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Portugal Launches the First Unicorn Factory, Capturing Startups! 

Portugal Launches the First Unicorn Factory, Capturing Startups! 

With the goal of encouraging and supporting national startups, and in turn increasing the wealth and diversity not only in the region of Lisbon, but across the whole country, the Unicorn Factory Lisboa was opened last Thursday (18 November), an investment of 8 million euros in Beato in Lisbon.  

Startup Lisboa is a platform of programmes and hubs that aims to support startups and scaleups in the creation of products and business models that are innovative and offer something unique. The main aim of this programme is to bring start-ups, regardless of nationality, onto a global scale, therefore turning them into "unicorn" companies. This programme is undoubtedly a launch pad for all companies with innovative products that are starting up, and that stand out on a global level.

What are Unicorn companies?

Unicorn companies are companies that are valued at over $1 billion without having a stock market presence - the dream of any tech startup that gets off the ground. Some of the examples of such companies are Farfetch, Dropbox or Space X.

They are allied companies based on their market opportunities and their potential long term. The best known case of a unicorn startup is probably Facebook.

Why do these types of companies emerge?

There are three main reasons why these companies have emerged: the first is that with the advancement of technology and the development of the internet, an opportunity has arisen for these new companies to blossom, as everything is easier and faster. Two more examples are Uber and Airbnb.

Another reason is that these new companies are waiting longer to enter the stock exchange, staying in private hands for more time, which allows their investors to attribute more value to them when they do decide to enter. Finally, startups are adopting fast growth strategies, by getting large amounts of investment they also gain more exposure to the public and consequently more notoriety.

The Unicorn Factory that will be inaugurated in Beato will almost be like a factory whereby a company applies, enters the factory, and is then accompanied through the several phases of its growth on a type of "assembly line". This registry already has several successful examples, including in Berlin and New York.

Two programmes will start next year: the first one is called Scaling Up Program, specialized in providing more than 20 high potential scale-ups with the necessary support these companies need to help unlock and maximize their growth potential, supplying the necessary tools so that they are ready to face all the challenges ahead; the second one is called Soft Landing Program, which is designed to supply practical tools to help and simplify the process of moving these same companies to Lisbon.

Applications for these programmes were launched at Websumit Lisbon

Sensei is a startup that uses artificial intelligence to create autonomous shop experiences and develops computer vision-based technology for retail. It is the first company to enter the programme.

There is no doubt that this Unicorn Factory will be a great asset for the development and growth of the city of Lisbon, and in turn for the whole country. Once again, Portugal is proving to be an excellent choice for startup enterprises.

According to Startup Lisboa, Portugal is the first country in the world in terms of the ease of doing business across borders (data from the Doing Business Report 2020) and the second best country in Europe for business innovation (European Central Bank 2022).

Written by Cláudia Ferreira