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report by vestbee.com
28 March 2024·42 min read

Katarzyna Groszkowska

Editor, Vestbee

Romanian Startup & VC Ecosystem Report

Continuing the exploration of the startup and venture capital landscapes in Central and Eastern Europe, our focus now shifts to Romania. Following our in-depth analyses of startup environments in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, today we delve into the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Romania.

*References for all data are provided below.

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Romanian startup ecosystem - overview

Macroeconomic indicators: 

  • Currency: Romanian Leu
  • GDP: $301.26B 
  • GDP per capita: $15,892.1 
  • GDP growth (YoY, 2022): 4.8%
  • Population: 19.12M
  • Area: 238,397 km²

Startup ecosystem: 

  • Over 1,662 startups, with a total of €19 billion in enterprise value
  • 42nd ecosystem in the world, according to Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking for 2023, 5th country in the CEE region, according to Dealroom (based on enterprise value) 
  • 3 unicorns: UiPath (exited in 2017), eMAG, MultiverseX
  • Funding rounds: In 2019, there were 93 funding rounds in Romania, 96 in 2020, 102 in 2021, 102 in 2022, and 73 in 2023
  • The biggest funding rounds in 2022: €127M for Green Group, €69.2M for ZoidPay, €32.3M for Travel Coin, €20M for Amber 
  • The biggest funding rounds in 2023: €86.3M for Z3, €46.1M for MaintainX, €32.3M for FLOWX.AI, €27.6M for DRUID
  • Most active Romanian VC firms: Catalyst Romania, Gapminder VC, Early Game Ventures, ROCA X, Gecad Ventures, Hellen’s Rock Capital, Smart Impact Capital, Sparking Capital, Crypto Capital, Morphosis Capital, Fortech Investments, Cleverage Capital 

VC investments in Romania 2014-2023

The total amount of funding in the Romanian ecosystem* in the years 2014-2023 was as follows: 
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* companies founded or HQ in Romania, source: Dealroom

And having a broad look at the ecosystem since its inception, here are Romanian startups with the biggest valuations:

  • UiPath - €10.6B (public)
  • MultiversX - €1B
  • eMAG - €0.92B
  • Z3  - €380.1-570.2M
  • Ness Digital Engineering  - €461.3M
  • ZoidPay  - €276.8-415.2M
  • FintechOS - €259.3M
  • Amber - €192.8M
  • MaintainX - €184.5-276.8M
  • FLOWX.AI  - €129.1-193.7M

Biggest funding rounds in 2023

  • Z3 - Late VC - €86.3M - Not specified
  • MaintainX - Series C - €46.1M - August Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures, Jeff Immelt, Jeff Lawson
  • FLOWX.AI - Series A - €32.3M - Day One Capital, PortfoLion, Dawn Capital, SeedBlink
  • DRUID - Series B - €27.6M - Hoxton Ventures, Smedvig Capital, Karma Ventures, Verve Ventures, Endeavor
  • hackajob - Series B - €23M - AXA Venture Partners, Volition Capital, Foresight Group

Biggest funding rounds in 2022

  • Green Group - Growth equity VC - €127M - OTP Bank, ING Bank Corporate Finance, UniCredit, Abris Capital Partners, BCR
  • ZoidPay - Late VC - €69.2M - GEM Digital
  • Travel Coin TCOIN - Growth equity VC  - €32.3M - Global Emerging Markets
  • Amber - Late VC - €20M - Emona Capital
  • DRUID - Series A - €14.2M - Hoxton Ventures, Karma Ventures, Alfabeat, GapMinder Venture Partners
  • FintechOS - Series B - €13.8M - Kreos Capital

Introduction to the Romanian Startup Ecosystem 

Romania is a country with a developing startup ecosystem, situated in the Southern and Eastern Europe region. According to the Dealroom report on startups and venture capital in SEE, the region itself has exhibited remarkable promise. Since 2012, startups from there have witnessed a staggering 49.9x growth in combined enterprise value, outpacing their neighbors in CEE (9.1x) and the European average (12.1x). Furthermore, venture capital funding in SEE reached an all-time high, surging by 5.9x since 2017 and reaching $1.3 billion in 2022. Notably, as Dealroom reports, Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria collectively account for over 70% of the SEE ecosystem's enterprise value.

When looking at the venture capital scene in Romania, but also other SEE countries, it is essential to note that local startups have a strong tradition of bootstrapping, however in recent years there has been a noticeable shift towards seeking VC funding to accelerate growth. When it comes to enterprise value growth from 2017 to 2022, Romania ranks fifth in the region, with a growth rate of 7.8x, exceeded by Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Greece.

Although Romania is not the leader in the region, its growth in recent years has been visible, accelerated by the emergence of its first unicorns, most notably UiPath, along with eMAG. Additionally, a more robust and interconnected support system has emerged, comprising accelerators, VC funds, and startup networks that facilitate collaboration among entrepreneurs across the country. This surge of new, influential players on the Romanian startup scene underscores the nation's potential to foster entrepreneurial mindsets and expand into global markets.

Romania so far has primarily focused on the IT and outsourcing sectors, establishing notable hubs in cities like Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, and Iași. Positive changes in public policy have led to increased availability of public funds and the emergence of state-led programs aimed at supporting up-and-coming companies.

Despite these promising developments, it is worth noting that many sources report that tech founders from Romania still face challenges in achieving global success. Ongoing efforts to address these challenges will be critical for Romania's continued growth in the startup ecosystem. There is also still much room for improvement in terms of public sector involvement in creating an investment-friendly legislative framework.

So without further ado, let's explore the Romanian startup scene in detail and the factors that shape its failures and successes. 

