperative called “ThinkCamp” together with the Coalition for the Global Commons and the Global Marshall Initiative. ThinkCamp supports innovators for sustainability to realize their projects. And much more…

VB: How do you and the initiative relate to InCo movement that has started in Slovenia?
SB: First of all, it is again a personal relationship, in this special coincidence between you and me. We met at the Salzburg Global Seminar in 2007 and since then we have continued connection. I have always been very curious about the advancements of the InCo movement in Slovenia. We share similar interests like the communication agenda, telling a new narrative to trigger change. Some InCo members or co-founders are already members of the »Change The Game Initiative«, like you or Madanmohan Rao from InCo India.
As the InCo movement goes global, we could serve as a partner network, offering our support to co-evolve with the InCo movement. I truly believe in the necessity of networking. Some people seem to be natural facilitators, not only with one network, but with several networks. We could create a wonderful mesh structure and thereby greater value, together.

VB: On the October 18th, you and some of your colleagues are coming to Ljubljana to meet with participants of the InCo movement. At the same time, InCo movement is also hosting the first session of the »ChangeTheGame« initiative in Slovenia. What do you expect from this meeting?
SB: I expect the first meeting to be the first of many enrichening, learning journeys, in the sense of enrichening new relations with dedicated people, enrichening new insights from other experiences in the field of innovation, regional and community development.

VB: Could movements like »Change The Game« and »InCo movement« be an important future arrangement? A new global platform for co-existence, co-creation, and a global village? Why?
SB: Ok, the last trickiest question. Of course I hope so, in the midst of our own experiment. I hope that we enable a paradigm change, that we enable committed individuals to change the world.
I also believe in the concepts of globalization. Localisation or regionalisation is a key concept in creating value chains and its revitalisation might be a key success factor in regional development. But simultaneously we can connect people, knowledge or even value networks globally to strengthen our abilities to innovate without ethical blindness. To strengthen individual commitment, to strengthen global civil societies, to strengthen a shared understanding of our cohabitation on the planet Earth.

Thank you Stefan. Your provocative thoughts, the results and your boldness are infectious. It challenges those that have not yet made a step, yet. It shares a dream and offers paths to manifestation. It is changing the game and allows learning along. I am sure new individuals will be inspired. More still, understood that only one small step is needed to start the journey. Feel it. Hear it. See it. Embrace it. Violeta

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

From vision to measurable results – 10 years of growth of the Centre of Development of Litija

Organisations are living organisms that are born and develop; they enrich the world they live in and integrate into it. The Centre of Development of Litija (RCL) is a wonderful organism. Unique. With an impulse that inspires many around it. It connects the different, the similar and those who are searching for something. Those who want to go forward. In this disoriented age, when we are searching for new foundations, RCL provides the Litija Municipality and the entire development partnership of "Srce Slovenije (Heart of Slovenia)" with an unifying power, vision, boldness and professionalism. It interweaves the stories of various individuals, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, young people and politicians, always for the benefit of the local community and the region. For the benefit of people and the entire ecosystem. For the benefit of future generations and for the joy and fulfilment of the present ones. The RCL team has been led by Aleksandra Gradišek since the beginning. Ten years. Thus, this is also her story.
Don't miss the event at the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia on 18 October, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., where we will exchange best practices of creating an innovation ecosystem and the preconditions for sustainable development. We will host guests from Austria and hold an electronic conference with speakers from India, Israel and Hungary. Together, we will correlate the key experiences of civil initiatives for promotion and development of an open space.Meet the "InCo Movement", "ChangeTheGame Initiative", "Stanford after Stanford" and other Slovenian initiatives that co-create an open society. Join us and participate in its creation!
VB: Where are RCL's roots? What the impulse for its foundation?
AG: The groundwork was laid in 2000 in Litija, together with the then mayor, Mirko Kaplja. At the time, we were one of many support institutions for the development and acceleration of entrepreneurship that were established across Slovenia. Today we can only confirm that that was a very wise decision.
We are very pleased that the current mayor is also able to recognize the potential and the results of our work, so that we are able to continue developing our story boldly. We have become an established coordinator of development projects in the "Heart of Slovenia" region, which comprises ten municipalities from central Slovenia and stays open for additional new partners. Through our work, we are developing an environment that will be able to face the challenges of today’s societies.
Photo: Aleksandra Gradišek

VB: What are the key achievements of this ten-year long path?

