Romania is slowly becoming one of the best locations for start-ups in Europe, with Cluj and Bucharest being the most popular cities for IT companies.
Romania has been seen as an attractive country for startups and for the IT industry overall not only because of its low cost of living but also because of its infrastructure ( Romania has had fibre optics for more than 10 years and they are the 5thin broadband internet speed world ranking).
The country has the fastest growing economy in the EU and its economic growth was driven mostly by SMEs. The rate of individuals who have started new ventures is of 3.4% which is similar to economies like Germany.
There are several reasons why Cluj and Bucharest have become strong IT hubs. Let’s look at some of them.
Cluj-Napoca has been named the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe last year and was ranked the most welcoming city to foreigners according to an European Commission study.
The city has encouraged the development of the IT industry by creating the Transylvania Creative Industries Cluster whose purpose is to allow the growth of competition of creative enterprises through business partnerships and economies by collaborating and sharing knowledge and resources such as equipment and spaces. The collaboration is international and start-ups from Austria, Poland and Spain also have joined in.
Overall, in 2018 Cluj had 15,000 IT specialists and 1300 IT businesses, most of them focusing on outsourcing and process optimisation. IT companies have reached over 40 million euros in annual revenue.
The city is constantly investing in tourism and is trying to become more sustainable. Worth noting are the development of apps for public parking spaces, public transportation and administration services. The purpose is for the city to become smart phone friendly and to solve every day problems for its locals by reducing bureaucracy and improving communication with the authorities.
Some of Cluj’s most successful startups:
LiveRail – a video advertising platform. It was bought by Facebook in 2014 with an estimated 400 million dollars.
Skobbler– navigation application. It was bought by Telenav for 24 million.
Other startups that are deemed to be promising are:
AlphaBlock ( AI company that focuses on building automated investment management solutions),
TeleportHQ ( platform created with the purpose of creating and publishing user interfaces for both desktop and mobile)
Neurolabs ( AI solutions for the retail industry).
Events to attend
Startup Weekend Cluj, Techsylvania, Cluj Innovation Days, Codecamp and IT days.
Cluj also has several startup communities: Cluj Startups ( organizez events and workshops), Cluj Hub ( coworking space, hosting over 1000 events in the last 2 years), Fresh Blood. Heath ( community dedicated to healthcare and IT), Tech’n Trade (helps startups and entrepreneurs connect and provides free workspaces), Startup Grind Cluj ( global startup community), Silicon Forest ( informal workspace).
Bucharest is a great city for startups. Why? Bucharest has low cost of living, low operating costs mixed with great intellectual capital and fast internet connections. At the moment there are 259 start-ups, 435 founders, 53, 000 professional developers and many co-working spaces.
At the moment, Bucharest is Europe’s 16thlargest IT hub and it is the 4thin Eastern Europe, after Warsaw, Budapest and Vienna. The CEE Resourceful Region report released by CESAwards states that:
“With over 800,000 developers, the region has as much tech talent as Germany or the UK, more than France and Spain combined, and over twice as much as Russia.”
Some of Bucharest’s successful start-ups:
Avangate – a digital commerce provider for software services.
Twotap.com– product ordering system for mobile devices
Moqups: application that allows you to create prototypes.
The Pole: application through which you can create posters
Monitor backlinks: created to maximize SEO opportunities
Events to attend:
Dev Talks ( largest IT conference in Romania), FinTech ( hackaton for the financial industry) Bucharest Tech Week, UX Bucharest, Startup Grind Bucharest ( networking, education event).
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