Romanian Ecosystem Overview

In recent years, the Romanian startup ecosystem has experienced significant volatility. It has faced challenges in securing startup funding compared to its neighbors in the SEE region, such as Bulgaria, as well as other countries in the CEE. The share of Romanian VC funding in its GDP is notably lower than that of other CEE countries. According to the Romanian Private Equity and Venture Capital Study conducted by Deloitte, investments as a percentage of GDP were just 0.049% in the first half of 2022. This represents a substantial drop compared to the 0.22% recorded in 2019, before the economic recession and the challenging political climate severely impacted the country's performance. To put this into perspective, Invest Europe reports that in 2021, investments accounted for 0.749% of the general GDP of Europe, 0.324% in the Czech Republic, and 0.215% in Poland—leading countries in the CEE region.

In the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking for 2023 by StartupBlink, Romania achieved a global ranking of 42nd, marking a three-place decrease compared to the previous year. In the European context, Romania secured the 25th position, and in Eastern Europe, it held the 8th spot. In the Balkans, Romania maintained its second position, but the gap in scores with the SEE leader Bulgaria has widened, increasing from 9% in 2022 to 13% in 2023.

Romania's performance in the European Innovation Scoreboard for 2023, a ranking devised by the European Commission, does not fare much better. The country is categorized as an Emerging Innovator, with a performance level of only 33.1% of the EU average, significantly below the average for countries with a similar emerging profile. The report highlights Romania's strengths, including a relatively robust export of high-tech goods, exports of knowledge-intensive services, and trademark applications. However, it also points out weaknesses, such as a lack of innovators in business processes, insufficient collaboration among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and low employment rates in innovative businesses.

There are over 1,662 active startups in Romania, according to Dealroom data.

However, it's important to note that the ecosystem is still in its developmental stages and VC funding only starts to gain wider popularity, so it is difficult to distinguish wider trends that persist over the years. From the data we have so far, the ecosystem funding between the years 2017 to 2023, expanded by a factor of 6.1x. According to Dealroom, the enterprise value of Romanian startups reached €19 billion in 2022.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, Romania has a strong tradition of bootstrapping, with a historical trend of lower investor involvement in the startup and innovation ecosystem. Compared to Western Europe, Romanian startups are less likely to receive VC backing, and the number of VC-backed startups in Romania lags behind the European average.

What is more, as highlighted by the World Bank Romanian Ecosystem Diagnostic, Romanian startups face challenges in achieving high growth rates compared to their global peers. Despite a 10% growth in entrepreneurship between 2014 and 2018, the share of high-growth firms remains relatively low, hovering around 3% during this period, which is significantly lower than the European average of 11.4%. Notably, the manufacturing sector in Romania exhibits lower innovation levels compared to other countries.

Several factors contribute to Romania's relatively weak startup performance, as reported by the World Bank:

  • Many founders, even in the tech sector, lack the necessary academic background, business experience, and international exposure. 
  • Additionally, they often lack plans for significant scaling or international expansion. 
  • There is also underutilization of research and development (R&D) capabilities and limited use of digital technologies, as well as insufficient collaboration with the public sector and academia.

The regulatory environment in Romania has also been identified as a challenge for entrepreneurs and startups. The government's failure to clearly distinguish between startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) results in the former being underserved by existing regulations. Issues with the tax system, permits, labor regulations, and administrative complexities further compound the challenges faced by startups.

While Romania's startup ecosystem is developing networking capabilities and promoting entrepreneurship as a viable career choice, there still remains a need to strengthen social capital and foster a more entrepreneurial spirit in the country. However, it must be sad that nonetheless, there are many positive signs of growth and development. Several entrepreneurial activities are gaining momentum in the country, thanks in part to the emergence of supportive organizations such as Ropea, RoStartup, and ROTSA. These organizations play a vital role in nurturing and promoting startups within the Romanian ecosystem.

The World Bank has also recognized the immense potential of the Romanian startup ecosystem. This potential is reflected in the availability of physical infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and abundant knowledge resources. Notably, the Information Technology and Communications (IT&C) sector is a shining star in Romania's economic landscape, contributing approximately 6.5% to the country's GDP.

Now having set up a general overview of the Romanian startup ecosystem, let’s move on to analyzing the country’s funding data.

Romanian Funding Rounds

The value of invested VC capital in Romania has been hovering at a low level since the inception of the ecosystem, significantly lagging behind its CEE neighbors. According to Dealroom data, it has been steadily rising between the years 2018-2019, reaching €743.75 million until its growth was halted by the pandemic and recession.

Following the broader CEE trends, it reached an all-time high in 2021, with €882.17 million invested. The capital flow hasn’t fully recovered yet and didn’t return to the pre-turndown levels, with €358.96 million invested in 2022 and €306.36 million in 2023. However, according to the most recent Dealroom report from the CEE, in 2023 Romania ranked as the 4th country in the region, below Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, three positions higher than in 2022, which suggests that a rising trend in the country, startup ecosystem is on the way. What is more, VC investments per capita in Romania recorded €16 in 2023, exceeding CEE’s average of €12.

In 2019, there were 93 funding rounds in Romania, 96 in 2020, an all-time high of 102 in 2021, 101 in 2022, and 76 in 2023. 

To get a better understanding of the funding data in the system, it is beneficial to take a look at particular rounds which shaped the ecosystem in recent years.

  • In 2021, VCs invested an all-time high of €882.17 million in Romanian startups, across 102 rounds of financing. What is interesting, most of the rounds, more than 68%, were secured by the early-stage startups at the pre-seed stage. However, it constituted only a small fraction of the total amount of the capital — 6.5%. It exemplifies how small and dispersed these rounds were, without much of an impact on the ecosystem as a whole. 
  • Taking a look at the biggest bouts of financing — there was only one round above €100 million, and it went to UiPath with $11.5 billion in Series F. Next in the line were €51 million in Series B for FintechOS and $39 million in Series B for MaintainX. And it’s worth noticing that these startups have relocated outside of Romania, having been founded there. 
  • In 2022, the financing rounds were slightly more diverse across the stages. Around 68% of all rounds were at the pre-seed stage. 10% were at Series A or more, amounting to 84% of the total investment capital spent in the country that year. 38% of that sum went to the mega-round of a company, Green Group. OTP Bank, ING Bank Corporate Finance, UniCredit, Abris Capital Partners, and BCR invested €127 million in the startup. Excluding this singular round, startup financing this year amounted to €241.47 million. 
  • The other prominent funding rounds were secured by ZoidPay — €69.21 million in Late VC from GEM Digital, followed by €32.30 million in growth round for Travel Coin from Global Emerging Markets,  then a gaming startup Amber, which collected €20 million in late VC from UK-based Emona Capital, and €14.2 million in Series A for DRUID from Hoxton Ventures, Karma Ventures, Alfabeat and GapMinder Venture Partners. 

