Ever since King Luis I decided to set up his royal summer retreat on Portugal’s coast in the late 19th century, the fishing village of Cascais has been transformed into one of the country’s top getaway destinations.
But tourists and retirees from all over the world aren’t the only ones who flock to the inviting beaches that rest only 20 miles west of the capital, Lisbon. Over the last decade the city of Cascais has complemented its atmosphere with lucrative business incentives that make it a locale where startups are blossoming on the shores of the Iberian Peninsula.
Government initiatives supporting entrepreneurship locally through accelerators, conferences gathering business and politics leaders from around the world, and programs sponsored by the European Commission – such as the European Space Agency – all attribute to the success of Cascais as a wellspring of innovation.
Add to the fact that the Portuguese government recently launched a StartUp Visa program to attract top international talent to the region, and you have a business-friendly environment that has opened its doors to innovation and to the rest of the world.
Local government support
You can’t talk about entrepreneurship in the city without mentioning DNA Cascais, which is not only a leading incubator, but also the entrepreneurial wing of the local government that has supported over 320 startups and created over 1,600 jobs through its efforts.
Founded in 2006, DNA Cascais has been an important part of partnerships, accelerators, and startups to come through the city. It also has one of the largest school entrepreneurship programs in Portugal, with over 10 editions that have involved more than 18,000 students, 50 schools, and two universities through its entrepreneurial schools.
Among these, the IES – Social Business School, is the first Portuguese business school focused on innovation and social entrepreneurship, dedicating itself to the creation of sustainable business solutions.
One notable success story for DNA Cascais came through its partnership with the Founder Institute, founded by Adeo Ressi and Jonathan Greechen, that helped one startup, Clickly, go on to secure €465 in funding after going through the Founder Institute Cascais program.
The Municipal Chamber of Cascais itself was recognized by the United Nations this year as the only “autarchy” to win the prestigious World Summit Awards for government and citizen engagement through its app, City Points.
Based on gamification and the acknowledgment of citizens, the City Points app induces participants to take an active role in transforming the community. With one City Point at a time, participants improve their engagement in the sustainable city, and the rewards include perks such as free admission to museums, guided tours, free workshops, and tickets to events, to name a few.
European commission programs
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