Monday, April 16, 2007

Innovation and Competitiveness in the New Economy

RomAdvice and FIP joint organizers of the IC-2007 conference! (May 10, Bucharest)

Innovation and Competitiveness: two words that one hears more and more often in business. But where do Romanian SME and midmarket companies stand when it comes to Innovation and Competitiveness? If it is true that productivity in Romania is among the lowest in the EU, how is it possible that some companies are so successful? How do they rival with the European competition? And how do they develop market share in our home market, facing expanding EU competition?

These questions come to us every day! And the accompanying question is often: Can we obtain EU funding if we invest in Innovation and Competitiveness?

Also, RomAdvice and FIP believe that these questions that Romanian companies are struggling with need to be answered, not in a theoretical but in a practical and pragmatic way. For this reason, we are bringing the highest Gov’t representatives, the best international experts, and the Romanian private sector together in a single conference.

This conference targets managers and owners of Romanian SMEs and midmarket companies, with an ambition or potential for growth, that aim to further expand in the European marketplace and/or want to protect their local business success over the longer term.

More information and registration can be found on the conference website, IC-2007, while everyone is invited to ask questions and/or post comments on the IC-2007 Conference Blog.

Christian & Filip.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Strategii de succes in accesarea fondurilor europene - Successful strategies for public funding of projects

Under this title Christian DE NEEF presented at the Solutii de finantare Conference, Bucharest, Romania February 28, 2007. The conference, organized by Sirius Evenimente included presentations from both public and private sector. The latter included RomAdvice and FIP as consulting partners for the funding of Innovation and Competitiveness projects. Other presentations on behalf of specialized banks, financial consultants, and business angels completed the picture. With close to 70 registered participants, the event demonstrated the interest for funding of projects -- public and private!

(Pictures courtesy Sirius Evenimente)

For those interested, the RomAdvice & FIP joint presentation material can be downloaded here.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Process Innovation Approach & Case Studies for the Automotive Sector - Roundtable discussion and Seminar

Both the Roundtable discussion (Monday, February 12) and the Seminar (Tuesday, February 13) were made possible thanks to the precious support of Dragos Nicolescu. Without his preparatory work, excellent business relationships, and support for hosting the event at Casa Camelia, this would never have been such a success!

The Roundtable discussion on Monday included management from tier 1 automotive/manufacturing companies such as Emerson, Johnson Controls, Lear Corporation, etc. Many improvement initiatives such as lean manufacturing, six sigma, theory of constraints, and others were discussed, only to demonstrate that the productivity improvements that can be obtained with such techniques are inherently limited by the resource and process characteristics. Moreover, the automotive industry has already applied these traditional approaches, to a point where further improvement becomes insignificant. Therefore, rather than trying to further improve on existing processes, innovation in order to fundamentally rethink key process steps is required. Building on this evidence, Ives De Saeger discussed the P41 approach to Process Innovation and the dramatic performance increases that can be obtained. Case studies from the automotive/manufacturing industry were discussed, demonstrating the latitude for innovation and competitiveness that is still available to Romanian companies.

A dozen representatives from automotive/manufacturing companies from the Pitesti area -- many of them suppliers to Dacia/Renault -- participated in the seminar on Tuesday. Christian De Neef provided a general overview of the challenges of the automotive industry, outlining solutions for further improvement. A McKinsey research report from November 2005 states that "Process Innovations in the [U.S.] automotive industry were the largest contributor to the increase in productivity growth, while advantage conferred by Product Innovations was short-lived."

Ives De Saeger went on to present his philosophy and approach to Process Innovation, with plenty of practical examples and case studies to highlight the different areas where improvement can be expected: Productivity, Quality, Safety, etc. Whilst all participants were convinced that investments in Process Innovation would yield high Return on Investment, there were many outstanding questions on financing such projects... Also, Christian De Neef and Dragos Nicolescu presented a model for pre-financing the investments in partnership with local financial institutions, whilst applying for potential EU subsidy.

RomAdvice is proud to collaborate with P41, promoting improved competitiveness and innovative practices to the automotive sector in Romania!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Process Innovation Approach & Case Studies for the Automotive Sector

This is the title of a RomAdvice seminar to be held Tuesday, February 13, at Casa Camelia, close to Pitesti, with representatives of the local Automotive Industry. The seminar is organized in collaboration with Profex Group with the support of ACAROM -- Asociatiei Constructorilor de Automobile din Romania.

RomAdvice is proud to present Ives De Saeger as the Keynote speaker for this event. Ives has a degree in Physics and is also a Civil Engineer. Following a varied career involving all aspects of industrial engineering and process improvement, he is now the General Manager of P41, a leading edge consultancy on innovation in production processes and tooling. He has worked with VW, Daf Trucks, Johnson Controls, Daikin, Volvo Trucks, Atlas Copco, Picanol, Euromold, Malmar, Alro, and many more!

For those interested, the invitation can be downloaded here.