In 2023 the ecosystem still hasn’t recovered to its pre-recession levels and hasn’t fully caught up with the previous years, recording 14% less capital invested than in the year prior.

The biggest funding rounds that year went to: Z3 with €86.37 million in growth round, €46.14 million Series C for MaintainX from August Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and angel investors, followed by €32.30 million Series A for FLOWX.AI from Day One Capital, PortfoLion, Dawn Capital and SeedBlink.

Around 10% of the total capital went to rounds below Series A that year, which suggests that the trend in the round disparity has been sustained for a number of years. It strongly shows that the ecosystem is still in its developmental stages, with most of the capital centered around very few bigger rounds, whilst much smaller and less impactful pre-seed and seed rounds dominate the landscape.

When it comes to the biggest funding rounds of startups founded and headquartered in Romania, the first local unicorn, UiPath takes the lead.

All four of the biggest Romanian rounds ever given went to this startup: $750 million in Series F in 2021, $568 million in Series D in 2019, $265m in Series C in 2018, and $225 million in Series E in 2020 — but it’s worth noting that in 2017 the company has relocated to the US, so these rounds account for startups only founded in Romania. 

The top biggest rounds for companies headquartered in Romania are as follows: 

  • In 2019, Superbet raised €175 million growth equity investment from Blackstone Tactical Opportunities.
  • In 2022, Green Group secured €127 million growth equity investment from OTP Bank, ING Bank Corporate Finance, UniCredi, Abris Capital Partners, BCR.
  • In 2022, Travel Coin TCOIN received $35 million growth equity investment from Global Emerging Markets.
  • In 2023, FLOWX.AI got $35 million Series A funding from Day One Capital, PortfoLion, Dawn Capital, SeedBlink.
  • In 2023, Amber €20 million closed a late-stage round led by Emona Capital.
  • In 2022, DRUID raised €14.2 million Series A investment from Hoxton Ventures, Karma Ventures, Alfabeat, GapMinder Venture Partners.
  • S.C. Pehart Tec raised $8.4 million early-stage funding from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

It’s worth noting that even though these rounds in Romania are considered as the biggest and most successful ones, in the backdrop of all CEE-region based rounds they are average at best. Considering the developing nature of Romanian ecosystem, most of the financing goes to seed rounds — let’s take a look at the biggest seed rounds:

  • €7.4 million for FLOWX.AI from Day One Capital, PortfoLion, SeedBlink in 2021.
  • $6 million for Veridion from LAUNCHub Ventures, Day One Capital, OTB Ventures, GapMinder Venture Partners, Underline Ventures in 2023.
  • €5 million for dcs plus from Credo Ventures and Earlybird Venture Capital in 2017.
  • $4.5 million for Sessions from Earlybird Venture Capital, LAUNCHub Ventures, Stride.VC in 2022.
  • $4 million for Bunnyshell from Early Game Ventures, ROCA X in 2022.

When it comes to industries, in 2023 the most funded industries in Romania were media ($104 million), fintech ($43.7 million), marketing ($7.2 million) and jobs recruitment ($6.4 million). In 2022, investors were the most interested in gaming ($22.0 million), education ($3.9 million), travel ($2.5 million) and jobs recruitment ($4.1 million). 

Sources of Romanian startup and VC ecosystem funding 

It is essential to notice that in the years 2017-2022, most of PE and VC funds have been raised from government agencies based in Europe. In the CEE region, government sources accounted for around 38-39% of all fundraising between 2018-2021, a number much smaller than in Romania. According to Deloitte’s study, the reliance on government agencies in the country was at 85% in 2017 and decreased to 59% in 2021.

This was accompanied by a growing share of private funding (mostly VC) — from €4 million in 2017 to €14.8 million in 2021. This is likely a sign of the growing attractiveness of the Romanian market in the eyes of private investors.

When it comes to sources of public funding — as per OECD data, most of it (69% during 2007-2019) comes from international financial institutions including the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction (EBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the European Investment Fund (EIF). EIF has a special significance in the country, as it has provided capital for a number of Romanian VC funds, including Catalyst 1, Catalyst 2, GapMinder, Early Game, Black Sea Fund, Sarmis Capital, Morphosis, and Syntaxis, as Deloitte reports. In general, the agency provided funding for 137 Romanian companies in the years 2007-2022, funneling around €840 million into the country. 

Most popular Romanian cities for startups

When it comes to cities at the forefront of the entrepreneurial landscape of Romania, Bucharest is the most prominent for startup creation. According to World Bank data, 24% of Romanian companies are concentrated in the Bucharest-Ilfov region, and most of the country’s startups are concentrated around Bucharest’s universities, accelerators, and funders. 

Other key startup cities include Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, and Iasi, with developing local ecosystems that rely on each other, mostly in terms of human and social capital and finance. The startup scene has been blooming in these cities, in all of them there are supporting organizations such as Timisoara Startups or Cluj Startups, which have been organizing networking activities, acceleration programs, and coworking spaces for startups.

Romanian Unicorns 

So far, the Romanian ecosystem has produced three billion-dollar companies. The first one to achieve this status was UiPath, an AI-powered business automation platform. The company became a unicorn in 2018 and went public on the New York Stock Exchange in April 2021, with a record-breaking valuation of nearly $20 billion. The success of UiPath has brought attention to Romania's developing tech scene by attracting investment, inspiring entrepreneurs, and putting Romania on the map as a hub for tech innovation and unicorn companies. 

