The Jožef Stefan Institute is the leading Slovenian research organisation. It is responsible for a broad spectrum of basic and applied research in the fields of natural sciences and technology. The staff of around 960 specialize in research in physics, chemistry and biochemistry, electronics and information science, nuclear technology, energy utilization and environmental science.
The Institute was founded in 1949 at a time when scientific research was expanding rapidly throughout the world. Initially established as an institute for Physics within the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, it is today involved in a wide variety of fields of both scientific and economic interest. After more than 60 years of scientific achievement, the Institute has become part of the image of Slovenia. The basic goals of the Institute are to provide expert scientific and applied output in the form of processes, products and consultancy, and to produce well-trained young scientists.
The underlying philosophy is that these objectives can be achieved only if based on international class scientific research. With this in mind, the in-house research has been reinforced by building strong links to universities, other research institutions and industry. The Institute is closely connected with the Slovenian universities, where many scientists who initially developed their research talents at the Institute have been appointed to teaching posts, while still retaining their research positions or research teams at the Institute. Since 1985 more than 1800 postgraduate students have gained their MSc. and Ph.D. degrees at the Institute. Close contacts are also maintained with secondary schools, providing work practice on research projects in natural sciences and organising regular visits to the laboratories.
In 1995 the Nova Gorica Municipality and the Jožef Stefan Institute founded the first private postgraduate school in Slovenia, the Nova Gorica Polytechnic. This school has developed in the fourth Sloveninan university, providing courses in many scientific fields. In collaboration with a group of leading Slovenian industrial organisations, in 2003 the Institute founded The Jožef Stefan international postgraduate school. As part of its support for applied research in the field of ecology, the Institute is one of the founders of ERICo Velenje, the Institute for Ecological Research.
Close collaboration with the University Medical Centre has resulted in the development of medical equipment (tomography, electrical stimulators and appliances), the provision of isotopes for clinical research and treatment of patients, and the introduction of new research techniques and diagnostic methods into clinical medicine. The Jožef Stefan Institute and the Valdoltra Orthopaedic Hospital founded the Research Institute Valdoltra, which is now an independent institution.
Being well aware of the international nature of science, the Institute has devoted considerable efforts to international co-operation. Today it co-operates with many leading scientific research institutions world-wide. In 2006 the Institute signed an agreement of collaboration with Joanneum Research, the leading Austrian techological institute. In 2007, an agreement of collaboration was also signed with the Korean Basic Science Institute.
The Institute devotes a considerable amount of effort to transferring the results of its research and knowledge to productive applications and to the market. It was in this context that some years ago, the Technology Park was established at the Jožef Stefan Institute. This was the predecessor of the Ljubljana Technology Park, whose founders are the Institute, Helios, the Institute for Biology, IskraTEL, the Chemistry Institute, LEK, SKB Banka and the Technological Development Resource Centre. The Technology Park currently includes seven private companies, whose staff derive from the Institute's research staff and elsewhere. Their products, technologies and services have been developed within research or application projects over the past few years. The Park supports the creation and growth of new enterprises based on the results of research from Slovenian universities and international institutes. The Institute actively makes use of this support for hi-tech enterprises to create an environment in which innovation, financing and production interact to accelerate the cycle of development of innovative products.