Beta-i carried out an Ecosystem Survey to understand the evolution of the innovation market over the past 12 months among players in Portugal’s tech community.
The survey’s results show a growth in innovation and digital transformation projects during the pandemic.
One year after the beginning of the pandemic, these were the main takeaways:
71% of respondents say that the number of innovation projects developed between startups, companies, universities, and research centres has increased between March 2020 and March 2021;
50% show an increase in their number of innovation partners to find new solutions to the pandemic’s challenges;
47% of respondents give greater preference to seeking local partners rather than entities outside of Portugal;
Collaboration has also gained new strength, with over 70% of the community upholding the growth of this belief;
Innovation and digital transformation as agents of change increased 47%;
52% of the respondents’ optimism about the future remains similar to the pre-pandemic period, being a more skeptical or pragmatic stance based on issues that go beyond the pandemic context – such as diversifying innovation funding models and reducing bureaucracy and public procurement rules;
At Beta-i, we also saw our number of projects increase compared between March 2020 (15) and March 2021 (22 projects) and a 22% revenue growth in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020.
Alisson Avila, our co-founder and Communication and Knowledge Expert, explained that “the survey was conducted with people who work with innovation and digital transformation, during a year where this was paramount. A year later, this 12 month survey was undoubtedly crucial for the ecosystem to understand the way it deals with uncertain environments and, above all, rethink the way it approaches innovation.”
“However, we must understand the context of the data before assuming a positive correlation. The results show a solid upcoming scenario at a digital level; nevertheless, it may not represent higher revenue generation. It will be essential to align this through 2021, to confirm the trend that collaboration for innovation is a culture and process for generating results in the market,” adds Alisson.
The survey had the participation of 54 players from the technology community, including founders of startups, leaders, large companies’ executives, researchers, and investors, mostly of Portuguese nationality. The answers were collected between February and March, 2021.
Beta-i’s team had the chance to join the global productivity movement and receive training on Getting Things Done. Because achieving the path to higher efficiency and effectiveness (so that you can create some well-needed personal time and space) can only be a good thing.
GTD is a personal productivity methodology that pushes you to redefine your approach to life and work. The method was created by David Allen, who published the Getting Things Done book in over 28 languages.
Through the GTD training, Beta-i team members could clear their minds and apply “order to chaos” with some fundamental methodologies:
Capture: collect what has your attention Write, record, or gather any and everything that has your attention into a collection tool.
Clarify: Process what it means Is it actionable? If so, decide the next action and project (if more than one action is required). If not, decide if it is trash, reference, or something to put on hold.
Organize: Put it where it belongs Park reminders of your categorized content in appropriate places.
Reflect: Review frequently Update and review all pertinent system contents to regain control and focus.
Engage: Simply do Use your trusted system to make action decisions with confidence and clarity.
Want to know more? You’d have to reach out to the Portuguese certified partner, who could help you out with this training, or clarify any doubts.
As per Beta-iers who attended the training, some of the output learnings translate into more efficient and empty email inboxes, no more postponed tasks and a lot of time savings.
Circular economy is one of the industries Beta-i is focusing on in 2021. Finding new solutions that will reduce or eliminate waste while optimizing resources is a priority. Besides, innovation in this area has a great potential to grow.
SOL Green Capital is one of the examples of this year’s effort for a more sustainable world. This is the Green and Circular economy vertical of Smart Open Lisboa (SOL), a startup implementation program designed to upgrade the city’s life. Smart Cities focus on Green and Circular economy.
Focused on the validation and integration of innovative solutions, SOL Green Capital complements Lisbon’s identity as the European Green Capital 2020. Also, it leverages on collaborative innovation to turn it even more people-friendly, green and sustainable.
SOL Green Capital has been taking applications from startups to work closely with the piloting partners Águas de Portugal, Brisa, Delta Cafés, Galp and SONAE Sierra.