With the flywheel effect, past and present UiPath executives are investing in local companies and providing mentoring for up-and-coming founders. What is more, the value of other SaaS Romanian startups, such as FintechOS, increased when UiPath became a unicorn, as they were part of the same ecosystem. Even now, despite the recession, investments in Romanian Enterprise SaaS companies are growing strong

The second company to reach a billion-dollar valuation was eMAG, the largest e-commerce platform in the country. It has been a pioneer in the Romanian online market since its establishment in 2001 and has continued to invest in technology-based services that help customers save time and money through their CVC arm — eMAG Ventures. The majority (70%) of eMAG’s shares are owned by Naspers, one of the largest technology investors in the world, based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Top Romanian VC Firms 

Catalyst Romania

Catalyst Romania is a venture capital firm that focuses on technology companies in Romania and neighboring countries. It has launched multiple funds, including a €15 million fund in 2012 and a €50 million growth capital tech fund in 2022. Catalyst Romania’s investment strategy targets early expansion stage technology companies with strong growth and annual revenues typically above €500,000.

The firm prefers to invest in companies led by serial entrepreneurs and experienced management teams, in topic areas such as enterprise IT applications, services and infrastructure, vertical business applications, e-commerce and consumer marketplaces, platform businesses as well as media and communications. It provides active participation and equity/quasi-equity capital between €1-3 million. Their team of experts offers scaling know-how, resources, and access to co-investors from across Europe, North America, and Asia.     

Gapminder VC

Gapminder VC is a venture capital fund that specializes in seed and Series A stage deeptech B2B startups. The fund invests up to €2 million in seed funding and up to €6 million in follow-on rounds, providing crucial financial support to startups. 

Gapminder's investment strategy centers around traction driven by outstanding teams, targeting startups that offer sustainable differentiators and have the potential for global expansion. With a focus on B2B platforms that accelerate digital transformation, Gapminder seeks startups in areas such as machine learning, process automation, dev tools & platforms, NLP & interfacing, and prediction & detection.    

Early Game Ventures

Early Game Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm that specializes in investing in innovative companies at the earliest stages of their development, creating a collaborative and supportive environment where entrepreneurs can thrive. It offers various programs to support startups at different stages of their journey. One of them is designed to provide startups with the necessary resources and mentorship to turn their ideas into viable businesses. Through this program, Early Game Ventures invests up to €200,000 per startup, helping them to scale and reach their full potential.

In addition to their accelerator program, Early Game Ventures also leads Series A rounds for startups that have shown promising growth and potential. As the first institutional investor, Early Game Ventures invests up to €3.5 million per startup, providing not only financial support but also strategic guidance to help companies navigate the challenges of scaling their operations. The fund focused on investing in technology and IP-driven businesses, with a particular interest in sectors such as cloud, blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, and cybersecurity. 

ROCA X

ROCA X is a Venture Capital fund that invests in disruptive early-stage companies. It focused on young entrepreneurs with revolutionary ideas in the technology area, who are in the MVP or prototype stage. ROCA X aims to bridge the gap between business angels and upper-stage VCs, providing support and growth opportunities for startups.

The fund leverages its extensive network and industry expertise to help selected startups validate and optimize their models for accelerated growth. ROCA X is part of the Impetum Group, alongside CITR and ROCA Investments.

Gecad Ventures

Gecad Ventures is an investment arm of Bucharest-based Gecad Group. It invests in startups and expansion-phase hi-tech companies from CEE with meaningful prospects of scaling internationally, including verticals like cybersecurity, fintech, AI/ML, AR & VR, transportation, IoT and agritech.

As an early investor, Gecad provides value by building strong strategic relationships with the founding teams, while supporting them in achieving their business objectives. It invests between €1-7 million in equity and also shares a wealth of resources with the objective of fast growth and a presence in international markets.

Hellen’s Rock Capital    

Hellen's Rock Capital is an investment firm that partners with innovative doers and thinkers to build game-changing companies. It believes in empowering individuals who share their goal of exploring new ideas and creating a more connected world to inspire and improve the lives of current and future generations.

The fund focused on investing in technology-driven businesses across various industries. Specifically, they have a keen interest in the media & entertainment, health & wellbeing, fintech, and Web3 sectors. With offices in Bucharest, Vienna, and Zagreb, Hellen's Rock Capital is well-positioned to identify and support promising ventures in Central and Eastern Europe.     

Sparking Capital

Sparking Capital is an early-stage fund with a focus on pre-seed and seed investments, seeking out startups in various industries, including consumer internet, marketing-tech, supply chain-tech, fintech, property-tech, and circular economy-tech. It is particularly interested in startups with differentiating value propositions and disruptive business models that have the potential to become national champions or scale up rapidly internationally.

As hands-on investors, Sparking Capital is committed to developing the businesses they invest in alongside the founders. Their ticket size for investments can go up to €300,000. In addition to financial support, Sparking Capital leverages its extensive business network to connect and engage startups, helping them sharpen their strategic approach, acquire customers profitably, strengthen unit economics, and secure future financing rounds.    

Crypto Capital

Crypto Capital is the first cryptocurrency investment fund in Romania. It offers personalized services based on complex cryptocurrency investment strategies designed by professional traders. The fund’s services include consultancy for creating digital wallets, procuring cryptocurrencies, and educating clients on the best security measures.

Crypto Capital  also manages their clients' cryptocurrency portfolios. Its investment packages include three primary methods: long-term investment, midterm investment based on fundamental knowledge and technical analysis, and short-term investment and day-trading. 

Morphosis Capital

Morphosis Capital is a private equity fund that partners with high-growth companies in sectors such as healthcare & wellness, technology, industrial production, B2B services, and consumer goods. It invests in businesses with a minimum EBITDA of €500,000 at the time of investment, aiming to scale them up rapidly. It takes a hands-on approach to value creation, providing not only financial support but also expertise in marketing, sales, procurement, leadership, and HR.

