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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

Perfect smiles with REGIO

Reporter REGIO: episode 10

Perfect smiles with REGIO

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

They have been together since the 5th grade, they grew up in Vaslui and graduated from the University of Dental Medicine in Iași City, in the 2000s. Acatrinei spouses raised 5 children together: their daughter and 4 dental practices where they invested a lot of time and passion throughout the years. The last „child” is raised and developed with the support of European funds through the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020: Dr. Acatrinei Clinic. The project implemented in Iași, in the heart of Copou Park, meant ” Consolidation, modernization of the building „, a project with a non-reimbursable financial assistance in the amount of 742k euros.

From Iași City to Moldovița Village and back

After finishing their residency in Iași, Dragoș and Laura Acatrinei decided to move to the countryside, with their parents, to Moldovița Village in Suceava county, to start something of their own, on their own. They opened a dental office at the dispensary in the village and worked there for 3 years. However, Dragoș felt the need for a bigger city to do his job, and the closest one was Câmpulung Moldovenesc, 30 km away. In a space that was not necessarily intended for a dental practice, it was more of a hallway, they set up a suitable place for dental work, in medical centre of the city, and practiced there until 2012. For a while, Laura went to Moldovița, and Dragoș at Câmpulung, but when she returned from maternity leave, she also gave up the dental office in the countryside and chose the city. When their daughter started school, they decided to move back to Iași, considering that a big city has more opportunities for children. With savings and the help of their parents, they built a house and in the basement they set up, again, another dental office. The third one. „We thought it was the last one. I didn’t give up the dental office in Câmpulung. I went there 3 days a week until I handed everything over to another doctor. And I worked at the home dental office until March 2022, when I opened the clinic„, says Laura.

The pandemic and its benefits

Laura Acatrinei believes that she has always met the right people, at the right time, throughout her professional career so far. That’s how she found out about the opportunity for European funds. Through people. The fact that her husband, being a surgeon, performs a complicated dental operation, brought them patients, through recommendations, from all over the region of Moldova. At one point he also had a patient who was a consultant on European funds. He whetted their appetite for funds by telling them about projects and opened calls at that time. „I admit, I had colleagues who accessed funds and I kept telling my husband to submit a project too. Even though most of them told us that „it’s very difficult, you don’t need something like that, better not”. You need a little bit of madness to get into something like this, and we have that dose of madness, honestly. Everyone said it’s easier to get equipment on funds, but things get complicated if you also do construction. However, we were not discouraged. We had already a building, it was the old TeleM television headquarters in Copou Park, which we bought at a certain point, with the idea that we would capitalize on it someday. And we submitted the project„. It was an old building that had to be demolished. In the summer of 2019, the work began. Everything was going well except that, in March 2020, the pandemic came. „Initially we panicked, like everyone else, our offices were closed, and going to the dentist was the last priority then. But I can say that it was for our good because my husband stayed with the builders all that time and saw every screw put in place. He is a perfectionist, and I don’t think it was a pleasure for the builders. In the end, I said that this pandemic was fine for us. In other conditions, my husband would not have been able to supervise the work, and you really have to stay with the builders if you want it to turn out as it should. During the pandemic we had continuous occupation„, says Laura.

A dental clinic with top-of-the-line equipment

With a project of 1,1 million euros and a non-refundable financial assistance of 742k euros, Acatrinei spouses built a new clinic with top-of-the-line equipment, from dental chairs to the operating room. Also, they really wanted to provide services for children with disabilities, but they still haven’t found that colleague, an anesthesiologist, willing to work with these children. „Now we are in discussions with someone and we are waiting to see if he agrees. We will do it, it is our dream to help children with disabilities, but we are waiting to find the right person„, says Laura Acatrinei.

The right person at the right place

Valentina joined the team at Acatrinei’s dental clinic in 2016 as an office manager. She is the one who took care of all the administrative parts of the submission and then the implementation of the project. She worked closely with the consultants and obtained all the necessary documents from the authorities. She remembers, smiling, that… „everything was on the last mile. Now, looking back, it’s funny, but at that time, all phones were on fire. Each time, I submitted documents on the last day that they could be submitted. That’s how it is when you work with institutions. You submit a request and unfortunately, sometimes you have to wait more than 30 days. It was always stressful. It takes a long time to get all the approvals. I remember that the construction authorisation also came out with difficulty. I took it, scanned it, and sent it to North-East RDA. That’s how all went. You go through a lot, but when you get to the point where you realize it’s over, it doesn’t even matter how hard it was. I always said that this project was my first child, then the second followed, my own child„, says Valentina, with emotion. Then Laura said „that’s why it’s important to meet the right people in life. I was also very lucky with Valentina, if it wasn’t for her to take care of all the paperwork, I don’t know how we would have done it„.

Patients, invited to the inauguration of the clinic

The inauguration of the clinic took place in March 2022, and as a sign of gratitude, Acatrinei spouses invited to the launching event all those who have contributed, in one way or another, to the success of the project: builders, architects, designer, consultants, those who helped with the purchase of equipment and, of course, patients. „Because we build friendships, not partnerships. We have patients who come to visit on Holidays, I have maintained close relations with many of them. I like to bond with people. And when we hire, we choose people based on the chemistry between us and the desire to work with each other as a family. I feel that this is the only way we can move forward. We like to build and grow together,” says Laura.

As for future plans, Acatrinei spouses want to enjoy what they have built. They hope their daughter will follow their footsteps and, who knows, maybe she will submit the next project with European Funds. Shortly, they would like to find two or three colleagues to work within the clinic, but they are in no rush because they are convinced that when the time is right, it will happen. „It’s good to be lucky in everything in this life, but most of all in people said Ileana Vulpescu. It is a confirmation of what I think and I want whoever will work with us to be worth it. We are in no rush to hire. Valentina’s sister, for example, worked as a nurse with us for a year, she liked it, she studied dental medicine, now she is in her 6th year and we can’t wait for her to come work with us„, says Laura Acatrinei. She also strongly affirms that nothing they managed to build in the heart of Copou Park would have been possible without the help of European Funds.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

The Technical College Lațcu Vodă, a stepping stone for future craftsmen from North-East

Reporter REGIO: episode 8

The Technical College Lațcu Vodă, a stepping stone for future craftsmen from North-East

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

 

 

It was the summer holiday towards the 8th grade and he had a decision to make: what should he do with his future? A decision that no one has asked for and one could think he had all the time in the world, looking at other colleagues of his age , kicking the ball on the soccer field. But, at the age of 14, he was very mature about his direction in life, knowing clearly what he will do next and where he is heading. He received all the support and guidance from his family and during that vacation, he tried to find a way, HIS way. For a short time, he was a waiter. He didn’t like it. Then, being a chef aid didn’t feel like it suited him. Afterwards, his father recommended him to learn how to be a mechanic at the car service in his village, close to home, to see if he likes it. He went there every day for about 6 weeks. He realized from day one that this is what suits him, that he wants to learn more and maybe, one day, he would have his own car service.

