SOL Tomorrow: tackling the post-pandemic in Lisbon
Within the scope of Smart Open Lisbon platform, the Lisbon Municipality, alongside Beta-i, has launched SOL Tomorrow, a new program based on collaboration between key organizations in Portugal and startups from around the world to tackle specific social and economic challenges in the city of Lisbon caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the City Hall, the program has a partnership with Aga Khan Foundation, PME Investimentos, LIDL Portugal, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, as well as Turismo de Portugal, Axians and NOS with the goal of collaborating with selected startups in the implementation of solutions with social impact.
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.