Now in its fourth edition, The Journey returns to help disrupt the tourism industry, especially in demanding and urgent times like 2021.
The Journey – innovation for tourism
As every sector, Tourism has always had to adapt to external variables. The year of 2020 in particular, due to the covid-19 pandemic, has proven that adapting to challenges is key for the success and sustainability of the whole sector.
Taking Portugal’s case, tourism represents the sector with the largest economic export activity in the country – accounting in 2019 for 52.3% of services exports and 19.7% of the total exports, and tourism revenues contributing 8.7% to the Portuguese GDP. This reveals its innovation and strategy to be even more crucial.
Following the lead, The Journey program rises once again to its fourth edition, to find the most innovative solutions for the sector, focusing on its recovery and revamping.
This edition is 100% online, yet gathering international startups and the program’s partners to collaborate together into developing pilot projects that will be all about rapid test and implementation. These Pilots should be solving challenges felt in Hospitality, Parks & Monuments, Tours & Activities and Payments. This means that startups from all industries can take part in this innovation journey, given that the most varied technology will be creating positive impact.
The good news is that the Top 14 startups were already chosen for the bootcamp, where they will explore and establish pilot projects between them and partners. Here are the mighty fourteen:
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.
New world, new challenges: Kicking off with this post, we’ll be sharing during the next days and weeks some Questions & Answers in a chat with Beta-i’s CEO, Pedro Rocha Vieira. You’ll get to know more about the big picture of what’s happening at Beta-i right now. A new moment, a 10-years retrospective, our new brand, future scenarios, our startup support and our global reach.
But let’s start by talking with Pedro about this very moment: the breaking news 🙂
Pedro, what’s changing at Beta-i and what’s happening under this repositioning and restructuring
Well, after 10 years of hard work in different areas, we managed to fulfil this first-decade mission: we were, and we proudly are a key player in the establishment of an innovation ecosystem in Portugal. We contributed to the mindset transformation process which has been happening in the Portuguese ecosystem over time, and we managed to be recognized as one of the leading startup accelerators in Europe.
However, now we are no longer in the phase of feeding this innovation ecosystem at its base, but rather helping to give it greater strength within the economy as a whole. Lean approaches, new in-company processes and especially, the collaboration between corporates, public services or other institutions with startups is an inescapable movement.
That’s why we’re undergoing this cycle of change, in order to continue to be relevant at a different level. In the last 3 years, we started to work to become a different type of consultancy firm, totally focused on bringing the startup way of working and making business growth to large organizations and vice-versa, as well as deploying our ecosystem building experience on different geographies. We now have clients and projects in almost 20 countries, on 5 continents. This is a matter of fact, not a vision – but to be very honest, this was still not exactly understood by the market. That’s why we are leveraging our approach.
Therefore we reorganized and redefined our areas, focusing essentially on the collaborative innovation territory. We have a team of experts and different frameworks to converge global startups, large companies, universities, researchers, investors, mentors and governments competencies to work on innovation programs and develop pilot projects with impact on the economy.
How important is this new positioning in the current context?
We were born in times of crisis and now we are “reborn” again in a new period of crisis – and this evolution was made at the right time to respond to current needs.
If 10 years ago we contributed to the generation of new ideas and entrepreneurship approaches to stimulate the economy, today the challenges are different. It is necessary to connect the old with the new economy in a logic of collaboration and win-win – from facing up and coming competitors as a target to be crushed, to see them as a potential partner. This is a paradigmatic shift. It is necessary to support startups as an economic agent of change, helping them to collaborate with companies. And put companies to collaborate with other companies, too – it’s mandatory to be aware that only together we can build this new future. And we’re all experiencing that, at this very moment, due to the pandemic.
So this Beta-i repositioning ends up giving us the necessary approach to face the current challenges and promoting collaborative innovation where everyone benefits, which naturally also includes the people impacted by the developed solutions.
Well yes, we do have some exciting news to share. We’re launching our new brand and everything that comes along in these key moments. We’re really happy with the final result – something that was already happening when the entire planet turned upside down with the pandemic:The interesting thing is that our value proposition – collaborative innovation – couldn’t be more aligned with the new challenges brought by this new brand world waiting for us out there, or already impacting us right now whenever we can be.
Beta-i has distilled its approach on innovation during the past years and if there’s a one really important thing to highlight at this point, is that what we’re saying is not a goal or a will. It’s a reality from here to the future. Beta-i has a global reach actually, a strong 10-year track record on innovation ecosystems and an expert team able to share this knowledge.
We have a new branch in Brazil, clients in 20 countries in the 5 continents and an admirable team of 50 people from 15 different nationalities.
We believe collaboration is the key to make things change. To solve things that matter. To help ecosystems and society grow. To, no bullshit, build a collective future. That’s what we have been doing; now, we’re just funnelling these services to the same destination: collaboration to innovate. We’ll keep connecting the innovation voices to transform ideas into a business, pilots into deals, solutions into impact to solve complex changes.
Beta-i was created during the last Portuguese crisis, in the second half of 2009, with the deep motivation of being part of the solution and help to create an innovation ecosystem able to support the next generation of entrepreneurs. We helped to make that in Portugal and abroad, and now we’re leveraging this in a global scale – helping corporates, startups, universities, investors, social impact organizations and other voices to work together. We’re starting a new phase in the best possible moment.
So you’re invited to explore our new site and follow our social media channels. And stay tuned: we have a lot more to share during the next months. And to tell, after 10 years of ongoing innovation.
Recognized as one of the central agents of corporate innovation and digital transformation for companies and startups in Portugal and abroad, Beta-i kicks off 2020 with 25 open innovation, business models acceleration and innovation design projects, for customers in almost 20 countries. Besides, it ends February with one-third of its business objectives for the year fulfilled and with a clear plan for internationalization. In other words: we still have a long way to go up to December – but we’re quite happy so far.
Some of the main companies operating in key economic areas in Portugal (such as Millennium BCP, Novartis, José de Mello Group, Inmarsat, Siemens, Fosun / Fidelidade, Daimler, EDP, SIBS, Ageas, Semapa, Sonae, Galp and Nestlé, in addition to Turismo de Portugal / Visit Portugal, Câmara de Lisboa / Lisbon Municipality and Ministério do Mar / Ministry of the Sea) have been developing collaborative innovation projects with Beta-i.
Not only in Portugal: Beta-i manages the leading open innovation program for energy in the world (Free Electrons) and is currently setting up global consortiums dedicated to circular economy and airports. Check this Free Electrons summary:
Tangible impact results come up because Beta-i’s approach facilitates the convergence and exchange of expertise between corporates and a network of thousands of startups from around the world, in order to drive business models transformation based on technological solutions. Investors, public institutions and university research centres are also part of this ecosystem connected by Beta-i, which over the past decade has helped the business development of more than 900 startups.
Pedro Rocha Vieira, CEO and Co-founder of Beta-i, points out that Fintech and Banking, Circular Economy, Healthtech and Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Water and the Economy of the Sea, Smart Cities and Mobility are sectors that are currently experiencing a deeper and even more accelerated transformation, therefore counting on greater pressure to reinvent themselves.
He points out that in not only these segments, but also Retail and Mass Consumption, Tourism, Insurtech, Airports and public services face similar challenges ready to become opportunities. “Collaborating with startups in a concrete way, through the open innovation programs managed by Beta-i, is a pragmatic response to these challenges that we believe will intensify in the next three years”. Watch one more example, now regarding the health industry and our Techcare program with Novartis: