Behind the most relevant events of 2019’s last quarter
We’ve been busy these past three months. There’s a lot happening in the Portuguese startup ecosystem, from universities encouraging and supporting their students in taking a higher risk career path and creating their own companies, to more advanced and mature acceleration and incubation programs created by all kinds of players.
This is a small sample of what we’ve been up to out of the office this past quarter.
University of Aveiro is making an entrepreneurial push amongst students. UACoopera, the university’s interface unit within the innovation ecosystem, organized a full week of events dedicated to promoting and showcasing entrepreneurship. We were there on the first day, when students were introduced to different funding mechanisms — from public programs to private international VCs — that could boost their journey as startup founders.
On the other hand, the Launch Pad @ Técnico is a more practical program, where Instituto Superior Técnico students get a more hands-on approach with the E.Awards, an Innovation & Entrepreneurship contest — a program that results from the developed projects in a entrepreneurship course and which Armilar supports through its prize sponsorship. One of our partners was at the bootstrap session and had the opportunity to see how future entrepreneurial players responded to two top entrepreneurs sharing their experiences in starting and scaling startups — it was amazing to interact with students and realize how much bolder and more mature each cohort is becoming in relation to entrepreneurship. We believe these kinds of initiatives are paramount to encourage and inspire the upcoming leaders of the tech scene.
We then headed south to the Faculty of Sciences and Technologies of the Nova University of Lisbon, where we celebrated, with some of the school’s alumni-entrepreneurs, the fifth anniversary of their Tech Transfer initiatives — a work front we’re working more extensively on with our latest fund. This occasion was also marked by the faculty’s announcement of a significant expansion and an even more ambitious strategy of their technology transfer initiatives for the coming years. We then joined a panel, which included some of the school’s most prolific inventors, to discuss the challenges and opportunities that the academic community is facing when taking their research to the market.
At the other end of the spectrum, and with a solid pattern of growth and maturation over recent years, are the incubation and acceleration programs. EDP is one of the leading incumbent players in the energy sector space when it comes to helping to accelerate startups. We were at the 2019 edition of the Free Electrons Open Day, in Lisbon, and had the opportunity to hear about the progress of this year’s cohort of 15 teams and to engage with several founders to learn about smart grids and predictive maintenance of energy assets using advanced artificial intelligence tools — it was especially gratifying to see entrepreneurs from all around the globe leading the disruptive solutions that will be integrated in this massive sector over the next few years.
We were also at the Founders Founders’ conference. This team, formed by bright entrepreneurs in order to exchange experiences in key topics of interest for their startups, organized their annual Founders Conference, where we had the pleasure of joining one of the panels to discuss the scaleup challenges these companies face.
Likewise, Startup Lisboa is a crucial contributor to the growing relevance of Portuguese capital in the European startup scene, promoting regular meetings amongst entrepreneurs and its incubated teams. We were invited to present our work and our latest Tech Transfer Fund to a group of startups on December 5th. After our presentation, we held several one-on-one meetings with some of the founders, that proved to be more mature and goal-oriented than ever. Also, worth noting is that this was another great opportunity to interact with the ever-progressing Startup Lisboa’s executive team.
Our partners were also present at several international events, where we could clearly see first-hand the ever-growing European startup ecosystem. We started the quarter in Madrid, at the South Summit, a must-attend event for startups and investors. Here, the crème de la crème of founders were able to present their projects to a community of investors — only 100 of 3500 applicants. We were especially intrigued by the quality of the cybersecurity, fintech and big data projects.
We then went to Paris, where we attended Innoenergy’s Business Booster. As founding members of the Innoenergy VC community we were proud to see that the leading event in the sustainable energy sector had Dr. Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize and former US Secretary of Energy, as a keynote speaker. A very detailed and interesting study on the common competencies of successful entrepreneurs, that analyzed more than 800 innovators, was also presented during the event.
We then made a brief stop in Lisbon to attend the Web Summit, where the whole team was present and had a great time meeting new entrepreneurs, investment opportunities and re-encountering national and international partners. It’s especially fulfilling to see one of the world’s biggest tech conferences happening in our backyard and, although overly acknowledged, it’s a warm reminder of how vibrant the Portuguese ecosystem is becoming.
Barcelona was our next pit stop. Here, Fundación Bosch I Gimpera organizes, an annual event called “Science & Partners”, where different technologies, that are developed in the University of Barcelona, are presented to a panel of investors and companies. The aim of the event is to provide feedback on how these projects should be strategically oriented in order to be attractive to investors, either in their current development stage or within a year’s time. Armilar had the pleasure of being part of the jury and the opportunity to meet an amazing group of companies and founders.
We finished our European tour in Essen, Germany, where Tech Tour’s Venture Contest Final took place. In our last international event of 2019, we had the opportunity to attend multiple panels and engage in several one-on-one meetings with some of the most promising startups of the European tech scene in fields such as artificial intelligence, photonics, telecom, digital health and many others.