New Year's Cocktail, January 16

We are well into 2007 now, and for those reading this that we have not yet been able to communicate with in the New Year, I wish you good health and success in everything that you undertake, both private and professional.

In the last quarter of 2006 we started RomAdvice, as you know, with the support of many people that have been helpful in defining, positioning and launching our new company. To show our appreciation for the work already done, and also as an opportunity to network and discuss about the future, we invited clients, friends, and partners on Tuesday, January 16, for a New Year's Cocktail at the Iki Caffe!

The evening was a true success, and it was an opportunity for all to catch up with former contacts, and get introduced to some new ones, thus strengthening the network.

We're looking forward to many more good moments, and collaborating for mutual success in 2007 and beyond!

Filip & Christian.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Making of RomAdvice - Part 3

According to the books, creating a new Romanian company should take no more than 10 days. Of course, that's the theory, and then there's ... practice!

It has taken us more than 6 weeks, probably because it was our first time (!), certainly because we are foreigners (?) and not always available/present to comply with the never-ending administrative and legal requirements. Anyway, we are proud to announce that we finally obtained the certificate of registration of RomAdvice Consulting SRL on November 13, 2006!

More details on the website...


Monday, October 30, 2006

When Your Business Knowledge Goes East... Key Risks and Benefits of Offshoring Business Critical Applications

Under this title Christian DE NEEF presented at BPIS2006, The Business & Process Innovation Summit held October 16-19, 2006 at Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, CA.

Whilst the focus of the presentation as well as the case study were on Offshoring to India, there was quite some discussion about Outsourcing capability and culture in Eastern European countries as well, especially new entrants to the EC such as Romania. It certainly appears that Romania and other Eastern European countries are more attractive to EU companies than to North America. There's been a US and UK tradition in offshoring projects to India, which is likely to last for a number of years.

Nevertheless, interesting contacts were established, and any companies wishing to benefit from our knowledge and capability on the Romanian market are more than welcome to contact RomAdvice.

For those interested, the presentation can be downloaded here.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

RomAdvice participates in the European Week of Regions and Cities, Brussels, October 9-12

At RomAdvice, we are committed to Romanian companies' success in the European marketplace. Beyond talk, this should translate into concrete action and ongoing research for the benefit of our clients. That's why we participated in the European Week of Regions and Cities, also known as the Open Days of the EC's Committee of Regions.

The key theme for 2006 was "How to make Europe's regions and Cities more attractive?", which is close to RomAdvice's own efforts and positioning in Romania. With hundreds of sessions and thousands of delegates from all over Europe, it was virtually impossible to participate in all of the sessions. At RomAdvice, we decided to limit ourselves to selected sessions that related to Structural Funds, SME & Entrepreneurship, and new entrants to the EC.

A reasonable summary (and interesting discussion) of what has been covered in the many sessions was provided in the Closing Session, with Jacques Attali, Economist, Philosopher, and President of PlaNet Finance; Craig R. Barret, Chairman of the Board of Intel Corporation; Michel Delebarre, President of the Committee of the Regions; Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy; John Monks, Secretary-General of the European Trade Union Confederation; and Vladimir Spidla, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

Some interesting quotes:
  • José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission: "Europe needs the dynamism of its regions, their creativity, their know-how and their enthusiasm more than ever. A successful Europe can only grow when it respects the diversity of its territories. At a time of globalization, regions are the privileged actors to achieve the competitive Europe we strive for."
  • Craig R. Barret: "An educated workforce, modern infrastructure, good governance and return on investment are the factors making regions and cities attractive for investors."
Priority areas that appeared during the discussion and presentation:

Projects and Funding:
  • Public Private Partnerships (PPP) -- interview with Craig R. Barret
  • Collaboration between regions, cities, chambers of commerce, universities, etc.
  • Encourage clusters to exchange experience and generate synergies
  • Leverage public funds: every public Euro should generate up to 3 Euro private investment
  • EU Funds to favor large ambitious programmes

Social and Societal Concerns:
  • Raising quality of life whilst improving competitiveness
  • Ensuring social cohesion
  • Finding the right balance between mobility, nomadism, flexibility, and respect of local culture & habits/trade
  • Migration and desertification of insular/remote regions

Productivity and Competitiveness:
  • Life-long learning initiatives
  • Creating the right conditions/providing the infrastructure for local businesses to thrive
  • Develop managerial capability & entrepreneurship culture and learn the lessons from failure rather than stigmatize
  • Benefit from the knowledge economy
  • Focus on Innovation in order to move up the value chain

Promote all aspects of the Lisbon Strategy
  • Making Europe a more attractive place to invest and work
  • Knowledge and innovation for growth
  • Creating more and better jobs

The Next Open Days will be held October 8-11, 2007 under the Theme: "Making it happen: regions deliver growth and jobs." RomAdvice will be present, of course!

The RomAdvice Team!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

RomAdvice website goes live!

