With a focus on agile implementation, SOL Tomorrow is currently looking for startups to collaborate in the Portuguese capital restarting activities. The program, which will operate on a totally remote basis, has applications open for startups with solutions already tested or being implemented, with a focus on technologies applied to social issues and the city economy.
For Miguel Gaspar, responsible Councilor for the Economy and Innovation, Mobility and Security Division at the Lisbon City Council, “this is a special edition of the main open innovation program in the Portuguese capital. We will seek to respond to the multiple challenges we are experiencing and will continue to face in the recovery period from the economic crisis created by COVID-19, while stimulating the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and affirming Lisbon as one of the most innovative cities in Europe. In addition to having the participation of a diverse set of public and private partners, in this edition we decided to involve all areas of the executive power, bringing innovation to all activity sectors”.
According to Manuel Tânger, co-founder and Head of Innovation at Beta-i, “together with the Lisbon Municipality, we want to give an immediate answer to the most urgent challenges in a city where millions of people are restarting their routines. The SOL Tomorrow program wants to support startups that have almost immediate implementation solutions on topics such as mental health, job training and social isolation, to grow together with partner organizations and provide answers to the problems caused by the pandemic ”.
How it works
Over the course of three months and after the selection process, the best startups proposals will participate in a two-day online bootcamp to start developing implementation projects with the partners, adapted to the five key areas’ challenges previously established by partners: (i) economic and tourism recovery, through the creation of new practices of involvement with tourists and local communities, new forms of contactless payments, etc; (ii) new work paradigm, by reducing the physical presence in the city management functions, optimizing the public space for commercial activities, etc; (iii) remote work and learning, through the ability to check the city’s infrastructure remotely, e-Learning resources for children and adults on topics related to the crisis, etc; (iv) City resilience and confidence building, through real-time information on compliance measures with the sanitation of public and private spaces, overcrowding management technologies, etc; and finally (v) social emergency and unemployment, through topics such as digital and virtual integration of the elderly and digital education for people in vulnerable areas.
From July until September, each solution kick-started in the bootcamp phase will then be tested and implemented in real context.
According to Vanessa Romeu, Director of Corporate Communication at LIDL Portugal, “COVID-19 brought completely new challenges to the retail sector, and since the first day, as a company, we have been committed to creating solutions to support those who need it most. As such, being part of SOL Tomorrow makes perfect sense, as we are extremely concerned with helping to find lasting solutions to the new challenges our customers are experiencing”.
Marco Fernandes, CEO of PME Investimentos, points out that “Initiatives such as SOL Tomorrow are of the greatest importance due to the capacity to promote new ideas and new businesses, even more with a strong component of social innovation and sustainability. In the current context of the gradual revival of economies and activities from Covid19 negative impacts, a program like this gains even more relevance. It´s a great pleasure for PME Investimentos and for our 200M and Social Innovation Funds to be partners along with other such relevant public and private entities. We hope to support the entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and leverage their ‘tech for good’ projects, help building a more innovative and inclusive country ”.
Inês Sequeira, Director of Department of Entrepreneurship and Social Economy at Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa and Founder, Director of Casa do Impacto, highlights that “we hope the solutions presented in this program can be applied to the context of the city of Lisbon and our organization in a really effective way. For us, it is very important to find startups and entrepreneurs with the capacity to create impactful projects that respond to real challenges that organizations like Santa Casa live on the ground. We look forward to bringing a new look to some of our organization’s processes and some of our approaches. Our association with SOL Tomorrow brings us closer to new solutions and pilots with SCML equipment and services, inserted in a program that makes these partnerships agile and efficient. ”
Miguel Aguiar, B2B Corporate Innovation & Transformation Manager at NOS, says that “we have been partners of Smart Open Lisboa for some years and what we have seen is that through these programs we are able to interact with a series of entrepreneurs, being startups or partners. Our main objective at SOL Tomorrow is to find new models to help our customers adapt to this new standard and overcome their new challenges”.
And according to Ana Caldeira, Director of Innovation and Project Management at Turismo de Portugal, “we hope that together with all partners we can validate and implement startup solutions that are safe both for the inhabitants of the city of Lisbon, as well as for tourists visiting us on daily basis. In the face of the pandemic, we want to continue to provide safe and authentic experiences for Lisbon residents and travellers”.
SOL Tomorrow is one of the vertical programs of Smart Open Lisboa, an open innovation initiative by CML managed by Beta-i, with a focus on validating and integrating innovative solutions created to improve life in cities. In the long term, the initiative aims to be a platform for communication and collaboration between different stakeholders – the city, its citizens, companies and startups – and a framework to accelerate innovative solutions.
New world, new challenges: Kicking off with this post, we’ll be sharing during the next days and weeks some Questions & Answers in a chat with Beta-i’s CEO, Pedro Rocha Vieira. You’ll get to know more about the big picture of what’s happening at Beta-i right now. A new moment, a 10-years retrospective, our new brand, future scenarios, our startup support and our global reach.
