In the presence of entrepreneurs, heads of institutions and professional organizations, the StartUp HUB is a centre for entrepreneurship, adult education and vocational training. The creators and founders of the centre operating at 9 Olt Street in Sfântu Gheorghe, employing thirty employees, are Róbert Grüman, Szilárd Kelemen, Csongor Oltean and Miklós Orbán. The history of the establishment of the centre dates back a year, to the establishment of the StartUp Covasna Association. Since then, the initial activities of the association have been significantly expanded, currently they are conducting tenders worth EUR 10 million in various fields: starting and developing businesses, modernizing professional training, promoting and introducing agricultural innovations, adult education.

After the coronavirus pandemic, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, with inflation soaring, I think it’s harder than ever to start or run a business. At the same time, it is also true that every crisis situation of this kind has a lot of potential in addition to problems” said Róbert Grüman, managing director. He recalled that the StartUp Covasna association was founded a year ago with the aim of bringing the available StartUp grants as close as possible to the people of Háromszék, thus contributing to the economic development of the county. The initial idea was formed after a year by four small and medium-sized enterprises, four associations and an agricultural cooperative, the newly inaugurated centre – detailed Róbert Grüman.

According to the managing director, StartUp grants are also characterised by competition between development regions and counties within them for available funds. Covasna County, as one of the smallest counties in the country, has very little chance of being able to compete, which is why it is extremely important that all organizations and institutions who are able to take on tasks in this work think together and work together to ensure that as many resources as possible arrive in the region.

Currently, the flag is flying for unemployed young people under the age of 30, and the StartUp grant for them was announced six months ago. The projects will improve the business development skills of 400 young people and finance the business plans of sixty young people with €25,000 each. Róbert Grüman also pointed out that the range of StartUp grants is much wider. According to a similar support model, the Innotech Student program for university students is available, which is implemented locally by the Covasna County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but also the SES Rural program, which allows social enterprises to be established in rural areas, managed locally by ASIMCOV, and the national StartUp Nation program will soon be available. According to the calculations of their experts, at least 100 new enterprises could be established in Covasna County this year along the lines of these programs, which could mean 5 million euros of attracted start-up capital and two hundred new jobs.

According to Róbert Grüman, Covasna County can be competitive or even a frontrunner in terms of startups if the local StartUp ecosystem is strengthened. This requires the establishment of a business development culture, qualified mentors, a favourable legal environment, visible successes, available resources and cooperation. This work has been undertaken at the centre and all stakeholders are counted on.

According to Csongor Oltean, who is responsible for adult education and vocational education within the centre, almost half of the students in Western countries, which also serve as models for modernising vocational training, decide to study a vocational profession after primary school. Unfortunately, in Romania, despite the fact that there are well-equipped vocational schools, fewer well-prepared professionals have chosen vocational education in recent years.

If we want more and more young people to choose a profession, it is important that vocational education and training be youthful, forward-looking, modern and adaptable, such as 3D printing, electric cars, smart home systems. For this reason, StartUp HUB also places special emphasis on vocational education and adult education. As their projects, 1500 unemployed young people will soon be able to participate in a free vocational training programme and will receive support after completing it. In addition, they help Transylvanian vocational education institutions to exchange experiences abroad through Erasmus+ grants, and they welcome students from foreign vocational schools for professional training. “We need a paradigm shift in vocational education. Thanks to our winning projects, students from vocational schools in Slovakia, Hungary, North Macedonia and Serbia will arrive for 2-3 weeks of vocational training from September” – pointed out Csongor Oltean, thanking the center’s partner contractors who accept foreign students for internships.

According to Szilárd Kelemen, President of the Youth Council of Háromszék (HÁRIT), the centre is the crowning achievement of 15 years of work of the organization led by him, a step up in youth work in the county, and from a small and active community they can now talk about a team built on professionalism. StartUP HUB will play a catalytic role in the operation of youth organisations. The mission of HÁRIT is to contribute to increasing the competitiveness of young people through its programs, accordingly they have had similar initiatives before. A young person can be successful if he does what he likes and has competitive knowledge within it”After volunteering and youth organisation activity, it was time for young people to step out of life and start building their own future, starting businesses and applying for a more secure and better living.” he said.

Sicland Producer and Sales Cooperative, one of the first farmers in the county, is one of the entities involved in the creation of StartUp HUB. According to their representative and one of the founders of the center, Miklós Orbán, their organization is committed to precision agriculture and the rejuvenation of agriculture, which is why they joined the establishment of the center. They intend to help farmers turning to StartUp HUB not only in writing applications, they will also provide support in digitalization and farm practice, and help them gain experience and training through their foreign contacts. In the field of digitalisation, two tenders worth three million euros were submitted. Its aim is to help young people under the age of 35 who are engaged in responsible activities both in agriculture and in the community.

StartUP HUB Press Office