AG: Our key achievement is the breakthrough from being a local development centre to becoming a regional support subject, which currently formally connects 10 municipalities from 3 geographical regions and also shares its wealth of experience abroad. We are proud of the "All in One Place" service point for entrepreneurs that we manage for 2 additional territories (Litija, Grosuplje and Domžale). Another important step in our development was the establishment of the “Srce Slovenije Local Action Group”, which is a public-private partnership that draws funds from the Leader Programme. We use these funds to help locals in development and implementation of business ideas. For example, the "Jarina" rural development cooperative is successfully implementing a local programme of self-sufficiency in food with our help. We are also proud of successful implementation of regional projects for integration of tourism with cultural and natural heritage and of the growing number of successful entrepreneurs in our region.
10 years of Development Centre Litija (RCL). The initial mission of the Centre was to support entrepreneurship, education and promotion and help secure subsidies for development projects of the local businesses. "Initially, we only organised training. But I've always been eager to learn more and thus I persuaded the mayor to support me in doing something more for Litija," says Aleksandra. Through systematic work and balanced promotion of development of the broader community, the initial idea grew into a regional partnership, now called "Srce Slovenije".

VB: How many people have been involved and have participated during this period?
AG: Our development centre successfully launches programmes that are co-funded with European, national and local funding. We have implemented over 50 reference projects, which involved several thousand individuals, including young people, various associations, businesses, primary schools, municipalities and other local institutions.

Photo: RCL team

VB: Which are the key factors of your success?

AG: I believe the most important thing is to enjoy your work, but you also have to have an ability to establish relationships and a desire for change. The focus has to be on benefiting the community. In my opinion, the key factors are persistence, courage, cooperation with the right people and being one step ahead of everyone. I am very pleased that during our initial steps I was bold enough to seek cooperation of top external experts who brought us their profound knowledge that at the time was not available in our region.

VB: Where is the source of your strength and vision?
AG: I've always welcomed the challenge of creating something new and proving that the seemingly impossible can be achieved. I continue to be successful with this approach for I believe that the good begets the good.

VB: You were the first Innovative Local Community in Slovenia and also the first development centre to have joined the InCo Movement. How did that contribute to your success story?
AG: Since our beginning, we have been introducing new programmes to the local community with the aim of presenting opportunities for all our residents. This is why we were bold enough to launch and promote, perhaps even too soon, the programme, called Innovative Local Community. Our participation in the InCo Movement in the broader sense is an opportunity to meet similarly oriented people and to get a confirmation that we are on the right path. Simultaneously, it was an opportunity for promotion and social innovation as the InCo Movement thought us about the innovation and innovative model and presented our story to the world.
Important results: 2740 directly or indirectly involved in projects; EUR 4 million of acquired development funds, 450 jobs, growing visibility of the tourist destination, 3800 units of promotional activity.

VB: Why did you decide for the "Srce Slovenije" development partnership? What does it bring and how does it influence your work?
AG: At a meeting at the geometric centre of Slovenia (GEOSS) in 2006, we signed an agreement on the Development Partnership of the geographical centre of Slovenia. This opened the door for a project that is unique in Slovenia and the broader region by being based on an actual need for creating a critical mass of people interested in development projects with the aim of improving our possibilities for acquiring public funds for their realisation. We could say that the "Srce Slovenije" development partnership is a true social innovation with very tangible results both for the residents and for the target publics.

VB: Where is your development path leading you next?
AG: In the future, we wish to improve the substance of the "Srce Slovenije" brand name and place our region on the map of Europe as a space that promotes creativity, self-realisation and a quality of living. "Srce Slovenije" serves as an example of the power of integration and cooperation and is unique from the aspect of branding since it includes the broadest variety of areas of activity and interest groups.