Iulian Nichiforel or Nichi, as his friends are calling him, is 19 years old, is in the twelfth grade at Lațcu Vodă Technical College in Siret and he is  one of the direct beneficiaries of the project implemented at the college, with non-refundable European funding of 1.2 million euros, from the Regional Operational Programme. He is very passionate about cars and auto mechanics. With special wisdom for his age, Nichi planned his career step by step, so that he would go through all the stages of learning a job and achieving his dream.

He preferred the vocational school in the small town Siret to the high school in Rădăuți City

He was born in Turrin, Italy, where his parents sought a better life, like many other families in the region of Moldova, 20 years ago. When they divorced, he stayed with his grandmother in Romania, in a village named Horodnic de Sus, near Rădăuți. He finished secondary school at „Bogdan Vodă” in Rădăuți, a famous school in Suceava County and he surprised everyone, colleagues, and teachers when, at the end of the 8th grade, he said that he wanted to attend a vocational school. Not a high school, because he wanted to learn a job and to go through all the stages of practical learning. „I searched for information, I asked teachers, I looked all over the internet and the best school where I could learn what I wanted, in the automotive field, was in Siret, at Lațcu Vodă College. I said I will go there to learn a profession, . because nowadays everybody requires experience, even if you have a university degree. So, I started with the first step and finished three years of vocational training at Lațcu Vodă Technical College. I didn’t want to go straight to high school because once you turn 18, you can’t go to vocational school. That was my decision„, says Iulian.

From car mechanic to transport technician, at Lațcu Vodă College

He finished every year of vocational studies with an average over 9.50. He is the kind of student who stands out, asks many questions, and seeks answers, always concerned about knowing more. He had all the support, since the 9th grade of Mr. foreman Constantin Pintrijel, who took him under his wing and advised him to go to high school, also within the college. He obtained a diploma in auto mechanics, and an „Excellent” qualification in the final vocational school exam and went further towards his dream, entering high school, in the transport technician profile. Now, in the 12th grade, he is seriously preparing for the baccalaureate, the final exam. „Out of 30 students from the vocational school, about 5 of us also chose to go to high school. The rest of them stopped, got the degree and that was it? That’s all they needed. I believe that wherever you go to work and if you have a vocational school it means that you have certain knowledge, you are not starting from scratch. The internship helps you gain the experience so demanded by employers, but the facilities of a college with a technical profile also help enormously. The vocational school helps you a lot. Maybe you know how to unscrew a screw, but then you get stuck because you don’t know what to do next. The years of vocational school can give you the necessary foundation to start something and it gives you the confidence that you can do anything you want„.

``I'd go to foreman school here, gladly!``

Also in high school, he has good grades, average over 9.30, and says, smiling, that he regrets finishing the twelfth grade now. If he could, he would repeat the year just for the sake of the new college facilities. „There are some very high-performance car simulators that you can learn to drive, we have new workshops, very well equipped. There are some devices that we haven’t had the chance to get our hands on so far. On the one hand, I’m sorry that I’m finishing the twelfth grade. Future generations are very lucky. I was actually saying that if I could, I would repeat the year just to enjoy the new equipment more. I am tempted by the idea of ​​staying here and doing a foremen’s school. I would be a mechanic, then an auto technician, foreman, and engineer, so I would step all the stones. Especially now with these benefits, I would love to do foremen’s school here„.

He would like to go to University in Iași City or Suceava City, on an electric automotive profile. He believes that nowadays everything is going electric, especially cars. Now he is at that point when he studies the offers of universities in order to make a decision. Cluj City also tempted him at one point, but he decided that he wanted to stay in the North-East Region, closer to home. For now, his main concern is to get good grades on the final exam.

He has a nice relationship with his father and teachers

Iulian has a special bond with his father, he is the one who guided him and was by his side in all the decisions he made. They are best friends and Nichi tells us what a surprise he got on March 8th, this year: „I had the final driving test exam. I passed it and the first time I got out of the car, I called my father. I tried to fool him and tell him that I failed, but when he started encouraging me and telling me not to be upset, I quickly told him the truth. Then I heard a horn from a parking lot and saw my dad get out of the car and he said, «This is yours, congratulations! » He came all over Germany, where he works, to make this surprise. I have a special father, but I also never upset him, I kept to school, we supported each other. First, he is my friend, then he is my father. It is a beautiful, harmonious relationship, difficult to explain in words. We communicate all the time, I don’t hide anything from him„.

Nichi has also a great relationship with the teachers at school. He has a special relationship with Mr. Deputy Director Antonio Mustață, they go to football together, on Thursdays, to the match between students and teachers, and Iulian says that it is a very nice relationship created between students and teachers from Lațcu Vodă College. Somehow, at Siret, Iulian Nichiforel found his second family. For him, the guidance he received here was very valuable in his choices, and now, in the twelfth grade, he advises those who want to make a career in the automotive field, to take each step towards evolution one by one. The theoretical part is important, but more important is the practice in such a complex field. “I advise anyone to start as low as possible and then work their way up. Then you will have the pride of having gone through all the stages, and the gained knowledge is valuable. There are many who directly target engineering, , in college, but they don’t know anything about the basics. Myself, who I have gone through everything, I can now go to an employer with my heads up. The diplomas prove the experience I have. Lațcu Vodă Technical College offers you the perfect environment to be able to learn a job, especially now after it has been so well equipped and modernized„, says Nichi.

Iulian Nichiforel is one of the students for whom Lațcu Vodă Technical College made a difference. And like Iulian, there are many more students eager to build a future at home, through a job learned at home. And now, with the help of this European funding, the future of a whole generation can be changed.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

 

4
NEWS Regio Reporter EN

Manifatture Neamț SRL – or how to knit success thread by thread

Reporter REGIO: episode 6

Manifatture Neamț SRL- or how to knit success thread by thread

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

1.15 million euros non-refundable financial assistance. Two submitted projects. One is completed, and the other is under implementation. Any time would submit for a third one. Manifatture Neamț SRL is a company that took advantage of the development opportunities offered by the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020. Perhaps the title of the submitted projects, „Expanding production capacity and increasing the competitiveness of the company through the acquisition of high-performance production equipment”, does not say anything, but behind them is a local company that produces haute-couture clothes for Prada, Valentino, Tory Burch or Moncler. From Neamt County directly to Milan or Canada. Also, REGIO helped this company to survive during the pandemic.