But let’s start by talking with Pedro about this very moment: the breaking news 🙂
Pedro, what’s changing at Beta-i and what’s happening under this repositioning and restructuring
Well, after 10 years of hard work in different areas, we managed to fulfil this first-decade mission: we were, and we proudly are a key player in the establishment of an innovation ecosystem in Portugal. We contributed to the mindset transformation process which has been happening in the Portuguese ecosystem over time, and we managed to be recognized as one of the leading startup accelerators in Europe.
However, now we are no longer in the phase of feeding this innovation ecosystem at its base, but rather helping to give it greater strength within the economy as a whole. Lean approaches, new in-company processes and especially, the collaboration between corporates, public services or other institutions with startups is an inescapable movement.
That’s why we’re undergoing this cycle of change, in order to continue to be relevant at a different level. In the last 3 years, we started to work to become a different type of consultancy firm, totally focused on bringing the startup way of working and making business growth to large organizations and vice-versa, as well as deploying our ecosystem building experience on different geographies. We now have clients and projects in almost 20 countries, on 5 continents. This is a matter of fact, not a vision – but to be very honest, this was still not exactly understood by the market. That’s why we are leveraging our approach.
Therefore we reorganized and redefined our areas, focusing essentially on the collaborative innovation territory. We have a team of experts and different frameworks to converge global startups, large companies, universities, researchers, investors, mentors and governments competencies to work on innovation programs and develop pilot projects with impact on the economy.
How important is this new positioning in the current context?
We were born in times of crisis and now we are “reborn” again in a new period of crisis – and this evolution was made at the right time to respond to current needs.
If 10 years ago we contributed to the generation of new ideas and entrepreneurship approaches to stimulate the economy, today the challenges are different. It is necessary to connect the old with the new economy in a logic of collaboration and win-win – from facing up and coming competitors as a target to be crushed, to see them as a potential partner. This is a paradigmatic shift. It is necessary to support startups as an economic agent of change, helping them to collaborate with companies. And put companies to collaborate with other companies, too – it’s mandatory to be aware that only together we can build this new future. And we’re all experiencing that, at this very moment, due to the pandemic.
So this Beta-i repositioning ends up giving us the necessary approach to face the current challenges and promoting collaborative innovation where everyone benefits, which naturally also includes the people impacted by the developed solutions.
Well yes, we do have some exciting news to share. We’re launching our new brand and everything that comes along in these key moments. We’re really happy with the final result – something that was already happening when the entire planet turned upside down with the pandemic:The interesting thing is that our value proposition – collaborative innovation – couldn’t be more aligned with the new challenges brought by this new brand world waiting for us out there, or already impacting us right now whenever we can be.
Beta-i has distilled its approach on innovation during the past years and if there’s a one really important thing to highlight at this point, is that what we’re saying is not a goal or a will. It’s a reality from here to the future. Beta-i has a global reach actually, a strong 10-year track record on innovation ecosystems and an expert team able to share this knowledge.
We have a new branch in Brazil, clients in 20 countries in the 5 continents and an admirable team of 50 people from 15 different nationalities.
We believe collaboration is the key to make things change. To solve things that matter. To help ecosystems and society grow. To, no bullshit, build a collective future. That’s what we have been doing; now, we’re just funnelling these services to the same destination: collaboration to innovate. We’ll keep connecting the innovation voices to transform ideas into a business, pilots into deals, solutions into impact to solve complex changes.
Beta-i was created during the last Portuguese crisis, in the second half of 2009, with the deep motivation of being part of the solution and help to create an innovation ecosystem able to support the next generation of entrepreneurs. We helped to make that in Portugal and abroad, and now we’re leveraging this in a global scale – helping corporates, startups, universities, investors, social impact organizations and other voices to work together. We’re starting a new phase in the best possible moment.
So you’re invited to explore our new site and follow our social media channels. And stay tuned: we have a lot more to share during the next months. And to tell, after 10 years of ongoing innovation.
Recognized as one of the central agents of corporate innovation and digital transformation for companies and startups in Portugal and abroad, Beta-i kicks off 2020 with 25 open innovation, business models acceleration and innovation design projects, for customers in almost 20 countries. Besides, it ends February with one-third of its business objectives for the year fulfilled and with a clear plan for internationalization. In other words: we still have a long way to go up to December – but we’re quite happy so far.
Some of the main companies operating in key economic areas in Portugal (such as Millennium BCP, Novartis, José de Mello Group, Inmarsat, Siemens, Fosun / Fidelidade, Daimler, EDP, SIBS, Ageas, Semapa, Sonae, Galp and Nestlé, in addition to Turismo de Portugal / Visit Portugal, Câmara de Lisboa / Lisbon Municipality and Ministério do Mar / Ministry of the Sea) have been developing collaborative innovation projects with Beta-i.
