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Startup Cities in SEE: Who is Who in the Emerging Cluj Ecosystem?

Cluj Startup Ecosystem
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Cluj, or Cluj-Napoca, is the second most promising startup city in Romania after Bucharest. At the beginning of 2019, the European Commission organized the Startup Europe Summit in the city, which was seen as a recognition for the local ecosystem. 

In 2020, the city was appointed a project leader in healthcare innovation and AI within the European Innovation Area at the Global StartUp Summit. This encouraged officials of the historical capital of Transylvania to propose it for the European Capital of Innovation award within the 2020 edition, along with other cities across Europe.

Cluj has seen one of the biggest IT growths in the last decade. Statistics show that 9% of all employees worked in this sector in 2020, compared to 2% in 2008. In 2018, Cluj had 16% of the software industry in Romania, which translates into €1B fiscal value. This was the second place after Bucharest, which hosts 58% of the niche and it is estimated at €3.3B. 

Notable startups in Cluj

Beez – Fintech – a company that aims to change the consumer finance market by disrupting the credit card industry. Launched in 2018, the company received a €1.2M investment from RocaX and GapMinder in 2020.

Blugento – eCommerce – launched in 2016, the eCommerce solution is built on the foundation of the Magento platform that offers everything an online store needs.

Cyscale – Cyber Security – founded in 2018, this project offers scalable products and services for cloud cybersecurity. In 2020 the team raised €350K on Seedblink in four hours. 

Finqware – Fintech – launched in 2017, the open banking startup develops technologies and products to aid users to be wiser with their money. In 2021 they received a €500K investment.

Gumzzz – MedTech – the 2020 project targets worldwide dentistry and aims to change how consumers and dental clinics interact with the digital world. In their first year, they received an investment of €100K, and the company was evaluated at €2M.

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Neurolabs – Software – the startup offers Deep Learning algorithms that visually interpret and understand the world. They launched in 2018 and two years later received a €1M investment. 

teleportHQ – Software – a collaboration platform for designers and developers with design-to-code real-time capabilities. Launched in 2017, the startup was built with European funds of almost €1M. 

Telios – MedTech – launched in 2017, this startup is a leader in the local MedTech ecosystem. The project offers telemedicine services and launched a Seedblink campaign to raise €800K.

Investor ecosystem

Risky Business Ventures – a pre-seed and accelerator fund that aims to invest in founders with bold visions. 

SMTH Big – a private venture capital that is looking for innovative solutions to tackle world challenges. They support focused entrepreneurs. 

Spherik Accelerator – a project, launched in 2013 that aims to connect startups with resources and support. They have different programs for pre-acceleration, acceleration, and post-acceleration phases. 

Supporting organizations

Cluj startups – a group, founded in 2012 to connect startup founders. They aim to bring together investors, mentors, founders, event organizers, and even employees. 

Transylvania Angels Network (T.A.N) – a Cluj Startups spin-off project, an NGO launched in 2012. They aim to support the local startup ecosystem by facilitating communication between startups and investors. 

Activize.Tech – a business intelligence company focused on the CEE startup ecosystem, launched in 2014. They aim to contribute to the growth of the European tech sector by bringing together startups, venture funds, accelerators, conferences, and companies. 

FreshBlood – a project that aims to improve healthcare through technology. They offer support, mentorship, and exposure, and they are sustained by EIT Health. 

Cluj IT -a cluster-based organization formed of active organizations in the technology field. They aim to increase the competitiveness and growth of IT services and products in international markets. 

Culturepreneurs – a program part of the Cluj Future of Work research and development project, co-founded by the European Commission. They aim to offer support in the creation and development of new businesses by providing access to coworking spaces and labs, training, consulting, technology, and networking opportunities. 

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Transilvania IT Cluster – is looking to digitize community development by pushing forward discussions and actions between entrepreneurs, researchers, innovators, and public administration officials.

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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 ecosystem while bringing into focus topics such as diversity in business cultures and women in tech; mental health, work-life balance, and the future. Of what? Everything! As a former solopreneur and a full-time mom, she strives to learn something new every day to share with the world. #nevernotlearning