After three editions disrupting the energy sector, Free Electrons comes for a second edition in 2020 – and applications are already open.
Free Electrons has been successfully presenting the most innovative startups to a consortium of 10 global utilities.
American Electric Power, AusNet Services, CLP, DEWA, ESB, EDP, innogy SE, Origin Energy, SP Group and TEPCO had the pleasure to agree on a pipeline of over 50 pilots during the last edition.
This year, Free Electrons will take place in Singapore, Sydney, São Paulo and Dubai. A bootcamp and four modules of hard, yet very rewarding work.
Within the course of one year, startups will participate in 1:1 meetings with utilities, developing, scoping and executing the pilot projects, working on the pitches and business proposition presentations, receiving guidance on how to refine their solution, as well as fundraising and investment opportunities.
Free Electrons ends up with a pitch day and a celebration, where startups will also have a chance to showcase their business to the audience of external investors, partners, mentors and the local ecosystem – one startup will be awarded $200,000USD – no strings attached.
Applications are currently open for the most disruptive startups of the energy sector, willing to work closely with these ten utilities in 2020.
Two years ago, Tonic App was among the 11 startups selected for the bootcamp of Techcare.
On the verge of launching a new edition of the program, we wanted to remind how their journey went and how they are now.
Tonic App was very young at the time of their application to Techcare (they had launched in March 2017). Still, once selected, they decided to bring the whole team to the Bootcamp: the perfect opportunity for all of them to better understand and to know how to work with the pharmaceutical industry.
Trying to narrow down an experience like this, we talked to the founder Daniela Seixas, to get some conclusions and outputs of Tonic App regarding the program:
Human approach is the core
In the end (well, in the beginning too), it’s all about human connection. The intense environment created in a moment like the bootcamp, is set to foster communication. Whether you’re a startup or a program partner, you will be speaking to one another, as you are all there with the same purpose.
Your access is 360º
Following the previous point, we can say that the fast access a startup can have to a company like this is indeed the biggest plus. Tonic App claims for this to be the greatest advantage of taking such an opportunity – in a short period of time they could reach to Novartis stakeholders, in a 360º vision, way faster than in other approaches.
People are the best, but they’re also the biggest challenge
Reaching to the partners is what you want and need, but it can also be your biggest struggle. As a small structure they were, Tonic App team found itself managing more than its internal resources, “the other side”. This means adapting your team to redouble their efforts into dealing and managing processes and expectations of other teams (in this case, Novatis’ one) in an organizational struggle that is also a major learning. Then, a natural conclusion rises:
Corporates and Startups have different timings
And this is a learning for both intervenients. Timings for approvals, results, decisions, are intrinsically different and both parts need to adapt, as to manage expectations. Typically, Startups are going fast, eager to respond and to receive feedback. Corporates on the other hand, follow more structured processes that will contrast to the startup way of living. Expectations need to be managed, for both, but learning from it will only bring benefits.
Culture is very important
And Novartis gets five stars from Tonic App on this. The startup has defined Novartis’ culture as extremely open, proactive and innovative. It represents some risk, of course, as being open to change always is. But it is definitely a plus to work with a company that opens its doors on innovation, and Techcare has proven it.
Life has changed
And keeps changing. Tonic App is nowadays a medical device thanks to Novartis, as it is also a requisite for them to continue working together. The team has grown, and Daniela says that, personally, it has been a very good experience, as more opportunities have risen. They have several ongoing projects with Novartis and new opportunities for internationalization are appearing.
They would do it again
Yes, Daniela says they would definitely do it again. It is indeed rewarding for a program like Techcare to get this kind of feedback from an Alumni. But it is even more important that Techcare have been able to deliver results and pilots between participant startups and Novartis, continuing to foster commercial relationships between them.
Applications for Techcare are now open and we’re eager to know what this edition will present.
I was at the South Summit in Madrid last week on a mission to explore this innovation platform. I can say it was interesting, impacting and at the same time, consuming.
Here are my personal takeaways from the event:
The spanish innovation ecosystem is booming, and it’s reaching out to the world
South Summit is, however you want to spin it, a very spanish event. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, quite on the contrary! The startup scene in Spain is becoming very mature. Madrid and Barcelona are true European innovation hotspots and surprising local ecosystems are arising in Andaluzia, Galicia, Asturias and Basque Country. But this is also an event that is attracting startups from all over the world (and not only the usual suspects from Europe and Latin America).
Collaboration is the name of the game – Corporates <3 Startups <3 Corporates
Innovation is more and more becoming a space for collaboration between different stakeholders, and big corporates are more than ever interested in working with startups in new solutions and testing disruptive technologies in their operations and businesses. Most of the corporates represented in South Summit already have some kind of structured approach to deal with startups and some already have acceleration and open innovation programs.