In August 2012, in Dumbrava Roșie City, on Strămutați street, the first knitting machines of Manifatture Neamț SRL started working. With 7 people in the team, Lucian Seghete had, for the umpteenth time, a new beginning. His story is interesting, to say the least, with a lot of will, discipline, sacrifice, and a lot of time dedicated to a passion.

Passion for automation and machines

Going back in time, we find out about Lucian Seghete that worked during all the summer vacations through high school, in Onești City. With a scholarship, after completing his mandatory internship at the end of the school year, he asked different bosses, both from the Chemical Plant and the Onești Refinery, to accept him to work for an extra penny. He was checking or repairing electronic equipment. He then joined The Electronics College in Iași City and, although he continued his summer work in Onești City when his wife was assigned to Piatra Neamț City, he also transferred to the Synthetic Yarns and Fibers Combine in Săvinești. There he worked in a making machinery department for the textile chemical industry. „It was the time when Ceaușescu said that he was paying the country’s debt, and that meant that no more equipment would be bought from any country, and we had to make them ourselves, to reproduce them. There were Mitsubishi, Bosch, and IBM machines. Melana 5, as it was called then, was a department developed from scratch only with machinery made by us from local materials. Making automation for all these machines was pure passion„, says Lucian Seghete. He worked very hard, even on Sundays, 12 hours a day, to be able to work on the automation. Then came the Revolution in `89, with many organizational changes. He was the head of the research, and design department, and the machinery and spare parts department became independent. „It was pioneering in terms of running a company, with budgets, everything„, he recalls.

Victoria sweaters and the first knitting machine

One summer, a lady, Mrs. M., came and told him that she had some second-hand knitting machines and she didn’t know how to get them working because they also had electronic parts. Although he didn’t know much about a knitting machine, he agreed to get involved. He had them up and running within a month. Making the first piece of knitting was fascinating for everyone involved and they wanted to do more. The next step was programming the machine to knit a sweater. Lucian Seghete went all the way to Budapest, got the program, because it didn’t exist in Romania, and he remembers, smiling, that a hundred thousand sweaters were made. They were called Victoria sweaters, with threads taken from Rifil factory, and… „people were standing at the door to buy them. They came from all over the country. The color purple was in great demand. Everyone wanted a purple sweater. Purple with any color„, says Lucian Seghete.

That was the moment when he had to choose: past or future. And he chose the future. He took over the technical department here, with the M family. He visited many knitting factories in Italy to study how they work, and at the same time, new machines and programming stations were bought. Slowly, the orders started coming in. Everything went smoothly, and Lucian Seghete worked with and for pleasure. They started to export knitwear abroad, and the company was developing tremendously.

New beginnings

His experience was extremely valuable in the textile market and being the kind of person who made things go smoothly, he was called upon to help out in various factories around the country. He set up a textile factory in Brașov City in 4 months, and another one in Bucharest City in 2 months. After these two, someone who had a factory in Dâmbovița City called him to help a program that was not working. He liked it there and decided to stay and work with these people. The factory went from 20 knitting machines to 80 and during this time they collaborated with a lot of famous brands. The owner, an Italian person, had connections with all the big companies in Italy. After almost 10 years of commuting Piatra Neamț-Dâmbovița, Lucian decided it was time to make a change again. „When I told the chief that I was leaving, he said, « And what am I doing now? Then, if you leave, we’ll build a factory in Piatra Neamț City! ». With what money? I had no money. He said: « take some machines from here and make the samples you have to make for the customers ». This happened in February 2012. By August, the building was fully up and running, with the first sewing machines ready to go. A few years later, the Italian chief said he was no longer interested in the factory here and he withdrew.

Five high-performance knitting machines through European funds

Lucian Seghete, who already had an eye for new trends, had the opportunity to test a newly appeared knitting machine, one that knits the complete product, especially when he also saw that young people no longer have the patience to work an item that combines knitting. He tested it, bought it, and when he saw that it practically worked alone, he decided that he needed more such machines, for the evolution of the company. He thought sometimes about the idea of ​​European funds, but he felt that now is the best time to do it. With the help of a consultant, he submitted a project on Axis 2 – „Improving the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises”. „We said: let’s try through funds. We bought 5 machines through the project and I think we are the only ones in the country who have this type that makes the complete piece of knitting. We realized this was the future, machines working thin and very thick yarn. I knew that fashion would change, regardless of the season, items with thick threads would be made„.

``Thanks to these machines, we kept the factory open during the pandemic``

The period of the pandemic was quite complicated for Manifatture Neamț. Clothes weren’t on people’s priority list and orders dropped off a lot. The purchase of the 5 high-performance knitting machines proved to be the company’s lifeline. „During this pandemic, these machines helped us a lot. If we didn’t have these machines that we purchased with European funds, we could have closed. We’ve maintained production, not necessarily the number of units, but the revenue that we normally had, that we assumed would increase. A product made on such machines is a much more expensive product than one made on normal machines. Because it’s a product that no one else makes. We are now at the top of the market with products like this„, says Lucian Seghete.

Sometime later, Lucian Seghete submitted a second project for other knitting machines with very thin threads, but also with thick threads, with even more sophisticated technology. Also in the second project, he purchased a yarn spinning machine, to reuse the waste. “We work only for export, with expensive yarns, silk, cashmere, and we only work on complicated items that not many people can make. We reuse the threads when there are pieces that have to be thrown away because they have a defect, and the spinning machine helps us a lot„.

From 7 to 160 employees

Manifatture Neamț has also developed a lot in terms of personnel. 160 people work today to send clothes all over the world on time. „We do not work on the stock of any kind, we work on the orders given directly by our customers from America, from Canada, and big Italian brands such as Moncler, Valentino, Prada, and Herno. We have all the conditions for a top company. We cannot afford not to meet delivery deadlines no matter what happens. Many impediments arise but must be overcome. We are working against time„.

Lucian Seghete has been retired for 5 years. In the last 3 years, he hasn’t had a day off, he works even on Saturdays, sometimes on Sundays, and he vibrates with every machine he owns in the factory.

At the moment, Manifatture Neamț has one completed project, and one in implementation, and Lucian Seghete would not say „no” to a third project. He believes that you cannot take funds just for the sake of taking them. You need to have a plan, a business strategy, and patience. He also says that he has very close ties with the main knitters in Europe and most of them have accessed European funds. „The opportunity for European funds is extraordinary. They must be accessed. Unfortunately, we hear on the radio how other countries have taken and are still taking funds, and we have a low absorption rate. I think there are two reasons: some don’t have the courage and some are scared of bureaucracy. However, it must be applied, it must be tried. If it’s a step you have to climb, you climb it even if it’s higher. But… when you take the next steps, you have to make them more accessible so you can move faster„, concludes Lucian Seghete.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

 

 

2
NEWS Regio Reporter EN

European funds make dreams come true! The unique technology in Romania, in geodesy and cadastre, in Botoșani City

Reporter REGIO: episode 5

European funds make dreams come true!
The unique technology in Romania, in geodesy and cadastre, in Botoșani City

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

A few years ago it was just a prototype. And a dream. Today it`s a unique model in Romania and belongs to a beneficiary of the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020. The equipment we are talking about is a complex mobile 3D scanning system used in geodesy, topography, and cadastre, a model found in less than 10 copies in Europe and, as of February 2022, unique in our country. The submitted project has a total value of almost 1 million euros, with the non-refundable financial assistance of 600k euros, and included 4 graphics stations, a server, licenses, training, and a mobile photovoltaic system.