The creation of RomAdvice will take us a few more weeks (see follow-on messages), but already since the end of September do we have business cards, and more recently a short company profile.

So it was about time that we got our website up and running: is available and live as of October 12. The company profile can also be downloaded in electronic format, directly from the front page.

The RomAdvice Team.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Report on our first visit to Romania: September 23-30

As originally published on ecademy, on October 4 (ecademy members may check out the original thread here).

No question at all that [our first visit to Romania] was a tremendous success. Apart from the obvious advantage of spending a week in Filip's company (and learning to build, deal, share, drink, eat, live together), it was mostly like a week-long advertisement for social networking!

Hard to believe, but we were picked up at the airport on Saturday by someone we had never even seen before. He did drive 2.5 hours to come and pick us up (!), and then drop us off at our hotel in town... Adrian came back later in the evening to have dinner and show us around.

Hard to believe, but by Sunday evening we had met with half a dozen people (oh my god, what did we eat a lot -- up to three Sunday brunches in a row, we have been sitting at the same table for nearly 5 hours!) and had follow-on appointments with business people and administrations during the week. All this from people we had never met before.

Hard to believe, but on Wednesday we were invited to present to the Director General of a State Administration, and subsequently to introduce two value management proposals for state-owned companies to be privatized. And this from people that never even heard of us until last week.

Hard to believe, but one of our new and precious contacts found us a room in paradise at a moment that all hotel rooms in and around town were fully booked by the Summit of Francophone countries. Dominic, who arranged this for us, is a topnetworker, of course.

We came home with plenty of images of a country with incredible potential, great people, and a grand future. We came home with plans already to go back, to visit and revisit, meet even more people, truly start exploring the business perspectives, go to the countryside (not for leisure), nurture our new network.

We came home with loads of enthusiasm (although very tired, I have to admit), a warm feeling in our hearts, the energy to work our way into this promising country & business opportunity, ...

Filip & Christian.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Making of RomAdvice - Part 2

As originally published on ecademy, on September 18 (ecademy members may check out the original thread here).

Three fellow ecademists -- Christian De Neef, Luc Geukens, and Filip Hamerlinck -- are just starting up a new venture: RomAdvice. As you probably know, Romania is accessing the EC as a full member on January 1st, 2007, and RomAdvice is all about ensuring Romanian companies' success in the European marketplace...

We're new, we're young, and we didn't know each other until very recently. Nevertheless, we're confident, we know we have the capability, and initial reactions are very encouraging! How come? It's partly because we are seasoned consultants -- we combine 45 years of consulting & management experience! -- but it's mostly thanks to Social Networking. That's where ecademy comes in: without the power of networking, the capability to accelerate relationship-building, the opportunity to find -> connect -> meet with new people very fast & efficiently, RomAdvice would not have happened. Certainly, it would not have launched within such a short timeframe!

So, What does RomAdvice have to offer? We aim to be a Full Service Provider: from high-level strategic thinking to delivery of actual (measurable) results! We're a Pure Play Consultancy: independent (and proud to be), we will only work with the best (both in Business and IT), relying on our network (ecademy and beyond). We will be based in Bucharest, but with a strong foothold in Brussels, capital of the EC.

Back to the networking... Would you know of any Romanian business needing to gear up for success in the European marketplace, or otherwise any business wanting to establish base in Romania, please let us know! Would you have ideas as how to best organize & present our activity in support of Romanian companies gaining access to the European marketplace, or should you be aware of the cultural issues that we will face when dealing with Romanian companies, please let us know! Would you be willing to join the network, offer your services, be part of the story, please let us know! Replies in this thread or e-mails to RomAdvice.

Thank you,

Filip, Luc, Christian.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Making of RomAdvice - Part 1

Whilst the idea of starting a company in Romania had been around for a while, it was only by the end of the summer that three fellow ecademists -- Christian De Neef, Luc Geukens, and Filip Hamerlinck -- decided to give it a try. As such, the conception of RomAdvice can be placed somewhere in the second half of August 2006.

Following a series of internal meetings to define overall approach, high level strategy, intended positioning on the marketplace, etc., initial ideas were tested with representatives of the UNCJR
on August 31. The UNCJR -- Uniunea Nationala a Consiliilor Judetene din Romania -- in Brussels represents the interests of the Romanian counties at the European Community. More than just a validation of our ideas, this first meeting also allowed establishing valuable contacts for the future, especially in Argeş, Braşov, and Vâlcea counties.

During the month of September, individual meetings with Romanian representatives in Brussels continued, the decision was taken to organize an exploratory visit to Bucharest and some of the above counties; we also found a Belgian partner that would eventually help us with the administrative and other requirements for setting up a company...

The dates for our first Romanian trip were decided: September 23-30, the same week as the Sommet de la Francophonie, which we didn't know when making our travel arrangements of course! ;-)

Continued below,

Filip, Luc, Christian.