Applications closed on March 7, 2021 with a total of 188 applications from startups in 39 countries. As the eligible solutions should focus on turning the city smarter, greener, and more sustainable, they must also address one or more of the six challenges presented by the program. All challenges were represented in the applications received:
After a first screening of all applications, the pre-selected applicants will be performing an online pitch before the jury. Afterwards, about 15 to 20 startups will be taking part in the Bootcamp of the program.
Only the ones with the strongest fit will be moving forward to the Experimentation Phase. This is where the startup teams will work closely with the program partners who have selected them and work on their pilots, together.
SOL Green Capital’s Bootcamp will take place in April 2021. The Experimentation phase will occur right after, from April to July of the same year.
As the year of 2019 could not foresee what 2020 would bring, also every single industry could not predict the impacts of a pandemic in its trends. The energy sector is no exception, with different variations in the electricity demands, according to its source. As fossil fuels’ consumption has dropped in 2020, renewables have maintained, in general, a positive growth.
One of the major effects of the worldwide lockdowns lived during the pandemic was the drop in global electricity consumption. As it is expected to rebound in 2021, also renewable energy demand is expected to continue increasing in 2021, as it happened last year, along with its investment. If the collaboration efforts across this sector will, presumably, continue to increase, we’re looking to the rise of new business models and the evolution of energy transition.
Projected global change in power supply, 2020 and 2021
IEA, Projected global change in power supply, 2020 and 2021, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/projected-global-change-in-power-supply-2020-and-2021
Meet Free Electrons
Free Electrons program is now on its fifth edition, so there is a very small chance you’re reading about it for the first time. Nevertheless, you should know that it represents a vision of a future where smart, clean and accessible energy is to transform lives everywhere. Considering that renewables are clearly on the rise, we’d say we continue to follow the right path, and a collaborative one:
It is an Open Innovation energy program
Free Electrons 2021
This means that the selected startups for this edition will work side by side with leading energy utilities. They will work together on pilot projects, commercially deploy products, facilitate investment opportunities and learn from each other.
Free Electrons 2021is addressing several challenges in the energy sector. The way to do it? Innovation.
These are the challenges that the participating startups will be tackling:
After an online evaluation, the selected startups will showcase their solutions and their teams through a fast-paced pitch event and participate in intense one-on-one meetings with utilities. The closing of the Bootcamp will see successful startups go on to participate in the remaining modules.
Portugal takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union next January with several challenges and opportunities, capable of making this six-month term a memorable season. Especially when it comes to common market’s digital legislation, the bustle is already guaranteed: it’s the temporary Portuguese leadership that will deal with the first developments towards the implementation of new rules replacing others created 20 years ago – that is, a near-eternity for the tech cluster. Formally presented this Tuesday (15), the Digital Services Act (DSA) intends to introduce new rules in areas ranging from content moderation, online advertising and algorithms configuration transparency, while the Digital Markets Act (DMA) intends to anticipate potential illegal practices and provide an audit tool for companies that have more than 10% of the market within the common economic space. Both propositions can be checked on the European Council’s website official announcement.
DSA announcement landing page
It has been known since before her inauguration, that the current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wishes to modernize the digital legislation of the common market. Something that was crystal clear, for example, in her recent opening speech at Web Summit 2020 – a definitely global event, but whose opening narrative was decisively European. Ambitiously, the German politician opened the world’s largest technological meeting by recognizing there are still many obstacles to digital entrepreneurship in the European Union and many startups end up leaving the European space to ensure their growth. For this reason, she reiterated three fundamentals of change that, in her understanding, will make the EU the global leader in digital excellence in the “20s” that are coming. Such pillars affirm that the (European) practices and values of the offline world must also be respected online; that companies must have a unique set of fundamental digital rules across the European Union; and that they must have equal conditions and opportunities.
