Cool infographic about Romania

Romania is the country where I was born and it’s a country of many contrasts. It’s beyond the stereotypical phrases and lies that is a country full of gypsies and thieves, prostitutes, stray dogs or poor people, or more recently a messed up political status. The media seems to have an eye for scandal, and like any other country there is plenty of room to find something to dig for. So if you want to focus on the bad things you will find many negative things online, but the truth always lies in the middle, so stay informed.

Beyond all those awful portraits of my country- I have to admit that nothing is as bad as it looks from abroad. Bucharest is one of the safest cities I have lived in and felt more safe living there then in Brussels or the UK. Romania has made a huge progress in the past 20 years since it rebelled against communism and it tries to catch up to the more developed countries in Europe.
People are warm and ‘authentic’, try to live a healthy life and women are beautiful – or so all my foreign friends think about my country women. Come and see for yourself, you will not want to leave it – as the guys from Top Gear said after visiting Romania.


The future is ours

Innovate4good, Microsoft

On the 2nd and 3rd of May I attended the Innovate4Good event from Microsoft on behalf of JADE- the non-profit organization I am leading as Vice-president since 2011. I am happy to see how the partnership I have signed with Microsoft in October last year on behalf of JADE is evolving outside the borders of the events JADE is organizing (example the JADE Spring Meeting Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the European Parliament, 8-11th of March for 350 junior entrepreneurs and students).

The purpose of the event organized by Microsoft Citizenship was to gather a bunch of smart, entrepreneurial young people willing to brainstorm and cultivate ideas to change the world.
A brief summary of the event is here:

A part of the interview which I gave during the event can be found here:

European Business Summit 2012

JADE was invited to the 10th European Business Summit as a supporter of the event that took place on the 26th April 2012.After signing the contract with VBO- FEB in November, we started the promotion of the event and contributed with inputs to the communication and media of the event. It was no surprise when my colleagues who attended the event realised the amount of work, JADE and myself put to support this event.

With a main focus on “How can skills get Europe out of the crisis”, the event successfully gathered top companies’ executives, EU policy makers and NGOs such as JADE to discuss how matching the right skills with the right jobs is one of the keys to a sustainable economic growth for the EU.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Plenary sessions hosted keynote speeches by political and business leaders such as the Presidents of the European Parliament and the European Council, the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Italy, the COO of Accenture, and the President of the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB) who highlighted the increasing gap between businesses requirements and education, as well as the necessity for Europe to activate and encourage entrepreneurial initiatives

According to a study conducted by Accenture and the FEB, 86% of EU employers have decreased or frozen their budget for training and skill enhancement programs despite the increasing shortage of qualified workforce. This paradox, linked with the wide unused talent pool in Europe, shows that appropriate actions to reflate growth and fight unemployment have to be taken jointly by both EU politics and business leaders.

JADE attended the conferences that followed and engaged active networking with EU decision makers and top corporate executives so as to explain how Junior Enterprises embody concrete gateways between academic education and the labour market by fostering youth entrepreneurship and giving students an opportunity to set foot in the workplace at an early stage.

Several MEPs and members of the European Commission, such as the Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Diego Canga Fano, as well companies like HP, 3M and Huawei showed vivid interest in the Junior Enterprise initiative and may take part in future JADE meetings.

International congress on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

One of the projects I am mostly proud from my activity with JADE is the International congress on Innovation and Entrepreneurship organized in Brussels 8-11th of March 2012.

Each year, JADE Spring Meeting aims at strengthening the relations between European young entrepreneurs that share the same values and goals, contribute to each others development by sharing knowledge and experience, and lead the world to social and economic development by managing projects in this sense.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, JADE gathered for this Spring event more than 350 students (from 38 nationalities coming from Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America),  more than 25 workshops from different companies and independent training professionals, a high-level debate in the European Parliament and important information related to the innovation and entrepreneurship topic of the event.

The participants had the opportunity to grasp some of the key achievements of the network due to a short history presented in the first day of the event for the 350 participants. This was a moment of emotion for the current executive board, putting in perspective the achievements of our previous colleagues and some of the key activities of the JADE Executive Board 2012, which I am part of.

The agenda of the event had a different structure than the previous editions due to the fact that besides the workshops and innovation labs organized we hosted a pitching sessions with experts in the field for the junior entrepreneurs and students to be able to pitch their business ideas and get a feedback regarding the validity of their idea and some suggestions on how to attract funding for it. The quality of the workshops was extremely high and I am proud to say that I have negotiated and managed to bring this opportunity to attend these great workshops for the participants of the event.

Besides the workshops, another essential point of my contribution for this event was planning and organizing the activities for the day in the European Parliament which turned out to be a real challenge. We counted on the participation of the European Commission and Microsoft for the Opening part of the event.

  • Key Note Speech by Marko Curavić, European Commission, Head of Unit Entrepreneurship
  • Speech by Bror Salmelin, European Commission, Directorate General Information Society and Media
  • Speech by Steve Duggan, Senior Executive at Microsoft

Moderating the panel session in the European Parliament was a challenging task, due to the fact that it was the first time I did a moderation in the EP with such level of speakers and under such pressure.

Panel Discussion with:

  • Harry van Dorenmalen, Chairman of IBM Europe
  • Hans Martens, CEO of European Policy Center
  • Dr. Kevin Marshall, Education Lead at Microsoft Ireland
  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Engels, Director of the Innovation Community at Bayer Material Science
  • Arnaldo Abruzzini, Secretary General of EUROCHAMBRES
  • Moderator Simona Lascu, Vice-President of JADE

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The purpose of the session was to incite the audience with different perspectives (industry, different institutions and stakeholders) and provide some inspirational input for the young entrepreneurs attending the event and food for thought for the European Commission and Parliament representatives present during the event.

The insights provided by the keynote speakers focused on the importance of entrepreneurship for Europe and young people overall (especially now since SMEs are a focal point of attention from the European Commission), innovation and its importance for the knowledge society we are living in, as well as the impact it has on entrepreneurship (New Business models, co-creativity and sharing business models, etc).

Some of the issues covered during the moderation session in the European Parliament are summarized below:

Innovation and entrepreneurship are issues growing in importance both at the European Commission and governments level, as well in the business world and we have to be able to grasp promptly their implications concerning their effect on society overall.

Some of the drivers of innovation are demand (creates markets for innovators) and entrepreneurship (new firms and activities within existing firms).

For these reasons we can see innovation and entrepreneurship working together and we should encourage their supportive collaboration for the future. Significant steps ahead were taken by the Commission and its DGs, at company level and other important stakeholder organizations in supporting these topics and the panel discussion will focus on some of these issues.

Europe needs to be more innovative and encourage innovation through investing more resources and creating a friendly environment, fostering the demand for innovation and fostering innovative entrepreneurship.

The current challenge is to facilitate a dialogue between all the affected stakeholders: from multinationals driven by technology and Innovation (IBM, Microsoft) and R&D (Bayer Material Science) to small and medium enterprises represented by Eurochambres and institutions focused on policies (EPC -European Policy Center- Hans Martens).

Innovation now is embedded from multinational companies in the form of intrapreneurship by generating new products, services and creating new processes – to existing small and medium enterprises focusing on their survival and adaptation or emerging ones launching new business models.

The role of innovation is currently revolving on new technologies and R&D and these are dealt with at different levels. While large companies mainly innovate though R&D – which is lengthy and very costly, SMEs rely on scalable technologies – which can be rapidly implemented and adapted.

Moreover, highly competitive sectors are more innovative, yet innovation should be adopted internally by other sectors and industries, inside governments, institutions and companies.

Issues such as user centric innovation, Open innovation, cloud computing are very familiar to some of the speakers and we would like to discuss how there are changing businesses.

The European Commission has a wide focus on cloud computing due to the outcomes of these technologies. It will promote the uninterrupted expansion and innovation of cloud computing, and reap the benefits these technologies offer for job creation, productivity, and economic development in Europe, as well as around the globe. 

Innovation together with entrepreneurship should focus on educational issues and should be encouraged since early age.