VB: The broadening scope of operations and influence of the RCL must have been a management challenge? How did you and your colleagues respond to it?
AG: The key challenge of this process was to secure well-timed recruiting and development of new personnel from various backgrounds and professional fields. In managing an organisation that is active in such a variety of fields the key importance lies in appropriate and timely organisation. As a manager I try to be as open as possible. I believe in my colleagues and I trust and encourage them to take responsibility and authority in their projects. Simultaneously, we've had to remain open to constant fluctuation and new comers.
The growth of our region and related activities increased the need for fresh knowledge and wisdom. To develop and strengthen this will be our primary focus for the next strategic cycle.

VB: What is the future role of development centres?
AG: Development centres have been set-up with various purposes and their current activities reflect that. Their future shape and content depend on their managers and on European, national and regional policies. In my opinion, development centres should create and support safe environment for generating, financing and implementing development initiatives. They should be responsible for motivating people, transferring knowledge and experience, development of regional competences and effective promotion of their regions. Development centres are possibly the key catalysts for enriching of social capital and sustainable development.

Photo: Aleksandra Gradišek, mayors of RPSS and
minister for
Local Self-Government and Regional Development

I hope more support structures are set up for better functioning of the society. To be so convincingly aware of their missions. To be implemented with such a clear long-term visions and with such a high level of sensibility for their environments. RCL's story proves that “where is a will there is a way”. With systematic work. With integration. With courage and strong heart connection I know there are more and more such stories. Help them to be heard.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Innovation in India

A few days ago I came back from India. Enriched, excited, happy. The diversity of life, colours, new values, new structures were overwhelming. My perception absorbed the many new combinations, possibilities, energies, information, attitudes. My universe has expanded. I would argue that if you have not experienced India you cannot claim that you understand what the world is all about, what the global economy is, and what the wheels of life are. One of my biggest fascinations was the traffic in the cities. No words can describe it really, by European standards, it is a vast morass of people, cows, cars, dogs, lorries, carriages, goats, pedestrians, all moving side by side in as many rows as the road permits. Everyone is moving forwards, mostly!! Dependant on their own capacity to move and find an opportunity for progress for her/him/itself.

Dr. Madanmohan Rao
Dr. Madanmohan Rao, Consultant/Author; BANGALORE
Blogs: Mobile:
Knowledge management:
Founder, Indian Proverbs project

Author: ICT4D: Learnings, Best Practices and Roadmaps from the Pan Asia ICT R&D Grants Programme (
Editor, Asia Unplugged (
KM Tools and Techniques (
News Media and New Media (
Leading with Knowledge (
The Asia-Pacific Internet Handbook (

Co-founder, Bangalore KM Community (
Research Projects Director, Mobile Monday (
Conference Chair, Digital Africa Summit (

KM workshop outline:
KM course outline (master's level, one semester):

Official blogger, BaliSpirit Festival 2010

World Music Editor: Rave magazine, CluedIn

Travel writing:
The fascinating thing is that all other participants in the traffic chaos respect the others desire to move and allow them to pass. I cannot imagine that ever being the case on European roads. Such an attitude to life could also be a subconcious strength for India’s more and more powerful positioning within the global community. The other one is innovation. One of the great protagonists of this concept is Madanmohan Rao, an entrepreneur, publisher, professor, music expert, and appropriately, the person behind newly established chapter of InCo India. This is his view on innovation, InCo, InJo and potentials for global innovation ecosystems.

VB: What are India's major drivers for global prosperity and success?
MR: These days almost every global magazine has a story about the re-emergence of India after centuries of British colonial rule and decades of closed economy. Key drivers for India’s prosperity include a solid base of traditional wisdom, an affinity to engineering, local agricultural and mineral resources, large talent pool, young population, entrepreneurial spirit, democratic governance, freedom of the press, global diaspora, and a feeling of destiny that India’s time has come again to make a local and global impact on economy and culture.

VB: How would you evaluate India's drive for innovation? Where does India innovate most? What are her core strengths for innovation?
MR: I would assess India’s drive for innovation on multiple levels: start-ups, R&D, industry verticals, education, M&A activity, news coverage (traditional and social media), events, publications and consultancy services.

India has definitely made a mark by innovating in global offshore software and services industry, and has now become a major international hub for R&D and support in this sector (software products and IT hardware innovation are still lagging behind however). The automotive and pharmaceutical sectors have also stepped up the pace, as well as agro-business and bio-tech. Many management and technology schools have courses on innovation and competitions for business plans, but this should be extended laterally to the educational sector.

