One of the risks is not having enough of a pipeline for many of the coming programs that are heavily funded
A legislation for innovative start-ups and a way to finance the growth of early-stage start-ups – these are two of the most important objectives the specialists of the ministry are working on to support the entrepreneurial technology ecosystem in Romania, said Sebastian Burduja – Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization, during the third edition of Investors Day.
Investors Day also marked five years of existence for Techcelerator, the most active accelerator for technology start-ups in Romania. Approximately 250 people attended the event organized by Techcelerator, including start-ups, investors, mentors, representatives of technology companies and authorities.
“I think the role of the Government is to not stand in your way and to make your work easier. A few weeks ago, we adopted PN 4 – the National Plan for Research, Development and Innovation. It is a plan with a budget of 60 billion lei, a plan that’s quite ambitious, and the funding should be completed by 2030. Within it, we have included an innovation program that is budgeted to access about 10-20 % of the plan (6-12 billion lei), which adds to the opportunities in the PNRR and POCIDIF (Operational Program Intelligent Growth, Digitalization and Financial Instruments), which I’m sure you already know about. All in all, we are talking about billions of euros that will be available for the Romanian start-up ecosystem and, probably, also for the regional one. Romania has every asset it needs to become a regional hub. And our country should play this role with vision and courage”, said Sebastian Burduja – Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization, at Investors Day – which took place at BT Stup.
Priorities for the Ministry of Digitization: Legislation suitable for innovative start-ups and for financing growth when risk is at its highest
Sebastian Burduja added that in order to support tech entrepreneurship, the ministry is working to solve two problems that are more difficult than those having to do with money, as this field does not have financing difficulties.
“We need better legislation for start-ups, for funds, so that we can treat innovative start-ups differently from the way we treat an ordinary small company. Our legislation is from 32 years ago. I support a new law for commercial entities, I know it’s a «Pandora’s Box», I know many say it’s impossible, but we should aim to create a new type of commercial entity for innovative start-ups. They will have much more flexibility and will be able to have a much higher growth here, in Romania. This is an important item on our list of goals. And we will need your help, because we will have endless discussions in Parliament, with commercial lawyers, banks and other entities”, said the minister.
The second objective is about financing start-up growth from the early stages.
“We want to support them from the moment when the risks for investors are at the
highest level. World Bank data show us that we have many start-ups in Romania, they are created, but they die quite quickly, compared to other countries. And their specialists told us to find a way to finance them. Look at what they have done it in Israel, in Silicon Valley, look at Ireland and many other countries. And I came up with this idea of the
Romanian Innovation Fund, a “fund matching” the investment fund, through which the Government will match the financing of private investors – both VCs and angels. The
selection will be made by private sector criteria and methodologies. The state will
finance this instrument, but it will interfere as little and efficiently as possible. It is a big paradigm shift for the Government to think this way. We thought of ways to attract local authorities into this mix, to see if they want to contribute, to compete to attract the most promising start-ups because, often, positive change comes from the local area. These things are complementary to what is happening through the European Investment Fund and many other programs. Because one of the risks is that we don’t have enough pipeline (not enough start-ups in development) for many of the programs that are coming and which are heavily financed”, explained Sebastian Burduja.
Lara Tassan Zanin, Head of the European Investment Bank Group Office in Romania, spoke about how the European Investment Fund, part of the European Investment Bank Group, support local technology entrepreneurship.
“The European Investment Fund has been present in Romania since 2010, and since then, it has enabled the injection of more than €270 million as equity participation in funds leveraging more than €500 million investments. We have supported some ten funds, at time with multiple rounds: we believe this is a success story. The EIF was instrumental in developing and populating the equity market in Romania, including crowding in Romanian investors to support Romanian companies and start-ups. More recently, EIF was entrusted a mandate under the PNRR where €400 million will be distributed via public calls from now until 2026 to equity funds with a focus on climate and digital investments. This is an ambitious plan that EIF is committed to deliver and is complemented by equity support opportunities under InvestEU and the European Innovation Council initiative for disruptive technologies”, said Lara Tassan Zanin, Head of the European Investment Bank Group Office in Romania. She added that money will be allocated to funds with a climate change component and how digitization can address this problem.
“Techcelerator is the first official Google for Startups partner not only in Romania, but also in the region. We have four years of partnership in which we have carried out over ten programs such as Next FinTech, Scale Match, Advancing AI. A new Advancing AI program is coming, so stay tuned. We have brought over 30 mentors to interact with start-ups and the community and have interacted with over 100 start-ups”, said Dan Oros – Head of Marketing Google & YouTube Romania
Soleadify – Best Pitch
During the event, nine start-ups, high-performing alumni from Techcelerator programmes, presented pitches to investors: Vestinda, L!NK, Etti.co, Soleadify, Synaptiq, Amsimcel, Rayscape, The Cord.AI, MediNav.
Soleadify, the team that won the pitch competition, was awarded a ticket to the Web Summit, the largest European startup and technology conference with over 900 speakers, over 2,000 startups and more than 1,000 investors. The event takes place from 1-4 November 2022 in Lisbon.
The jury consisted of Andrei Dudoiu – co-founder and managing partner SeedBlink, Alexandru Ruff – partner GapMinder, Dan Oros – Head of Marketing Google & YouTube Romania and Mălin Ștefănescu – president TechAngels.
Techcelerator also awarded among the top-performing teams that have been part of the accelerator’s programs.
The Awe-inspiring Pitch – The Best Pitch Investors Day 2022: Soleadify
The Growth Hero – Top Accelerated Growth: Flip
The Industry Disruptor – The one startup that changes a current paradigm: RayScape
The Female Tech Founder of the Year: Manuela Țicudean, Cyscale
The Pioneer – The most promising newcomer: Data Against Data
The Most Active Innovation Partner: Dan Oros, Head of Marketing Google & YouTube Romania
The Most Valuable Advisor: Alexandru Ruff, partner GapMinder
The Expansionist – The Fastest Global Expansion of an Alumnus: Soleadify