At The Recursive, we aim to introduce you to the SEE cities, which are the heart of technology innovation and development. Today we landed in Timisoara, Romania. Together with Bucharest and Cluj, Timisoara is a growing city when it comes to IT jobs and startups. It is also a great place for nomads to work, as NomadList placed the city on the 20th spot in Europe, with high internet speed and low living costs.
Angel Investor Ciprian Man, a co-founder of Timisoara-based angel investment fund Growceanu, shared with us in a previous interview that the local scene is ready to educate, pre-accelerate, and offer early-stage investment to entrepreneurs. What the players need is to learn how to promote themselves and the city better.
Why Timisoara is an investment destination
Nicknamed “Little Vienna”, Timisoara is an old city in western Romania, close to Hungary and Serbia. It takes visitors by surprise with young crowds and historical Baroque and Art-Nouveau architecture. It is the third-biggest city in the country, with over 450K people with diverse backgrounds.
In 2020, Timisoara had a GDP of almost €10B and has attracted international investments with a shared capital subscribed by foreigners at €1,7B by 17K companies. When it comes to innovative projects, the city is on the 8th spot in the country based on a 2021 report done by Vegacomp Consulting, “Smart City Radiography in Romania“.
This means that it has around 26 projects launched, five in tech management, nine in transportation, one in sustainability and education, six in smart living (free Wi-Fi, smart monitoring), and four in digitalization. The city is also trying to finish a major infrastructure project – the highway to the border with Serbia.
Discover the local scene
Timisoara was set to become the European Capital of Culture this year, but due to COVID limitations, it has been postponed for 2023. This will be one opportunity to attract more cultural, social, and economic benefits and raise its international visibility.
In this city, we have covered startups targeting the mental health vertical, as well as the wellness niche, like InnoVR-Solutions, MediNav, Oncochain, and LEGEND. The last three are founded by female founders. And we discovered PropTech startups aiming to digitize traditional systems, like IndexAR, and uRADMonitor.
Hipo.ro as well as eJobs.ro, two recruiting platforms on the local scene, have found that the hiring trends are on the rise in marketing, production, IT hardware, accounting, client service, HR, IT software, acquisitions, and sales in the last two years. The niches with the most open jobs are IT and cybernetics. Currently, there are over 5000 jobs available in the city.
The city has a big academic center, with over 50K students attending four public universities and three private ones. It also hosts many companies, both local and international.
Local companies are Carpatair, a private Romanian airline; ELBA, a lighting manufacturer; and Comtim, an industrial meat producer, leather goods (Guban), beverages (Timisoreana beer), and paints (Azur) companies. International ones that stand out are Amazon, the American tech company, Profi, the chain of supermarkets and convenience stores, and Continental Automotive, a German automotive parts manufacturing company.
- Cowork Timisoara is a cool spot where startups, freelancers, and SMEs come to work and exchange ideas to grow together. Co-founded in 2017 by Andrei Cosmin Munteanu, who is also the Community Manager of Growceanu Angel Investors VC, it also supports tech startups that take part in the Timisoara Innovation Labs program.
- Innovation Labs is a university-based tech startup accelerator that promotes collaboration with the ecosystem and targets the new generation of entrepreneurs. It has been Bucharest-based since 2012, but it also aims to develop tech communities in Cluj, Iasi, Sibiu, and Timisoara. IndexAR, uRADMonitor, OncoChain, and Sitter are some of the startups that took part in the program.
- Global Shapers Hub Timisoara is the newest community in the city, founded this year. It is part of the international network Global Shapers Community, founded by the World Economic Forum. It operates and develops independently as an NGO to build a local community that wants to bring change and make the world a better place to live.
What do startup founders think?
“Even though the local ecosystem is growing and it’s more developed than it was two or even five years ago, I still believe it’s just the beginning of its’ potential. I appreciate the local community. I always got answers, we support each other, and we always celebrate the small and the big wins,” shared Ovidiu Stegari, the co-founder and CEO of Sitter, a startup that offers a platform for connecting families with babysitters, petsitters, amongst other services.
He adds that Timisoara has an ever-growing ecosystem that begins with education. “I noticed lately that even the universities started to get involved by offering entrepreneurial programs where you can also attract European funding.”
Ovidiu gives a lot of credit to hackathons and pre-accelerators to help startup founders validate their idea, find teammates, mentors, and get introduced to the local community. He also says that entrepreneurial events helped him build a network of qualitative people.
He found like-minded people at the CoWork Timisoara and Growceanu who are willing to share their knowledge and introduce you to the right people.