Indian companies are also listing on local and international stock exchanges and buying other companies around the world for their knowledge assets. Science and business IT get good coverage in the press, but there needs to be a stronger inter-disciplinary focus, as the pioneers of the InCo movement have rightly pointed out. More attention needs to focus on innovation in areas where India has the most pressing problems: water management, urban planning, transportation infrastructure, electrical power generation, and acceleration of skills in building technology.

Violeta Bulc and dr. Madanmohan Rao

VB: What are the biggest challenges for India to become innovative, and an innovation driven country with a global impact in innovation?
MR: The challenges that India faces, include internal tensions between members of some communities, poor allocation of public funds, and political infighting at various levels of government. On the innovation front, the innovation message needs to be communicated more clearly and regularly, and aspiring innovators need to be connected with their counterparts and participantss more effectively in the country and abroad. Innovation communication and entrepreneurship education need to expand from niche activities to mass movements. There have also been mixed reviews of the validity and quality of innovation metrics and surveys conducted by various research organisations; these can be fine-tuned better to India’s context.

VB: Why have you decided to initiate InCo India? Where do you see it's biggest potential? How do you relate to Slovenian initiatives and experiences?

MR: My first reaction when coming across the InCo community, especially in Slovenia, was: WOW! The aims of the movement and some of its features really resonated well for me: “excitement, dynamics, joy, inner satisfaction and realisation, a decent life;” “innovation space participants, for intergenerational interaction between the boldness of youth and the wisdom of experience”; “inter-structural, inter-generational and inter-disciplinary co-operation.”

As a researcher and writer who grew up in India and travelled and worked extensively overseas, I can immediately see new areas where India can add to models and frameworks in the InCo movement. These include: diaspora networks of innovation (between Indians in India and Indians in the US and Europe, for instance), development communications (using innovation in the context of emerging economies, eg. “bottom of the pyramid” citizens), conflict resolution (eg. innovative ways of promoting dialogue between communities in conflict), scaleable innovation (eg. taking innovations to much larger user bases), globalising innovation (eg. taking innovations from India to other emerging economies and to established economies).

There is also a natural connection between the knowledge movement and the InCo movement. In my book series on knowledge management (KM), I have highlighted case studies of Indian companies who have successfully used knowledge management to improve their productivity and learning capacity; the next logical step is to move into innovation space.

VB: Is there any potential for cooperation in the field of innovation between India, being such a huge country, and Slovenia, being one of the smallest? Where, how? Where do you see challenges and opportunities?
MR: Oh yes, there are lots of areas for possible collaboration! In fact the difference in size and culture actually lends itself well for comparative studies, best practices formulation, model assessments, and collaborative projects.
I see good potential in joint research, authoring of textbooks, organising events, designing awards, mentoring/twinning agreements, consultancy, and alliances between academic programmes, government initiatives and NGOs.

VB: What is going to be your first InCo move?

MR: Establishing contacts with members of the global InCo community! For instance, I have communicated with members of the InJo movement in California and Helsinki, and with community networkers in Austria.

A Web site domain name has already been registered (, and a Twitter account as well (

Dr. Madanmohan Rao

A book on the global InCo community which will include a chapter from India is also in the pipeline, as well as conference participation and workshops in Ljubljana in 2011.

The late great communications scholar Everett Rogers highlighted an exciting field with his landmark book, “Diffusion of Innovations” almost 50 years ago, and others authors have published groundbreaking books on global innovation and knowledge sharing (eg. Wikinomics by Don Tapscott, The Global Brain by Mohanbir Sawhney, The New Age of Innovation by C.K. Prahalad). We in the InCo movement can also play an important role in researching and promoting broad-based sustainable innovation models!

I look forward to terrific synergies and activities with the local and global InCo communities!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Innovation in medicine: a molecule that isolates a cancer cell

It happens. Comprehensive, systemic damage enters our lives. Almost invisibly, but with destructive strength. But simultaneously they bring amazing discoveries that benefit people and all living beings. Today’s guest embraces many modern approaches. She talks about them in a relaxed and convincing manner, and with a smile. Moreover, she explains her breakthroughs as something natural, even ordinary. Which, ultimately, they are. They concern laboratory isolation of a plant molecule that has the potential for cancer remedies, and a protocol that enables the discovery of effective drugs for all sorts of peripheral illness. This is a completely normal and logical step forward in the light of cosmic awareness. Our guest’s name is Romina Znoj. This is her story.

