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  • Triinu Lukas

European Cleantech Tour part 2: Portugal

Beamline's team went to discover Portugese cleantech & we had a nice opportunity to interview Andre Forté, the man from Startup Portugal who probably knows best what's happening in Portuguese startup ecosystem, and also interview 4 cool startups from different sustainable fields of action.

Key takeaways from the discussions:

  • Portugal's thriving sectors are healthtech, AI and machine learning - data driven businesses.

  • But we can't really talk about Portugal without talking about cleantech and sustainability, because Portugal is just so rich in natural resources.

  • Portugal is really feeling the impacts of climate change (last summer the temperatures were close to 50°C) and thus cleantech is starting to interest more and more entrepreneurs.

Check the podcast with Andre & videocast with 4 high-potential Portuguese cleantech startups below. 😉

(See transcription below.)

More innovation + brand new startups shimejito, FHLUD, DTWAY & veond in this video

Thank you Portugal, you're a fantastic place to travel to and brilliant for establishing a cleantech startup!


TRANSCRIPTION of the interview with André Forte:


Hi guys, I told you, and I'm always keeping my promises. I told you that I'm going to take you to the European Cleantech Tour. Last time we were in Estonia doing the live in Estonian Cleantech Demo Center. Now we are here in Lisbon. This is the city of sweet love, the city of innovation as the major of Lisbon just two days ago, and he said that his goal is to take Lisbon to be the capital of European Innovation. So we can count on him. And this is of course Web Summit 2021. And as all the programs right now, and all the countries, all the governments are going green, then also Web Summit has been going greener and greener. We have a cleantech track here. By the way, I have to tell you also that Beamline Accelerator is investing in cleantech. So we are really happy to be here talking with a guy who's probably the best person who's out there to discuss the Portuguese startup ecosystem with. He's the comms manager, marketing manager of Startup Portugal. And yesterday he did a really successful panel on sustainability in Web Summit's side event, "An Afternoon of Optimism" organized by The Ethical Assembly. So this guy here probably knows best what's happening in the startup ecosystem in Portugal. But first, before we delve into that... André, the panel was so successful that although I had questions I wanted to ask, all the people were hands up all the time and I just didn't make it. But one question that I would like to start with today that I remember, and it's the easiest one, is: "What do you think saves the world - is it consumption, making consumption more fair, sustainable, or is it technology? So this is an easy question, to begin with =D.


Is it an easy question? =D Actually I don't know, that's the thing. We need both - awareness on the part of the consumer, and we need technology to step up. And also make sure that companies understand what we need to do over the years because we can't put it all on the consumer when they have no options in the market, you know, so it's obviously a two-part solution in my opinion.


Of course, there is no right or wrong answer. But to begin again, this time with this easier question, can you tell me why did you start working in the startup sector?


I just kind of understood that there was often a gap in Portugal, where we didn't really understand the need for having a business model and how we can expand what we do. And that's when I started to get more interested in business-side and then there came to be an opportunity to do PR and marketing for Startup Portugal. And obviously, there's a skill set that I needed to have. I know how to do PR, obviously, I don't know how to do business. So it's a good place to learn. So yeah, I just applied for it and here I am today, four years after.


Lisbon, and Portuguese cleantech ecosystem is actually a really booming. And since like, when we did the live last time in Estonia, we could really go into all the startups out there and feature them in a video, then right now it's not really doable. Because Portugal is just so big. But we try to talking to people like you from the ecosystem, getting to know different companies dealing with it (interviews with them in the attached video), and actually on the screen of the podcast you can also see these little clouds popping up on the screen with the youngest stars of Portugese. Can you also talk about some startup trending fields in Portugal?


I believe that the trending sectors in Portugal in startups are actually healthtech, AI and machine learning - data driven businesses. These are the ones that are making the biggest bank. But we can't really talk about Portugal without talking about cleantech and sustainability because of how important tourism is for our country. We have natural resources to make sure that all these sectors work, you know, we need resources, it's part of our ecosystem, you know, and obviously, it's what we use the most money to promote. It's the country itself. So people come and visit us, the tourism sector is really, really huge. It's a huge industry here. So obviously, sustainability and making sure this is a sustainable business model that will last for decades is important, you know, and when we usually speak about the range of temperature, and we talked about the medium level, it's never a medium level. Some places feel it more than others and Porgugal is feeling it. That's why people are starting and entrepreneurs are starting to really care about it and propose solutions to save water, to do agriculture. And all that is happening in the ecosystem, which is quite interesting.


Sure, I mean, there are so much natural resources here. So I think forest sector is really innovating as well. I've heard you have an active forestry cluster, also sustainable agriculture is booming. We were mentioning also the Ethical Assembly that helps to gather these sustainable ideas together, but what are some of the other support mechanisms for cleantech startups in here? Are there some policy means or how you do support your cleantech startups?


So right now, digitalization and going for a greener approach in production are the topics the government is really focused on. So we are creating Green Voucher, which is to support startups to make sure they are more efficient and more green. So that's really interesting. Apart from that, there's a fund called the Social Innovation Fund, just for these kinds of businesses or ethical businesses, there are on par with the UN 16 development goals, sustainable development goals. So if you are hacking a business that is pushing one of those goals, the Social Innovation Fund is like a a normal Investment fund and is just set up for these types of businesses. That I find really important, because usually the most difficult thing about doing sustainability is finding funding. But some people don't understand that there's money on it, you know, so I believe that these are the most important support systems. There's also a private fund just for these kinds of businesses, which is the *** Impact Fund which is quite amazing. They are incubated in Casa do Impacto, impact hub whose representative was yesterday with us in the conversation and obviously, Casa do Impacto is doing God's work.


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