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NEWS

MEDIC-NEST Meta-Cluster in Precision Medicine was officially launched

North-East Region, through Imago-Mol Cluster and supported by North-East RDA, has coordinated for the past 2 years un European Project that supports the activity of clusters in the domain of precision medicine, MEDIC-NEST.

The main result of this project is the creation of a meta-cluster, a voluntary, open and agile alliance of European clusters and business supporting organizations strongly believing in the role of inter-cluster, cross border and cross sectoral collaboration supporting the internationalization, growth and global competitiveness of the European Precision Medicine Ecosystem.

During the final conference of the project, which was organized on the 24th of January 2024 in Brussels, with the help of the NE RDA Brussels Office, MEDIC-NEST Meta-Cluster in Precision Medicine was officially launched. MEDIC-NEST founding members (Imago-Mol Cluster – Romania, MEDVIA – Belgium, HBIO – Greece, SIVI – Spain) had the pleasure to welcome in the newly formed alliance the partner clusters:

  • Clust-ER Health – Emilia-Romagna (Italy)
  • Slovenian Innovation Hub – Slovensko inovacijsko stičišče, evropsko gospodarsko interesno združenje (Slovenia)
  • Navarra Health Cluster (Spain)
  • FundeSalud Extremadura (Spain)
  • Klaster LifeScience Krakow (Poland)
  • Health Cluster Portugal (Portugal)
  • Basque Health Cluster (Spain)
  • AI Cluster Bulgaria (Bulgaria)
  • Health & Life Sciences Cluster Bulgaria – BioCluster.bg (Bulgaria)
  • RTD HEALTH CLUSTER (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

North-East RDA will have the role of catalyst of the actions of the meta-cluster, the first president of the initiative being Mrs. Alina Căpitanu, vice-president of the Imago-Mol Cluster and Head of the External Projects office within North-East RDA.

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN

A bridge between family, business, and European funds, designed with REGIO support

Reporter REGIO: episodul 21

A bridge between family, business, and European funds, designed with REGIO support

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

 

Petru Popa turned his profession into a passion and his passion into a business, specializing in road and bridge design since ’78. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Iași City in „Railways, Roads, and Bridges” following in the footsteps of his father who worked in the field. He established his first design firm in 1991 in Piatra Neamț City, renaming it Pemora SRL ten years later. Petru Popa has two daughters: Mona, a university professor in Canada, and Raluca, who works alongside him in design and is set to take over the company’s leadership at some point. Despite being retired since 2015, he stays active doing what he has loved throughout his life: design. The €40.000 obtained through the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020 has helped the team evolve, providing high-quality and precise services with the help of advanced equipment acquired through the project. Petru Popa states that a year after completing the project, the turnover increased by approximately 20%, and European funds played a significant role in this growth.

Design, project verification, expertise, and laboratory work

SC Pemora SRL is a family business with five employees: Petru, his younger daughter Raluca, his son-in-law, and two other experts. This team covers all phases of road and bridge project design, technical expertise, and laboratory services for construction testing. Both Petru and Raluca hold doctoral degrees in this field, and only seven experts have similar qualifications in Moldova. There are only two construction testing laboratories in the entire North-East Region, ensuring continuous activity for Pemora SRL. Even during the pandemic, they did not stop working. Their main clients are public institutions, but not exclusively. Pemora SRL designed the road and platform sections for 20 Dedeman stores nationwide, as well as Shopping City Piatra Neamț and other commercial complexes across the country. They also worked on roads and bridges throughout Romania (Baia Mare, Cluj, Vâlcea, Constanța, etc.). Their projects include the pedestrian overpass at Pietricica, all-around intersections recently built in Piatra Neamț, and the replication of the Ozana bridge in Târgu Neamț, spanning 100 meters. „Our advantage is that we operate in multiple areas: design, project verification, expertise, and laboratory work. There are times when projects come from all directions. We do not complain; we have experience and know how to handle them,” says Petru Popa.

They submitted the project themselves

The need for investment in equipment arose naturally. They desired high-performance, state-of-the-art equipment to diversify their services, provide clear work, and improve graphics. „Initially, we wanted to secure a large sum, €200,000. However, we did not factor in the VAT, and we realized that the amount we had to contribute was higher than we could afford. We would have had to take out a bank loan. I am not a fan of loans. Ultimately, we stretched ourselves as much as our blanket allowed, around €40,000. It proved to be a good decision over time,” recounts Petru Popa. However, this decision meant they would be left without a project consultant. Initially, when they agreed on €200,000, with a 3% consultancy fee, reducing the amount to €40,000 also reduced the percentage. „We were left hanging. But, ultimately, it was beneficial for us. That’s when Raluca started studying the program intensively, knocking on doors to ask questions, and calling the ADR Information Office. She read everything possible about funding. She coped. For us, it was a unique experience. I told my daughter to view this entire learning process as a qualification. You never know where life takes you; it’s good to know everything possible about European funds and the North-East Regional Operational Program. At the same time, the fact that we were no longer dependent on other companies and depended only on ourselves gave us a certain comfort,” says Petru. He must depend as little as possible on third parties, in everything. The fact that they made their project, and purchased equipment that helps them avoid hiring consultants was essential for them. „Not everyone has the same priorities, the same rhythm; there are many factors, and things start to creak. We try to depend as little as possible on others. In design, we rejected many contracts because we lacked capacity. If we could do them ourselves, fine; if not, we refused.

High-performance technology

Through the project, they acquired a large-format printer, a plotter, two other devices, and a photovoltaic lighting system. Petru says everything went smoothly. „What we got was of quality. Knowing the characteristics, everything went very fast. We spent about €20,000 on equipment from Australia. We were lucky because the supplier provided us with a product with new, improved features at the old price. And in terms of funding, I don’t know if we were the first, but we were certainly among the first. The money came very quickly. Everything happened in 2-3 months. It was a perfect hit,” says Petru Popa.

