Process Automation, Applied AI, Biotech, Future of programming and Cleantech are some of the ten key transversal technologies that Romania should use in order to build long-term resilience, boost its future performance, and close the gap compared to the rest of Europe. Otherwise, Romania could fail in its efforts to improve the lives of its citizens, who still experience low levels of inclusion and well-being relative to the EU average.
EU-30 (EU-27 plus Norway, Switzerland, and the UK) is being eclipsed by US on the industrial-scale adoption of technology, shows “Securing Europe’s future beyond energy: Addressing its corporate and technology gap”, a McKinsey Global Institute report. The study was launched in September 2022 and compared the corporate and technological competitiveness of the EU-30 with US and China.
Europe could miss out on a potential corporate value of €2- 4 trillion a year. Economies like Romania will face the steepest struggle to catch up
Technology now underpins all sectors via transversal technologies such as AI, biotechnology, and the cloud, which have application across sectors.
If Europe doesn’t focus on leveraging transversal technologies, it could miss out on a potential corporate value add of €2 trillion to €4 trillion a year by 2040. This value would be the equivalent to 30- 70% of Europe’s forecast GDP growth between 2019 and 2040, about 90 percent of all current European social expenditure, or €500 monthly universal income for each European citizen.
“The fact that Europe did not keep pace with the US in the first digital technology wave, centered on the internet and software, means that it is now in a weakened position in these transversal technologies. If Europe doesn’t focus on leveraging transversal technologies it will be at risk of missing out on half of its potential GDP growth until 2040. At the same time, it will be affected at many dimensions, including growth, inclusion, and sustainability, and its strategic autonomy and voice in the world. Smaller economies like Ro-mania will face the steepest struggle to catch up to an already lagging European economy. For the Romanian economy to build long-term resilience and weather current and future disruptions, it needs to catch up on ten key transversal technologies. Romania’s future growth and competitiveness across all sectors is at stake here”, says Alexandru Filip, Man-aging Partner McKinsey&Company Romania.
Addressing challenges through policy
Like most of Europe, Romania is being outperformed by non-European competitors in industrial-scale technology adoption. As a relative latecomer to the EU, Romania will have to match and even exceed the scale and impact of what others are doing to enable its firms to compete.
Romanian leaders could support three blocwide initiatives to enable companies to operate at higher speed and with greater freedom, build scale and attract scale-up funding, and level the playing field with other countries and established firms.
- Raise awareness of transversal technologies and the importance of competitive-ness for Romania and the EU.
- Take the lead, or join other member states, in implementing EU-wide initiatives.
- Provide political support for the adoption of such initiatives in EU bodies and institutions.
The Future of programming, Trust architecture and Applied AI – the leader technologies in Romania
Romania is performing relatively well in technologies such as the Future of programming, Trust architecture and Applied AI, indicates McKinsey&Company analysis of ten transversal technologies for Romania’s future performance and prosperity. These results are due to the efforts of local companies such as Bitdefender, UiPath, TypingDNA, DRUID, RayScape, Lumen and numerous start-ups that use Applied Artificial Intelligence.
On the other hand, Romania lags in technologies as Biotech (Bio Revolution) and Next-gen materials.
Regarding innovation (launching the next-level technologies), Romania has good results in technologies such as the Future of programming, Next-level process automation and is trialling in technologies such as Next-gen materials, Future of connectivity and Trust architecture.
In production (creating commercial products & brands based on these technologies), Romania performs well in the Future of programming, Trust architecture and Applied AI and has poor results in Biotech.
Regarding adoption (using these technologies in the private and public sectors), Romania is a leader in Trust architecture, the Future of connectivity, Cleantech and Applied AI. On the contrary, Romania is one of the last in Europe to adopt Future of programming.
Ten “must-have” transversal technologies for Romania
- Next-level process automation
Process automation can help companies to improve process efficiency and enhancing functionality. Compared to the average for EU counterparts, Romania is ahead on innovation with companies such as UiPath leading the way in robotic process automation globally. But Romania lags on adoption and could be missing out on the benefits that process automation can bring.
