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Interview with CEO: Intellectual property .

Matejom Rusňákom, CEO Helske:

Many of those longing for a bite of success make use of other easier solutions. Unfortunately, at the cost of copying ideas of others. That is why it is essential to protect your intellectual property that is reasonably well guaranteed by the European and international legal system.

We can find so much information about your company in media.  But so admirable is that your project exceeds the borders of Slovakia. Please, be so kind and introduce us beginnings of the technological development in your company.

The beginnings of the company Helske Energy Save were really demanding. But I believed in our product and its utility for homes. The Scandinavian countries, searching for energy savings and healthy environment as well as  economic effectiveness when realising constructions, inspired me so much. By the way, it was also a reason to name the company Helske. Combination of words  “Husstand” (Danish – household) and “elske” (Danish – love), thus love to household, expresses a mission of our products. First of our products were mixed in the environment of provisional character in Spišská Nová Ves and virtually they were offered door-to-door. Having reached first successful sales, new team members were joining and production capacity was increasing. And gradually our “start-up” company became a reputable production, trading and distribution company, nowadays employing tens of employees not only in Levoča in Slovakia, but also in other European countries.

Your company proves that there is not only a production hall in Slovakia, but also research, development and innovations are inevitable part of the technological progress of the company. How did you reach it?

Gradually. If you want to win recognition, just forget any time machine which could make this process faster. Every development stage takes necessary time and you have to devote it enough sufficient leeway. This is the way how to reach a really high quality of your products. Preparation, experimenting and testing created the longest stage. If you are lucky and there is a lot of skilled people around, you can expect less deadlocks to be resolved and less trial-and-error practices. A product considered to be the best one is at the end of this cycle. It becomes a really good one only after gaining recognition of public on the market: first this of experts and then that of laics. Own research and development centre close to your production has a big advantage of direct and unmediated feedback process. You can also make it a few weeks faster. Thus, today we can show off two of such as centres working separately as development of our coatings and plasterboards. 

Be so kind and introduce us your team, please.

As years are passing, the company Helske Energy Save has gradually become a team of hard-working people in its production hall as well as in its administrative department. Performance of the company is provided by production operators, laboratory staff, commercial team in Slovakia, Spain, Ireland and Germany, marketing team, economists and accountants, financial analysts, lawyers and operation assistants. I will mention only two of them all, Jozef Klimko and Clayton Stone which are responsible for operation of production department of coatings and plasterboards.  Mr. Štefan Karabáč is a person responsible for the research and development of the company.

Innovations in the area of ecological solutions are one of the priorities of the European Union. Is your solution a part of the innovative ecological technologies?

Having tested the unique properties of our interior coatings and plasterboards, undoubtedly our products predestine to be really innovative. In synergy with the heating system, they reach the level of 15% of the overall energy saving. Thus, we deal not only with direct financial savings but also with an increase of safety and comfort of the given buildings.

Does junction of firms and research area work in Slovakia? Please, describe us your experience.

First of all, it depends on the approach of particular research institutions and number of requirements for testing they accept from producers.  We were lucky to have a great team of people at the Technical University in Košice which helped us so much while developing the product, in particular at the stage of certification of its properties.

Last year your interior coating Nano Coat Home was rewarded a price from Spanish experts as the top product in the category of Alternative Technical Solution. What is its contribution to users?

The price NAN awards, organized by the Spanish portal for professionals NAN Architectura y Construccion, brought us great satisfaction for our few-years-long effort. Though, we experienced the great interest and appreciation on construction markets and exhibitions of BAU in Munich, FAF in Cologne, IBF in Brno, Batimate in France, Constructec in Madrid and MOSBUILD in Moscow. The core of the nano technologies used in our coatings are their thermal insulation properties, elimination of thermal losses in rooms in the areas of heat exchange between interior and exterior, reduction of thermal bridges, increasing the surface temperature exceeding the dew point in all parts of the room. Besides, the significant feature of this product is its zero waste application (spreading or spraying) which can be mastered after training and certification by every construction craftsman.

What are your future plans? Are you working on the development of new technologies?

We have always been working on the development of our products. So did we during lockdown in whole Europe due to the pandemic of COVID-19. Our development team was working on a new recipe of a new line of antibacterial products. We were able to carry out this market demand, received from our European commercial partners, thanks to our development centre in an exceptionally short time. Currently, we have been focussed on production and development of unique plasterboards, the production of which we have started a few weeks ago. Our main concern is to increase the level of the fire resistance and reduce the probability of temperature transfer through the plasterboard to other materials in its near surrounding.

The research and innovations are driving force of the economics. What can we do to attain more innovative performance in Slovakia? What are weaknesses of Slovakia from your point of view and on the other hand what its strengths are?

The quality of a human potential is a driving force which we also perceive in our society.  Slovaks can become very enthusiastic, hardworking, dynamic as for reactions to changes. Slovaks can take over the responsibility for quality development of products. They have to be provided a sufficient leeway and you would rather try to create a team of cooperating employees than “subordinated” ones. Experienced foreign businessmen and managers were motivated to join our team by our attempt to create work environment of the high quality, fast reaction to market demands and solution of complex problems. 

However, the weakness of Slovakia is somehow related to that. Nowadays reality looks like that highly qualified people leave Slovakia and go to work and search for their self-realisation abroad, due to low number of innovations. 

Intellectual property is all that remains when the company “burns down”.  We do not mean it literally, of course. However, is the intellectual property from your viewpoint the asset worth of investing in its protection?

Definitely yes. It is not any cheeseball but necessity. Many of those longing for a bite of success make use of other easier solutions. Unfortunately, at the cost of copying ideas of others. That is why it is essential to protect your intellectual property that is reasonably well guaranteed by the European and international legal system. We also believe if the companies want to become leaders and determine direction of the market part in their branch and they are continually attempting to develop and grow, the innovations protected by the intellectual property are the best way to be distinguished from their competition.

Have you ever thought of offering license of your patented technologies?

At the moment our business focus is aimed at strengthening our own production capacity, product and process improvements as well as employment of staff within our region and intensive cooperation with local suppliers. Of course, we have continuously being working on the development of our company from the long-term perspective and also outside the area of the European Union, in particular, on the markets with high demand for our products where we have already held negotiations at different levels.