Not only in Portugal: Beta-i manages the leading open innovation program for energy in the world (Free Electrons) and is currently setting up global consortiums dedicated to circular economy and airports. Check this Free Electrons summary:
Tangible impact results come up because Beta-i’s approach facilitates the convergence and exchange of expertise between corporates and a network of thousands of startups from around the world, in order to drive business models transformation based on technological solutions. Investors, public institutions and university research centres are also part of this ecosystem connected by Beta-i, which over the past decade has helped the business development of more than 900 startups.
Pedro Rocha Vieira, CEO and Co-founder of Beta-i, points out that Fintech and Banking, Circular Economy, Healthtech and Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Water and the Economy of the Sea, Smart Cities and Mobility are sectors that are currently experiencing a deeper and even more accelerated transformation, therefore counting on greater pressure to reinvent themselves.
He points out that in not only these segments, but also Retail and Mass Consumption, Tourism, Insurtech, Airports and public services face similar challenges ready to become opportunities. “Collaborating with startups in a concrete way, through the open innovation programs managed by Beta-i, is a pragmatic response to these challenges that we believe will intensify in the next three years”. Watch one more example, now regarding the health industry and our Techcare program with Novartis:
The Lisbon Tourism Summit, organized by Beta-i and sponsored by Turismo de Portugal, will take place on March 17th, at Universidade Nova de Lisboa rectorate. It is an event dedicated to innovation in the tourism sector, whose main objective is to create strong connections between startups, national and international investors, tourism entrepreneurs, researchers and organizations. According to the data released by Banco de Portugal, referring to November 2019, tourism revenues reached 984 million euros, which means a year-over-year growth of 9.8%.
The 2019 edition of the Lisbon Tourism Summit focuses on a more sustainable approach on the tourism sector, “a segment that 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, Events Director at Beta-i. In such a professional but relaxed environment, the Lisbon Tourism Summit will count 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 the 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.
Support for entrepreneurship and innovation is a top priority for Portuguese tourism strategy. For this reason, the Lisbon Tourism Summit will also bring together lectures, panel presentations and workshops dedicated to topics such as Sustainable Destinations, Data Science for Tourism professionals, the adaptation of business models to the circular economy and energy management for tourism. To purchase tickets, have a look at the full agenda and event speakers, please access here.
Such a week! From 3rd to the 7th of February, the SOL Mobility bootcamp brought 25 startups from 13 different countries to present their solutions for urban mobility to the public and corporate partners of this Smart Open Lisboa (SOL) vertical edition. Urban mobility is a context where convergence is absolutely crucial to make change happen, so the collaborative innovation approach managed by Beta-i on this Open Innovation program just fits like a glove.
And after five days of intense collaboration between corporates and startups, always under Beta-i guidance and experts team support, 17 out of these 25 startups were invited to keep working with the companies, in order to develop the stunning number of 30+ pilots from now on. Check this quick video:
Such achievement was only possible because of the partner’s vision and commitment to tackle some of Lisbon’s biggest mobility challenges: from E-mobility to Digital & Personalized Mobility, from Smart Parking to Fleet, Asset and Traffic Management. They were able not only to select promising solutions from international startups but also to set up joint pilots – the best metric to translate the true collaborative innovation culture enforced by Beta-i on a daily basis.
“Our challenges are so big and diverse. That’s why this is a very good program since it enables us to work with different companies, partners and people to get different solutions“, points out the Head of the Municipal Mobility & Transport Directorate in Lisbon, Francisca Ramalhosa. She adds that “think and act like a startup” is also a huge cultural challenge – a common topic shared by some other partners, such as CP, which is currently implementing a strategic planning and innovation area. “It is crucial for us to be aware of the changes in our industry and stay open for a dialogue with a new generation of mobility solutions, so programs like this are really important”, adds CP Sectorial Supervisor, Teresa Sousa.
International and fully private companies also acknowledge the need for mutual collaboration to boost new models. “You can’t solve problems being isolated or alone. We must converge our efforts and combine solutions”, says Director for Connected Mobility at Siemens, Andy Gill. “So getting to know these high-quality startups during the program, and partnering with those who see us as a valuable partner to move forward is a fantastic model”. His thoughts also resonate on Galp, the Portuguese-based energy company that recently announced its shift as the biggest solar energy player in the Iberian Peninsula. “We’re diversifying our energy sources, and this shift must be accompanied by other strategic moves”, adds Galp Head of Innovation and Energy Efficiency, Nicolle Fernandes. “That’s what we understand SOL Mobility as a valuable program to help us see new ways of doing things and push for tangible innovation, perceived by our final clients”.
Lisbon has won the title of European Green Capital 2020, and one of the reasons is that Lisbon has a cohesive city-wide vision for sustainable urban mobility. This is achieved through measures to restrict car use and prioritise walking, cycling and public transport, and also by promoting programs like Smart Open Lisboa. This year the City Council also signed a Corporate Mobility Pact with several local partners (companies and institutions) with a set of commitments designed to make mobility in Lisbon more sustainable, through means such as creating conditions for employees to adopt new solutions and mobility behaviours.
So get ready for May, when all the pilot development impact results will be presented during SOL Mobility Demo Day: stay smart & open – oops, stay tuned 🙂