2022 | StartupBlink View the Global Startup Map p. 170 In response to the results of the Index, the Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitalization, Sebastian Burduja, said: "The Romanian startup ecosystem has been expanding over the last 5 years, making innovative startups key drivers of economic development, ensuring the growth of successful scalable and sustainable businesses. We believe that Romania has the potential to become one of the leading innovation hubs in Europe, and we are working around the clock to make this happen. We seek to bring together all the necessary ingredients, most notably knowledge and resources, and make them readily available through institutions and individuals. The Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Digitalization is committed to creating and nurturing the framework required to support the steady and continuous growth of highly innovative startups." Startup Ecosystem Overview Boasting a strong startup ecosystem rooted in Eastern Europe, Romania offers entrepreneurs affordable and highly talented professionals as well as access to the European market. The country is mostly focused on IT and outsourcing, and has created some noticeable hubs in Bucharest, Cluj, Timișoara, and Iași. More than 220,000 Romanians are already taking part in the IT scene, mainly as employees, freelancers, and remote workers for foreign companies capitalizing on the local talent pool. Outside the capital of Bucharest, the city of Cluj-Napoca has managed to build a name for itself, with ecosystem developers who understand that the path to growth includes a global mindset. Cluj-Napoca has positioned itself both as a Smart City in the making and as an IT cluster. With the outstanding success story of UiPath, Romania’s first unicorn, the country has proven it can foster the entrepreneurial spirit and expand into global markets. In 2021, this trend continued with Elrond, a blockchain platform that surpassed US$1 billion valuation. While there are public strategies aimed at creating 5 unicorns by 2025, it remains to be seen if the country will manage to achieve this ambitious goal. Much more can be done in terms of public sector involvement. The Romanian startup ecosystem would benefit from government policies that support startups, as well as an increase in entrepreneurial education via secondary schools and entrepreneurship programs. More than other EU member states, Romania struggles with keeping talent in the country and has yet to find an effective way of marketing its startup ecosystems to foreign entrepreneurs. To create a narrative of entrepreneurship around Romania, the public and private sectors will need a more unified approach. Progress is being made, however: ROStartup, a joint public and private action initiative, has set out to create a National Startup Ecosystem Strategy for Romania and tackle the challenges that entrepreneurs face.