Romania has potential to become tech startup hub

Although Romania is one of the poorest countries in the EU, it has good chances to become the new continental hub for technology startups. Thanks to its unique culture, history, educational system and telecommunications infrastructure, the country has created a generation of entrepreneurs in technology industry who hope that Bucharest will become the new European startup capital.

Romania has been a member of the EU since 2007 and is now the second fastest growing economy in Europe. Well educated in the field of new technology talent base, low wages and operating costs make it an attractive location for international companies planning to use outsourcing. However, Romania also stresses its own technological startups, especially those whose development seems to be relatively cheap. The niche has been growing rapidly for 5 years and currently concentrates already about 170 startups. One of these startups is the company Accelerole, which is a branch of the global co-working platform TechHub. Romanian company gathers already about 100 technological freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Paradoxically, the technological boom has occurred thanks to some communist heritage. The previous system left a strong telecommunications network and the educational system largely focused on new technologies. The major advantage of Romania are also creative people, who are accustomed to working in difficult and demanding conditions. Another important factor that drives the technology boom in the country is high-speed Internet. Bandwidth of best Internet links make Romania the EU leader and the country has the 6th fastest network in the world. For comparison – the US occupies this ranking only on the 17th position. Such strong position of Romania in this field stems from the fact that it disregarded the stage of development of broadband networks and immediately set (like other countries of the Eastern bloc) fiber links. With rapid development of Internet network, Romanian users have had an advantage over their European peers. It is worth recalling that they attended education system which traditionally puts the emphasis on science. This culture of technology extends to women as well. Perhaps the biggest advantage over other EU countries is that Romania has a large percentage of women working in the sector of information and communication technologies. In this category, the country occupies the 3rd place in Europe.

The main obstacle holding the industry back is access to investment capital. However, to stimulate sustained growth, Romania needs more than foreign investment. It needs an internal marketing team. There are still many problems for Bucharest to overcome, yet there is a lot of potential here.

An electronic stethoscope for parents

StethoMe™ is the world’s first electronic, wireless stethoscope that cooperates with a smartphone and has a built-in thermometer and an intelligent analysis system of sounds. The project could arise thanks to cooperation of a group of scientists, physicians, acousticians, computer scientists, designers and business people. The project is very ambitious, because the device is not just another gadget, but a specialized medical device. Thanks to it parents can auscultate baby’s lungs by themselves and then send the recorded sounds to a trusted doctor.

In the future StethoMe™ will be integrated with artificial intelligence algorithms, so that the device itself will be able to assess whether the sounds in the lungs mean only cold sickness or a more serious disease. For now, however, the startup only has a fully functional prototype of the device and is preparing for its production. Later this year the company intends to gain CE certificate (Conformité Européenne) and, in the first quarter of 2018, to debut on the market. There are already talks with potential partners from Germany and the Netherlands. The startup hopes that the project development and market entry will accelerate thanks to participation in the accelerator program organized by HighTech XL and Philips in Eindhoven. The company is now focusing on attracting investors who will support production process, as well as cooperation with telemedical companies and acquiring a strategic partner to be able to sell the device to customers. The product will be offered in a subscription model in addition to medical care package and should get to patients’ hands directly. Eventually the device will be sold in pharmacies or electronics stores. The buyer will be able to choose one of many telemedical partners and decide whether to pay a one-time larger amount, or use the subscription option.The project has been invested by: SpeedUp Group and the company Programa.pl, through which the company has been conducting it vision since January 2016. Since January 2017 the project has been co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The startup has scored a number of achievements:

  • Polish Intelligent Development Award, nomination, 2017
  • Bringing tech&science closer to people, finalists, 2017
  • Philips Innovation Challenge – Champion Award, 2016
  • MIT Enterprise Forum Acceleration Program – Certificate, 2016
  • Nokia Innovation Challenge – semi-finalists, 2016

Google Launchpad Accelerator expands to Europe and Africa

If you are trying to develop innovative business in the field of IT and telecommunications, your corporate sponsor can now be Google itself. Launched in 2015 Launchpad Accelerator, initially addressed to the countries of Asia and Latin America, is opening up to new territories to include startups from Certain European and African countries. Now, entrepreneurs from these regions can join the 47 graduates and 31 currently participating startups.

There are very few companies that could match the reach and resources of Google, and now these resources can be made available for free to all those who want, through science, to solve real problems of their city, region or country. The program is organized by a global team of Google Developers for startups with a proven history of success in the marketplace, who want to reach the next million users.

The program begins with a two-week training in San Francisco, whose main feature are mentoring sessions with engineers and product managers from 20 Google teams and an international team of external mentors. Participants will receive financial support of $ 50.000, free access to paid Google services and help of local Google teams for six months.

