This year’s edition of Romanian pre-acceleration program for tech startups Innovation Labs has recently ended in Bucharest. The event took place over the course of three months (March 1-May 19) and included over 40 mentoring sessions and ten tech talks from local and international speakers.
An upgrade to last year was the addition of a new city to the program: Cluj, an important hub not just of technology but also in terms of young talent. „We focus always on the best and the brightest students and young professionals, with a passion for technology,” George Dita, Innovation Labs Programme Manager told inventures. „Thanks to the success of the first edition, we had more applications this year, saw bigger engagement from our students as well as from the community. All of this led to more products being delivered on Demo Day.”
Demo Day, which concluded the event on May 19, was preceded by a 24-hour Hackathon on March 1which served as a selection pool for prospective startups to be included in the programme. Out of the 26 teams selected (16 in Bucharest and 10 in Cluj), 19 made the final cut and got to pitch their ideas in front of potential investors.
Pitching as a thrill and the winners
“Pitching at Demo Day was an absolute thrill! The entire audience was amazing and the vibes I’ve got from them gave me the necessary ingredients to outperform myself,” Andrei Ciobanu from Music Master told inventures. Music Master is a mobile app designed to help amateur musicians find the chords for a song from a music library, store them offline and play them anywhere. The presentation, which included a short live guitar-playing part, won the Best Pitch Award.
The award for Best Product went to Lifebox, a mobile application enabling users to create shared photo albums – what the team has deemed “a novel way of making memories”. Radu Oprea, one of the team members behind Lifebox said: “Getting a Best Product award feels like a launch pad towards making a dent in the lives of people around us.”
The Best Business award went to Open Mind, a retail analytics app designed to help retailers optimize their business through more efficient client targeting methods. Vlad Bomboe from the Open Mind team said: “The Innovation Labs programme helped us map the path from idea to product.”
Create and develop further
This year’s event has had great results according to the organisers, who consider the fact that there was a more product-focused environment compared to last year’s edition a huge success, especially since the talent pool has been drawing constantly from the academic environment: „You have to keep in mind that 80% of our graduates are under 25 years old, and they are creating products and hardware projects, which isn’t at all common in the industry,” George Dita said. „It is amazing what skilful and dedicated people can deliver in the right environment. Therefore, our goal with Innovation Labs is to help create and further develop that environment.”
Thanks to the team of Tech Hub Bucharest for the networking support.