An essential part of their business is the non-destructive testing laboratory, where the quality of materials used in road and bridge construction is verified. During expertise, there is a phase of field measurements, i.e., tests. Initially, they lacked the necessary equipment and had to rely on collaborators and third-party laboratories. „That’s how we found out that the reality in the field was one thing, and on paper, it was another. And, in the end, when I had to stamp it with my name, it was my responsibility. All these things involve a very high level of responsibility. Some problems can arise; it’s not all sunshine and roses. I have my children with me, and I have to be able to sleep peacefully at night,” says Petru Popa. That’s why a crucial piece of equipment in the project was the laboratory testing equipment. With its help, they check the quality of asphalt mixtures, concretes, aggregates, and soil nature—practically all components of the road. „We have equipment to determine the road from the pit to the final stage. And one of these devices, the one from Australia, which is for road flatness, is the most advanced in the world. Not even the Ministry has one like that. We use it in the mandatory tests conducted for a road section. About 10 tests need to be done, and we perform them at the highest level,” explains Petru Popa.

The Pemora team had the necessary equipment for design work on roads and bridges, but many of these tests were manual. As in any field, the higher the quality of the equipment, the more the expertise is appreciated. „You communicate differently with clients if you have technology behind you. All of us in the team took a qualification course to learn how to use the equipment. Being so valuable, there was a risk of damaging them. We remained good friends with the suppliers, helping each other on every occasion.” When asked if they would submit a second project, he answered without hesitation that European funds are a blessing for any business and that they are well-invested money that generates value. He will retire soon, but his daughter will undoubtedly continue down this path of European funding, especially since she has mastered this language perfectly.

Reporter REGIO is a 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 SLIDER EN

Clusters as drivers of regional innovation ecosystems

The Clusters Meet Regions event took place between 21-23 November 2023 in Iași, the largest university campus in the North-East Region of Romania.

This edition was centered around the role of clusters as reliable dialogue partners in the design, implementation and ongoing monitoring of regional development policies and programmes with a focus on smart specialization, skills for the industrial transition and entrepreneurship.

“Supporting clusters could have a multiplying effect on improving regional competitiveness” believes Iva Maric, Programme Manager, DG Regio, Unit E2 (Romania and Croatia).

A particular emphasis was put on the international and interregional cluster-cooperation in relation to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova against the wider Danube Region perspective.

Clusters represent an ecosystem where entrepreneurs can grow faster, limit certain risks, develop skills, new products and services and offer collaborative relationships” highlighted Vasile Asandei, General Director, North-East Regional Development Agency.

With an impressive number of 205 participants at the event, from all over Europe and 85 attendees who took part in 158 bilateral meetings during the #ECCPMatchmaking, we can clearly say that “Clusters as drivers of regional innovation ecosystems” was a success!

2023 is the European year of skills and I believe clusters can also play a key role in the reskilling and upskilling of workers at the regional level” outlines Mariella Masselink, Head of Unit, DG GROW, European Commission.

It was a complex event, with multiple panel discussions (covering topics from textiles, bioeconomy to regional programs for cluster financing), presentations and pitches, matchmaking sessions, with the aim of promoting interregional collaboration, sharing best practices for encouraging and facilitating internationalization and cross-border cooperation.

 „Cluster organisations are enablers” – Jonathan Loeffler, CEO of Steinbeis Europa Zentrum.

We want to express our gratitude to all those who attended the #ClustersMeetRegions and generously shared their insights on the event topics!

Photo gallery

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN SLIDER EN

How to successfully embroider in a workshop in Bârlad, with Regio support

Reporter REGIO: episode 20

How to successfully embroider in a workshop in Bârlad, with Regio support

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

They started from scratch, with a bank loan and the desire to provide a better life for their children. They learned to tailor, embroider, and start a business in which they had no prior training. Time proved that they made the right choices, and the turnover of 280k euros in 2022 is just a consequence of those choices. They claim that the funds obtained from the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Program (POR) for high-performance equipment, worth 200k euros, with which they equipped their workshop, „forced” them to grow in times when they didn’t believe they could. The Cărare spouses from Bârlad city are proof that if you want, you can, regardless of obstacles.

In 2006, they realized that they wanted more, especially with the birth of their first child. He, a policeman, and she, a pharmacy assistant, wanted an extra income that would allow them to go on vacation without destabilizing the family budget. They started a business, but little did they know that their journey into the entrepreneurial world would be a roller coaster. The story of the Cărare spouses is an example that you can grow a business step by step, you can get European funds, and you can succeed with products designed and tailored by yourself.

Clothing store and workshop

The first step into entrepreneurship for Mihaela and Constantin Cărare was in the retail sector: a clothing and footwear store with products made in Romania. They took out a bank loan and established an exclusive store in Bârlad that had contracts for selling only with Romanian manufacturers. Mihaela continued her job at the pharmacy for another two years, but because the store was stagnating and she couldn’t get involved as she wanted to grow it, she gave up the pharmacy and dedicated herself entirely to the store. It was an economic boom period when everyone was buying everything. Since people needed clothes alterations, the Cărare spouses began to collaborate with a seamstress to make these small modifications. Gradually, this collaboration turned into a full-time job and the opening of a tailoring workshop. They equipped the workshop with what they had at home: an ironing table, an iron, and a used sewing machine. They knew nothing about this field, but they followed their intuition.

Partnership with Belgium

Everyone was buying everything until… they stopped buying. The financial crisis came, and business declined. The Cărare spouses had to give up the store and continue only with the clothes modifications workshop. „It was very, very hard for us. We supported the business from my husband’s salary. When he received his salary, we paid the employees first, and we lived on the few clothes alterations that were made,” Mihaela recalls. Until… Dominique contacted them. A young Belgian with a belief in an idea: custom-shaped tablecloths made of eco-leather. Coincidentally (or destiny), a friend from childhood of the two spouses, a man from Bârlad, was selling caramelized apples on a stick at a fair in Belgium, and Dominique had his stand right in front of him. Hearing that he was from Romania, Dominique asked if he knew anyone with a garment workshop who could make a product on demand. He knew and had a place to sell, but he didn’t have a producer. The quantities he wanted to make couldn’t be sourced from China or India, so he contacted Mihaela.