Let’s talk about talks! It’s all about networking…
Just between you and me… what’s the thing about these events and the non-ending agenda of talks about the same topics, all over again, where the content ends up being… let’s say it… not really interesting. OK, I do suffer from FOMO everytime I go to these events and end up watching a few talks on topics that I’m interested in. But more times than not I end up being utterly disappointed. But then, the real value of events like this is the networking and the possibility of meeting in the same place amazing startups and innovators. Come for the talks and stay for the networking…
AI in the front seat, Data in the engine
We are finally seeing big companies apply AI in real use cases and not only doing pilots and small controlled experiments. But AI runs on data, and we still need to work on issues like data sharing frameworks, information architecture, stakeholders collaboration and… privacy. The GDPR trauma is long gone but companies are still finding ways to integrate data protection in their data strategies.
Health startups are coming, and Mobility is here
Of the many hot topics in South Summit my eyes went to Healthcare and Mobility. On healthcare new solutions are arising in diagnostics and devices, and you should take a look at Mentalab, one of the amazing startups that accelerated with Data Pitch. Also take a look at the winner of this track – 2eyesvision. And mobility is booming with solutions ranging from drones, logistics, shared mobility and of course, MaaS solutions like iomob, the winner of this track.
We invite you to meet Corship, a consortium co-funded by European Union, that counts with 7 selected partners representing universities, corporates, startups and innovation networks – Beta-i amongst them.
Here is all you need to know about it.
Corship’s mission is to establish and improve the collaboration across Europe, between startups, corporates and universities, with education.
This joint language and collaboration is done by connecting these entities through 3 core results:
- A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Currently preparing the field to a 2020 MOOC entirely dedicated to the collaboration process between these three entities, this will be the first MOOC on Corporate Entrepreneurship connecting and upskilling 1.500+ entrepreneurs, managers and students.
This course will be open for registration from December 2019 and will last up to six weeks. It will be the first core result of the project and open and free for everyone. Completely online, through the platform mooc.house.
After reading, watching videos, answering questions (multiple choice) and quizzes, besides taking part in discussions and work individually and in a group, participants will also have the chance to apply for the MicroCredential.
Corship presents the first MicroCredential (a modular, flexible format stemming from MOOCs) pilot world-wide on corporate entrepreneurship. This is a modular, flexible mini degree on very specific topics. After the MOOC, this is will be a dedicated high-level training offered to 10 entrepreneurs, 10 managers and 10 students.
It will last eight weeks and will include two face-to-face workshops and three online moments. Applications for the MicroCredential are done via the MOOC and open in April 2020.
A unique Corporate Entrepreneurship Toolbox with guidelines and tools to facilitate the collaboration between the 3 target groups. These guidelines will be complemented with a practical selection of popular, but also less-known, self-developed, hands-on entrepreneurial tools.
The first prototype is to be ready in January 2020!
Get to know the latest research report that is part of the project’s background and follow Corship to get all the updates.
The Unemployment Rate In Portugal Is 6.3%, But There Are Open Positions In Technology: How To Take Advantage Of Them?
Beta-I, Le Wagon, Landing Jobs and Humaniaks joined forces to discuss opportunities on how to begin or move your career to the digital universe from September, 30th.
According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the unemployment rate in Portugal is 6.3% at the moment. This number is mainly related to jobs and professions existing before digital transformation, which has brought new career opportunities: right now, there are hundreds of job openings offered by startups and technology companies, and one of the biggest business challenges lies in creating proper recruitment strategies and employer branding projects in order to attract the best talents.
To raise the awareness of the professions of the future, Beta-i , Le Wagon, Landing Jobs and Humaniaks have teamed up to create Career in Tech Week . The week of free events will take place between September 30th and October 3rd at Beta-i, starting at 19 PM , and will feature different speakers on a variety of topics. Registration is free.
On the first day, high-paid (or well-paid) jobs such as Developer , Data Scientist, Product Manager, etc. will be discussed. On the second day, Landing Jobs will present a detailed report on the Tech Professions. On the third day, there will be a workshop on the skills required to get a job in tech and, finally, on the last day, there will be a talk with different professionals who will share how they radically changed their careers for the tech sector. The talk will be moderated by Humaniaks, and followed by networking drinks.
This initiative is important since the data released by Startup Portugal in conjunction with IAPMEI and the Ministry of Economy show that Portuguese economy grew in the period from 2016 till 2018 with a significant amount of startups and entrepreneurs contributing to this growth. Also, the value of sales and provided services increased among startups, which in 2018 reached an average of € 553,000 per company; with value added per employee being around € 80,000 per year, highlighting the growing contribution of local talent to the economy.
