Reporter REGIO: episode 9
Entrepreneurial healthcare lesson from Vaslui City
Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020
She was sitting on a park bench in Copou Park, in Iași City, a few months after giving birth to her second child, and was trying to outline her first project with European founding, thinking of a brighter future for her children. It was 2008. At that time, nobody knew much about European funds, but she, Loredana Radu, knew and she was eager for newly opened calls. Since then, she had three projects financed through the Regional Operational Program, one in the 2007-2013 period and two in 2014-2020, with a non-refundable amount of 1.4 million euros. 12 years after the first funding, Loredana Radu says that each project meant a significant evolution, a doubling of turnover, a larger space, access to the most modern equipment, and an increase in the number of employees, it was like a constantly rolling snowball.
From psychology to medical imaging center and analysis laboratory
Dana-Loredana Radu is a psychologist and audiologist, and in 2001 she opened a cabinet for psychology and hearing aids in Vaslui City: Audiosan. Because she felt that there was a gap in Vaslui`s market in the field of medical services, in 2006 she founded Recumed, and then Audiosan changed its destination and became an imaging center and medical analysis laboratory. These two companies came as a challenge, as a test of the entrepreneur’s capabilities, and, at the same time, offered the citizens of Vaslui good quality medical services. Both were growing progressively and organically, and at some point they felt the need for additional funding to bring more value to the offered services. Friends living abroad advised her to pursue European funding as it is a great benefit and a great way to grow her business. And so it was. She looked for solutions and found the funding she needed through the Regional Operational Program. „It seemed to me in 2010, and it still seems to me now, the best solution for ambitious investments. We knew that was difficult, that we had to be extremely rigorous, we had to think everything through very carefully, with a lot of honesty„, says Loredana. With the help of a consultant, with whom she still works nowadays, in 2010 she obtained the first financing for Audiosan. She purchased a high-performance CT worth 200k euros and equipment for the analysis laboratory. This project brought her a doubling of turnover and the confidence that she does well what she does. Considering that the companies were in continuous growth, the husband also joined in 2012. He is an economist and he is the part that completes Loredana perfectly in their business.
MRI with the only cardiac software in the region of Moldova, through 2014-2020 ROP
In 2019, she submitted two projects for financing through the 2014-2020 ROP, for both companies this time, and obtained 488 k euros for Audiosan and 712 k euros for Recumed. The laboratory was equipped with 45 modern pieces of equipment, the CT was replaced and they purchased a high-performance MRI, which has the only heart software in the region of Moldova and the latest software for breast investigations. „It was a very well-chosen MRI that proved its effectiveness, it helps us a lot to make a differential diagnosis. It was a real challenge to implement two projects at the same time. And I would do it again anytime. There was a high addressability of patients and pressure from very good doctors who wanted to increase the quality of diagnosis„, says Loredana Radu. Because the new imaging equipment was very large, the relocation to a larger space also came as the next step in their evolution.
The Radu couple raised these two companies as their children, with values and the hope that maybe, someday, their boys will proudly and responsibly carry on all their work. The boys were also the main motivation for the development and growth of the group of companies, even if sometimes, Loredana says, they felt they were sacrificing them. The eldest, who is Audiosan’s age, 21 years old, is learning the secrets of business at a reputable university, with the hope that he will continue the family business and maintain the level reached by his parents.
From one employee to 250
Audiosan and Recumed also received support through other programs. But clearly, the financings from the ROP were the most consistent and the ones that developed the businesses the most. „It’s been an evolution in every way. We took huge steps, we went from 200 m2 to 500 m2, in the first project, then in the second, from 500 m2 to 2500 m2 of medical space. From a single employee to 250 people who share the same values and believe in the quality of well-done work. These funds must respond to real needs. I have told all my friends who want to access European funds that if they are thinking about anything other than fairness, to quit. You have to be very honest and not take funds just because they are given. I laugh with my son who wants to make a microchip factory. Yes, the idea is fantastic, but what do we know about microchips? I tell him to work for 2 years in a factory in Taiwan, to gain experience, and then we will have more courage to make a microchip factory„, says Loredana.
The Radu spouses want to leave a complete business to the next generation, with integrated services that meet the many needs of the people of Vaslui. By the end of next year, they want to open the part of the operating room and the intervention area with hospitalization. Also, in addition to the clinic they opened in Bârlad, they want to expand the business to two more locations in the country. „I don’t hide from you the fact that we have a great medical unit project, worth 15 million euros, and although we tried to apply for state aid, the conditions were drastic and we postponed its implementation. We hope that we will succeed through the North East Regional Program 2021-2027. We have everything, design, and sketches, we’re just waiting for the open calls. It’s a project that would have a big impact in the area„, says Loredana.
``It was like crossing a river and someone holds your hand``
Loredana Radu and her husband saw in the European funds an opportunity to grow and provide a quality service, at a fair price, in a market where the consumer really needs it. „To undertake the full financing would have been a great effort for us. I can tell you with sincerity that accessing the funds was the biggest step in our history as a healthcare company. The financing part gave us a certain comfort and allowed us, at the same time, to keep our prices affordable, and to adapt to a real economic market because the incomes of people of Vaslui are not comparable to those in big cities, it’s a different profile of the patient„, says Loredana. She also says that she never perceived the money she received as free but as help. „I didn’t felt alone. I felt like I had a partner. Like I shared the burden with someone. Actually, that’s what happened. Instead of taking on a huge rate, we took on half the rate. And then clearly our motivation increased, it didn’t matter the work or what others call bureaucracy. Each time the funds „forced” us to take big steps more than usual. During the training period, you are indeed like a runner, but you take a deep breath and then you run. You feel like you really have a shoulder next to you and that means a lot. It was like crossing a river, and someone is holding your hand, that’s how we felt„, concludes Loredana Radu.
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