Seed plus project participants Nataliia GARASHCHENKO and Olena TSYPLITSKA gained a unique experience during a visit to organizations in the Lisbon innovation ecosystem in Portugal.
For two days, together with colleagues from Bulgaria and Norway, who are partners of the project and are jointly developing a course for young innovators "Venture Creation", they visited several centers for promoting innovation and startups. In particular, one of the active participants in the Lisbon ecosystem is FastTrack Ventures, whose office is located in a new part of the city. The center provides services for finding investors for startups, advises on sustainable growth and financial management, and is currently engaged in fundraising to start investing on its own. During the meeting, the head of the center, Sonia Magaláñez, spoke about the organization of work with startups, the legal and financial aspects of their interaction with ecosystem representatives (angel and venture capital investors), and the peculiarities of the startup ecosystem. The practical details aroused a lot of interest from the project participants: many questions were asked to the speakers, including startups and venture capitalists. On the second day, the guests were hosted by the Impact Hub, a coworking and innovation center founded by several enthusiasts.
The mission of the hub is not just to provide a space for cooperation and project development, but to create a community that can generate new ideas and create synergies for the city's ecosystem. The founders and partners of the project spoke at the meeting. Today, the Hub demonstrates that commercial institutions can focus on socially significant projects and receive support from European funds. The women's entrepreneurship area is currently being developed. The hub is also focused on expanding the range of services for startups, including various events, trainings, consultations, mentoring, and pitch presentations. The project team also visited NAM, a real-life startup that grows mushrooms from coffee waste. Startups are implementing a circular project with the support of a commercial enterprise that provides free used coffee from vending machines. The coffee is used as nutritious soil for growing oyster mushrooms, and then sold to farmers as fertilizer. The oyster mushrooms are sold directly to restaurants, bypassing intermediaries, and thus the startup has a higher margin. The most impressive project that the participants learned about was the renovation of an old industrial area into the creative space Hub Creativi Beata, which is a functionally structured infrastructure for the development of innovative projects.
The old factory buildings are being transformed into separate functional units of the ecosystem: coworking spaces, coffee shops and restaurants, a house-sharing facility, and a museum. Some of the buildings (six in total) have no purpose yet.
The project was initiated by the Municipality of Lisbon and is funded by the grid connection. Each individual project is carefully discussed with partners and it is decided whether it fits into the overall concept of the hub. It is also aimed not only at creating a comfortable physical space for cooperation, but also at developing the community and spreading these effects to the city. The reconstruction of the buildings and their design in accordance with the concepts are funded by the project partners. At first glance, it seems that this agglomeration is self-sufficient, but the project developers deliberately did not place shopping centers, shops, large gyms, a cinema, or playgrounds inside the hub. The goal is to allow this infrastructure to develop alongside, bringing benefits to local residents. Today, Lisbon competes with Kyiv for the title of the most innovative city. And the efforts made by the multinational city deserve respect. In addition to innovation, the city is implementing more and more sustainable development initiatives. This trend is supported by both startups and artists. A huge sculpture of a cat (Iberian lynx) made of garbage and plastic is one of the symbols of a new paradigm for the city and country.
The sculpture was created by Bordalo II for the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth Development and the Lisbon+21 Youth Forum. With unforgettable impressions and new knowledge of the secrets of the venture capital business, the participants of our project continued to exchange experiences in London.