This young man told Mihaela that he would come to Romania just to talk. „I said that if he came all the way from Belgium, I might as well make him a product. I bought some materials from a nearby store, whatever I found, a shiny material. I made some samples. They turned out so ugly. But it didn’t matter to him. He was satisfied that someone was listening to him. He was younger than me, full of energy, with an eco-leather apron in hand, and he said that he wanted to sell something like that. It wasn’t even his concept; he took it from somewhere,” Mihaela recounts, laughing.

           

Long-term business

Then Dominique told them about his long-term business plan. His business concept was to sell Horeca items to big clients in the industry. But what distinguished his idea from other sellers was that if a client wanted to buy the same apron from him after 5 years because one in the restaurant had worn out, the client would have the guarantee that he would find it. The idea was very good, but Mihaela and Constantin couldn’t guarantee that they would find the same materials after 5 years. The Belgians had a development plan; they knew what they wanted. The Cărare spouses had no plan at all; they were living from month to month. But they never admitted that. They went into negotiations on an equal footing, even though they didn’t know what price to ask for. Dominique left Romania with the idea of finding some distributors, and Mihaela stayed to make some samples. „I was taking my child to school one morning, and I heard a radio advertisement for the furniture fair at Romexpo. I thought that surely at a furniture fair, those who sell raw materials for sofas would also come, right? Honestly, we didn’t have the money for fuel to go to Bucharest. So, we asked them for money. We told them that I would go on my own time, not because we didn’t have money and time costs,” Mihaela recalls. They went to Romexpo with 100 euros sent by Dominique and his company, and they found a Polish supplier with whom they still work today. „I asked him if I needed the same eco-leather in exactly 10 years, did he have it? He said: sure! He asked me what we wanted to do with the material. Tablecloths. He told us that he had never encountered such a thing, as they usually make sofas. In the end, we sent the sample to the Belgian; he was very satisfied, and that’s where the madness began,” Mihaela says.

The need for high-performance equipment

Mihaela remembers how difficult it was to sew that eco-leather because they didn’t have a sewing machine specifically for leather. To make the needle slide on the material, she would wet it with a piece of cotton soaked in water. „I worked very hard. I didn’t think I could make them. But I had to make them. The plans he told me were our chance to succeed. We had the availability to work, and he wanted to do something different on the market. He wanted something personalized, embroidery on that specific product. I knew someone in Bârlad who had an embroidery machine. We made some samples. I remember that at that time, 10 years ago, he asked me 40 cents for an embroidery that we now do for 17 cents,” Mihaela recounts.

They eagerly wanted an embroidery machine

They started making embroidery samples, and the Belgian partner presented them to clients. All clients had their own logo that they wanted to personalize. Mihaela remembers that there were orders where the embroidery part was more expensive than the labor. Even though she cut, sewed, packaged, and sent them, they decided that they wanted an embroidery machine and would do everything possible to buy one.

That’s when the idea of a project with European funding sprouted. The external provider they had for embroidery started delaying delivery times, and the Cărare spouses couldn’t afford this. They differentiated themselves in the market precisely because of short delivery times, between 5 and 10 days. Then the Belgian partner company suggested the idea of buying an embroidery machine. In the end, because it was very expensive, around 60-80 thousand euros, and the depreciation period was long, they decided not to invest. „That’s when we said we would buy an embroidery machine ourselves. With credit, with whatever. We had no idea what an embroidery machine meant; I had just learned what a sewing machine was. We turned to Start-Up Nation at that time. We didn’t qualify because of the wrong information provided by the consultant. They realized they were wrong and refunded our money. But we were still looking for available funds,” Constantin recalls.

96 points

During all this time, they continued to grow. They bought two special machines for cutting leather, a high-performance ironing table, and other used equipment. They were developing. At some point, they moved to another rented space and expanded from 140 square meters to 250. From cutting piece by piece on the floor to a cutting table, from laying the fabric roll on the floor and kneeling to cut, to sufficient space for maneuvering. „The ground floor was okay; the upstairs was red. We renovated the building to rent it. We said, okay, we have a half-empty building, a desire to develop, some loans. Let’s see how we can get that embroidery machine. We needed to get more money from somewhere. We discussed with someone; that his job was just to see if and what chance a project had for funding. He told us from the start that the consultancy firm doesn’t take projects that don’t have a chance. After a few calculations, he told us that we would get around 96 points. And that’s exactly what we got,” Constantin Cărare recounts.

Funding from POR and reverse psychology

They knew that the funding was 200 thousand euros, and the co-financing part was 30%. Financially, they were fine on paper, the turnover was okay, and they qualified for a loan for co-financing. Buuut… then came the pandemic. The project was approved in 2020, amid lockdown.We were here, in the workshop, making masks when we received the news. We didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. It was a time when everything was closed. The Horeca sector was on the ground. We wondered how much money we had lost until then and if it was worth going further. It was an accepted project, so we had to spend money on consultancy. A lot. But how could we if we had no source because everything was closed? Nothing was left of what we had originally thought,” Mihaela recalls.

The Cărare spouses had planned a complete line of textile products; all the equipment that was supposed to come through the project was meticulously arranged in their plan. They had the schematics drawn on the walls. Meanwhile, they also developed the concept of personalized aprons, clothing items for the Horeca industry, bread baskets, and knife holders; the range had considerably diversified. „The initial idea was from the Belgian, but what developed afterward was thanks to Mihaela. She thought of every detail,” says Constantin proudly.