Because of the scarce labor resources and an increasing demand, wages in this area are higher than the national average. To compare, Portuguese average salary for graduates from tertiary education was € 1,547 (base) in 2017. According to the report “ Tech Salaries in Portugal” by Landing Jobs, a startup specialized in technology recruitment, most positions available to professionals with less than 3 years of experience will start with an average salary of 22K € / year, which represents a monthly income of 1,800 € per month.
Open positions in technology
Technology companies have increased their presence in Portugal in the last three years. Google opened its technology center in Oeiras, creating 500 positions in technology, Volkswagen opened its first software development center outside Germany and aims to generate 300 jobs , as well as its competitor Mercedes Benz, which plans to hire 100 developers .
Despite a variety of opportunities, there is no labor available on the market. According to Niels Kowollik, CEO and Executive Director of Mercedes Portugal at a press conference in Lisbon , “The market for good developers is quite difficult in Portugal. There are not so many skilled workers to be available. Thus, we’re recruiting from abroad”. At the time of the statement, the company had only hired 30 out of 100 required developers.
According to João Figueirinhas, CEO of Humaniaks, a startup focused on recruiting technology professionals, “technology companies have a hard time recruiting. Generally, either the selection process is long, as it is difficult to find sufficiently skilled labor for the openings in question, or the hiring cycles are shorter, but companies are in charge of training their own hires to perform the required function ”.
The shortage of skilled labor is likely to become even more intense, as several other companies are planning to open more subsidiaries in Portugal in the near future, such as British company Revolut and American company Amazon , which already started relocating to Lisbon last year, and has just announced the opening of its CloudFront division in the country.
These companies are attracted by two factors: government incentives (such as startup visa, national network of incubators etc.) and the increased amount of investment in the sector.
According to LC Ventures’ investment report in partnership with Beta-i and the National Federation of Business Angels Associations , the amount of 47MM € (Venture Capital deals ) and 11MM €( Business Angels Deals) was invested in startups in 2008 . Just in the first half of 2019, startup investments were 69MM € and 13MM € in both categories respectively. Due to the rise of venture capital funds, Pedro Falcão, Managing Partner of LC Ventures adds: “I believe Portugal will have more unicorns in the coming years”.
Also AWS Chief Evangelist, he praised Feedzai and many other startups while sharing his vision on cloud computing
On September 11, we had the pleasure of hosting Jeff Barr, VP and Chief Evangelist from Amazon Web Services (AWS), at Beta-i headquarters. Our hub was the place for a special AWS Lisbon User Group talk led by Barr, and also open to our clients, about the major transformations of digital business brought about by cloud solutions.
This was an opportunity for Beta-i customers and the community to enjoy a moment of knowledge exchange and interaction with one of the leading corporate names in the digital economy, right at the moment that AWS invests in Portugal through a support office and a new Amazon CloudFront location. Owner of a very active blog, Barr gave this exclusive interview to Beta-i via email as he continued his ongoing worldwide sessions.
Your talk here in Lisbon summarizes the “double shift” of digital transformation provided by cloud computing: “from simply centralized computing and storage, operated on an on-demand, pay-as-you-go basis, to the industry-wide locus of innovation, host to a multitude of services”. What is AWS’s vision and ambition to take the lead in this gigantic universe?
Our vision is always the same: focus on customers and innovate on their behalf. To date, AWS has millions of active customers every month and the reasons why customers are turning to AWS is because it has a lot more functionality, the largest and most vibrant community of customers and partners, the most proven operational and security expertise, and the business is innovating at a faster clip – especially in new areas such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Serverless Computing.
That being said, there is another reason why customers are choosing AWS: customers have come to really appreciate that the AWS culture is really different. If a startup, enterprise, or government agency is going to partner with a cloud provider, it’s typically a long-term decision they’re making, and they really want to understand what’s unique about the culture, or the partner that they are choosing. As a matter of fact, 90% of what we build is driven by what customers tell us matters, and the other 10% are things we hear from customers where they may not articulate exactly what they want, but we try to read between the lines and invent on their behalf.
We’re also trying to build relationships and a business that lasts longer than all of us in this room. And you do that by doing right by customers over a long period of time. An example that ties this all together is a capability in our support function called AWS Trusted Advisor. We’ll look at customers’ utilization of our resources, and if they’re low or idle, we’ll reach out to them and say, maybe you don’t want to spend this money right now. Over the last couple of years, we’ve used AWS Trusted Advisor to tell customers how to spend less money with us, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for our customers every year.
In your experience, does physical proximity still increase the number of business leads and connections? For how long?