Adriana Bâlbă is the person who dreamed of this scanner ever since she saw it for the first time, at an international fair, and wanted to bring it to the North-East region, in Botoșani. Adriana is the manager of the company Geodezie Cadastru Moldova SRL since 2013, the beneficiary of POR 2014-2020, she is constantly concerned about the evolution in this area and believes that this mobile scanner helps her to keep up with technology. The moment she saw this equipment at the international fair was like a revelation.

``I was like a child who wanted a toy very badly``

Because she always wanted to be up to date with all the news in the field, Adriana remembers that in 2009 she participated in a world-class trade fair, held annually in Germany, InterGeo. There she saw how technology can help her in this area of geodesy, how important it is, and how many advantages it brings. At this fair, she saw for the first time a 3D mobile scanner for the cadastre. „I was like a child who saw a toy she wanted in a giftshop window„, says Adriana. The price for this kind of equipment was, as expected, very high. Over time, analyzing the market, she realized that she couldn’t make such an investment and looked for solutions. “I started with a wish. What if… What if we owned something like this? I was thinking how it would be, everything would change, the advantages, the services that we offered would be various. I wanted an evolution because it was needed. You want more from a technological point of view, especially on the cadastral topography side,” says Adriana.

Then she thought about European funds. Theoretically, it was a simple project, with few purchases, but she had the surprise of support being refused, one by one, by two consulting firms from Bucharest and Suceava. Time was passing, and there was little left until the deadline for submitting projects, but she did not give up. She continued to believe in her project and reached, on the last mile, another consultant from Iași City, with whom she collaborated until the end. „We were lucky enough to be recommended a consulting firm from Iași City, and although at first we only talked by phone, I believed in them, and they believed in the project. I submitted the project with great emotions and knew that the chances were 50-50. I hoped with all my heart that we would get this chance. It was both luck and desire. When our project was approved I couldn’t believe it, it was a dream come true. Now we just have to prove that we deserved this system and make it work as best we can. This period also allowed us to put the situations together, to arrange everything in such a way that at this moment we are ready for the implementation of the project and dedicate ourselves with full openness. It’s a new system, we take any information from scratch, we make one step at a time„, says Adriana Bâlbă.

Training with specialists from Germany and Finland

The scanner arrived from the supplier in February this year, and since then the whole team has been… learning. Online training is held with specialized people from Germany and Finland. Being a very complex device, this training is made of stages of theory and practice. The first stage, of measurements, has already been completed, with the corresponding number of training hours. Next is the data processing part, according to the schedule, and by the end of the year, all training steps must be completed.

At the moment, the system is used for tests, during which the whole team learns practically, but also for work where details are needed, especially in topography. Unlike a classic scanner, where it is measured starting from two reference points, this 3D system model scans the entire environment and measures in detail everything related to the desired area. From this detailed information, the necessary data is subtracted that determines the coordinates of each scanned object. The powerful software then processes the data, transfers it to other programs, and transforms it into coordinates that can be used by architects or designers. In the future, after the whole team will have acquired all the necessary information, Adriana can contract works where a larger volume of details is needed. „I want us to accurately master all the information, and I want us to use this scanner exclusively in our work,” she says.

``I advise anyone who wants to access funds, to make the step, with all confidence!``

Adriana Bâlbă says that accessing European funds represented a real chance for her and her team and she wants to offer her services outside the country as well. „We are in Botoșani City, this area of ​​Romania that is cataloged as it is, and we want to prove that it is possible to overcome our condition, that there is potential. We have big thoughts, to reach Europe as well, we hope to achieve them. We must! We would not have been able to take this step alone. I advise anyone who wants to access funds, to make the step, with all confidence! When you want something, sooner or later it will happen. Sometimes what we want is not so easy to get, and then we don’t have to give up„.

Adriana Bâlbă is an example of modesty and optimism. She is always looking for solutions to improve, and the young team she formed is always by her side, in any challenge. Including this mobile scanning system has been a challenge, but by studying and applying the theory in practice, the equipment is becoming friendlier day by day. Adriana believes that European funds fulfill dreams, as they fulfilled hers. „I am grateful to have been given this chance and we want to continue to evolve. There is great potential in the North-East Region! Many people want and can! It is a great chance for us, the Romanians, to be able to benefit from these European funds. Why not access them? Why shouldn’t we take advantage of this opportunity? After all, these funds are not a fad. EU allows you to fulfill your dreams! To achieve more, to overcome our condition, more than we could do alone„, concludes Adriana Bâlbă.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

resurse-umane
NEWS

Open call for applications for the positions of Senior Expert, Senior Specialist and Junior Non-Key Expert

International Consulting Expertise EEIG (ICE) from Belgium in consortium with Business and Strategies in Europe S.A. (B&S) from Belgium, Kommunalkredit Public Consulting GmbH (KPC) from Austria and Agentia pentru Dezvoltare Regionala Nord-Est (North-East Regional Development Agency) (ADR) from Romania is announcing an Open call for applications for the positions of Senior Expert, Senior Specialist and Junior Non-Key Expert.

International Consulting Expertise EEIG (ICE) is currently implementing the EU funded technical assistance project SUPPORT FOR PLANNING, PROGRAMMING AND COORDINATION RELATED TO EU AND OTHER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – PPF 10 – NEAR/BEG/2021/EA-RP/0078, managed by the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia. The duration of the project is 36 months from 05 April 2022 until 04 April 2025.

More detailed information and contact data provided into the attached document.

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

REGIO – an engine for small business

Reporter REGIO: episode 4

REGIO - an engine for small business

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

Very passionate about cars, with studies in the food industry, she wears her high heels with femininity in a men`s world. Larisa Corniciuc is a strong woman who turned her passion into a business. She opened, in 2021, in Botoșani City, a workshop for the production of car parts and engine repairs with the support of European funds and hopes that one day, she will learn to repair with her own hands the engines. At 33 years old, a mother of two children, she is a very active person and she strongly believes that everything in life is learned, no matter how difficult it may be.

Moto Dalv achieved, through the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, 12 pieces of high-performance equipment, necessary for a car workshop, worth 250k euros. The company is at the beginning of the road, but Larisa considers that without the help of European funds it would never have managed to fulfill this dream and offer unique services in Botoșani City with some state-of-the-art equipment.