Morphosis Capital is committed to driving sustainable impact. It aligns its ESG strategy with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focuses on reducing carbon footprint, promoting ESG policies, distributing wealth, investing in employee development, protecting employees' rights and wellbeing, creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, driving economic development, and promoting corporate governance and anti-corruption best practices.

Smart Impact Capital

Smart Impact Capital is an investment firm that focuses on early-stage startups in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region. It provides funding and support to businesses with a strong social or environmental impact. Smart Impact Capital also offers acceleration programs to help startups prepare for series A funding.

The fund’s team consists of experienced investors and subject-matter experts with diverse expertise in various industries. Through Smart Impact Capital portfolio, it has invested in companies in sectors such as telemedicine, high performance computing, medical services optimization, speech therapy, equity crowdfunding, B2B software solutions, and more.

Fortech Investments    

Fortech Investments is a venture capital firm that provides funding, expertise, and resources to innovative B2B start-ups at seed and pre-seed stage. It supports entrepreneurs and founders in reaching their business goals, offering venture capital funding, joint ventures, product development assistance, and mergers and acquisitions support. 

The fund focuses on industries such as health, finance, education, transportation or production, providing founders with one of the two funding rounds – pre-seed or seed, with investment tickets ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.

Cleverage Capital

Cleverage Capital is a community of investors that make early-stage investments in promising startups that have the potential to transform healthcare. It helps entrepreneurs build extraordinary companies, scale up, and expand on new markets to improve the access to healthcare and medical assistance.

The fund’s ticket varies from €50,000–500,000 and so far they have backed 15 companies, with 7 follow-on investments. 

Newly raised funds: 

In May 2023, the European Investment Fund invested €80 million to 4 Romanian VCs: Innova/7, Booster Capital, GapMinder VC and Morphosis Capital

Business Angel Organizations

In Romania there are many organizations which gather local business angels investing in startups and developing companies. 

TechAngels Romania

TechAngels is a group of angel investors (a group of more than 120 members) in Romania and SEE that has been actively contributing to the development of tech businesses since 2013. They support young entrepreneurs through investments, access to acceleration programs, and various other resources needed to grow their business.

TechAngels also encourages potential business angels to take their first steps in this area of expertise. As a member of TechAngels, you have access to a considerable number of startups looking for funding, investment-focused workshops, shared experiences from other members, and guidance from experienced technology business angels.     

Transylvania Angels Network

The Transylvania Angels Network (T.A.N.) is an organization that provides education to business people to become angel investors and offers opportunities to invest in interesting tech startups in Romania. T.A.N. aims to contribute to the growth of the startup ecosystem by providing investment, business advice, and assistance to startups. It focuses on early-stage investments, and aims to distribute risk by syndicating deals.

T.A.N. actively participates in various events and accelerators to identify and select startups, and they host meetups to introduce these startups to their network. Its network members are owners, managers, and employees of IT/software companies with expertise in various business areas. T.A.N. offers a value proposition that includes informing about the startup ecosystem, startup scouting and monitoring, networking opportunities, education on startup investment topics, and discounts negotiated for the group.

Growceanu

Growceanu is an angel investing platform that aims to catalyze early-stage investment in high-tech startups. It provides a community of investors and entrepreneurs with essential tools, processes, and educational resources to generate wealth and improve the quality of life.

For investors, Growceanu helps build a valuable investment portfolio by providing access to early-stage startups, structured data for informed investment decisions, and collaboration with like-minded individuals. For entrepreneurs, Growceanu accelerates startup growth through funding, feedback, fully managed investment processes, and structured access to business angels with relevant expertise and networks.    

Bravva Angels

Bravva Angels is a community of business angels dedicated to investing in and supporting female founders with innovative ideas and strong values. It helps close the gender gap in venture capital by sourcing, supporting, and investing in tech-enabled startups led by women. Bravva Angels focus areas include health, education, nutrition, well-being, housing, future of work, finances, and green life. Bravva Angels offers financing, mentorship, and a learning and mentorship community to help female founders succeed in their entrepreneurial journey.

Startup Organizations

Ropea

ROPEA is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the interests of the Romanian Private Equity and Venture Capital industry. It aims to assist in developing these industries and represent their interests. ROPEA mission is to interconnect the Private Equity and Venture Capital community and improve the sector's efficiency. It provides potential investees with awareness and understanding of the industry and facilitate interaction and networking among industry participants. ROPEA also collaborates with national and European bodies to support the development of the entrepreneurial spirit.

SeedBlink

Romanian-based SeedBlink is an all-in-one platform for equity management and financing. It simplifies and grows equity ownership in Europe by providing tech companies and their stakeholders with access to curated investment opportunities, portfolio management tools, and a fully digital secondary market.

It aims to make equity ownership more accessible by offering software, financial services, and network coverage. With deep regional roots and a focus on European equity ownership and growth, SeedBlink is committed to supporting the European tech ecosystem. So far, the platform has successfully mobilized over €271.7 million, representing investors from 92 countries and managing assets worth €530 million.

RoStartup

RoStartup is a joint public and private initiative aimed at supporting the development of Romania's startup ecosystem. It is financed by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support and led by the North-East Regional Development Agency. The organization's main objective is to create a coherent, 5-year National Startup Ecosystem Strategy for Romania, focusing on regional economic growth and convergent development opportunities.

RoStartup aims to build a sustainable startup infrastructure, increase the pool of people considering entrepreneurship as a career path, and generate a toolbox of instruments based on four pillars: entrepreneurial education, policy, startup access to finance, and innovative capacity. Through its efforts, RoStartup envisions transforming Romania into a leading startup hub in the CEE region and at the European level.

Launch.ro

Launch is a program that supports early-stage tech startups and founders in Romania, helping increase their chances of success. It aims to democratize access to resources needed to transition from a product to a successful startup, including feedback, expertise, capital, and pilot projects.

