Helping the next generation of start-ups in Portugal
Portugal has appeared in the news a lot in recent months due to its severe economic problems, but what is perhaps less well-known that Portugal has a high level of university education. In this recession we are seeing that many students are starting their own companies when they graduate, rather than trying fight for scarce employment vacancies.
Portugal is one example of a country where it is essential to collaborate with universities and support the young entrepreneurial talent that is vital to nurture the European economies and future competitiveness of our region.
We are firm believers that BizSpark, our global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to software development tools, connecting them with key industry players and providing marketing visibility, can help!
This was one of the reasons we had in mind when organizing a BizSpark Camp in Portugal, an event which brought together over 100 delegates including many local entrepreneurs, investors, and three university incubators. The three incubators at the event were: AUDAX, ISCTE’s own association that supports entrepreneurs: the Instituto Pedro Nunes, based in Coimbra (recently considered the "Best Science Based Incubator" during the 9th Annual Incubation Conference 17-19th November: Liverpool Science Park)
; and UPTEC, based out of the University of Porto.
A perfect example of how we are working with university incubators to accelerate start-up success is Cardmobili. Cardmobili has successfully launched a mobile service that manages rewards and membership cards, allowing users to carry this information on mobile phones, collect and use rewards, and share them with friends. At the suggestion of the university incubator, the company joined the BizSpark program in 2009.
“I would say to other start-ups, that even if the results don’t come immediately, the chance to meet investors and other industry leaders teaches you a lot. Incubators working together with big companies like Microsoft really works. Through the university incubator and Microsoft, we have had visibility and networking opportunities that it would be difficult for a start-up to achieve otherwise. As a consequence, we have had early exposure to events and networking opportunities where we find potential partners and investors”.
Helena Leite, Cardmobili
As also underlined in the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative - Innovation Union, finance remains a big challenge for any start-up. The first day of the Portugal camp was dedicated to the themes of ‘entrepreneurship, funding, intellectual property, best practices and case studies’. Part of the agenda was an introduction to the service we offer to help startups access public funds –for instance, for R&D, Innovation and growth, both nationally and EU-wide. Other sessions featured presentations included advice on funding from the National Association for Business Angels (FNABA), SBI (a consulting company that specializes in helping small businesses with funding), Banco Santander and Programa COMPETE, which is a Government-sponsored program with the mission of ‘stimulating the sustained growth of the Portuguese economy”.
This is just one example of the BizSpark camps being held every month around the world, connecting people, delivering advice and showcasing emerging technology in one event. The camp was proof of how vibrant the Portuguese market is right now. Every day I’m talking to start-ups with great ideas. An economic recession can be a catalyst for innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset. What we’re doing is helping local entrepreneurs make the most of the opportunities available and help them deal with some of the challenges.