ARC FUND / Publications / Ventsislav Slavkov: Our goal is to create a new sanitary standard for disinfection in the conditions of COVID-19

Ventsislav Slavkov: Our goal is to create a new sanitary standard for disinfection in the conditions of COVID-19

Dr. Eng. Ventsislav Slavkov is the founder and manager of the Bulgarian-German company for specialized systems for industrial production automation “SPESIMA” Ltd. The company is the winner of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year 2018 contest in the Market Leadership category. SPESIMA has created a disinfection booth that can be used in the fight against COVID 19, as well as in industries with high hygiene requirements, in hospitals and in public places and institutions.

“The aim of the booth was to create a new sanitation standard for disinfecting people and objects in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there has been a lot of interest in the development from a diverse range of industries. During periods of crisis, we pay attention to optimising staffing and costs, investing in innovative products that can be quickly implemented once the crisis has passed. The role of EEN Bulgaria is crucial at this time, because it is the bridge between supply and demand for goods and services in the EU”, says Dr. Eng. Ventsislav Slavkov.

Hello, Mr Slavkov, and congratulations on your disinfection booth. The cabin is one of Bulgaria’s significant contributions in the fight against COVID-19. Tell us how you created it?

The idea of creating the disinfection cabin was triggered by the emergence of COVID-19 to help healthcare facilities, but its application could be much wider, for example for the food industry, tourism services, agriculture, courier companies, airports, train stations, schools, etc. Our aim is to create a new sanitation standard for disinfection of people and objects in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The development of the cabin, which is protected by a trademark and a utility model application at the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, was carried out in a record time of 2 weeks, from the conceptual design to the prototype. More difficult was the procedure related to the selection of a suitable disinfectant /biocide / to work with it, which is effective, safe for humans, certified by the Ministry of Health (MoH), and does not leave traces on the clothes of people who pass for disinfection. The operating instructions, service and construction documentation and especially the certification to CE safety standards also took a long time.

By the end of May we expect to have a fully finished and tested product ready for commercialization. The interest in the development is very high and comes from diverse industries. The cabin is planned to be available in two versions for indoor and outdoor installation. The warranty period is 24 months and the equipment is entirely Bulgarian.

Do you have other projects directly or indirectly related to solving the challenges of the current situation?

We have two more similar products that we intend to develop, namely a car wash for non-contact washing and disinfection of cars and a UV installation for disinfection of workplaces.

What are the lessons you have learned and applied as an entrepreneur and innovator during the emergency? What did you change and adapt in the management of the company, of production?

COVID-19 is not the first crisis that SPESIMA has faced. We got through it successfully mainly due to the flexibility of our management and through the 1990-2001 transition and the 2008-2009 financial crisis. During periods of crises, we pay attention to optimizing personnel and costs, investing in innovative products that can be quickly implemented after the crisis has passed.

As you know, SPESIMA is a co-founder and member of the Board of the Mechatronics and Automation Cluster. We believe in the cluster organization of interaction, in which, based on the established mutual trust, human and material resources can be quickly and efficiently shared and redirected.

Innovation is key in the current economic and social period to overcome the consequences of COVID-19. What are your expectations in your field? What will you rely on in your development by the end of the year?

Our core business is related to industrial process automation mainly in the mechanical engineering and automotive industries. Currently, these industries in Europe, and in the world, have come to a standstill. For us, the situation is the same – we do not have any orders. However, we are preparing and striving to optimise offers for our customers, we are creating inventories in order to deliver quickly after the crisis is over.

The most important thing now is to preserve the health and jobs of SPESIMA staff. We are currently at 75% utilization – reduced working hours, but all employees are at work. We are implementing all the safety measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

Is the management of innovation processes, product marketing and process implementation changing? How?

The crisis has positive sides. When resources are limited and markets are scarce, creative solutions are sought to diversify products, reduce material costs, optimize work processes, etc. This is also the time when new products and services are created.

Your company is the winner of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year 2018 Contest. What brought you this award?

The award, which we value very much, has brought us the self-confidence that innovation and creativity, the search for new ways to optimize processes, are the measures that can guide us through difficulties and preserve the know-how created in the company over 30 years.

You use the services of EEN-Bulgaria. What is their place in the recovery of companies from the crisis?

The role of EEN-Bulgaria is crucial at this moment because it is the bridge between the demand and supply of goods and services in the EU, it brings together material and human resources, directing them in priority directions for the EU. This support for business from EEN is the catalyst that can kick-start the new and much needed economic changes and reboot of industry.