VB: Who is Romina?
RZ: Romina is a hyperactive person that never rests … I even wake up at night thinking about how I can help the world. This is my mission.
Overall, I am eager to learn how the material world functions and understand the laws of the spiritual world. I am very interested in the laws of the universe. My family calls me “Mouse” because I have to stick my nose everywhere and always understand how things work.

VB: Where is the source of your desire to innovate?
RZ: It is my inner drive, my inner inspiration. I see a lot of suffering around me and would like to alleviate this, for people and animals. My drive is also partially genetically preconditioned: my father innovated in the field of electronics, my grandfather in art…

Photo: Vibacom

VB: When did you first create something of your own?
RZ: When I was four. I took a red plastic dish, poured water into it and coloured it with a spice. I proudly walked around proclaiming it to be my new medicine for all illnesses. Then, I stole a syringe from my grandmother and stuck it into a tree. I was deeply disappointed at being unable to take a blood sample from it. I have always learned through curiosity.

VB: These are obviously the roots of your current desire to innovate. What is your focus today?
RZ: The new molecule we discovered causes necrosis of several types of cancer cells. I am currently looking for business partners who would help me develop the molecule on virtual models of animals, and later on human volunteers.

VB: Where do you perform your research?
RZ: The research work was performed at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana (the research is the basis for an expert article and a later doctorate).

VB: What is the essence of this molecule?
RZ: It acts as an “eraser”. Micro tumours are created daily in our bodies. Most of them are successfully eliminated by the body, but some of them grow into larger tumours and finally become metastatic (spread all over the body). If a high enough level of these "eraser" molecules is achieved in the blood and tissue, they successfully eliminate tumours while the rest of them are identified by the immune system and excreted from the body.

Photo: KIWIE 2010, South Korea

VB: The molecule was discovered in January 2010. Now, it is time for testing. What are your expectations? What do you envision at the end of this process?
RZ: We first need to test the molecule's behaviour in a living organism. We need to prove that the molecule initiates gradual necrosis of a tumour in a living organism. Ultimately, I wish we will be able to develop a drug that can be applied intratumorally (injected with a special tool directly into a tumour), intravenously or in the form of a pill.
Romina Znoj is a student of Nanotechnology and Nanoscience at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School in Ljubljana who is completing her doctorate studies. She is a graduate of Medical Microbiology (University of Ljubljana) and Egyptology (University of London). She acquired her knowledge in pharmacy in the ten years she has been working in various pharmaceutical companies. Her greatest desire is to relieve the world from its suffering. This led her to the invention of many different things, most important of which are the new molecule for curing cancer and the virtual model for testing new drugs. She has been a vegan for ten years and has been active in fencing in the last five. This year, she exchanged weapons for a violin, a piano and an Irish flute, and acquired diplomas in music as well.
VB: How does your invention currently stand?
RZ: In the preclinical phase, and are ready now to enter the clinical phase. There are three more phases that will follow. If these phases are competed successfully, the drug will be approved. Today, this means a process of ten to fifteen years, while virtual testing would shorten it to approximately three years. I truly wish this new medicine will be kinder to all living beings. I wish it could be tested on virtual models, and therefore, we are looking for a partner who would be open to such an approach.
The motivation for virtual testing is also based on the fact that the molecule in its current state cannot be tested on animals. Their enzymes would decompose the molecule while human enzymes would not, according to our preliminary findings.

VB: Are virtual drug testing models already used in practice?
RZ: Some prototypes have been developed but I think they are not yet used in practice. Many people are working diligently in this direction. I have also developed a prototype of a drug testing computer model and patented it.

