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Innovative Enterprise Week Conference in Romania: Researchers and innovators encouraged to work closer for a prosperous Europe

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© Innovative Enterprise Week

Finding ways to connect “the right people to the right people” and removing the financial barriers that prevent brilliant, but risky, ideas from coming to market are the most important challenges of future-focused EU research in the years to come.

This conclusion was issued during the event ‘Innovative Enterprise Week Bucharest 2019’, co-organized by the EC’s DG Connect and DG for Research and Innovation (RTD) and the Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation, under the aegis of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. From 19-21 June the event gathered scientific experts, innovators, investors and policymakers from Europe and across the world to debate the future of innovation and its impact on the creation of new jobs.

Innovative Enterprise Week conference has put together scientists and policymakers to scan the monetary horizon of Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) research and its evolution in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder programme.

“The technology that we are now hearing every day such as quantum, artificial intelligence, robotics or the Internet of Things has been pioneered within the Future Emerging Technologies (FET) programme , because it has always combined high-risk academic research with the strong participation from industry, including high tech small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” said Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, in a video message send to the participants at the conference. “The continuation of this mission, which is at the heart of the pilot program Pathfinder, will form an excellent completion to the European Innovation Council’s component Accelerator for driving market creation and business leadership.”

Two components of the newly created European Innovation Council, the pilot scheme Pathfinder and the Accelerator, together with other possible financial instruments such as InvestEU, ranked highly on the agenda of the discussions. These tools, but especially Pathfinder and Accelerator, are meant to fill the gap between researchers who have innovative ideas and investors who may consider them too risky to be taken further.

“Pathfinder will depend largely on the future and emerging technologies; it is about bridging the world of research and a world of innovation. Through Accelerator, we will finance those SMEs and start-ups that have an ambition about the future, that want to scale up and see their innovative ideas going to the market, but which are too risky to be supported by normal financing possibilities,” explained Thomas Skordas, Director of ‘Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure’ at the EC’s DG Connect.  

He also emphasised the challenges Europe is facing today: an innovation gap, due to the fact that many of the excellent ideas which have emerged from the EU programmes are not valued in Europe but abroad. He also highlighted the high-risk finance deficit that prevents business to scale-up, and the fragmented research ecosystem at local or national levels. Many panelists agreed that these ecosystems need to be addressed by creating a framework where scientists and innovative SMEs can meet. They also said that the new financial schemes should be flexible, agile and open to any sort of innovation.

Elaborating on the changes, Nicolas Sabatier, advisor to the Director at DG RTD, shaped a more accessible financial scheme for the applicants: “We will not have these heavy, bureaucratic administrative procedures anymore. There is a shift in attitude, in the way we operate, we have to assure that we go for the risk which have innovative potential.”

Other panels focused on: how to manage the equity investment and how to attract potential scale ups; trends that will drive the development and market deployment of breakthrough and market-creating innovations; responsible research and innovation and impact investments; and European, regional and national venture capital schemes.

Exhibits displayed during the event showcased ongoing or completed research projects in the fields of sport, agriculture, medicine and physics. FETFX, a project funded by the HORIZON 2020 FET-Open Programme, had an exhibition stand and informed participants about its projects and their innovative, breakthrough results.

Several FET-related initiatives – as the FET Coordination and Support Action (CSA) projects – were presented at the event by Marta Calderaro, FETFX Project Coordinator at Italian Agency for the Promotion of European Research, APRE, to support the upcoming Calls for Proposals available at the European Innovation Council Work Programme. Alongside Viorel Peca, Head of the Innovation Unit at the EC, DG Connect, Calderaro emphasised that key elements of FET, as part of the EIC Pathfinder Pilot, are people, ideas and markets capable of fostering talents, new technological paradigms and innovative communities for an innovative society.

The EIC Pathfinder Pilot comprises FET-Open and FET-Proactive and offers grants of up to €4M to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary research and innovation on science-inspired and radically new future technologies. It will bridge science, technology and innovation in the new European research and innovation program, Horizon Europe, which will run from 2021 to 2027.

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Green Village Resort, the Danube Delta impressive location, opened for tourists under maximum safety measures

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© Anca Duse
Green Village Resort opened its gates on May 15th, in maximum safety for its guests, according to an official announcement on the resort’s Facebook page.
The Danube Delta, which most of it lies within Romania, is one of the continent’s most valuable habitats for wetland wildlife and biodiversity. It is a unique ecosystem in Europe and consists of a labyrinthine network of river channels, shallow bays and hundreds of lakes.
Green Village is a stranded location, divided into 3 accommodation areas, located at a great distance from each other, and the access to the rooms is made from outside, without having to go through common halls. Thus, social distancing is ensured by the hotel’s pavilion-type concept and the surface of over 30.000 m² .
Hygiene procedures are strict and strictly observed, both for guests and hotel staff. Dispensers with disinfectant solutions have been installed at all public entrances, and the cleaning of public spaces and their contact surfaces (handles, support bars, etc.) will be performed with a much higher frequency, using professional disinfectants.
As for the Express Check-In procedure, it has been modified so that the interaction with staff or other guests on the spot is reduced as much as possible.
Also, transport by boat will be carried out in accordance with the rules in force, and the serving of meals and drinks will be carried out according to the provisions of the authorities, in the room, on the terraces of the houses, or on the balconies of the rooms.
Last but not least, Green Village Resort assures future guests that the service staff is and will continue to be thoroughly trained in cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Green Village is naturally isolated with access to immense beaches stretched for kilometres, canals where tourists can make a different trip every day, they can fish, walk in nature, watch birds, without meeting any crowds. 