All of these principles are reflected in the brand-new proposed legislation. DSA aims to strengthen the EU’s single market, facilitate the expansion of startups and scale-ups through unifying rules in the economic space and clarify the responsibilities and obligations of digital services, while DMA will directly address the economic power of major online platforms with the intention of restraining (and demanding) certain behaviours, even before regulators have evidence of real damage to the market.
The proposals point to unquestionable benefits for society and democracy in Europe (reduction of fake news, illegal products and services and hate speech), but it is too early to know what their systemic implications will be on people’s daily lives and, above all, on businesses’. These are epic challenges in political, legal and geocorporate terms, capable of generating an impact both in large technological companies and in early-stage startups.
Although the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, stated (also) at the Web Summit 2020 that this debate “is not about where you come from, but about what you do and the role you have in the market”, the potentially geopolitical discussion it’s already set. The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), positioned at the top of the North American ranking of the Global Go To Think Tank Index, published last November the study “Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act and the new competition tool – European initiatives to face US technology companies“, whose approach highlights how the different international perspectives and interests on the subject will be heard with a huge echo while Portugal leads the temporary presidency of the European Council.
CSIS (left) and Oxera / Allied for Startups (right) studies
On the other hand, the study “The Impact of the Digital Services Act on business users”, released last October by the British consultant company Oxera in partnership with the international association Allied for Startups, suggests another angle: that the emerging digital entrepreneurs in Europe have a vision on defending their autonomy and free initiative similar to that of North American big techs. After collecting the perspective of 1,000 startup & SME founders from the travel and tourism, gig economy and creative industry segments in Germany, Bulgaria, Ireland and Spain, the study concludes that DSA can achieve positive results if 1) it continues to limit the platforms’ direct responsibility for content and products made available by third parties; 2) it allows platforms to take their own voluntary actions to detect harmful or illegal content; 3) it elaborates obligations with known penalties, in order to increase customer confidence and provide legal certainty; 4) it expands the consistency of rules applied across the EU; 5) it avoids overloading discouraging information to users, such as detailed verification of product lists, qualifications or content copyrights; 6) it doesn’t prescribe governance solutions that prevent platforms from implementing scalable technical solutions, such as artificial intelligence tools; and 7) it avoids rules based on the size of each platform, such as numbers of users or the value of facilitated transactions.
These are perspectives both legitimate and potentially fracturing when facing the Council of the EU intentions, ready to feed a lively debate right at the moment of Portugal’s protagonism in its rotating presidency. So the question emerges: how will the well-known Portuguese pro-innovation and digital transformation position, expressed so favourably over the past few years, be used as a parameter in the legislative developments of the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act? A theme that we’ll closely follow-up throughout 2021.
* Beta-i’s Co-Founder, Communication & Knowledge Principal
The Lisbon Tourism Summit (LTS), organized by Beta-i and sponsored by Turismo de Portugal, will take place on Sep 30th and goes fully online. The 2020 edition focuses on a more sustainable approach on the tourism sector, “a segment that more than ever requires deepening in strategic themes such as circular economy, mobility, artificial intelligence and energy efficiency so that it is possible to actually talk about sustainability“, emphasizes Gonçalo Faria, one of Beta-i’s Innovation Programs director.
LTS counts on the participation of several national and international speakers, with the emphasis on the sustainability designer, sociologist and businesswoman, Leyla Acaroglu. Awarded as Champion of the Earth by the United Nations, Leyla is also author of several books and TED Talks. Check what she has to say as, in her own words, a sustainability provocateur:
The Lisbon Tourism Summit is an integral part of Turismo de Portugal’s innovation strategy to manage the growth of this industry in the country over the past few years. Beta-i is a strategic partner in this because, in addition to LTS, it also organizes The Journey – an open innovation program that facilitates collaboration between leading companies in the tourism industry (such as Grupo Barraqueiro, Vila Galé, Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua and Unicre) with technological solutions from startups around the world. The results of its latest edition will be presented within the LTS: there will be more than a dozen project presentations, involving startups from Europe and Asia.