From the multinational to her workshop

Larisa’s passion for cars comes from childhood, being surrounded by a brother and a father passionate about this field. And since nothing is accidental in life, although she had studied in the food industry, 8 years ago, she was hired by a multinational company where she sold car parts. She is still grateful to the director who hired her because he trusted her and saw a woman who could do more in her. „He gave me a lot of courage. When a man trusts you in such a masculine field, then it makes you feel very good. I remember that the European director of the company came here and after a meeting, he said to the local manager: «This girl has to do more! She has to go to meet the client, talk about car parts and you have to teach her about car parts! », Larisa remembers. She admits that it took her a while to learn the technical part, but it helped that she was curious and asked many questions.

Then, after 4 years of multinational, she decided it was time to open an auto parts store on her own. And because she is a very ambitious person, she wanted more. She wanted something that did not exist in Botoșani City: a workshop dedicated to engines and car parts. She looked for information, studied the open calls from different European programs, and then, with the help of a consultant, she submitted a project within the ROP 2014-2020, Axis 2-Support for micro-enterprises, entitled “Establishment of spare parts production unit for vehicles and engines ”. „I was scared that I wouldn’t know. But I trusted myself and realized that I could learn anything. After making the business plan, I said that there are two possibilities: either to access European funds, or on our own, with the help of the bank, but in the current conditions I don’t think we could have done that. And then I successfully accessed European funds. I said it was a lottery, we had no way of knowing if we would win or not”.

12 types of equipment achieved through ROP 2014-2020

Through the project, she achieved 12 high-performance, high-precision workshop equipment. For connoisseurs, these are crankshaft grinding machines, cylinder head plan grinders, connecting rod boring, honing, valve seat boring, crack testing, and a hydraulic press. Then she tried to find people willing to work with it. But she didn’t find any. Neither local nor regional. So she proposed to the team that came from Turkey to make the equipment settings to … stay in Romania and work with it. Larisa now has in her team two people of Turkish nationality, with experience in the field, and two apprentice Romanian employees. „We tried to find people to work with, here in Romania. I looked for qualified people in metalworking, but I did not find any, it was very difficult. For example, whoever is a lathe professional has a lathe at home and is not looking to be hired. The company from which I took the equipment, by auction, is Romanian, but the equipment is Turkish. It also helped us find the right people. Someone had to help us set them up so they sent a team from there. We talked and they decided to stay”. Now, Larisa explains what needs to be done or repaired in English, with specific terms, and she is also learning Turkish.

A broken engine does not mean junk

Moto Dalv is the only workshop in Botosani City focused on this type of engine repairs and car parts production and because it is at the beginning of the road, Larisa relies heavily on recommendations. Although she could open a car service department, she did not. „Then the services would have considered me a competitor, and I don’t want that, I want to work with everyone. So, now, anyone in Botosani City recommends me. Actually, we recommend each other. If you do a good job, they recommend you. Even if a crack in the engine for a lot of people can mean scrap metal, people who care about their cars, choose to repair the engine”, says the young woman. Even she did that.

 

Plans for the future? Development also through European funds

The young entrepreneur does not like to sit in the office and says that she would get bored just telling someone what to do. „I want to work with my colleagues, side by side, I like that. I don’t just sit at the office, I go to clients. Sometimes I want to learn to repair engines by myself, but all of a sudden I’m afraid I won’t ruin anything there. I know the operations, I see them, I know their order, but how it is set … no. Yet. I am constantly learning ”. Asked about plans, Larisa Corniciuc says that she would like to expand and buy more high-performance equipment with European funding. She waits to see what calls are opened and which is the one for her. She is in continuous research, she keeps informed about all the opportunities that appear and she knows that only with the support of European funds she could fulfill her dream of expanding her business.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

Puzzle pieces put together with European support and local creativity at Gura Humorului City

Reporter REGIO: episode 3

Puzzle pieces put together with European support and local creativity at Gura Humorului City

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

 

With over 56 projects funded by European funds, Gura Humorului City has become a landmark in the Northeast region, and a destination for tourists. The city administration has built, over time, a place where every generation finds attractive places to spend their free time, whether they are locals or tourists. From the outdoor and indoor pool to the ski slope, the children’s town, and the artesian fountain with lights, Gura Humorului has relied on tourism and EU funding to grow in the long term.

Marius Ursaciuc, the 18-year-old mayor of the city, is the one who wants to leave a place for future generations to be proud of. He decided to run for the city administration, together with a handful of people, to change the „gray” image of his birthplace and to make it a place where everybody wants to invest. He recalls that in 2004 when Romania was in the pre-accession period, he made the development strategy of the city, in the short and medium-term, together with the World Bank and discovered that tourism is a sustainable and real option for the development of this town. At that time, only resorts of national interest benefited from certain funds. So the first thing he did when he became mayor was to set up an office for European projects and then all the documentation needed to get that status that offered certain financial benefits. The following year, with this status in the documents, it was possible to access funds for large tourist infrastructure. This is how an indoor pool, outdoor pool, ski slope, and cable installation were built. „All this was done to attract private investment in tourism. If in 2004 we had 84 accommodation places in 5 units, now there are 170 units with over 3 thousand accommodation places. And if the population has reached from 13 thousand inhabitants to 20 thousand, it means that we have reached our goal and we have managed to make the city attractive „, says the mayor.

Economic development through tourism

It was the tourism developed with the help of European funds that saved Gura Humorului. Formerly a mining town, 80% of the population was unemployed when the mines closed. Now, through the European projects implemented, smaller or larger, the city has become a destination, regardless of the season. „This is the niche I found and exploited. I have seen many places that can live exclusively from tourism. I am a member of the European Committee of the Regions and I have seen that if you do not have an alternative to economic development as others have, tourism is the only economic development that we can stimulate through investment. We have been present in all major European projects. The development of this city is a puzzle because European funds do not necessarily allow you to be coherent, but you do them one by one. Your needs and the financing possibilities launched on the axes do not always overlap„, says Marius Ursaciuc.

Two large-scale projects, designed to support tourism and provide leisure options for people of all ages, were funded by the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020 and brought 7.5 million euros to this area. The first project was the T.U.R.I.S.T. (Revitalized Urban Territory with Tourism Support Infrastructure), and the second, which has recently been completed, is O.A.Z.A. (Active City with Landscaped Areas). Through the two projects, almost 9 hectares of land in an advanced stage of degradation have been transformed into areas of attraction for locals and tourists. „O.A.Z.A. and T.U.R.I.S.T. mean puzzle pieces that are added to existing projects so that everything has coherence. The two projects only expand this park, which has 23 hectares, with another 9 hectares „, says Marius Ursaciuc.