VB: Where did you acquire the knowledge for such a discovery?
RZ: I am a medical microbiologist and an Egyptologist by profession. I am also a polyglot – I fluently speak seven languages. Since my graduate studies, it has always been my desire to transfer ancient knowledge of medicine (and other areas) to modern times. To combine ancient knowledge and wisdom with modern scientific techniques whilst upgrading and transforming them for the benefit of all living beings but for humanity in particular. This is also the case with my latest innovation (V: the discovery of the new molecule for curing cancer). I drew from ancient knowledge (through archaeology) and added modern knowledge of medical biology. Thus we developed a plant extract in the laboratory which led to the discovery of the new molecule.

VB: What sort of a market potential does it have?
RZ: Enormous – the incidence of cancer is growing. It has reached the level of cardiovascular diseases.

VB: What else could the molecule affect?
RZ: It could affect the concept of formation of any disease. The molecule I have isolated is present in every plant. There are different molecules for different disease, but they all function on the same fundamental principle. I believe that my discovery holds the key to curing, and additionally, the prevention of all terminal diseases.
It is also interesting that if the molecule is ingested by vegans and vegetarians it will be most unlikely for them to become ill with any of the severe illnesses, even though they do not eat every existing plant. If a person regularly eats a lot of vegetables, they introduce high quantities of the molecule into their bodies. Since, as far as we know the human body does not contain the enzyme that could decompose the molecule, it is absorbed directly into the blood. In time, a certain concentration of this and other similar molecules is established in the blood and they protect the body in the short and the long-term.
Non-vegetarians are unable to establish this level of concentration naturally and thus they need this in supplement form. This would also include everyone who has already become ill, of course.

Photo: Innovation Award, Chamber of
Commerce and Industry of Slovenia

VB: This leads to the conclusion that lack of this molecule in the body (lack of fruit and vegetables in one’s diet) can lead to cancer. Does this mean that the belief that radiation, stress and emotional pressure are the causes of cancer is erroneous?
RZ: Based on my research, I believe that the fundamental cause is the lack of this and other natural molecules. This is the reason ancient cultures did not know cancer. They ate meat only on holidays, otherwise people were mainly vegetarians. If a person’s body maintains a high enough level of these molecules, they protect them from the consequences of stress and radiation.However, this excludes extreme cases.
Awards for the discovery of the new molecule for curing cancer:
- Eureka! Innovation Award 2009, the Golden Plaque, 3rd place in the country and a special scholarship for 2010 by the Ljubljana Rotary Club, called The View From Another Window
- 2. First prize at the Korea International Women's Invention Exposition (KIWIE) in Seoul, South Korea, May 2010
- Bronze Medal for innovation in 2009 by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, May 2010
- Gold Medal by Active Slovenian Innovators Association – ASI, May 2010
- Bronze medal at the Nikola Tesla International Congress on Innovation in SE Europe, Belgrade, May 2010
For the invention of the plant extract that cures cancer she received a Slovenian patent in October 2008 and an international publication of the patent in 2009. At the end of 2009, she submitted a new Slovenian and international patent applications for the virtual model of the laboratory mouse for testing new drugs.
VB: Can you support this thinking with a good example?
RZ: Yes, I am the perfect example: I had epilepsy, an inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, chronic pneumonia, chronic sinusitis, a stomach ulcer and a spinal defect. I cured them all with a strict vegan diet. Now I am healthy, a sportswoman. I am not an isolated case. I know many people who could tell you the same story. My research has confirmed that I am on the right path. Once, I accidently forgot to add the source of animal nutrients to the cancer cell culture medium in the laboratory. The next day I found out that the cancer cells did not multiply. I waited for a few days and found they had started dying the day after I started this. Further research with the plant extract confirmed this interesting discovery. Many discoveries are made, seemingly, by coincidence.

VB: How does the world of innovators accept your story and your discovery?
RZ: They find it unusual, but it was accepted very well. As far as science is concerned, it awaits testing on living organisms, or on virtual models of living organisms.
VB: Are you already planning new discoveries or is this the story of a lifetime?
RZ: Hmm. I am very open to everything and I follow my inner voice. I am convinced I will invent something else. My virtual laboratory mouse model was also created in the middle of the night. I woke up, wrote it down and later found that it worked exceptionally well.
VB: Thank you for the inspiration, for thinking outside the borders of the known, for your casualness and insight. I hope your invention is developed to a drug soon and for the “good of all living beings”.


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