„Even in a normal period, tourists felt safe and enjoyed a quiet vacation. Romania is a growing destination for foreign tourists. Although slower than we want, Romania attracts foreigners, who come here with moderate expectations, but return home beyond enchanted by the landscapes, people, and security that our country offers”, said Dragoș Anastasiu, owner of Green Village Resort.

Last year, more than 40% of our tourists were foreigners. They enjoyed mostly excursions on the canals, fishing, birdwatching, going to the beach and short trips to nearby cities such as Sulina and Tulcea.

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Romania Remains Attractive As Software Outsourcing Destination in COVID-19 times

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Romania is 1ST IN EUROPE and 6TH IN THE WORLD, in terms of number of certified IT specialists. With an estimated 150,000 in 2020, Romania is moving up the diversity spectrum in terms of outsourcing capabilities. The local talent pool has been a main decision factor for evolving from a cost driven approach to a value driven one, Romanian specialists proving to be very resourceful in operating many complex project assignments.

Romania doesn’t offer lowest prices in the outsourcing business, but it is highly competitive when you take into account the level of technical proficiency and soft skills in the country, “superior to what is typically found in other outsourcing locations,” according to IDC.

Romania also benefits from two political factors—its membership in the European Union, and strong institutional support from the government. This includes several tax incentives and breaks, alongside wages that remain highly competitive within the EU (the average minimum wage is the second lowest in the political union). More importantly, membership in the EU comes with more than just financial and security advantages, one example is access to the Horizon 2020 program for Research and Innovation.

As a member state, Romania’s regulations and compliance laws must fall in line with the broader union, meaning that companies have significantly less startup barriers when setting up BPO or ITO offices. Apart from easier setup, this gives companies a much safer framework and infrastructure for financial transactions, as well as access to many of the same financial services and banks available across the West.

We asked one of the local companies what are their thoughts on the Romanian IT sector future and how is the COVID-19 disrupting their business model:

“This highly competitive industry sometimes forces us to ignore the long-term strategy and focus on the quick opportunities. The biggest risk is that we won’t see a lot of Romanian products competitive at global scale any time soon, but definitely in almost every successful project launched today around the World there is at least one Romanian engineer in the team. We give a lot of attention to our Research and Innovation department and we try to keep the right balance between outsourcing and internal products development (chasing our dreams). Regarding the COVID-19 disrupting our business, we just practiced what we preach, we used our entire digital offering on ourselves and we were able to completely switch into remote work during lunch break” says Anamaria POPA, General Manager of Soft Galaxy.

It is not enough for the professionals out there (in institutes, universities, private companies, innovators and entrepreneurs) to press ahead with their work, they need to stand together and promote the Romanian excellence in research and education.

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Vasile Blaga, MEP: I am convinced that the firm measures adopted by the EP against Covid-19 will not stop here. The EPP Group is already working on a strategy for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis economy

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

Vasile Blaga, MEP (PNL, PPE) told caleaeuropeana.ro that the EPP group in the European Parliament is already working on a “very clear strategy” for managing the current crisis generated by the new coronavirus, but also for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis European economy,

The unanimous vote of the European Parliament last week on proposals from the European Commission for the management of the European health crisis shows that the hesitant response at the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic was an accident, explains MEP Vasile Blaga, adding that “the answer came to correct the rather timid initial reaction of the European executive in the beginning of this challenging crisis for Europe and all the other states around the world ”.

The 37 billion euros  (part of the Corona Initiative) allocated to the Member States through the vote in the European Parliament will be directed towards health systems, local communities, small and medium-sized enterprises and economy sectors seriously affected by this crisis.

“The European Union means, first and foremost, solidarity – for better and for worse, and those who support the opposite are either not aware of what is being done at EU level, or have an interest in destabilising the Union,” says Blaga.

The vote in the European Parliament was also aimed at reallocating 800 million euros from the Cohesion Fund in 2020 to cover emergencies in the medical systems of the EU member state

“I am convinced that the measures will not stop here. The EPP group is already working on a very clear strategy for managing the current crisis, but also for the rapid recovery of the economy once the public health crisis is over. There are countless proposals and projects in progress that will help us all overcome this unprecedented crisis in recent history,” adds Vasile Blaga.

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