Romanian startups-related programs and events overview (autumn 2021)

As we draw closer to this year and especially to this autumn season which was extremely active, let’s see what are the main startup-related programs and events we spotted on the radar.

Part of the Startup Ecosystem Radar, we prepare this information in a digestible form and deliver it to our partners and clients on a weekly basis, with the aim to inform them about the ecosystem and help them make ecosystem players make better business decisions and get in touch with relevant actors. Join the radar here 

This is for sure not a full compendium of the worthy news, but we hope it gives a good overview of the ecosystem. If we missed something or we should correct let us know. 

We don’t refer here to venture capital and investments news as this is a theme for the article that will be published next week, just before Christmas.

Here you go:

1. How to Web launched the HTW Institute, a series of educational courses and workshops focused on product (link) and announced a €350K value of investment prize to AlphaAR the winner of Spotlight startup program TechAngels, SeedBlink, Growceanu, GapMinder Venture Partners, RocaX, Simple Capital, and Transylvania Angels Network (T.A.N.) (link).

2. The eight edition of Techsylvania conference was organized in September continuing the program Startup Alley in collaboration with Activize and Google for Startups and many other hybrid satellite events organized by the Romanian startup-related organisations (link).

3. Techcelerator launched the fourth edition of Scale Match, the first regional matchmaking event facilitating the access of technology start-ups to financing and strategic partners (link). In October, Techcelerator launched the 1st AI Map Report showing some venture capital investors and AI founders views on adopting and investing in artificial intelligence. The Report may be read here. The team finished the 1st batch of 1M Investment Readiness program dedicated to SEE tech startups with traction looking to prepare for a successful investment seed round. Also, they launched the second edition of NEXT Fintech, a program of bootcamps and workshops that offers mentoring to fintech and SaaS startups (link).

4. ROStartup, a joint public and private action initiative set to develop the first strategy for the local entrepreneurship landscape published the Romanian Startup Ecosystem White Paper, building on the good momentum in the local startup ecosystem. The project is led by the North-East Regional Development Agency (NE RDA) through Rubik Hub, supported by the World Bank Group (WBG) and Romanian policy makers, and financed by the European Commission. (link).

5.  Impact Hub Bucharest and EIT Food have organized Challenge Labs (link) andt he second edition of the Empowering Women in Agrifood program (link). Supported by EIT Climate-KIC, Impact Hub Bucharest launched the first edition of Black Sea ClimAccelerator, a program dedicated to startups with climate solutions in partnership with The Climate Vertical (link).

6. Commons Accel team ran the 5th cohort of its acceleration program with Demo Day on December 14th. This cohort had 13 startups included during a period of two months with support from mentors and investors. During the Demo Day, Ulpia, an educational marketplace dedicated to the medical community, received €240K from Growceanu, Cleverage and Commons Accel’s founder, Matei Dumitrescu (link).

7. Iceberg+, Spherik Accelerator, The Romanian Federation of Metropolitan Areas and Urban Agglomerations and Activize, launched the Urban Mobility hub and startup program in Romania supported by EIT Urban Mobility. During this quarter, 16 startups were supported in their activities and the base for the urban mobility startup community in Romania was created (link).

8. Spherik Accelerator was also involved during the autumn in the European-wide acceleration programs B-Hub for Europe (with focus on blockchain, second batch) and Data Market Services (focused on startups with AI and Big Data, 4th batch).

9. Finalists of the StepFWD 2021 pre-accelerator have presented their progress and products to an audience of entrepreneurs, investors and IT industry experts at the StepFWD Demo Day. The event took place online on November 22nd and featured 8 startups part of this third batch (link).

10. The main pre-acceleration program of technical startups, Innovation Labs, carried out the grand final, Demo Day – Back to Earth Edition, on October 19, 2021. The Demo Day marked the end of the seven-month mentoring program that began in March and brought together 20 finalist startups (link).

11. Rubik Hub has organized the fourth edition of RubikEDU, an entrepreneurship education program, and Rubik Hub Retreat, a program through which a startup could go with its team for a few days to work from the working space located in Piatra Neamț.

12. Make IT in Oradea organized multiple idea pitching events for startups, accepted 8 of them in the Bright Labs Incubator, and funded the first 2 startups (Optioffer&GoPack) with a total round of 65k.

13. Upster conference was organized by the Cluj Startups team with focus on topics like idea validation, product management, fundraising and business development for startups and with the support of Maket IT Oradea, Spherik, Iceberg and Activize.

14. The European artificial intelligence (AI) community, Bucharest.AI, launched the second edition of BeAI, the pre-accelerator program fully dedicated to AI startups (10 of them benefited from an 8-week extensive program) (link). 

