strategic priority
Technology & Innovation
PERIOD
April 2016 - August 2019
BUDGET
$1,067,130
RAF'S CONTRIBUTION
$1,033,200
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Rochester, October 2016

The RAF Scholar Award program will provide 24 Romanian professors from technical universities around the country with the opportunity to gain U.S. university-based experience in developing and sustaining entrepreneurship education. In turn, upon returning to Romania, the participating professors would broaden the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

CONTEXT

The technology and innovation sectors are of increasing relevance for both the current and future well-being of Romania’s economic growth.  While more Romanians adopt new technologies, the internal market and the demand for innovative services create opportunities for Romanian entrepreneurs to develop and sell services and products across all economic sectors.

As companies expand into the value-added product and service markets, the skill levels that they require and the extent to which they use these skills will increase.  The human capital category of the ecosystem is a development factor in and of itself and RAF considers this a strategic intervention space.  Certain technical and soft skills necessary for successful entrepreneurs and future employees coincide, creating room for RAF to collaborate with stakeholders in an effort to create value added human resources for the technology and innovation economy.

STRATEGY

RAF works towards fostering entrepreneurship and preparing the future work-force to access high-skilled and value-added jobs.

We believe that encouraging the transformation of Romanian technical universities into entrepreneurial hubs will spawn future economic growth. The RAF Scholar Award program aims to provide 24 professors from technical universities with the opportunity to participate in a fellowship program to gain experience and expertise by examining best practices in entrepreneurship education.

RAF facilitates the fellowship program by allowing selected candidates to complete a one-semester study program at the University of Rochester’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship in the U.S. During their semester in the U.S, the professors familiarize with the conditions supporting a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, develop plans for implementing new course offerings, receive expert consultation for launching new entrepreneurial initiatives, and become part of a network of peers who share a vision for the Romanian startup environment. The program also includes a visit by Romanian university Administrators to the U.S. university, to better understand the professors’ initiatives.

The first cohort of six professors completed their fellowship during the first semester of the 2016-2017 academic year. The selected professors were:

  • Valentin Grecu, Lecturer at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
  • Eugen Popescu, Assistant Professor at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
  • Vlad Posea, Lecturer at the Politehnica University of Bucharest
  • Alexandru Radovici, Lecturer at the Politehnica University of Bucharest
  • Costin-Octavian Sorici, Assistant Professor at the Ovidius University of Constanța
  • Flaviu Turcu, Assistant Professor at the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca

The second group of fellow professors at the University of Rochester between August – December 2017 includes:

  • Mihai Dragomir, Associate Professor at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca
  • Corina Forăscu, Associate Professor at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași
  • Anca Nicolau, Professor at the University of Galați
  • Alma Pentescu, Assistant at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
  • Vladimir Tanasiev, Assistant at the Politehnica University of Bucharest
  • Dragoș Vintilă, Assistant Professor at the Ovidius University of Constanța

Video courtesy of  ©University of Rochester

A third cohort of six professors is scheduled to go to Rochester in August 2018.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

  • The 24 university professors benefiting from the fellowship will act as change agents from within the high education system.
  • Enhanced expertise and prestige for Romanian professors;
  • Increased educational and employment options for students;
  • Support for entrepreneurs and their innovations;
  • Economic development opportunities through support for a Romanian innovation hub and entrepreneurial ecosystem;
  • Creation of an association of Fellows (or similar) that will provide an on-going forum for collaboration and exploration beyond the 3 year timeline of this project.
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