King Philippe visited us to strengthen connections between the Belgian and Portuguese entrepreneurship scenes. Read on to find out more.

The Lisbon startup scene is booming

Over the last few years Portugal has positioned itself as a nexus of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe. In 2015, the city of Lisbon received the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Prize, awarding the best regional strategies aiming at promoting entrepreneurship and innovation among SMEs.

Boosted by the arrival of the annual Web Summit conference, the social entrepreneurship scene has blossomed alongside tech, with the joint-action of different actors. Earlier this year for instance, Lisbon won the European Green Capital Award 2020 and Portugal issued a new legislation to regulate short-term rental properties.

In addition, corporations – e.g. Montepio Bank, our main partner – increasingly see Corporate Social Innovation as a key pillar of their strategies. Furthermore, citizens are more engaged and want to take an active part in co-creating the future of their city and country. Plus, entrepreneurs aspire more and more to leverage business as a force for good.

Belgium’s King Philippe visits Impact Hub Lisbon

Their Majesties the King and the Queen of the Belgians were in Portugal last week. The purpose of this official state visit was to strengthen bilateral diplomatic relations and cooperation between both countries into different fields, including innovation and entrepreneurship.

As Impact Hub Lisbon is becoming a point of reference for social innovation in Portugal, Belgium’s King Philippe selected us as the place to debate social innovation with a delegation of Belgian and Portuguese social entrepreneurs.

This landmark event started with a pitch session powered by three Portuguese social startups. The first one was SPEAK, a global community-based organization for language and culture exchange. Then, ColorADD was on stage. They developed a color identification system for colorblind people. Girl Move Academy closed the session, sharing how they empower women in Mozambique through transformal leadership programs.

Roundtable discussion on social innovation

Afterwards, His Majesty the King of the Belgians moderated a roundtable discussion between 6 Portuguese and 8 Belgian impact-driven startups. MyPolis and 55+ from our Impact Hub community were actively engaging with other participants. MyPolis is a mobile app connecting politicians and citizens, with the purpose of bringing civic engagement into the 21st century. 55+ is designing an online platform to foster social inclusion and healthy ageing.

The bottom line of the discussion was financial sustainability and enhancing collaboration between social businesses, governments and public institutions. Although entrepreneurs from both countries wished for easier access to public funds to kick-start their projects, they all highlighted the need for social businesses to be sustainable, by themselves. And the only way to sustain positive impact, is to be financially sustainable and independent.

Both Belgian and Portuguese entrepreneurs emphasized that they would like to see governments and public institutions acting as early adopters, investors and facilitators of the problem-solving solutions they design.

Fostering collaboration between Belgium and Portugal

Belgium’s King Philippe shared his desire to enhance collaboration between Belgium and Portugal. His intention is to boost the Belgian social entrepreneurship ecosystem. Portuguese & Belgians companies and institutions signed 18 partnership agreements in various fields such as Culture, Trade, Digital Technology and Defense.

Impact Hub Lisbon was thrilled to facilitate the discussion around further collaborations between the Belgian and Portuguese entrepreneurship ecosystems. We are proud to officially announce our brand new partnership with !drops, a Belgian social innovation agency for profit and nonprofit organizations.

We look forward to pioneering a more sustainable and fairer future, together!