The program offers individual meetings with experts and representatives from various industries, as well as group activities with fellow founders. It also facilitates collaboration with corporations and offers opportunities for feedback, workshops, and Q&A sessions.

Timisoara Startups 

Timisoara Startups is a community-driven initiative that brings together local entrepreneurs and makers in Timisoara, Romania. The organization aims to build and grow the local entrepreneurial ecosystem through collaboration and support. The project was founded and made visible to the world by Cowork Timisoara — The Garden, in partnership with enovatika and DigiTales.

Its goal is to help people learn more about Timisoara's born and raised founders by sharing their stories, connecting them with other organizations and professionals, and providing opportunities for learning and growth through collaboration, mentorship, and guidance. It also hosts various events and offers resources for startups and their teams.

Calemis 

Calemis is an NGO that connects entrepreneurs in Iași, Romania. They have been organizing entrepreneurial events since 2013, including Startup Weekend Iași, IdeaJAM, and Innovation Labs Iași. Their mission is to connect idea-people with implementation teams, mentors, and potential investors. Calemis has a dedicated team with expertise in logistics, sales, marketing, PR, and team management.

Cluj Startups

Cluj Startups is a vibrant and dynamic community that aims to support and facilitate the growth of the startup ecosystem in Cluj, Romania. Founded in 2012, it has become a hub for connecting startup founders, investors, mentors, event organizers, and other key players in the startup world. With a network of over 3000 members, Cluj Startups offers access to valuable resources, business know-how, and visibility within the community. The organization actively supports startups through workshops, mentoring, and networking opportunities. It also works to attract business and investment interest to the local ecosystem and promotes events and meetups for startups.

ROTSA

The Romanian Tech Startups Association (ROTSA) is a non-profit, apolitical, and non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and representing the interests of tech startups in Romania. ROTSA aims to consolidate the national ecosystem of tech startups by connecting startups, communities, and other stakeholders. The organization provides support and guidance to anyone in need, invites collaboration through knowledge sharing, and facilitates the scaling of local initiatives at national and international levels. ROTSA also focuses on representing the interests of tech startups by establishing a direct line of dialogue with local communities and staying updated on their needs and progress.

Accelerators and Incubators

Techcelerator

Techcelerator is an early-stage technology startups accelerator based in Romania. Founded in 2018 and backed by GapMinder VC, Techcelerator provides expert guidance, tailored resources, and investment opportunities for startups. They work with startups from various industries and aim to help them take off and soar in the market. With a strong portfolio and a network of corporate experts and international mentors, Techcelerator supports startups in their growth and international expansion. They offer many programs for many various startups from many industries, and they include:

  • NEXT FinTech program is designed for grown-stage fintechs and enterprise solutions. It provides strategic partnerships, product marketing support, access to investors, access to alumni meetings and events, sales boost through introductions to financial institutions, assistance with go-to-market and soft landing in new markets, tailored program sessions, and long-term assistance for business development. The program follows a timeline that includes selection and onboarding, mentoring sessions, bootcamps, investment readiness training, corporate matchmaking, growth labs, international soft-landing missions, demo day, and alumni club activities. The program also offers access to valuable mentors and industry experts.
  • The Advancing AI program is an AI accelerator for early-stage startups. It offers a 12-week program with customized training sessions, 1-to-1 mentoring, and a complex learning program designed to boost startup growth. The program focuses on validating the best use case for each startup's product and provides access to data, business validation, and accelerated growth opportunities. Startups that perform well during the program have the chance to connect with top-notch investors for pre-seed/seed investment rounds. The program is open to early-stage startups with a POC or MVP using AI/ML technologies, as well as pre-seed/seed startups with traction in at least one market.
  • Scale Match is an investment matchmaking program for startups in SEE that develops high-tech SaaS and AI-based solutions. It offers specific support tailored to the different stages of startup growth, focusing on preparing startups for funding and ensuring the sustainability of established scale-ups. Scale Match facilitates connections, partnerships, and investments between startups, investors, and corporates in the region.

LevelUP Health & Life Sciences Accelerator

Developed by INNO, the department responsible for innovation and investment attraction of the Northwest Regional Development Agency and co-funded by EIT health, LevelUP Health & Life Sciences Accelerator is the first accelerator in Romania dedicated exclusively to start-ups in the fields of health and life sciences.

The program aims to support early-stage startups in the healthcare sector by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and funding. Within the accelerator, teams will receive support from an extensive network of national and international experts on topics such as customer discovery and understanding, solution development and validation, fundraising, marketing, or sales.     

Rubik Hub

Rubik Hub is a complex organisation that aims to facilitate the growth of a national startup ecosystem in Romania through a variety of different programs, accelerations and coworking spaces. One of the programs is RubikEDU is an online incubation program designed to support idea-stage startups. Participants will have access to a mix of online workshops, 1:1 feedback sessions, and private mentoring with experts from the RubikEDU community.

Rubik Garage is an online, equity-free accelerator for early-stage startups in CEE & SEE, that supports companies in getting early-stage funding, raising new investment rounds or launching new products into the market. The startups can also count on well-rounded support from a community in a Ready to Raise program.   

Spherik Accelerator    

Spherik Accelerator supports Romanian startups on their growth journey, with a mission to connect them to strategic resources and support the growth of the local ecosystem. Its programs have promoted entrepreneurial education and mindset (pre-acceleration phase), helped teams achieve significant business growth (acceleration phase) and contributed to the development of the innovation ecosystem (post-acceleration phase). 

Currently, Spherik Accelerator is running a program dedicated to Urban Mobility startups, funded by the EIT Urban Mobility, as well as to impact-driven startups, developing Green Tech solutions.

Innovation Labs

Innovation Labs is a renowned tech start-up accelerator program in Romania. It aims to empower young visionaries to build innovative digital solutions and transform their tech visions into successful products. The program provides fine-tuned mentorship, access to cutting-edge technologies, and opportunities to interact with top companies, mentors, and angel investors. The selected teams participate in a series of workshops, tech talks, and pitch sessions on a demo day, providing them with valuable insights and guidance. Innovation Labs supports teams from various cities across Romania, with centers in Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj, Iasi, Sibiu, and Timisoara.