When they finished the wish list with equipment and sent it to the consulting firm, they were told that it was not enough; they needed an additional 80 thousand euros worth of equipment. The 200 thousand euros they knew about were the 70% of the project. From 60 thousand co-financing, they had now reached 80 thousand, and they no longer fit into the loan. It was exactly the amount the embroidery machine initially cost. All their plans were now turned upside down. And because they couldn’t take the money back, they preferred to think that they would buy the embroidery machine in installments. And the rest of the equipment would be a bonus. This thought helped them psychologically. They had no support from anyone. Everyone was locked at home, and they were getting equipment worth 280 thousand euros to make products for the Horeca sector. „Our partners in Belgium couldn’t help us. No one could. The madness had begun. It was said that we would no longer be allowed to sell bread baskets, that everything had to be hygienic, and that there would no longer be menus on the table so that they wouldn’t be touched by many people. No matter how you turned it, it was all bad. But we went ahead,” Mihaela says.

 

Now, in 2023, at the end of the project, all the equipment is being used and adds value to the company. One person, thanks to the equipment, does the work of three people. Precision is millimetric, without human errors. The business is developing and starting to penetrate the Romanian market more and more. They even obtained an ISO certification for the development of the apron. „When we go somewhere, I take the bag with samples with me. You never know who I might talk to. We learned a lot from our Belgian partners. They stood by us at the international fair we attended; they were like a quality guarantee. Now that we know the course of a project with European funding, we can’t wait for the next one,” says Constantin.”

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

Clusters Meet Regions conference and matchmaking event on 21-23 November 2023 in Iasi, Romania

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform, on behalf of the European Commission, in partnership with the North-East Regional Development Agency Romania and the Romanian Cluster Association – CLUSTERO are jointly organizing the Clusters Meet Regions conference and matchmaking event on 21-23 November 2023 in Iasi, Romania.

Themed as “Clusters as drivers of regional innovation eco-systems,” the conference will debate on the role of clusters as reliable dialogue partners in the design, implementation and ongoing monitoring of regional development policies and programmes with a focus on smart specialisation, skills for industrial transition and entrepreneurship.

A particular emphasis will be put on the international and interregional cluster-cooperation in relation with Ukraine and Republic of Moldova against the wider Danube Region perspective.

Clusters, SMEs and other European innovation actors are also invited to discover the business and technology potential of Eastern Europe in a dedicated matchmaking event, organised on 22nd November afternoon with the support of the Enterprise Europe Network, with focus on ICT, agrifood, wood & furniture, textiles, energy and environment, health, tourism and bio-economy sectors.

For more details and registration please visit https://iasi-clusters-meet-regions.b2match.io/.

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NEWS Regio Reporter EN SLIDER EN

From honey sachets to robots, with Regio support

Reporter REGIO: episode 19

From honey sachets to robots, with Regio support

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

In a world of continuous evolution and change, where technology and innovation blend to reach unprecedented heights, individuals who not only adapt and keep up with the times but embrace them with enthusiasm stand out. Dacian Popa is an economist but an automation enthusiast at heart. He founded a company that provides automation solutions for technological processes using robots, primarily in the product packaging field. This is the story of Micropack Automatizări from Iași. With a recent project funded through the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Program, with a total value of 240k euros, of which 185k euros was non-repayable, Dacian believes that his company’s competitiveness has significantly increased. Now, he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with giants in the field of robot automation.

From packaging honey sachets to robots

In 2008, after working for other companies, Dacian felt he was ready to embark on the path of entrepreneurship. He imported a machine from China designed to perform a simple task: package honey in sachets, known as micro packaging. However, the machine didn’t work. While trying to fix it, he met his future business partner, an automation expert who helped him get the machine running. Both realized they had a knack for this and, most importantly, a passion for it. They became partners, opened a mechanical processing workshop, and began building new primary packaging machines. They realized that every product requires packaging: first comes primary packaging, followed by secondary packaging or boxing, and then tertiary packaging or palletizing. They could provide all of this to their customers with in-house machines. They successfully exploited this niche for ten years.

Ten years later, they received a larger contract for packaging that included a robot. This is when they were introduced to robotics. It was a turning point. „We believed this was the path for large-scale work. It was an important year, full of achievements. On the one hand, the numbers looked good. On the other hand, my partner didn’t want to embark on large-scale projects involving robots, as they come with risks. That’s when we decided to go our separate ways. We continue to collaborate in the same field, we remain friends, but we’re no longer business partners,” Dacian recalls.

Automating packaging processes

In 2019, Dacian returned to primary packaging for customers, but the idea of the previous year showed him the right direction. He started brainstorming and offering solutions to his customers, especially those in the food industry, to reconfigure existing technological routes through process automation. They aimed to propose automation solutions to companies and increase productivity without the need for more employees. „A robot won’t replace a dedicated machine but will enhance its capabilities. We let robots handle simple and repetitive tasks or tasks that can affect human health. Many times, automation cells protect people from tasks that could harm their health, such as repeated bending, heavy lifting, or working in uncomfortable environments like refrigerated storage or places with high temperatures. Equally important is the fact that intelligent automation solutions reduce the space used for different processes by half,” says Dacian Popa.

Significant partnership with a robot automation giant

In any industry, there are key players in the field of robots and automation. One of these names, Kuka, proposed a partnership in 2020. Kuka is an international automation conglomerate with a turnover of approximately 4 billion euros and around 15,000 employees. „One of the core verticals in robotics is packaging, and it turns out we are good at it. Our partnership with Kuka demonstrated that we excel at what we do. Among the five integrators in the country, we specialize in the automation of packaging processes,” Dacian says. So, Kuka provides the robots, while Micropack handles the automation for packaging and goods handling.

