With a new blockchain-powered GovTech competition, and an increasing number of startup incubators, Lisbon has created a seeding ecosystem that is attracting entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas from across Europe to grow their businesses.
In 2015, Lisbon was the first city (rather than region) to be awarded the European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year, by the European Committee of the Regions. Since then, the Portuguese capital has gone from strength to strength as a hub for startup-driven innovation, culminating in being chosen to host Europe’s largest and most important technology conference, the Web Summit, until 2028.
The Portuguese government has launched a number of policy initiatives to promote inward investment and new business generation. Startup Portugal is government programme that offers financial, legal, and technical support to new startups in high-growth sectors, including startup vouchers (grants for young entrepreneurs) and incubation space for new businesses. These efforts are supported by a €200m government venture capital fund aimed at enticing overseas start-ups to locate in the country, launched in 2016, as well as €6 billion to be invested in national R&D, innovation and SME competitiveness by 2020.
It’s no surprise that, as Prime Minister Antonio Costa puts it: ‘today, Portugal is a startup nation’.
These national entrepreneurship programmes are supported by strong local innovation initiatives. Public policies, such as the reduction of new firm creation barriers and increased local investment in R&D allow this innovation hub to thrive.
Iniciativa Lisboa has made great progress in this direction, allowing Lisbon to have the fastest business set-up time in the EU-28: it takes only 45 minutes to build a business online. But the city’s charm goes beyond low barriers of entry and inclusive policies: Lisbon’s unique culture, and the fact that there are 256 sunny days per year, brings together young innovators from all over the world to collaborate and launch new ventures. This has been exacerbated by the explosion of tech accelerator hubs and co-working spaces popping up all over the city – like Startup Lisboa, Hub Criativo do Beato and LabX (the government’s own incubator for public innovation).
In the GovTech space, the national government is a genuine world-leader, announcing the launch of a new GovTech competition exclusively for blockchain startups in 2018, aiming to solve some of the country’s major public problems, based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Top 10 GovTech Startups
myPolis is a citizen engagement app that provides an online and intuitive platform for users to vote in local elections and referendums.
GoParity is an investment platform for sustainable energy projects, connecting everyday investors with small innovative renewable energy projects that are looking to get off the ground.
Informat is a semi-autonomous robotic system for the creation and management of firebreaks and cleaning of forests.
SWORD Health is an AI-powered digital physical therapist that allows patients to perform therapy at home, through an app and smart motion trackers.
Tonic App is a mobile platform that connects doctors with medical professionals, regulatory bodies, and academics across the world to share advice on live medical cases.
Heptasense has developed an AI-powered behavioural analytics platform that can analyse analyse gestures, faces and crowd behaviour, for security and public surveillance.
BEEVERYCREATIVE produces small, lightweight 3D printing systems, and has partnered European Space Agency to develop a printer designed to work under microgravity.
Unbabel is a Translation as a Service platform that uses AI to allow public organisations to understand and be understood by citizens in dozens of languages.
Jungle uses AI to track and predict the performance of wind turbines, power transformers and heavy industry machinery.
Farmcloud is a single cloud-based platform for farm management, allowing farmers to track and control climate and feeding controllers.