The Fulbright-RAF Scholar Award is a nationwide program that exposes Romanian professors, committed to developing entrepreneurship programming, to a U.S. university-based experience in developing and integrating innovation and entrepreneurship education. Those experiences have translated in numerous opportunities for Romanian students including new entrepreneurship courses, business plan competitions, the integration of design thinking to specialized courses and workshops with local entrepreneurs, and changes to the delivery of class curricula.
The technology and innovation sectors are of increasing relevance for both the current and future well-being of Romania’s economic growth. As new technologies permeate across every sector in society, 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.
The growing number of companies expanding into the value-added product and service markets, will require expanded skill levels. 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.
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 University Centers into entrepreneurial hubs will spawn future economic growth. The RAF Scholar Award program aims to provide committed professors with the active support of their university leadership the opportunity to participate in a fellowship program to gain experience and expertise by examining best practices in entrepreneurship and exposure to innovation generating 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 selected candidates complete a one-semester customized program at the University of Rochester’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship. During their semester in the U.S, the professors become familiarized with the conditions that support 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. Essential to the program is the annual visit to the U.S by the professors’ university leadership, to gain first hand insight to the planned initiatives of the participating professors.
- 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.