- Future of connectivity
Technologies like smart cities in industry, remote monitoring in healthcare, and smart branches in business services could be the future of connectivity having widespread ap-plications in efficiency and productivity. Although Romania’s innovation and production of these technologies is low compared to that of the EU-30’s top five performers, its adoption is high. Telehealth, for instance, saw a boost in adoption with the COVID-19 re-strictions in Romania prompting remote consulting.
- Distributed infrastructure
Distributed infrastructure is the umbrella term for object-oriented and other information technologies used by software architects, including edge and cloud computing in order to manage, store, and process data.
Romania has to do significant steps to catch up here. The share of companies that used cloud computing services in Romania in 2021 was 14 percent, compared to 27 percent for CE countries and 41 percent for the EU.
- Next-generation computing
Next-generation computing uses technology based on quantum phenomena to process da-ta and to improve productivity in sectors such as aerospace, defense, energy & utilities. Romania is behind on innovation relative to the EU-30’s top five countries and lacks next-generation computing technology adoption and production. As this lack of production and adoption is widespread across Europe, Romania and other EU countries could be missing out on lucrative opportunities.
- Applied Artificial Intelligence
Applied Artificial Intelligence is showing signs of advancement in Romania, where innovation is poised to catch up with production and adoption. Romania’s level of innovation is relatively embryonic compared with the top five EU- 30 performers. While it has been the second-largest publisher of AI research in the region over the past two decades—after Poland—its actual spending on investments lags behind that of EU counterparts. Romania is ahead in terms of production and adoption, with over 50 startups in the field of agritech alone.
- Future of programming
The future of programming is expected to trend towards a no-code or low-code development environment. This could boost the efficiency and speed of programming development across sectors, with the most focus in the automation, machine learning, and AI industries. Romania has a solid performance in innovation and production with innovators such as DRUID AI—an end-to-end platform for AI-driven conversational business applications. Still Romania has to catch up in adoption.
- Trust architecture
Trust architecture involves a set of cybersecurity paradigms that focuses on protecting resources (such as assets, workflows, services, network accounts, etcetera).
Romania has a strong production and adoption. The country performs relatively well against the EU-30’s top-five performers, with homegrown company Bitdefender consistently ranked among top global cybersecurity players. Romania has also given rise to novel security solutions, like Typing DNA, which assigns a biometric “fingerprint” to a person’s typing style for reinforced security.
- Bio revolution
Advances in biological science coupled with the development of computing, automation, and AI could significantly impact economies and lives, from health, agriculture, and consumer goods to energy and materials.
The biotech industry is nascent in Romania, with some innovation but very little production or adoption relative to the EU-30’s top five countries. Romanian innovative players are slowly emerging, such as Rayscape, whose software solution uses a recognition algorithm to help radiologists detect lung nodules, and Lumen, a research startup that aims to empower the blind.
- Next-generation materials
Next-generation materials with novel properties can increase functionality and reduce costs throughout manufacturing, with potential for major energy, carbon, and economic benefits.
Romania has much potential here. Demand for these materials exists, but innovation and output are lacking—creating an opportunity to kickstart the sector.
- Future of cleantech
The use of sensors, gateways, embedded radios, and cellular routers can optimize process efficiencies by removing the need for natural resources and manual monitoring. Renewable energy systems and sustainable products and services are some examples of clean-tech, with a wide range of industrial uses.
Innovation and production have not kept pace with adoption. Romania has few cleantech patents compared to CE peers: for example, from 2012 to 2021, Romania produced only five patents in environmental technologies, compared to 86 from Poland. This offers opportunities for local developers, and Romania’s cleantech market is starting to gain traction as platforms like bonapp.eco (that aims to reduce food waste) and EcoTree (that digitalizes recycling) take off.