Software and hardware equipment through the 2014-2020 ROP

Because resources were limited but needs were unlimited, Dacian applied for a project to purchase innovative technology for designing and manufacturing machinery with non-repayable funding from the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Program. Among other things, he bought specialized software for designing, building, and virtually simulating manufacturing processes, integrating various equipment: an industrial robot for cutting tables, a laser beam for that robot, a CNC machine, a vision chamber with a safety laser system, and a 3D printer that he’s particularly proud of. „We have a major advantage. With the help of these funds, we’ve equipped ourselves with both software and hardware that will help us remain competitive in the future. The software for design has reduced our robot programming effort by 40%. We also have a vision chamber that provides coordinates to a robot to identify, locate, grip, and sort various products, and it can be used for eight cascading robots. The 3D printer we purchased didn’t even exist three years ago. We were visionary when we included it in the project. This printer can create airplane parts. It is used in U.S. military units. It fulfills my dream as an entrepreneur of many years: it tells me the cost and delivery time before pressing the button,” Dacian enthusiastically describes the equipment that greatly aids his business. He believes that without these funds, it would have been much more challenging, but they have opened many more doors and opportunities for him.

Waste sorting with robots and an ERP system

As for future plans, Dacian and his team dream of taking their waste sorting solution outside Romania. Even though the idea belongs to Canadians, he wants the automation solution to be his own. Sorting errors are common when collecting or storing recyclable materials, either due to user carelessness or lack of information. Robots can analyze and sort waste much faster than humans. By speeding up the sorting process of recyclable materials, the total amount of materials that can be efficiently recycled and reused is significantly increased. Additionally, as a future project, the company aims to digitize its operations with an ERP system. Of course, a solution for digitization is available through the „Digital Transformation of SMEs Focused on Increasing Digital Intensity” initiative in partnership with the World Bank.

He relies on Peter Drucker’s motto, which says, „The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Dacian works with big names in the food industry and leverages all of the company’s resources for these projects. He can transform manual packaging processes into robotic processes in any field and even offers rental solutions for robotic automation. At the moment, Micropack Automatizări has clients on a waiting list for the next 20-30 robots. He acknowledges that many entrepreneurs consider robotics more of an expense than an investment, but Dacian aims to prove that, in the long run, it’s a win, especially considering the acute labor shortage in the job market. He also notes, „Once you start working on automation, you find professional fulfillment. It’s like a bug. We’re never bored. We come to work as if it’s play.„.

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 SLIDER EN

A business for our safety

Reporter REGIO: episode 18

A business for our safety

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

It began as a family business in 2014, in their parent’s backyard, in a niche field: the production of chimney cap hats. Since then, they have implemented two European-funded projects from the 2014-2020 ROP (Regional Operational Program), surpassed a turnover of 3.5 million euros, and have become a significant name in the field of professional chimney systems with ceramic and stainless steel ducts, certified at the European Union level.

Răzvan Anăstăsoaie and Liviu Baltă, one from Bacău city and the other from Cluj city, met in their childhood at a camp and kept in touch over the years. Life brought them to the roles of in-laws, as their wives are sisters, and as partners in the company they founded together in Comănești city, AB Group Ceramics SRL. Under the name Kaminhorn, they set up a kind of garage in their parents’ yard and organized a small production line for concrete chimney cap hats.

From chimney accessories to ceramic chimneys

Răzvan came from the sales field in construction materials, and in his last job, he sold chimneys and ventilation components. Customers from all over the country were asking for chimney accessories, the cap hats. There was demand, but not much supply. There were only two products on the market. This is where the idea of a business came to life. They copied an existing model, developed it, and took it to another level. In a few months, they certified the product, and within a year, the chimney cap hat made in Comănești was on sale in major DIY stores nationwide. „In 2015, we realized that this part of the business is quite a small niche. We weren’t making huge figures. In the first year, we had a turnover of 50,000 euros. It was little. We thought about how to develop further. We had two options: to make only concrete elements like blocks, pavers, and curbstones, or to make the entire system of professional chimney caps. The latter idea appealed to us much more. When we researched it more, we realized that a chimney cap is the most sensitive part of a home. And by doing what we do, we secure our customers’ homes. In 2016, we started producing ceramic chimneys, and we are the only Romanian brand of ceramic chimneys. Our competition includes multinational companies from Europe,” says Răzvan Anăstăsoaie.

The first European project

The need for development, production capacity expansion, and product diversification led to the first European-funded project in 2017. They obtained 160,000 euros in non-refundable funds, which were invested in state-of-the-art equipment that helped them grow, Răzvan says. „It was our first experience with European funds, and it helped us increase our production capacity. In the beginning, everyone told us we wouldn’t get any funds. But we had a goal, and we pursued it. We didn’t let others influence us. One of the keys to success is not giving up. We made a plan, we knew what we wanted, and we felt that this was what we wanted to do. Beyond all the financial benefits that a business brings, there is also the fulfillment of the purpose you have in life, professionally speaking. Entrepreneurship involves an aspect of intuition, and we felt that this was right,” says Răzvan. In 2019, they also started producing stainless steel chimney caps.

The second project

At the beginning of 2020, the second project followed through the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Program, with a total value of 4.4 million Romanian Lei, including 2.6 million Lei in non-refundable financial assistance. This project started more slowly due to the pandemic and its implications: long response or equipment production times. For example, equipment initially designed for an 8-10-week production timeframe took 200 working days. However, the project was successfully completed this year in June and focused on diversifying production and products. They turned to a future trend they noticed at international fairs they attended: building ventilation. Malls, restaurants, and large buildings require ventilation systems to remove stale air and introduce fresh air. „In Romania, there is a more developed market for restaurants, but it is developed with galvanized steel ducts, while we work with stainless steel. Abroad, only stainless steel is used. Here, we saw an opportunity to diversify the product range through a large-value project. We thought it would be better to dream and think big, with high values,” says Răzvan.