O.A.Z.A.

The O.A.Z.A. is designed for activities for all ages. There are play areas for children inspired by well-known movies or books, adapted to the local specifics. Elve`s Park with 5 houses covered with earth, a play castle, but also a natural labyrinth in which children can get lost at will. The houses are connected by winding paths, and the park is crossed by roller and bicycle tracks. Those who are passionate about such activities also have at their disposal a skatepark, located in Fountain`s Park, and the activity of the children in this area can be easily monitored by the parents from the adjacent wooden steps. The central element of the park is the artesian fountain with water play, music, and color, but also the gazebos built as a meeting place for young people are very popular.

T.U.R.I.S.T.

Near this park, next to the indoor swimming pool and the Ariniș swimming pool, a bowling alley was built, as an alternative to bowling, respecting the local tradition. The elderly or people with disabilities were not omitted by the placement of specific fitness equipment. For fans of movement, there are two trails arranged through the forest. The 30 m high panoramic tower from the upper base of the Falcon slope offers visitors the opportunity to observe nature and the city from a height through the telescopes. Picnic areas, but also for jogging are other options for all tourists.

The office in the park and the inspiration

Mayor Ursaciuc is very proud of the project team and the achievements made so far. The team’s office is located in Ariniș Park, in a disused building also rehabilitated with European funds. The mayor considered that good ideas and inspiration come when there is peace around you and the view is amazing. „They work there, in the woods, in the park where there are 8 families of squirrels. They have the right environment to be creative and to come up with ideas for what we can finance. We discuss the topics together, but creativity cannot be formally stimulated. That’s why the environment in which you work matters a lot. If I look at the lines of financing, it’s not poetry. If I look in the park, I see poetry. Because most of the time there is no overlap of my needs on what is financed, here come the squirrels that give ideas, that adapt the rigors to the needs. We have to adapt chameleonically so that we meet certain criteria to receive funding. That is the reality „, says Marius Ursaciuc.

``I made them believe that impossible things do not exist``

So far, Mayor Ursaciuc has achieved what he set out to do a few years ago, Gura Humorului is no longer a gray city, but that does not mean he stops here. He is very happy when he hears that people from other areas are moving to Gura Humorului and commuting to Suceava or other nearby towns. They saw that a city is a place where it is good to live, to raise your children. „When I was a student, I was asked where I was from, and when I said Gura Humorului, they asked me in which county it was. Today … I meet people from Suceava who say they are from Gura Humorului „, says the mayor.

Mayor Ursaciuc and his team have already prepared a portfolio of projects awaiting funding for the next session. A spectacular project awaiting funding is the installation of a 2.2 km bobsleigh that can be used in both summer and winter. Recently, they signed another financing project through ROP 2014-2020, for investments in the educational infrastructure at the Gymnasium School no. 1 from Gura Humorului, which is a big challenge considering that the deadline is December 2023. Given the current situation, inflation, and rising prices for materials, this project is emotional, but not for the team. „We are in the bidding process for the school that we have to finish in a year and a half. From the beginning, I said we would win this project. I didn’t win it. It was the second project on the reserve list. Even so, owning one is still beyond the average person’s reach. It turned out we were visionaries. 3 weeks ago I signed a financing contract. I gained valuable time designing ahead. We took some risks, but they were controllable risks. I think things are not impossible and I made them, the team, believe the same. We tried to make Gura Humorului a destination and I think we succeeded „, says Marius Ursaciuc.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

European funds in the creative industry: the international success of TraLaLa

Reporter REGIO: episodul 2

European funds in the creative industry: the international success of TraLaLa

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

„I’m TraLaLa, I’m TraLaLa
I always listen to and sing music
And everything I do and when I do
Music is all around me! ”

 

If you have small kids, it’s impossible not to know these lyrics. Cici the Elephant or the Zigaloo song are also very well known not only among children but also among adults. The lyrics are catchy and you end up singing them without realizing it.

This month’s Reporter Regio episode brings up a couple from Iași, husband and wife, Alexandru and Cristina Badan, who managed to put Romania on the performance map in creating educational content for children on YouTube. The channels set up by the two spouses, under the umbrella of Mora TV SRL, with exclusive content for children, have millions of views. TraLaLa ranks first in national views, and the international channel LooLoo Kids is in the top 5 internationally. Three years ago, they received the „Diamond Button” offered by YouTube for a large number of subscribers, and now they are waiting for the „Ruby ​Button”.

From engineering and dental technique to children's music animation

It all started in 2012, when Alex and Cristina, with two small children, wanted to find something suitable and educational on YouTube for their children, in Romania. Alexandru was a mechanical engineer, but he worked in sales, and Cristina was a dental technician, but she also had an online store for accessories and evening dresses. They had nothing to do with music, but they had an idea: to create songs accompanied by animation for their own children and all children in Romania. They opened a YouTube channel, TraLaLa, and uploaded the first animated song made with the help of collaborators. The feedback received from the parent community was extraordinary and they were always asked when the next episode came out. This encouraged them and gave them the confidence to do other episodes so that in the next two years, they reached 50 episodes. They worked in the evening after the children fell asleep. When they saw that these animations caught the audience so well, Cristina came up with the idea of ​​launching an international channel in English. That’s how „LooLoo Kids” was born.

REGIO European funds for high-performance equipment

For the international channel, which was in a visible expansion, the two spouses realized that the quality level had to be different, which meant money invested in high-performance equipment. „One of the production stages requires the rendering process, or that meant a very high computing power. From 2014 to 2018, the collaborators we worked with complained to us about the limited rendering capacity. For example, there were one or two episodes a month of 2 minutes each. When we requested certain changes, for 10 seconds of changed animation we had to wait 3-4 days due to the slow rendering process. And that slowed down the production process. Then we knew we need very high computing power so I decided to submit a project for European funds for this equipment. We already had a very large volume of data, with our online activity, and the equipment had two components: the rendering part (calculation) and the information storage part ”, says Alexandru Badan. The total value of the project was 245k euros, and the non-reimbursable financial assistance was 183k euros.

Since then, in addition to LooLoo Kids, they have opened channels in more than 10 international languages ​​and distributed content to other global platforms such as Netflix, mobile applications, and television. „We are in all places and on all platforms where there are children. And on planes. There are few places where children consume animation or songs where we are not, ”says Cristina proudly.

Vali Pintilescu, who has been with them since 2017 as development manager, says that they wanted to get to all those places where, usually, only the recognized international brands were present, Disney, Marvel, “brands that do not leave from countries like Romania and whose take-off is easier ”.

