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Smart solution: how business clusters drive innovation

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Smart solution: how business clusters drive innovation
Copyright  euronews

Business Planet heads to Iasi in Romania to see how one tech company got its pharmacy app off the ground thanks to being part of a cluster.

We are all familiar with the routine of picking up a prescription. Even in the best of times, and not just a pandemic, we go to the chemist only to find the medicine we need isn’t in stock and needs to be ordered. But now there is a smart solution. Romanian software company RomSoft has created a digital app which connects patients to pharmacies that already have the medication they require.

“So the patient needs to fill in a medicine request and then the pharmacist, who are registered on the platform, can see it in the system and can answer to it with one click. A message is then sent to the patient, through SMS or e-mail, with information when the medicine is available,” explains RomSoft's Iulia Weingold.

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RomSoft's digital application enables people to locate prescriptive medicine more quickly.© Euronews

RomSoft is a member of the IMAGO-MOL cluster, the only medical imaging cluster in both Romania and the EU. The cluster strives to link public bodies, like hospitals, to private enterprise, especially firms in the IT and software development sector. Weingold insists the cluster's support was crucial.

“The cluster helped us a lot to promote the application. We managed [to get] on board more pharmacists, with their help, and we facilitated important media contacts so that we could reach more people in a short time. The next step is to simplify the process even more and empower the patients to search for the needed medicine directly in the application and then scale-up to more pharmacies.”

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RomSoft's Iulia Weingold says the support the company received from the IMAGO-MOL cluster to get its app to market was vital.© Euronews

Engines for entrepreneurial talent

There are currently some 3000 specialised clusters like IMAGO-MOL in Europe. Nurturing innovation among SMEs, it is estimated these business eco-systems account for a whopping 54 million EU jobs.

Europe’s cluster community has been active in efforts to alleviate supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic. A Covid-19 response portal has also been set up to further help foster collaboration.

IMAGO-MOL's cluster manager Carmen Mihai told Business Planet about some of the work that's being done.

“We supported our cluster members by promoting their products, such as the app connecting patients with pharmacies. We also helped our hospital members to deal with the shortage of protective medical equipment, as well as all the clusters around Europe have done to build platforms to help their members face the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation.”

Asked about the benefits of clusters and why companies inside them tend to be more innovative, Mihai says: "Companies inside clusters are generally more innovative due to the fact that clusters are connecting two different worlds. One is the researchers and scientists, on the one side, and the businesses, in general, on the other side. So there is a sharing of knowledge and the spillover effect of sharing this knowledge, in fact, creates innovation.”

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The IMAGO-MOL cluster is the only medical imaging cluster in both Romania and the EU.© Euronews

Useful links

European Cluster Collaboration Platform

COVID-19 Industrial Clusters Response Portal

EU support for clusters