tarting a startup is a real challenge. And making it grow, namely by strengthening the team, is no less of a challenge. But there are programmes, benefits and incentives that entrepreneurs can (and should) resort to to handle this task as well as possible, and increase their chances of success.

StartUP Visa, Portugal from Startup to Startup, Road 2 Web Summit and UPskill are just some of the programmes for which you can apply. In this article, we suggest six programmes and give you all the details: how, when and where?

StartUP Visa, Portugal from Startup to Startup, Road 2 Web Summit and UPskill are just some of the programmes for which you can apply. In this article, we suggest six programmes and give you all the details: how, when and where?

1) StartUP Visa 

The StartUP Visa is a programme that welcomes foreign entrepreneurs who wish to develop an entrepreneurship and/or innovation project in Portugal, with the goal of granting a residence visa or residence permit to immigrant entrepreneurs.

Through IAPMEI, this programme aims to attract investment, talent and innovation capacity to Portugal.

“What made us move here [Portugal] was the fact that my partners got their visas through the StartUP Visa programme. It was a very cool, quick and easy process”, recalls Fernando Padovan, founder of Deeploy, in a testimonial for Startup Portugal.

“What made us move here [Portugal] was the fact that my partners got their visas through the StartUP Visa programme. It was a very cool, quick and easy process”, recalls Fernando Padovan, founder of Deeploy, in a testimonial for Startup Portugal.

“Coming to Portugal was a choice due to operational costs and because it is a strategic location within Europe. There was a greater probability of success here than in other countries”, says Shivam Dhawan, founder of GetBoarded, who also used this programme to come to Portuguese territory.

The StartUP Visa provides for a prior certification process for incubators – so that they can be host and support entities for immigrant entrepreneurs in the creation and installation of technology-based companies – and for entrepreneur applications.

You can find more information about Startup Visa here or contact IAPMEI via email ([email protected]) or phone (+351 213 836 237). 

2) Tech Visa

Tech Visa is a certification programme aimed at companies that wish to attract highly qualified and specialised professionals to Portugal, from countries outside the Schengen area and residing outside the European Union. This programme, made available by IAPMEI, aims to ensure that highly qualified staff can access job opportunities created by Portuguese companies in a simplified way.

At the beginning of 2022, the Government extended this programme to residence permits for employees transferred within the company to carry out the professional activity of manager, specialist or training.

“It is now essential to extend this programme to other recruitment modalities that aim to create conditions for attracting highly qualified staff with high international mobility and attracting foreign direct investment from companies that intend to transfer high added value activities from other countries and who need to bring highly qualified technical staff to the national territory”, justified, at the time, the Government, in the ordinance published in a supplement to the Diário da República and which has retroactive effect to January 1st, 2019.

The deadline for submitting Tech Visa applications is open until December 31st, 2022. You can find more information here

3) Portugal de Startup em Startup 

Startup Portugal, Microsoft and Beta-i joined forces to create the programme “Portugal de Startup em Startup” ("Portugal from Startup to Startup), a program that aims to promote and support the decentralisation of innovation, valuing startups located outside large urban centres, such as in inland Portugal and in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira.

The investment of up to one million euros will result in free access to Microsoft Azure cloud technology and will also represent, for the five selected startups, an opportunity to develop projects with tech partners.

Tech startups that match the programme's challenges can apply until November 14th through this link.

4) Road 2 Web Summit 

The Road 2 Web Summit selects the best startups to represent Portugal in the biggest tech event in the world, the Web Summit. To support participation in the tech conference, the programme also includes an intensive two-day bootcamp. During this period, candidates will find out how the event works, how to approach investors or what goals to achieve. The Road 2 Web Summit has already supported over 700 startups.

“We spent a year developing products for drones At the end of that time, we realised that we had a pivot and we tried to figure out where we could apply our technology. That's where the Web Summit helped us. Receiving all this feedback was very important for us to switch to the product we have now”, says José Valente, co-founder and CEO of Azitek.

Check the the requirements for participation in the programme and the preferential factors here.

5) Lisboa’s Growth Program

Made of Lisboa, from Lisbon City Council, has more than 500 thousand euros aimed at a benefits program for startups and digital nomads from around the world, which gives access to exclusive services and masterclasses from large tech companies to help their businesses growing.

The initiative is called “Lisboa’s Growth Program” and aims to help innovation hubs, acceleration programmes and coworking spaces to attract new members (both national and international), as access to benefits requires entrepreneurs and nomads to be associated with one of these spaces in the city.

Divided into five categories – “Cloud”, “Marketing & CRM”, “Payments”, “Tools” and “Lifestyle” – the benefits are mostly free, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria of each partner. Among the partners are companies such as Amazon Web Services, Google, Hubspot , Microsoft or Transferwise. ‍

6) UPskill 

Digital transition cannot be made without people. They are the ones who develop new services and, with their ability to innovate, change business models. But this capacity for change must first be taught. Ensuring the qualification of human resources, in order to guarantee the desired pace of transformation, will be one of the pillars of Portugal's economic recovery.

UPskill has this purpose: to challenge people to come and work for the digital sector. The main objective of this programme is to increase qualification in the fields of Information Technologies (IT), inserting new professionals in this sector. Launched in 2020, the programme, which is the result of a partnership between APDC, the Government and the Academy, is aimed at unemployed or underemployed people who wish to requalify to work in the IT sector.

The courses have an estimated duration of six months in an academic environment, followed by three months of professional training in the working environment of the adhering company, with a strong possibility of subsequent entry into its staff (this second period may be extended to six months).

In the first cycle of applications for the second edition of UPskill, which ended in December 2021, 359 trainees were placed. The hiring rate was above 80%.

At the momento, the application process for the 2nd edition of the programme is closed. Keep an eye on it though, because the next edition of UPskill will be announced soon

Four innovation contests to keep an eye on

If, on the other hand, you are looking for a contest to submit your business idea or to accelerate your innovative product or service, check below to see if any of these programmes suit your needs.

WSA 2022: An international competition that selects the best local digital innovation projects with an impact on society. The eight Portuguese winners will have the opportunity to compete globally, having access to a global network of startups, social entrepreneurs, mentors, judges, speakers, government leaders, academia and civil society. The contest involves 180 countries. You can apply until June 30th

Academy for Women Entrepreneurs: Applications are now open for a new edition of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) programme, which aims to support Portuguese women in the development of their entrepreneurial ideas. After a first edition with more than 400 applications, from 19 districts in Portugal and with a total funding of 30,000 dollars, the objective of this edition — promoted by the US Embassy in Portugal, in partnership with Drive Impact and Impact Hub Lisbon — is to bring together more projects, from different areas, and increase investment in national female talent. Participation is free and enrolment is possible until June 22nd.

Rolex Awards for Enterprise: Rolex is looking for young entrepreneurs with projects aimed at protecting the planet. The Swiss luxury brand wants to find the “guardians of the future”, which are “visionary individuals whose projects have the potential to change the world, protect the planet or benefit humanity”. Applications for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise programme are open until October 17th. 

VTEX Accelerator: A global solution acceleration programme, from VTEX. In this fourth edition, startups will be able to register their solutions on the site throughout the year, competing for the opportunity to publish their applications on the VTEX App Store. You can apply here.