 

The only Romanian producer exhibiting at the Verona Fair

Last year, through the project, Kaminhorn participated in the largest industry fair in Verona, Progetto Fuoco, which brings together the most important heating system manufacturers. Out of 800 participants, Kaminhorn was the only Romanian producer to exhibit. They received many inquiries at the fair, including from Uruguay, and realized that participating in such large-scale fairs gives them confidence that they are doing the right thing. Even though not all equipment had reached the ventilation production line, they stayed in touch with customers and resumed discussions recently when the line was complete. Răzvan and Liviu pledged to participate in such fairs at every opportunity because they provide valuable information and high visibility.

Shared values have formed a team

The two brothers-in-law say they rely heavily on the team they have built. They have 40 employees in all departments, and in recent years, they have managed to attract high-quality individuals from various cities across the country with experience, who inspire and encourage others to flourish. They are motivated, bring forth ideas that develop the company, and energize those around them. These people share the same vision and believe in growth and evolution. At the same time, their partnership, built on shared values, bears fruit and brings them fulfillment and growth. „If you start a journey with the sole idea of making money, you start alone. If you start with the idea of developing something, you can’t help but attract others. In our case, we are two partners, but we have also selected 3-4 people from the company into a top management group that we involve in decision-making and from whom we listen to ideas. A well-done business with integrity and trust offers the opportunity to build a relationship with someone. We have traveled across Europe together, attended fairs, taken our families with us wherever we went, and spent time together. Our business has enabled us to create memories together that have developed our relationship,” says Răzvan Anăstăsoaie.

Kaminhorn currently holds around 10% of the market share in Romania’s chimney cap market. The turnover has visibly increased each year, from 50,000 euros to 3.5 million euros, an evolution that would not have been possible without the two European-funded projects through ROP, says Răzvan. They opened a showroom in Cluj at the end of last year, and this year, one in Bucharest. Their goal is to start selling in Western Europe and expand to another continent within three years. They already have a direction for the future: automated lines with robots. „Since we submitted this project, we started thinking about the next one. The project that was just completed was designed for this location, but we realized that we needed more space. Regarding equipment, we already know what we need to move to the next level. What is the next level? A project of 2-3 million euros. We know the manufacturers; we’ve been to see them, and we know what robots and automated lines entail. Our competition from Poland, France, and Ukraine is already operating at this level. If we want to reach that level and cover a market share in Europe or other regions, this is the level of investment required. Probably the next project will be at a minimum of 2 million euros. We are always looking for projects because, in production, you need continuous improvement to maintain high expectations,” says Răzvan.

 

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

 

modelele-proprii_
NEWS Regio Reporter EN

Evolution in the footwear industry with REGIO support

Reporter REGIO: episode 17

Evolution in the footwear industry with REGIO support

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

In Vicovu de Sus, a town renowned nationally for its tradition of producing high-quality leather footwear, it is said that „if there’s a house where nobody makes shoes, you can be sure that in the second house, at least two people are skilled shoemakers„. This craft has been passed from generation to generation, and the techniques have been perfected with the help of technology over time.

Ady Star Shoes SRL is a footwear manufacturer and was among the first companies in Vicovu de Sus City to receive funding through the 2014-2020 Regional Operational Program (ROP) for the purchase of machinery. Today, the company enjoys success with two projects, one completed and one in progress. But it doesn’t stop here. There are two more projects planned: one on circular economy and another for the digitalization of the company. Thanks to European funding, Ady Star Shoes SRL invested in innovation, technology, and product development, managing to expand its production capacity and improve product quality. They have shifted from custom-based production to serial production, signifying a tremendous evolution for a small company. The two REGIO projects have a total value of 1,8 million euros, with non-reimbursable financial assistance of 1,1 million euros.

The craft has been passed down from one apprentice to another

The art of shoemaking in Vicovu de Sus started, it is said, with one person who knew this craft in the 1980s. This master became a true mentor to his apprentices, who learned alongside him for a year, gaining the knowledge and skills needed to become shoemakers themselves. After completing their apprenticeships, they would open their workshops and, in turn, become mentors to other apprentices, thus passing down the tradition from generation to generation. The production of leather footwear became an important phenomenon in Vicov at that time, flourishing and gaining respect in the community. Before the 2008 economic crisis, there were around 200 specialized firms in this industry registered with the municipality. After the crisis, the industry suffered a decline, and only about 50 firms managed to survive. Even so, at present, this cozy town in the Bucovina region produces around 8 thousand pairs of footwear per day.

Production, sales, and production again

Gheorghe, or George, as his friends call him, Ciubotar, was an apprentice in the 1990s. He learned the craft and then opened his workshop at home, like everyone else. He handmade shoes and sold them in markets and fairs. Despite his name, Ciubotar (shoemaker) laughs and says that nobody in his family was a shoemaker, and he did not inherit the trade. He was the first to practice this craft. After completing his military service, he took a break from production and shifted toward distribution. „I sold footwear in our bazaar in Suceava. I enjoyed it and liked it. At that time, many of those who produced didn’t know how to sell, and those who sold didn’t know how to produce. I had this advantage. A distributor would collect from 4-5 local producers and sell further. It was a profitable business. Now, I have my distribution network”, George says. He became an associate and administrator of Ady Star Shoes last year, transitioning from a distributor’s position. He had been closely associated with the company and was actively involved in the production process since its establishment in 2015.

The first REGIO project

In 2018, the first project for advanced technology equipment for Ady Star Shoes was approved, with non-reimbursable funding of 178k thousand euros. „The company was quite small at that time. After the project was implemented, a significant difference was seen in both quality and quantity. Two machines were the main components: one for toe lasting and one for heel lasting, that’s what they’re called. After the machines arrived and the Italian manufacturer set them up, production increased from 20-30 pairs per day to 40-50 pairs per day. But, more importantly, we started to have serial production. Previously, production was based on orders received from distributors. After acquiring these machines, production became linear, with a constant flow and quality. The difference between custom-based production and serial production is a colossal step for any small company. We also saved a lot of time. What used to take half an hour, we can now do with the machines in 3-4 minutes. We needed these machines, and they helped us a lot”, says George Ciubotar.