We look at physical proximity as a way for our teams to better help our customers and support them in their cloud journey. In fact, our decision to invest in Portugal last year by opening an AWS office in Lisbon is in direct response to our Portuguese customers’ requests and our determination to support them in an even better way. It also follows many years of supporting a growing customer base in the country with their cloud adoption. AWS counts some of Portugal’s fastest-growing and most well-known businesses as customers including, Energias de Portugal, Feedzai, Federação Portuguesa de Futebol, Globalvia, Grupo Impresa, Jumia, Lusiaves, Miniclip, Prodsmart, OutSystems, Unbabel, and Uniplaces, as well as Public Sector organisations such as the City of Cascais and the City of Porto. We have seen there is a real appetite from organisations across Portugal looking to get started with AWS in order to innovate, lower their IT costs, and grow their organisations around the world.
More recently on September 5, 2019, we continued our investment in the country by launching a new Amazon CloudFront location. This new Edge location will offer all organizations in the country faster content delivery and added cybersecurity protection. Located in Lisbon, the new Edge location brings the full suite of services provided by Amazon CloudFront, including integration with computing, networking, and security services like AWS Lambda@Edge, Amazon Route53, Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration, AWS Shield, and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF).
We look forward to fostering the country’s pioneering spirit alongside our customers and helping them accelerate their digital transformation and deliver innovative new products and services.
Is it possible to assess the first repercussions of AWS CloudFront Point of Presence (PoP) set up in Portugal, or is it still too early?
AWS is committed to investing in Portugal and similar to our office opening, the launch of the first Amazon CloudFront location in Portugal follows feedback of our customers, so reception is very positive. Adding this Amazon CloudFront Edge location will help Portuguese organizations achieve lower latency while delivering the same levels of security that they have come to expect from AWS Cloud, ultimately resulting in a better overall experience for their end-users.
How would you describe AWS’s relationship with startups today? Which preferred model does Amazon use to connect to new external solutions?
Startups in Portugal and around the globe turn to AWS so they can innovate faster. They can focus their highly valuable resources on developing and marketing applications that differentiate their business and transform customer experiences instead of the undifferentiated heavy lifting of managing infrastructure and data centres. Because startups can very quickly develop and roll out new applications, it means they can experiment and innovate more quickly and frequently and if an experiment fails, they can always de-provision those resources without risk.
You only need to look at the number of successful startups from Portugal, such as Miniclip, Feedzai, Unibabel, Uniplaces, and Prodsmart who have launched their businesses globally. These customers are using AWS to drive innovation, accelerate time to market, and expand their businesses. For many years AWS has been supporting the Portuguese startup and technology community by bringing programs like AWS Activate to the country. AWS Activate provides startups with the resources they need to get started on AWS – including up to $100,000 (USD) in credits, training, support, as well as contact with incubators, accelerators and venture capital firms, such as Beta-i. Tens of thousands of startups take advantage of these benefits each year. In 2018, more than $500 million in AWS credits were given to help startups accelerate their growth and development as they build their businesses.
Which startups / new projects have caught your attention recently, and why?
One particular startup in Portugal that caught my eye is Feedzai. Feedzai is a Lisbon-based startup that detects financial fraud at scale. The company uses real-time machine learning & artificial intelligence AWS’s services such as Amazon Sagemaker to analyze transactions data through deep historical and behavioural analysis to identify fraudulent payment transactions and minimize risk in the financial industry. With more than 5 billion dollars of transactions processed daily, Feedzai enables major financial institutions worldwide (such as Lloyd’s Bank) to fight fraud effectively.
Earlier this week I was in Barcelona and was able to spend time with several fast-growing startups including Letgo, an online marketplace. They have been using AWS for over four years to support their rapid growth. I was impressed by their microservices architecture, and their ability to make use of a very wide variety of AWS services, including Amazon SageMaker and other machine learning services. One thing that I find interesting about this and other startups in the area is that the AWS cloud helps them to address global markets, regardless of the physical location of the company.
AWS’s re/Start project is a welcome and win-win solution for people, the market, and AWS itself. Are there any concrete plans to bring this initiative to Portugal in the coming years?
Portugal is an important country for us and we will continue to grow our presence and programmes as we grow our customer base. We are strong believers in the power of education and do our best to support training and up-skilling for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they are.
Your career span from working in one of the first retail computer stores in the world to your current position at AWS, not to mention startups and other big corporates experiences. From your personal perspective, but without considering points such as “agility and simplicity in startups” or “budget and structure on corporates”, what were the differentiating features or culture that most seduced you along with these experiences?
I would have to say that it is the first Amazon Leadership Principle, Customer Obsession. I have always done my best to understand and meet the needs of my contacts and customers, and this principle resonated with me right away. Another Leadership Principle, Dive Deep, reinforces my desire to always know as much as I can about the topics and technologies that I write and speak about.