For the new training cycle now there can sign up startups from Central and Eastern Europe – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Africa – Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Of course, Google does not guarantee that it will accept all. On the contrary, the competition may be intense. In the program there also participate startups from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Applications will be accepted until April 24. Training will begin on 17 July. More information can be found on the Launchpad Accelerator website.

Booksy raised $4.2M

Polish application for booking visits, for example hairdressers and beauty salons, has closed another round of financing. This time Booksy received more than $ 4 million. It will be allocated in further development of several functions, such as allowing in-app payments, enabling larger merchants to handle personnel through the software, and development of better reporting systems.

Many of the beauty service providers do not have time to pick up calls and make appointments after their work hours. Customers, on the other hand, want to book a visit twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Booksy helps both clients and owners of premises in solving this problem. Customers – because they have access to the platform at any time, and entrepreneurs – because it happens without them, so that they can do other things at that time. Adoption of the app has been shown to improve customer loyalty and frequency of bookings. It is partly because by using Booksy, businesses are able to accept bookings outside of working hours for the first time. In addition to scheduling, Booksy helps entrepreneurs with several other features meant to support and boost their processes, such as a CRM, marketing automation, inventory management, point-of-sales, reports, management of commission for employees, and (soon) in-app payments.

In contrast to its competitors, Booksy does not act as a marketplace or even does not charge for reservations. It operates in a SaaS model with a monthly subscription. The application has competitors in every market, for example: Treatwell from the UK, LadyTime from Poland, StyleSeat from the U.S., Vaniday from Brazil. Each of them acts as a marketplace and charges for reservations. Entrepreneurs are not content with that.

This round of financing led the Open Ocean fund with participation of the Australian company and investor Investible, as well as Polish Nomad Fund, Kai Hansen (ex-Lieferando), Apostolos Apostolakis, as well as the head of the Google Campus in Warsaw – Rafal Plutecki. In 2015 Booksy already received EUR 700 thousand, which was invested in the project. Among others, the investor was Inovo vc fund.

Super-high-tech Turkish startups

Despite the coup attempt in Turkey, investments in technology enterprises did not pause. The most popular business areas were: financial technology, real estate, software services and marketplace applications. When compared with European countries, it is visible that Turkey heads South Eastern Europe countries. Yet, when we consider leading European countries such as Britain, Germany and France, the volume of investment is very low. As you will see below, the Turkish ecosystem has a lot of promising key players and excellent examples of notable start-ups:

NanoDev is an initiative for design and production of high-end automated opto-electronic instruments which are equipped with high-tech know-how. The startup develops software as well as hardware parts in-house. It has achieved a product portfolio consisting of: a multi-functional SPR Imager System, a compact Handheld SPR Reader, a Fluorescence Optical Microscope and a Desktop Photolithography Instrument. Current analysis are concentrated on design and production of a Laser Scanning Confocal Attachment and a Visible Spectroscopic Ellipsometer.

Quantag produces fiber optic based fluorescence sensors which are able to perceive very low concentrations of quantum dots. Sensitive perception of quantum dots is needed in many different applications varying from security to biotechnology. At present the startup is concentrated on digital tagging of fluids with quantum dots and real-time perception of these tags with ultra-sensitive sensors.

Hemodyn assures a virtual surgery platform and CFD analysis reports based on the modified cardiovascular geometry. The company has been developed by a researcher from Koç University, who got a donation from the European Research Council for developing the fundamental studies which eventually resulted in founding of Hemodyn.

Greencoat produces green areas indoor and outdoor without soil with minimum means such as water and maintenance for low money. This way the startup provides biodiversity, reduces air pollution, fights global warming.

Ingenious – this startup is a winner of Intel Challenge Turkey 2013. It provides a plug and play smart home system that ameliorates people’s quality of life by ensuring them an enhanced user experience and also optimizing the energy consumption.

Enigma – the company developed a crucial optical technology empowering the best medium of health vital analysis. People’s blood can be researched easily and cost effectively thanks to this a non-invasive method. A light based sensor inside the ear canal determines minute changes in glucose, cholesterol and many other vitals in the near future, helping people keep interested in their health.

Maxwell Innovations is executing high-performance VTOL (vertical take-off & landing) specialized in the industrial applications under fastidious circumstances. The experienced team provides industrial control services with their remote-controlled air vehicle and payload systems.

Sensobright – develops high sensitive palpable sensing for robot technologies that can serve as human like tactile sensing talented artificial skin for robotics and devices. It is developed with parts that are common, easy to provide and suitable for production of common use in areas such as: robots and robot technology employed in production, medical applications, operation, chemical, logistics, distribution, mine clearance, bomb destruction, hazardous waste.