Courage for the second project

Because the first project was completed in six months and went smoothly, George Ciubotar gained the courage to apply for a second project to expand production capacity. With the help of the consultant with whom he collaborated successfully for the first project, he planned a new hall with a 100% technologized production flow with the funding of the second project. A new space was needed due to increased capacity, along with the acquisition of new and efficient machinery. This second project has a total value of 1.5 million euros and is set to be completed by the end of the year. While the first investment ensured 75% technologized flow, with the remaining 25% still done manually, the second REGIO investment will achieve 100% technologized flow.

Care for employees and the environment: working with water-based latex

The second project includes a high-performance machine for applying heels, allowing the company to expand into the field of elegant footwear. A digital cutting table will eliminate the need for stamps and knives used currently, minimizing losses. Additionally, machines that work with water-based latex will be acquired. This is crucial for the environment, as the adhesives used in this industry are very toxic and harmful to the environment. „Using water-based latex has allowed us to be more mindful of the health and safety of our employees, as it poses fewer health risks compared to toxic adhesives. The value of the latex application machine is not very high, but the impact on the environment and health is colossal. At the same time, latex protects the interior of the leather from water. There are several benefits. Transitioning to working with water-based latex allowed us to adapt and stay in line with new industry trends, demonstrating that we can evolve and grow responsibly without compromising the quality of our products” says George. With the new project, Ady Star Shoes aims to reach a target production of over 100 pairs per day, and the new building has been designed accordingly.

       

Two more projects on the horizon

„If we complete this second project, we won’t stop there. I have great courage”, says George Ciubotar. His next goal is towards circular economy practices. Leather waste is challenging to recycle; it usually needs to be incinerated. With the help of high-performance machinery, losses from leather pieces are reduced, but they still exist. George and his consultant have ingeniously planned a recycling project. They believe it’s a waste that these leather pieces cannot be repurposed for other uses.

Furthermore, since there are funds available for digitalization, George wants to acquire some expensive footwear design applications. Currently, the design is done by an engineer. He creates the patterns, and the salesperson presents them to customers who then place orders according to their preferences. For inspiration, they also look at designs online. However, having some applications would be extremely helpful. Additionally, he aims to acquire a 3D scanner for shoe lasts, management, HR, accounting, and distribution applications. All of these would lead to the growth and expansion of the company—with the help of European funds and a touch of courage.

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

20230622_144330
NEWS Regio Reporter EN SLIDER EN

Wood essence extracted with REGIO funding

Reporter REGIO: episode 16

Wood essence extracted with REGIO funding

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

What do modeling, wine, and wood have in common? Apparently, nothing. However, these three elements tell the story of a business that has overcome the challenges of time and production with the help of substantial European financial support. The Olariu spouses, Gabriel and Laura, founded Dias Wood SRL in Botoșani City nearly 14 years ago, focusing on wood processing. With one million euros in funding from the North-East Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, Dias Wood’s operations were fully technologized through the acquired machinery. Now, the Olariu couple eagerly awaits new calls dedicated to SMEs because, as they say, „European funds are addictive.

Modeling and Wine

After finishing high school, Laura went to Greece to work and save money for her studies. She wanted to attend college in London, but her calculations didn’t align with reality. Initially, she did modeling in Greece, then got a job at a luxury restaurant, and later enrolled at the Faculty of Economics in Athens. Juggling modeling, studies, and waitressing became exhausting, so she left the restaurant and joined a small consulting firm specialized in European funds. She worked on projects for startups, and one of her clients became interested in Romania and the business opportunities there. Although Laura showed him several places during a visit to Romania, he didn’t invest. However, the idea of starting a business got into Laura’s mind. „During that time, I visited many vineyards. I knew a bit about the industry because, at the restaurant, I held the position of sommelier. I thought we could try it out. Initially, we wanted to import bottled wine, but we learned from industry insiders that we had no chance. Instead, there was an uncovered market segment: bulk red wine imports. Soon after, we started our own business, with storage space and tanks. We packaged the wine in boxes and sold it to taverns and local wine producers. It was a beautiful business, dealing with wonderful people, family-run businesses. It was different. Until… it ended! By law, bulk wine imports from non-EU countries were prohibited„, Laura recalls.

Wood

The moment they had to close the wine business coincided with a customer’s request for oak barrels from Romania to age wine. Barrique as French barrels for this purpose are called, were very expensive. „Back then, we imported oak barrels from Romania, and the customer loved them. He said we had great wood. After the barrels, he asked for lumber. That’s how we shifted towards a wood-related business„, Laura explains. They tried to trade wood in Greece, but it didn’t go as planned. Gabriel would come to Romania for acquisitions, and Laura handled sales in Greece. While there was demand, they struggled with the acquisitions – delays, insufficient quality, and other issues. So, they decided to come together to Romania and attempt to open a factory. Initially, they processed wood at another company’s facility, learning the industry and saving some money. Eventually, they rented a space and acquired a few second-hand machines. They stayed there, paying rent, for 15 years. „That’s how we started, in 2005, with primary wood processing. We didn’t know what we were getting into, we had no idea what production meant in Romania. The first company we had went bankrupt in three years, in 2008. We opened another one in 2009, which is the current one. This field is very challenging. Wood is difficult. If you don’t have technology, you need people, and back then, we lacked technology. We depended on people. We adapted, but it was very hard. We got into the rhythm, we had loans, we played the game. Gradually, we gained important knowledge„, Laura shares. Today, Dias Wood SRL supplies engineered flooring and solid wood flooring to the domestic market and veneer for the international market.

