Press release

Brdo pri Kranju, 19 September 2023 – As part of Innovation Day, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (CCIS) awarded national prizes to the most innovative innovators in companies and other organizations for the twenty-first time.  SIJ Group celebrated its innovation with two golden awards. SIJ Acroni convinced the jury with the innovation Development of High-Strength Steel SIMAXX 1100, and SIJ Metal Ravne with the innovation Development of Special Steels and Superalloys for the ITER Fusion Reactor.

45 of the best innovations from across Slovenia competed for the national awards. "If we want to promote innovation, the field of development, research and innovation must be aligned with the needs of the economy. That is why we at the CCIS have taken on the role of an intermediary – we connect businesses with research institutions and educate, inform and empower them at the same time," Tibor Šimonka, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Senior Vice-President of SIJ Group, said at the awards ceremony.  As he noted, there are still stereotypes that science and business do not belong together. "It's time to overcome these stereotypes and stop working in our own little gardens.  There is an endless field of possibilities," he concluded, and was certainly particularly proud of the innovative achievements of the SIJ Group's two largest companies.

In the development of the new SIMAXX 1100 steel, SIJ Acroni has combined a wealth of in-house knowledge and experience and built on it by collaborating with national research and educational institutions. Jan Foder, head of the research team and development engineer for welding technologies of special steels at SIJ Acroni, explained the double value of the award-winning innovation: "The new SIMAXX 1100 steel is characterised by its higher strength, which enables the production of thinner structural elements, which in turn means a saving in the weight of the structure and a consequent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, the new SIMAXX 1100 steel allows the production of taller and lighter wind towers for green energy production, while also allowing the production of higher-performance parts with longer service life and thus a lower carbon footprint."

SIJ Acroni puts innovation at the heart of its efforts, and being ranked among the best is a welcome confirmation that they are on the right track, said mag. Branko Žerdoner, CEO of SIJ Acroni, and proudly added that this year's golden award carries a special weight: "The production of the new SIMAXX 1100 steel from steel scrap presented a considerable challenge to the researchers. This type of steel is usually made from iron ore and making it from steel scrap is a breakthrough on a global scale. This way of manufacturing significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, is in line with the circular economy, and conserves natural resources. This innovation brings us one step further towards sustainability and paves the way for new products in the future."

Innovation Development of Special Steels and Superalloys for ITER Project has won innovation gold for SIJ Group's second largest company. "At SIJ Metal Ravne we have developed for the ITER project three grades of steels and superalloys to the extent that they provide the appropriate chemical composition and structures and meet the most stringent regulations in the energy industry," explains Marko Češnjaj, head of the award-winning research team and researcher at SIJ Metal Ravne, who is proud that they have risen to all the challenges: "The development of electroslag remelting (ESR), forging and heat treatment technology was also demanding. With the successfully implemented steel processing procedures, we have exceeded the requirements of mechanical properties at room and elevated temperatures, while meeting all additional ITER requirements such as corrosion and durability resistance of the extra-large forgings." 

"This award-winning innovation is closely aligned with our strategic goals of developing and producing steels for the transition to a low-carbon society. However, we have set our sights extremely high by participating in what is currently the world's most ambitious project. For ITER, we have not only developed improved properties of steels to withstand extreme temperatures and extend the life cycle of components, but we are also the only ones in Europe to have done so. This is an achievement that puts us at the very top of innovation in the steel industry," explained Jernej Močnik, CEO of SIJ Metall Ravne, who summed up the awareness of the circular economy importance at all levels of life in the following words: " My thanks and congratulations go to the knowledge and dedication of our development team. Just as steel is a material that can be recycled over and over again without losing its properties, so the energy of our development team is constantly being transferred into the creation of new sustainable solutions."




SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group is one of the leading producers of stainless steel and special steels in Europe. We are committed to global and European climate goals and operate in line with circular economy principles. With our steel and steel products, we are the right partner for facilitating the green transition in Europe. We aim to confirm our sustainability credentials by achieving certification to the stringent ResponsibleSteel standard by the end of 2023. This will position us as one of the most responsible and sustainable steel producers in the world. Our two largest companies are modern recycling steelworks, and our steel is recycled because it is made from steel scrap. With more than 3,800 employees, we are one of the largest employers in Slovenia and a pillar of the Slovenian steel sector. We are one of Slovenia's leading exporters. About 85% of our revenue is generated in foreign markets.


More information:

SIJ – Slovenska industrija jekla, d.d.
Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
Corporate Communications
Telephone: +386 1 242 98 27
Mobile phone: +386 41 313 532