Good evening ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests. I want to thank the Innovation Labs team for inviting me this evening. It is my honor to be here tonight and it is my pleasure to offer some words of encouragement during this graduation ceremony. I look forward to seeing some of the teams present their prototypes in the first pitching session. As a side note, I would like to commend the Romanian American Foundation for supporting this dynamic program.
Romania has strong engineering, science and technological talent; Romanian computer engineers and programmers have earned a strong reputation at a global level. It is wonderful to see these skills applied to startup ideas in accelerator programs such as Innovation Labs. By engaging students in competitive and fun programs such as this, we are creating a better future; these programs are nurturing entrepreneurs who will ultimately start businesses and create well-paying jobs in their country. Innovation Labs teams have embarked on this journey translating enthusiastic ideas into commercial products. The young entrepreneurs we celebrate today are Romania’s competitive advantage: a tech-savvy, multilingual and globally-minded population that wants to have a better future and build a better country. After competing in a 24-hour hackathon where teams pitch their ideas and present their product prototypes, the Innovation Labs acceleration program provided selected teams with ten weeks of intensive training, from March to May, including mentorship sessions and skill-building workshops. The program also offered teams interactive lectures by business professionals and IT entrepreneurs and the opportunity to present intermediate and final versions of their products in two public events: Boost Day and today’s Demo Day. These two wonderful opportunities encourage teams to work together, to network, and to learn from their peers. I encourage everyone who participated to take advantage of all that you learned!
I would also like to mention that Romanian technical universities enable many talented people to pursue careers in successful tech companies, contributing to a key sector for economic growth. Technical universities play a vital role, both as a platform where great ideas can become viral and as a bridge towards the global startup ecosystem.
I would like to close my remarks with an additional reflection – Demo Day is a meeting point and a starting point. The teams who will pitch their prototypes today are here to take a chance in reshaping society. As a Romanian proverb goes, it often happens that “Buturuga mică răstoarnă carul mare”. I wish all the teams much success in all their endeavors!