European funding

The first project, submitted in 2010, was a small one, Laura says, with funding of around 300k euros. Everything went well, and the project implementation was successful. They then prepared for other funding opportunities through the new North-East Regional Operational Program 2014-2020. To avoid paying rent, they wanted to change the location and bought land in a neighboring commune of Botoșani. „When the guide was published, we saw that the location had to be in an urban area. We struggled a lot to find the place where we are now, and it came with many hardships. It was the edge of town, nothing was there, no utilities, nothing. We bought the land, then got a loan through the IMM Invest program for the factory’s construction, and after obtaining the building permit, we finished the factory in three months. We started construction in September, and it was completed in December. It was a titanic effort, but we managed to change our location”, Laura recalls.

Since they started wood processing, the Olariu couple had been eager to work with a specific client from Switzerland. However, they never met the required technical standards. After installing the first three machines out of the 15 acquired through the North-East Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, they began working with that Swiss client in 2019. „In our field, we deal with millimeters. We produce veneer for multilayer wood flooring, which is a bit niche. With the newly acquired machines, our cutting became more precise. We needed to achieve a maximum deviation of 0.05 millimeters”, Laura explains.

The lottery win

In 2021, they started production at the new location after the year of 2020 with no activity due to the relocation. It was financially challenging, with the move and the pandemic. Laura remembers they didn’t even have money for fuel. Unexpected help came on a Sunday when they won like 15k euros in the lottery. However, they couldn’t even rejoice over it because the money vanished so quickly. In the meantime, the Swiss client they maintained close ties with and who showed them trust provided an advance payment to start the operations. „When we were learning to use the machines, we wasted a lot of wood. We learned bit by bit. When there was no technology, it was physically hard. Now it’s different; it’s a challenge, and you don’t have time to get bored. The nice part is that technology saves a lot of effort. Furthermore, all the new machines are connected to the internet, and technicians anywhere in Europe can guide us on problem-solving” Laura says.

The Olariu couple believes that Dias Wood SRL has evolved significantly with the technological upgrades made through European funds and eagerly awaits the next funding opportunity. Besides the technological upgrades, the company also purchased a thermal plant that uses wood chips from production as fuel, providing the necessary thermal agent for operating the wood dryers and heating the production hall. „We didn’t inherit anything from our parents; we didn’t steal anything. European funds are our only chance to thrive. Each machine costs at least as much as an apartment. Where would we get the money? With this funding, we hit the jackpot. Once you receive funds, it becomes part of you, addictive, and I’m already thinking about all the things we could buy with the next funding. Now, with all this experience behind us, it’s an opportunity we can’t miss”.

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

kaboom-42
NEWS Regio Reporter EN SLIDER EN

Playground in Suceava City: a project with big ambitions for the joy of the little ones

Reporter REGIO: episode 15

Playground in Suceava City: a project with big ambitions for the joy of the little ones

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

A family business from Suceava, with a tradition in the Horeca field, has expanded through the North-East Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, with a project worth 1,6 million euros, of which 870k euros is non-repayable. Together with his sister, Alexandru Filipciuc continues this family business, nurtured over time by their father, and together they manage a complex consisting of restaurant areas, accommodation, and event spaces in Suceava. The idea of a unique and comprehensive playground, dedicated to families who come to spend quality time together, emerged a few years ago, and they decided to materialize it with the help of European funds.

The need for a children's playground

As the father of two boys aged 4 and 8, Alexandru felt the need for a dedicated space for children to play. Since the complex already had an available sports field with an area of 1400 square meters, Alexandru and his sister thought of utilizing it to build a children’s playground. But not just any playground, they envisioned an attractive, versatile, and age-appropriate play area. „The need for a children’s playground is constant and evident. We already had a space for children in the summer garden, but it was somehow seasonal and opened only during the summer. Parents would stay on the terrace while the children played. We decided to create a permanent open space, a generous playground with various attractions for all age groups. Having this available space, we believed there was enough room for kids to feel comfortable. We planned the project around 2019 and realized that we wanted something extraordinary and ambitious, so we turned to European funds. We submitted the project, and we were extremely happy when we won. It was our first experience of this kind, and from our point of view, things have gone very well so far„, recalls Alexandru Filipciuc. Thus, Kaboom Kids World opened its doors in Suceava in January of this year.

Interior Design by Internationally Renowned Company

Although the interior design was not budgeted for in the project funded through the North-East Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, Alexandru and his sister hired an internationally renowned playground design company from Bulgaria. They chose to work with experts in the field because they wanted the result to be spectacular. „In Suceava, there was no space of this size, with this much surface area, attractions, and complexity. We wanted it to be different, and so our proposals aligned with the ideas of the designers, resulting in climbing walls, trampolines, a three-level modular slide with an area of 300 square meters, games that stimulate competitiveness, games with rewards, Lego zones, creative and drawing areas. There is also mini-bowling, virtual reality machines, and a special area for children under 3 years old. We wanted to create attractions for a wider range of ages. Some machines can also be used by adults since they technically support up to 140 kg,” smiles Alexandru.

A technologically advanced and inclusive Playground

Within the project funded through the North-East Regional Operational Program, 35 recreational and fun equipment pieces for children were acquired. The funding also covered the heating and air conditioning system, sound system, furniture, IT equipment, and licenses, as well as video surveillance, detection, and alarm equipment. „We tried to automate everything related to our activities. We have counting software for all the attractions; each machine has a reader, and the child comes with either a card or a bracelet, scans it, and enters the respective attraction. The cards have a certain number of points, depending on their value. We tried to create packages for everyone. Moreover, this entire space is adapted for children with disabilities„, adds Alexandru.

   

Kaboom Kids World has a capacity of 200 people, and the attractions are dedicated to children aged up to 15 years old. The concept is carefully thought out, from the recreational area to the zones for private parties and dining areas. Children can stay active and develop their skills and talents as they please, through games and new experiences. „It is a beautiful business, filled with children, parents, and joy. We know that Suceava is not as big as Bucharest, Timișoara, or Iași, but the children here also deserve a beautiful place to have fun. My kids would sleep here if they could, especially the older one. We all wish for our children to have a better childhood than we had„, says Alexandru Filipciuc.

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