Tech Revolution : Bacau

"By entering the Tech Revolution transfer network, Bacau Municipality found a way to look forward to success, by surrounding itself with partners that challenged its old ways and opened doors to new ones, it took small steps to confidence and now is ready to improve every day."

Bacau is a medium-sized town in the Eastern part of Romania. Like many other mid-size towns in this part of Europe, Bacau’s development was determined by planned economics for a long time. With the fall of the communist regime, and as a result of having a limited competitive advantage compared to other nearby urban agglomerations, it began losing its population and the leading sectors of the local economy went into crisis. While facing different challenges on social, economic, cultural and environmental level, Bacau found it hard to dream big, and got stuck in a pessimistic mentality.

Bacau Local Development Agency wanted to exploit TechRevolution expertise and the good practice provided by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council in order to turn the old cinema building into a vivid enterprise hub by adapting the business model and methodology of the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley.

The TechRev Programme

The real journey started in January 2019, when all TechRevolution partners participated in the immersive bootcamp designed by the Barnsley team, together with the Lead Expert. A time travel through the history and the main milestones of Enterprising Barnsley was really helpful in seeing the big picture, while the small-group workshops with Enterprising Barnsley team members – the people who work with the local businesses on a daily basis – helped the Bacau team to better understand the various building blocks of the Barnsley enterprise support system. The bootcamp also made participants realise that the transformation of the local economy cannot happen overnight.

Another important highlight of the city’s learning journey was the Bacau team’s job-shadow visit to Barnsley, Villanova i la Geltru (Spain) and Schiedam (The Netherlands). Representatives of the Bacau’s team got valuable insights of the business model and expertise of Enterprising Barnsley.

They also saw a slightly different approach, one closer to the concept behind their future building, in Vilanova i la Geltru, which even has a cinema hall within their HUB building. They particularly liked the desk renting service offered to starting entrepreneurs that are not yet ready to rent bigger spaces. This is something they will definitely transfer to, and adapt, in the future HORIZON HUB.

Due to national and local rules and regulations in construction and procurement, as well as excessive bureaucracy, the project for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the former cinema’s building would be severely delayed. There they were, overflowing with new knowledge, methods, practices – but with no building where they could apply this valuable know-how.

Giving up certainly was not an option. Thanks to the flexibility of URBACT and the support of the Lead Partner and Lead Expert, they managed to change course: as the completion of the hub was far away, they decided to rather focus their efforts on building the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Outcome : Knowledge Exchange Event

As a crucial step in that process, Bacau Local Development Agency organised an event “Entrepreneurship – Past and Future” aimed at bringing together people impacted by, and who can impact, the entrepreneurial system (political figures, university teachers, university students, high school teachers and students, entrepreneurs, people interested in entrepreneurship) in order to support capacity building and information exchange.

With 200+ participants, the success of the event surpassed all local expectations, benefiting all parties involved:

• entrepreneurs shared their successes and failures, while learning from the experience of others and building relations;

• university leaders started a dialogue and various co-operations with businesses while also bringing real-life

• students were inspired by stories of local entrepreneurs

Concluding Thoughts

Bacau Municipality enjoyed the hands-on support of the Lead Partner, Barnsley Borough Council, which decided to take a leap of faith and accept Bacau as the 6th partner in the Tech Revolution Transfer Network.

The most important contribution of URBACT was that it provided a pragmatic - and very importantly - flexible framework and a set of tools that enable the transfer of good practice from one city to others. As part of this framework, the support and guidance of the URBACT experts was crucial in designing and delivering the transnational exchange experience and address the challenges along the way. In addition, the various meetings and seminars organised by URBACT, focusing on specific topics, helped Bacau to successfully navigate its transfer journey.

Learning Log