The program has a strong track record, having supported over 520 teams and producing successful start-ups with a total alumni valuation of over €200 million. Accelerator also boasts a roster of experienced mentors who provide guidance in areas such as ideation, design, technical choices, and business strategies. These mentors include industry leaders and experts from companies like Orange, UiPath, Carrefour Romania, and NXP.    

The Orange Fab program

The Orange Fab program is a 1-year startup accelerator designed to support entrepreneurs in developing innovative products and expanding their business. It is focused on startups in Romania with products that have the potential to improve people's lives and set trends for the future. Startups accepted into the program have the opportunity for co-innovation, access to Orange and partner technologies, mentoring sessions with industry experts, and funding opportunities through Orange Digital Ventures.

The program is interested in working with startups in various domains, including 5G & Networks of the Future, IoT & Connected Objects, Smart City & Mobility, Security, Fintech, Smart Retail, Media & Entertainment, Health & Lifestyle, People & Future of Work, and Digital Education.    

Fix Cluj    

FixCluj is an innovative incubation program dedicated to young individuals between the ages of 16 and 26 who reside, study, or work in Cluj-Napoca. It is one of the largest incubation programs in Romania, and a part of the Innovation and Experiment Fund (FIX). 

The program aims to provide selected participants with grants of up to €50,000, exposure to various industries, learning sessions from experts, and personalized support and mentoring at every stage. Its main objective is to help young founders develop, grow, and scale innovative business ideas and solutions that contribute to the future economy in the areas of green technology, digital innovation, and resilience.    

The F&B Business Accelerator    

F&B Business Accelerator is an annual program that supports and nurtures entrepreneurship in the Romanian hospitality industry. With a focus on the food and beverage sector, the program offers three acceleration programs throughout the year, covering various aspects of the industry. Participants benefit from intensive mentoring, workshops, and networking opportunities, culminating in a Demo Day, where they pitch their businesses to investors. The accelerator has received positive feedback from past participants for its structured approach, practical insights, and financial assistance. Overall, it provides a comprehensive and impactful platform for entrepreneurs in the F&B market.  

Startup Reaktor    

Startup Reaktor is a Bucharest-based incubation platform designed to fast-forward early-stage EU tech startups to innovate and grow. It serves as a connecting hub for hundreds of startups, investors, accelerators, corporate networks, universities, and the media from CEE.

The program offers a hybrid format, where European early-stage founders of tech startups from 5 different verticals: Digital Industry, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing, Digital Tech, and Digital Finance, come together for 8 weeks of learning, practical examples, case studies, and access to opportunities for scaling their ventures beyond national borders. Participants also have access to the EIT Digital Venture Program, which offers framework and funding support. This includes grants and equity investment of up to €130,000.    

Startup Wise Guys Romania

Startup Wise Guys Romania is a program designed for early-stage startups in Romania who are looking for a launchpad into the global startup community.  It is located in the dynamic tech hubs of Cluj-Napoca and Bucharest, and welcomes not only local startups but also international teams who want to explore the potential of the region and establish Romania as a strategic destination for growth.

The program aims to uplift talented founders, offering pre-seed VC and acceleration services, bringing together the brightest ideas of Romanian founders with international capital and market know-how.     

InnovoX

InnovX, backed by Romania’s second-largest financial group BCR, has emerged as the premier accelerator in Eastern Europe. Established in 2019, it offers corporate innovation programs, startup accelerator programs, and venture capital programs. InnovX focuses on supporting founders who are developing their startups in verticals like enterprise automation, fintech, cybersecurity, data/analytics, cleantech, eHealth, and B2B SaaS. The accelerator also provides them with support in securing funding and scaling globally.

The IdEA Program   

The IdEA program is a specialized entrepreneurship training program designed to meet the unique needs of businesses. Led by experienced entrepreneurs and investors, the program provides participants with the opportunity to work alongside a professional team and receive guidance from over 100 mentors and experts. In addition to the accelerator program, IdEA also offers other specialized programs such as ADRVest Accel, a regional accelerator dedicated to the development of the Western region in Romania. This program provides a modern curriculum and a personalized process to help participants grow their businesses.    

Upcelerator    

Upcelerator is an online idea-stage accelerator program designed to help startups build and launch their companies. The program spans over four months and provides participants with a structured curriculum, mentorship, and peer support. It offers a step-by-step approach that covers essential topics such as market analysis, product development, revenue models, and go-to-market strategies. Participants have access to over 40 mentors and experts who provide guidance and feedback on assignments. Upcelerator also offers the opportunity to connect with other startups, build a pitch deck, and learn how to pitch to investors. The program is equity-free, and qualified startups have the chance to raise up to €25,000 from a network of investors.

Coworking Spaces

ClujHub

ClujHub is a coworking space located in the heart of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It offers flexible workspaces, meeting rooms, and conference facilities for entrepreneurs, innovators, and professionals in the digital and creative fields. With a vibrant community of over 1,000 members, ClujHub provides a collaborative environment where ideas and best practices can be shared. The space is equipped with amenities such as 24/7 access, a central location with easy access to transportation, and fun social zones for relaxation and networking.    

InnoHub    

InnoHub is a coworking space located in Saint George City, Transylvania, Romania. It is the first co-working space in the city and provides a place for creative and dedicated people to meet and share ideas. InnoHub is not just for freelancers, but also welcomes students and young individuals who are eager to learn and be part of a community. The coworking space aims to facilitate the connection between education and the economy, focusing on excellence domains such as Healthy lifestyle, Renewable Energy, Creative Industry, and IT.

Fab Lab    

Fab Lab Iasi is a dynamic coworking space located in Iasi, Romania. It offers a vibrant community of innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs. With multiple locations, Fab Lab Iasi provides flexible workspaces, including co-working areas, makerspaces, and personal desks. The space is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as 3D printers, laser engraving equipment, and milling machines, fostering a collaborative and innovative environment for its members.

