Startups and Business Incubators in Romania: A development into the future? (Guest post by Ioana Vasiloiu)

The Romanian economy has been a sensitive topic for quite some time. But starting with 2007, the small enterprises have been encouraged to develop more and more, especially by investing money in developing projects for which they got funding from the European Commission or from the Romanian Government.

There hasn’t been much emphasis on an entrepreneurial education which is probably responsible for the small number of SMEs in Romania. I hope this is about to change, because I have seen more and more projects for young people, where you can learn things about running your own business, and the advantages of being your own boss and so on.

Another reason for my hope of change is the fact that there are business incubators and places where you can develop your new business. You can benefit from financial support, consultancy and offices. For me, this is one of the best projects implemented by our government, but I had no idea about it until I was a trainee last summer for The Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise, Business Environment, and Tourism Department. There I heard about this project for the first time and I was really excited that startup companies have opportunities like this in Romania.

The idea was first implemented in 2005-2006, as a pilot program, to see if it works and if there’s a need for it on our market. 3 incubators were formed for 60 businesses and for 3 years, which were helped by our government. 56 of the businesses ended successfully the 3-year incubation period, creating 255 new jobs in 2009.

Given the fact that the pilot phase was a really successful one, 10 other incubators were set up in other regions of the country. Each business incubator houses between 16 and 24 businesses for a period of three years (the duration of an incubation cycle). At the end of 2014, 330 businesses were “incubated”, creating more than 700 new jobs.

What are the benefits for an entrepreneur go work with a business incubator?

  • Office spaces endowed with furniture and IT&C equipment, as well as production spaces
  • Access to meeting rooms and conference rooms
  • Access to utilities
  • Grants to cover start-up costs and utilities costs
  • Consultancy services, specific to the pre-incubation and incubation periods, free of charge or at low costs.

Moreover, business incubators are platforms for business development. They offer opportunities for networking, transfer of know-how, learnings exchanges and partnership development. The aim is to support the development of early-phase startup companies and help them to reach stability and autonomy before leaving the Incubator. After graduating from the business incubation program, companies should have increased competitive power and higher chances of long-term market survival.

Who can apply for the business incubation programmes?

  • Entrepreneurs who intend to set up a new business
  • SMEs with an operating history of up to two years

The selection process is carried out locally, at the level of each Business Incubator in the project. Tenant firms are selected upon their innovative business ideas.

Therefore, I do believe there is hope for new businesses to develop at the same time as our economy. The government is clearly trying to improve something and I hope they will continue doing it. And as soon as I will decide to start my own business, I will definitely apply for the business incubation program.

Ioana Vasiloiu has a Master’s degree in International Relations gained in Bucharest – Romania, and also studied International Marketing in Poland. She has been working as a Social Media Coordinator for two years now and is enthusiastic about new developments in business and marketing.