15. Due to the restrictions, all hackathons happened on-line (of course also probably benefiting from a wider reach, but probably with less engagement in online as it usually happens) and surprisingly their number was high, just to name a few we witnessed:  CASSINI Hackathon (space tech competition), SpaceHack, NASA Space Apps Challenge, UniHack, Hackathon — medicină de urgență, situații de urgență și reziliență and EduHack 2021 (by ROTSA).

16. Besides these, we, at Activize and FreshBlood teams, have been involved in organising hackathons with Transilvania University of Brașov, The European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP) and  University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology of Targu Mures.

17. FreshBlood, with EIT Health support, continues the series of events focused on healthtech and it is now preparing the HealthTech Virtual Hub for the founders of health startups and the Romanian HealthTech Startups Overview Report to be launched in January with the support of the Activize team.

18. As part of a co-design process with the local startup-interested organisations, Cluj Innovation and Experiment Fund (FIX Cluj) was launched as a new, experimental mechanism that encourages innovative entrepreneurial initiatives. The program is aimed at young people in Cluj-Napoca and consists of workshops and grants for 30+ startup teams.

19. The 5th edition of Future Banking, an event dedicated to digital banking and the fintech industry in Romania, took place in October. This edition presented the relevant digital transformations of the most important financial players on the local market, but also international models to follow from banking, fintech and marketing (link).

20. CEC Bank, in partnership with Future Banking, has launched a competition dedicated to businesses at the beginning of the road – “Localnicii” Impact Competition – in order to stimulate initiatives for sustainable business development in Romania (link). 

21. Startarium launched Startarium FOCUS, a series of capsule programs, through which it will focus on a single theme of the evolution of a business (link) and Startarium 4GOOD, a program for social entrepreneurs and NGOs with a proven track record in social initiatives (link).

22. The HoReCa Business Accelerator, organized by the Hospitality Culture Institute, became the F&B Business Accelerator and developed three verticals of the support program for entrepreneurs in distinct groups: products, services and technology (link).

23. The third edition of the Innovators for Children program announced its winners at the Pitch Day online event on September 15. Two digital educational and one health solutions were selected for the second stage of the Innovators for Children 2021 accelerator. This program is developed by Impact Hub Bucharest, in partnership with Fondation Botnar, Impact Hub Basel and Vodafone Romania Fondation (link).

24. Social Innovation Solutions has launched Transformator, a support program for companies and non-governmental organizations in transforming business models for a sustainable future and developing strategic objectives. 12 teams were selected to receive mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs, access to investment funds and tools to make the best strategic decisions that have a positive impact on society and the environment. Also, other SIS programs reached finals level with 30K euro awards at the 10th edition of Social Impact Award and Future Makers, now a CEE incubator. Furthermore, together with Educativa and Edison, they are organizing Switch, a tech and business competition for highschoolers.

25. Bucharest’s Tech & Startups meetups were organised monthly and recently the #35 edition was reached, gathering over 2000 members in the community.

26. HealthCare lab, an international program developed by Roche Group to accelerate and support the implementation of digital technology projects for the medical sector in the field of startups, launched the second edition of this project (link).

27. As part of a movement to encourage entrepreneurship among students, „Innotech Student” program selected the organisations which will be grant managers (link). The Entrepreneurial Student Associations (each university is obliged by law to have one) have increased their educational programs in preparation to the granting support that will be available in the next two years.

28. AHK Romania and BASF announced a competition for innovative solutions in the fields of clean energy, sustainable agriculture and circular economy. The BASF Innovation Hub 2021 competition aims to identify solutions that, directly or indirectly, contribute to the principles of the Green Agenda – clean energy, sustainable agriculture and the circular economy (link).

29. Some events and programs happening in Timișoara: Startup Survivor – a two-week intensive entrepreneurship education program that brings together students & young people to take part in a guided Lean Startup driven framework. The program started in 2016 and is currently running two batches per year. Prow – a technology conference with a focus on products. They bring together international professionals in order to create a matrix with insights for building better. Prow is an annual conference, started in 2019 with a full-online edition, turning in 2020 in a hybrid edition bringing together 300 professionals.


Huuh! That took a while to read (also to write! Kudos to Andrea especially!) 

As we can see, the Romanian startup ecosystem was quite active in the second part of 2021, from hackathons to conferences, there were many events and programs organized. We are eager to see what 2022 brings us!

This article is based on the weekly reports made for the Startup Ecosystem Radar, which contains news about the startup ecosystem and venture capital in Romania, so if you are interested to find out more about it check this product, here!

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