Silicon Forest

Silicon Forest is a coworking space located in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It offers a refreshing design and engaging community for companies of all sizes. The space provides fully equipped private offices and co-work spaces, with access to conference rooms and other amenities. Silicon Forest aims to create an environment that promotes productivity, innovation, and collaboration, making it an ideal choice for individuals and companies seeking a vibrant coworking community.    

Impact Hub Bucharest

Impact Hub Bucharest is a coworking space in Bucharest that offers flexible working solutions for professionals. It provides open coworking spaces and private office spaces for individuals and teams. With a global network presence in over 60 countries, Impact Hub Bucharest fosters a community of professionals, promoting collaboration and connection. It also organizes learning and development events to support the growth and development of its members.

Cowork Timisoara    

Cowork Timisoara is a vibrant coworking space located in Timisoara, Romania. It offers a perfect working environment for freelancers, startups, and small enterprises. With a strong focus on building and supporting the local tech and startup community, Cowork Timisoara provides not only office spaces but also opportunities for networking and collaboration. The space is known for its cozy and inspiring atmosphere, making it an ideal choice for those looking for a productive and community-driven workspace.    

Nod Makerspace

Nod Makerspace is a coworking space located in Bucharest, Romania. It offers a vibrant and creative environment for freelancers, small businesses, and startups. The space provides various work areas, including individual offices, communal workstations, and workshops for woodworking and metalworking. Nod Makerspace also fosters a supportive community where members can exchange ideas and collaborate on projects.

Startups to watch

  • FintechOS allows financial services providers to automate digital processes and create personalized financial products.
  • Veridion provides a data solution for business intelligence with enriched and constantly updated business profiles.
  • FlowX enables the development of digital products on top of legacy infrastructure for complex industries.
  • Druid offers a conversational AI product with high accuracy and easy deployment for enterprise customers.
  • Planable, a content review and marketing collaboration platform used by global agencies and teams.
  • Digitail automates administrative tasks at vet clinics and improves communication between pet owners and vets. 
  • Sessions, a meetings platform that combines collaboration and communication tools for marketing and sales teams.
  • Seedblink, a crowdfunding platform investing in startups at pre-seed to Series A, participating in rounds led by VCs.
  • Alter Medico develops a marketplace and data management framework for healthcare providers by centralizing applications based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.
  • EDNEOS is an educational assistant that increases the performance of learning and memorization.
  • ESX, classpass for Romania.
  • Undelucram, a recruitment platform.
  • Cortexhub.ai automates company processes efficiently, quickly and securely
  • ZayaAI develops a platform dedicated to pathologists for remote diagnosis and collaboration (telepathology), decreasing diagnostic time, laboratory costs and human error rates.
  • Instant Factoring, a fintech startup.
  • Vatis Tech develops speech recognition API.
  • Agora Robotics develops an ecosystem of autonomous mobile robots (hardware and software) that help automate logistics and cleaning processes for companies managing warehouses: retailers, airports, logistics centers.
  • Eyelet.io develops a platform that helps companies improve their customer retention rate by creating guided tours, surveys and in-app ads.
  • UltronAR is a platform that helps to intuitively and quickly build AR games without the need for programming skills. Games can be created by educational institutions, companies, institutions, but also by individuals who want to create games out of passion.
  • Kinderpedia simplifies communication between kindergartens, teachers, and parents.
  • Ogre AI specializes in machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions.
  • Profluo, ML-based invoice processing solution.
  • BabyFM is developing an IoT-based wearable system for continuous body temperature monitoring that analyses incoming data and provides recovery predictions (based on treatment data entered by the user) and medication dosing recommendations
  • Hound Bytes redefines the idea of Security Operations Center as a Service by creating a platform that combines threat intelligence, incident response and security analytics to help companies proactively identify and mitigate security threats
  • Questo, a platform for city exploration games.
  • bonapp.eco, an app that allows retailers to sell goods nearing expiration date.
  • FactoryAI, a non-code platform that improves business efficiency by automating repetitive content and understanding tasks.
  • Goodlegal, one-stop shop for all legal requirements.
  • Hyperhuman, AI-powered video content creation and delivery platform for the health & fitness industry.
  • Licenseware, PAYG SAM app ecosystem.
  • Al.bility helps professional tennis players and coaches analyze and improve their performance.
  • ChaosShift, a cloud management platform that supports digitization within design and construction companies.
  • Bright Spaces, end-to-end digital leasing solution for commercial real estate.
  • Bware Labs empowers Web3 development.
  • Life 4.0 is healthy lifestyle platform that supports personal and corporate wellness. The app includes activities in 4 focus areas (Sport, Nutrition, Mental-Emotional Health and Financial Health) and collects relevant data.
  • Notora, collaborative platform dedicated to marketing teams and creators. It is the only automated platform in Romania where brands can collaborate with creators to get photo and video content for marketing campaigns.
  • Parent's Advisor is an AI assistant for parents who want to raise talented and happy children.
  • Whiz Commerce Cloud is an advanced SaaS platform dedicated to e-commerce businesses that want to create no-code mobile apps. The platform provides a fast, easy-to-use and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes to develop mobile commerce apps tailored to their needs.
  • Bunnyshell develops a fast cloud-agnostic DevOps automation platform.
  • Amber offers a full range of turn-key product development and service solutions.
  • FINQware is open banking software.
  • Yarooms develops a meeting room booking system.
  • evoMAG offers an online portal for tablets, laptops, computer equipment, and more.
  • Benefito Mobile is the first MVNO operator in Romania to change the business model in the telecom field for consumers and retailers.
  • FilmChain leverages fintech infrastructure to enable transparent and fair workflows in the entertainment industry.
  • Kubeark helps software providers deploy and manage applications on any infrastructure.

Stay tuned for more CEE startup ecosystem maps!



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