Article by Andreea Per published in „be BlueAir” magazine
Although the Romanian IT market is concentrated in Bucharest, alongside Cluj and Timisoara, Iasi is starting to make a name for itself as an extremely attractive pole for this market. Ziarul de Iasi newspaper published an analysis in which it was stated that the total turnover of IT&O companies present in the city was 465 million euros in 2015.
We wanted to share with you more info on this emerging city so we asked Extind, the creators of PIN Map Iasi (www.pinmapiasi.ro) to help us gather it. PIN Map Iasi is a map that gathers office spaces and noteworthy initiatives in the IT&O local industry (airports, international flights, co-working spaces, conference rooms, etc).
Multinational companies such as Amazon, Xerox, Conduent, Continental, Centric, Capgemini, CRF Health, Endava, GoDaddy, Levi9, Mind Software, Oracle, Preh and many others have chosen to come to Iasi and benefit from the large number of specialists here in order to create software and deliver high quality services at low costs.
“These companies chose Iasi due to a number of factors: a wide talent pool in the research and development area, an open-minded university, local authorities that support investments that slowly turn Iasi into a green city and last but not least, the available stock of modern office buildings”, says Dan Zaharia, senior consultant at Extind.
“The great reputation of the engineers from Iasi and the existence of the international airport were two of the important factors that convinced us to open Preh’s second engineering center in Romania here’’ said Jochen Ehrenberg, director for Product Development and Production at Preh.
Startups and Romanian companies here
We also asked Florin Cardasim, co-founder of the Codecamp community (www.codecamp.ro) to give us a number of examples of succesfull Romanian IT companies here:
- Romsoft, founded in 2001, develops custom software applications
- Gemini CAD Systems, a leading global supplier of technology for industries working with soft flexible materials such as textile, composites or leather
- SABS Software, outsourcing company for software solutions
- Intelligent Bee, a custom software development company
As for recent start-ups, we wanted to find out from Raluca Apostol, the co-founder of Marionette Studio what is the formula they used going on their own: “Having gathered over 10 years of experience in reputable software companies as employees, we decided, together with Bogdan Apostol and Adrian Pironescu , to create an innovative product, an animation browser software and this is how Marionette Studio was born (http://marionettestudio.com). As we actually base our product on AI to automate the animation process, we could have started this business anywhere in the world. We decided to do it here, in our hometown.’’ It does look like the standard start-up formula, gather experience somewhere else and then, when good enough, start a business and innovate.
With 1,100 IT graduates per year, Iasi is placed third in the country alongside Timisoara in respect of the graduate output in the IT industry (after Bucharest and Cluj). However, if we are to refer to the number of graduates in technical fields in general, Iasi is, after Bucharest, the largest training centre (6,624 in 2015). These are joined in the employment industry by students from other neighboring university cities such as Suceava and Bacau. These numbers, nevertheless, fail to tell the entire story, as we should also mention a significant number of students who, hired during their studies, end up abandoning school and focusing solely on their jobs. If we count those graduating from adjacent fields ( economics, languages etc) and those graduating from professional reconversion schools like the IT Informal School (www.scoalainformala.ro ) the annual output adds up to 2800 people.
The relatively large number of students who graduate each year is not enough for the market demand, which has determined employers to compete in offering their prospective employees a wide range of benefits apart from a competitive salary. When we spoke with Raluca Ene, Managing Director of Chapter 4, one of the most successful Public Affairs, Corporate Communications, Employer Branding and Brand PR in Romania, she mentioned “I gladly noticed on my latest visit to Iasi an extremely high level of employer branding activities (Ed. Employer branding = a cumulation of attributes and qualities of an employer which differentiate it by its culture). Due to the high demand of employees on the market, companies have developed innovative campaigns which any European employer would boast about. I’m glad to see that in Iasi, the huge benefit of such campaigns has pushed employers to develop very creative hiring campaigns. ‘’
A durable and long-term solution for the lack of sufficient employees in the industry however is the establishment of public-private partnerships focused on the high-level training of a much larger number of students and also on keeping them in Iasi by offering them higher living standards.
As mentioned above, a soft spot in the development of this industry is the tendency of IT specialists in the N-E region to migrate to other more developed countries or regions in Romania, however, the creation of an entrepreneurship environment and the focus on attracting higher added value outsourcing services can allow companies to attract and keep talented people in the region.
One of the weak points that further slow down the development of this area is the lack of infrastructure in the north-eastern part of the country, which prevents the access of potential international partners, investors or clients there. A telling example is the limited number of flights from Iasi to Bucharest, Europe and connections with the rest of the world. That is why, through the new routes offered from and to Iasi with Blue Air, we would like to offer several such possibilities and to actively help in developing this high potential area.
IT entrepreneurship should be stimulated in Iasi by public and private measures and the increased added value of the IT outsourcing services here will lead to the sustainable development of this sector. A strong community is essential for attracting investors and for the consolidation of the IT industry and not by chance, the strongest and most vibrant IT communities in the country, Codecamp, has been created here.