The „critical eye”

Alexandru, Cristina, and Vali have collaborators all over the world. They work with creative studios from Spain, and Canada and composers from the USA or Serbia, but the main idea starts in Iași City. It was very important for them to create a unitary note, for the collaborators to understand the concept, not to compromise, to have the same educational principles, from the first episode to the last, until a series closes. And that’s what Cristina does. She is a creative and critical eye at the same time. „No one has been able to develop the level of exigency and the power to constructively analyze each part like her. Because there are many partners, there are strong cultural differences. She knows exactly if a sequence is good or not for children, because first of all she is a mother, everything goes through the mother filter. For us men, everything is ok, but she immediately sees an animation in which the animated character holds a child in her arms in an unnatural way. She feels the emotion that needs to be conveyed. Cristina is the „enemy” of the animators because they often work up to 5 times the same sequence until it comes out well „, says Alexandru about his wife.

From Diamond to Ruby, 50 million subscribers

YouTube has a performance rating system that rewards you with buttons. For 100k subscribers it offers the silver button, for one million – the gold button, for 10 million subscribers – the diamond button, and the ruby ​​is offered for 50 million subscribers. 3 years ago Mora TV received the diamond button and it was the first button of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. It was an event that marked not only their performance but also the commitment of YouTube to support content creators around the world, not just those in London, Los Angeles, or New York, who populate this area. Currently, through LooLoo Kids, Mora TV is in the top 5 content creators in ​​the kid’s area worldwide. „With the Looloo Kids project, we have almost 49 million subscribers. At 50 million it means we’ll get the ruby ​​button. Only 39 content creators worldwide in YouTube’s history have reached over 50 million subscribers. It’s a performance and we hope to celebrate as soon as possible. We estimate that it will come in the next 2-3 months and we hope to have an event at least as sumptuous as the diamond „, says Vali.

Involvement… the secret ingredient!

The general audience on all channels has reached 300 million families per month, which is an impressive number of views. Even if financially speaking, international channels are the most successful, this does not mean that TraLaLa is left behind. The couple says there are times when the whole team only works for TraLaLa because both Cristina and Alexandru are emotionally attached to it. And even if the impact is somewhere between 5-8% in business, they say that you can’t leave behind a project in which you put so much soul and they want to have the same quality as the international ones.

Cristina and Alexandru are 100% present in their business. Filter all stages, from ideas to feedback. But at the same time, they kept their simplicity and work side by side. Vali Pintilescu says about the two spouses, with admiration, that they are atypical entrepreneurs. „They are very involved in this work, more than hundreds of entrepreneurs I know. When you see that the business is on an upward trend, you let it grow. But they are still here, working every day and I think that could be the secret ingredient, the recipe for success „.

``We are up to date with all the information about European funds``

With a turnover of 796k euros, a profit of 265k euros, registered in 2020, and 12 employees, Mora TV entrepreneurs focus on international growth in the future, but not only. They want to increase the number of channels, develop the productions they have engaged in, such as the project related to classic stories in a 3D format similar to Disney, and bring to Romania successful productions for children. Recently, in November 2021, TraLaLa also became a television station. After obtaining a TV license in 2020, TraLaLa can now reach all children, not just those with internet access. They are constantly evolving and they say they want to have the time to put into practice all the plans and projects they have. At the same time, because they have many dreams of expansion, they are pursuing everything related to open calls for European funding. „We are constantly scanning everything that means information about European funds. We are up to date with them. In animation, where we invest enormously financially, we have a very long payback period. A full season for a project budget should exceed 800k euros. It is difficult to invest in a new project, given the payback period. That is why we need European funds „, says Vali Pintilescu.

The need for funding for intangible assets

The Mora TV entrepreneurs want the intellectual property to become eligible for European funding, given the specifics of their business. „We are atypical, exotic for the Romanian market. We need money for licenses, software creation, and ideas. And that is not funded. The state does not support this area at all. We have a lot of projects in mind that we would implement if we had financial support. The international market has taught us a lot about the level of demand. You are in a race with players who have behind them either some companies that have huge resources, or some responsible states that invest in promoting the actors in this area for children. But I am still optimistic and with every call, we see if we can finance intangible assets. It hasn’t appeared yet. We demand a more open vision related to the area of ​​funds for licenses, for intellectual property, I believe that the added value is not only given by technology, it is also given by activities in the area of ​​the creative industry. Because we have proven that the creative industries can bring added value, generate profit, jobs, and a product that can be exported to several markets „, concludes Alexandru Badan.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

 

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

The road of the wool, from Piatra Neamț to America, via REGIO

REGIO Reporter: episode 1

The road of the wool, from Piatra Neamț to America, via REGIO

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

 

Oana and Cătălin Tatu built a family business in which they raised wool products to the level of art with a lot of passion, dedication and … European funds. The idea of ​​entrepreneurship has been around for a long time, but they have not been able to agree on a project. On the principle „everything happens for a reason”, they discovered wool, its benefits and its untapped potential exactly when they needed it. It is the kind of success story of some people who started from the bottom and managed, together, to build a sustainable business, with 100% natural materials, locally manufactured, in Piatra Neamț and with great prospects for the future.

How did it all start?

Cătălin and Oana were at that point in their lives without too many financial possibilities, with a small child and a recent bank loan for an apartment. Their little girl was sleeping on a mattress they were not very happy with, so they decided to put a woolen „grandmother’s” blanket on top. The inconvenience was that the blanket was very slippery. So, they decided to take it to a local tailor shop to put cotton on it. It turned out so good and the baby was sleeping so well that they decided to make another blanket. In the meantime, the local tailor shop had closed due to a lack of orders. Then, Cătălin decided to make one himself, what could be so difficult?

It turned out to be difficult. Because there was no … wool, a product that is so traditional in Romania and used by generations for years. He began to search, to study, to learn as much as he could about wool. This is how he discovered a very competitive and growing market abroad. In Romania … not at all. That’s when they both said, „That’s it!”. Until then, they were both looking for ideas to do something on their own, but neither of them was embracing the other’s idea. „We bought wool that filled our pantry with moth. It wasn’t good, we realized that not all kind of wool is good. And we started studying. We kept reading and reading and when we found out about the American market, we said that we can do it too”, says Oana. Cătălin saw the potential and went to the closed companies due to the crisis of 2009-2010 and bought a second-hand sewing machine and a cutting table. It was happening somewhere around 2011.

``We shaped the wool in a modern way``

Both entrepreneurs grew up with grandparents who raised sheep, who scolded wool, who had a loom in the house. Cătălin, a textile engineer and Oana, with a marketing history, complemented each other very well in the rebirth of a culture. Somehow, all bonded, because not only did they know how to sew, but they knew how to create a story behind the wool. Until the Revolution, the Romanians used wool, but everything was thrown away when the imported products arrived on the market. „It’s like an axiom that you don’t have to prove, that wool is good compared to synthetic materials. Synthetic products develop allergies. Children who used to sleep in a kneading-trough, in lambskin, with woven socks did not have allergies. We believed in ourselves that we could, and we realized that we would succeed if we revived the need for wool. Why did the world run away from the old woolen blankets? Because are heavy, it stings, it smells, so we had to reinvent the wool, to dress it up in a modern way. My dream was that there would not be a difference between a light, steamy quilt and a wool quilt. We have developed a product that has wool, but is modern. And it could only be made with merino wool, which is soft and fine „, says Cătălin.

