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10 corporate innovation initiatives in Romania you should know about

Romania - Corporate Initiatives
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In the last five years, the Romanian startup ecosystem has been on a speedy, competitive, growth. Accelerators, VC firms, and angel investors, independently or as part of corporate initiatives, have aided startups to develop their tech products and promoted their international scale-up. The following list is only а panoramic view of the leading projects that are taking the market into the exponential future, with new programs developed every year. 

Before we embark on this journey we want to define what corporate initiatives we documented. Some are corporate venture capitals that invest corporate funds directly in new tech startups, while others are corporate accelerators. CVC firms take a percent of the small company’s stake and founders gain access to management and marketing mentors to gain a competitive advantage. 

Orange Fab Romania – Is part of the Orange Group and it was developed in partnership with How to Web as a startup accelerator to help entrepreneurs develop innovative products and distribute them both locally and globally. This project allows access to Orange and partners’ technologies, distribution network, and funding via the Orange Digital Ventures. Their domains are 5G and network of the future, IoT and connected objects, smart city and mobility, security, fintech, small retail, media and entertainment, health and lifestyle, people and future of work, and digital education. 

eMag Ventures – Is part of the eMag Group and it was founded in 2015 to aid B2C and B2B2C tech companies in the CEE region. The corporate venture capital is looking for projects that are in a growing phase to help them with a fast and sustainable scale-up.

KPMG Startup Grow Pad partnership program – This is a partnering program between Spherik accelerator and KPMG Romania, a management company providing audit, tax, and advisory services. Their focus is IT and Telecom; Fintech; Real Estate; B2B Professional Services; Retail and Consumer Markets; Legal, Compliance and Regulatory Services industries. They are interested in technologies like process automation, robotic assistance, augmented analytics, social media marketing for service firms, cybersecurity, intelligence apps, and data analytics. Their offer includes industry expertise, funding, worldwide market access, and product support. 

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UiPath Immersion Lab – Is Romania’s Unicorn initiative to give back to the ecosystem. The program targets both young startups or projects scaling up. It offers a personalized one-on-one session with the company’s experts and product management teams to experience the latest advances in RPA, AI, and Hyper Automation.

Elevator Lab – The initiative of Romania’s Raiffeisen Bank and Raiffeisen Bank International’s Elevator Lab Partnership Program promotes itself as the largest corporate fintech program in CEE. They target later-stage fintech startups to develop a proof of concept, gain access to customer data and banking experts in the region.

BT Store – Banca Transylvania’s initiative to promote partnering startup products to their SMEs client database. Startup founders can access new niches and can benefit from direct feedback from customers via the digital platform. 

InnovX-BCR – This is Romanian Commercial Bank’s corporate initiative under the umbrella of Erste Group. During the Bootcamp, startup founders have access to the bank’s client network, local and international investors, and a masterclass with founders and CEOs. 

Advancing AI – This is an AI accelerator for early-stage startups that was developed by Techcelerator in partnership with Google for startups and powered by Gapminder. Techcelerator was founded by RICAP – Romanian Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program was founded by Romanian and American professionals/supporters.

…UPDATE…

Tech’n Trade Club – This is a tech community powered by METRO.digital Romania, the internal information technology provider of METRO worldwide. This project offers access to mentors, partners, and investors to advance startup products and services. | UPDATE: “Due to the pandemic situation, the initiative has been paused for an undetermined period,” shared the team with The Recursive.

Gecad Ventures – This company is part of GECAD Net and their approach is hi-tech companies’ investments from the CEE region that have international scaling prospects. Their verticals include Cybersecurity, Fintech, AI/ML, AR & VR, and IoT. | UPDATE: On further research, this initiative is currently shut down. 

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive with 10+ years of experience as a freelance writer based in Bucharest, Romania. Her mission is to report internationally on the amazing progress of the local startup ecosystems while bringing into focus exponential projects developed in niches like health and education or by female entrepreneurs.