With the second-hand sewing machine and the cutting table on the ground floor of the block where they lived, Cătălin started sewing, after his main job. At the beginning, they made a PFA, an online store and a Facebook page, Confort Merino, which brought them around 7-8 orders per month.

He found an UK entrepreneur online who wanted to start a business, but didn’t want much volume and needed flexibility. He asked for some samples, he liked it and offered them a collaboration. When they saw that the partnership was materializing, Oana and Cătălin looked for a stable wool supplier and took care of all the necessary documents for export. They set up SANODOR SRL, they entered the list of exporters, so that when they sent the first order, on Good Friday in 2014, all the documents were ready. „Together with our collaborator from Great Britain, we have developed our products a lot in a year, we have brought them to a quality level so that there was no difference between our products and those on the UK market. In the UK the world is very open to wool products, there are many NGOs, there is a wool culture. Even Prince Charles has an NGO called The Campaign for Wool, which has grown worldwide. The wool market is encouraged from sheep breeding to the store that sells the final product, blankets, clothing, quilts „, says Oana.

The need for more

For more than 4 years, the two moved near Târgu Neamț, in a village named Vânători, to a clothing company to use their quilting machine. They started this collaboration because they did not own such a machine and the orders were increasing. If the company had many orders, they had to wait. Sometimes they asked employees to stay after schedule to do their quilts as well. Because the quilting machine was an old, second-hand machine, it made mistakes, sewed wrong, and they had to unpack the whole product. It happened quite often to stain with oil, so they had become specialists in cleaning the edges of the quilts. One of three was stained with black from the fastening system, no matter how carefully it was done. But that’s how they grew up and learned, with the company from Târgu Neamț. „It was a beautiful collaboration, but I knew that if we want more, we have to do something„, says Oana.

In 2016, they went for the first time at an expo fair abroad as exhibitors. That was their chance, they say, looking back. Although it was very expensive to attend such a fair, it was necessary to be present in order for the suppliers to take them seriously and to meet new customers. There, they acquired knowledge, exchanged know-how and learned how to make their products better. They came from fairs with their eyes wide open. So, after attending a fair in Germany, Cătălin returned home thinking that their business had a fantastic potential and could grow. But they needed their own quilting machine. This is where European funds came into discussions and how much the company will develop with these funds. They found out that there was an open call on the Regional Operational Programme. “I said this is our chance! A machine like those costs, in Europe, around 100 thousand euros, and those in China around 20 thousand. I thought that if it works, is fine, if not, with our contribution which was supposed to be 20 thousand euros, we would buy the machine from China and that’s it. At least let’s try! At that time, I was pregnant and I had to stop working and stay home, in bed. I put my laptop on my pregnant belly and started making the business plan. I received the outline of the business plan from the consultant and put all our thoughts on paper, from development to customers and competition. 80% of what I wrote there then is still valid. I will never forget how I wrote that business plan, with the laptop table on my growing belly. And I kept writing, until May, until I gave birth „, Oana remembers, with joy in her eyes. In November 2016, the project was submitted, in November 2017 the contract was signed and in August 2018 they had the quilting equipment. These are data that they both remember with great precision because they lived each stage with emotion until the end of the project. „When the experts from the North-East Regional Development Agency started to visit, we realized that it was being approved and we felt we were getting closer. I will never forget the astonishment of the expert who first came to visit. I had arranged all the space, calculated, according to the quilting machine. I put the rest of the sewing machines around, but that space was empty. „And what’s here?” „The quilting machine that is to come„, we were that confident „, says Oana.

The two entrepreneurs say that European funds have helped them a lot to develop, it has given them wings. That quilting machine was vital to them, and although many friends discouraged them, they applied for funding. The total value of the project was 144.000 euro and the non-reimbursable financial assistance was 100.000 euro. They took their desired quilting machine and another high-performance sewing machine. „The information we received from outside about European funding was discouraging. But it went very well. We had to make a bunch of files, but as long as you respect what is written there and you do everything right, everything goes smoothly. Everything was ok and correct. The people from North-East RDA helped us a lot with advice, we had a very good communication with them and we had constructive discussions. They were patient and understanding and explained to us when we needed it. They always wanted to help. All the teams that came in control were nice „, says Oana.

From Romania to America, via Piatra Neamț

They have recently moved to a new, much larger and more spacious production space. They went from „one-man show” to 12 employees and they say it`s a complete team. The exports have materialized in America, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands,  they are negotiating with a large Canadian company and they dream the Arab areas, Asia and Japan market. The revenues are constantly growing, from 260.000 euro in 2019 to 800.000 euro in 2021. The Romanian market is doing surprisingly well. They have created a beautiful community on Confort Merino and every year it has exceeded expectations on the sales side. In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, they created a new brand, Valeria Home, an online store available worldwide. Confort Merino targets directly merino wool products, under the Valeria Home brand there are bedding products made of natural materials, linen, hemp, silk. On Valeria Home orders come from Greece, Germany, France and America.

Thanks to the quilting machine, they have everything „in house”, from the concept to the creative workshop. They have so much confidence in the quality of their products that they offer a 30-day period in which the products can be tested, and if they are not as expected, they are replaced or refunded.

The Tatu couple says they would apply again to a European-funded project. „European funds are extremely useful. Whoever gave up or did not apply was either afraid or unprepared. There is a bunch of paper to be made, indeed, but the final goal matters. We really needed that equipment, it was our only chance and we could only get it with European funds „, confesses Oana. Cătălin says that “many good businesses do not have the ability and capacity to think a project with EU funding. They could scale the business very easily by accessing the funds. They are very good family business, with very good quality products, but which are in a latent state of development. These businesses need to be identified and attracted to European funds„.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

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NEWS

TeRRItoria final Conference Online, January 18th, 20th and 25th of January from 14h00 to 16h00 CET

 The final conference event takes place online, always at the same time from 14h00 to 16h00 CET, spread on three sessions during the last two weeks of January: Tuesday 18, Thursday 20 and Tuesday 25 January.

This free conference is open to any interested local and regional expert or academic. This is the first hybrid conference organised by TeRRIoria project after the lockdown, and you will be able to follow it online or directly in Brussels. Over 100 practitioners of regional economic development and academics are expected to analyse how better give impulse to resposible resarch and innovation institutional changes.

You can register here.

Event agenda