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How Can Portuguese Social Impact Startups Get Investable

Here are five programmes accepting applications for Portugal-based startups:

How Can Portuguese Social Impact Startups Get Investable - portugal news
How Can Portuguese Social Impact Startups Get Investable - Portugal Business News

Portugal news - The contrast between the volumes of investment in climate-focused and social-oriented initiatives is striking: from 2018 to 2023, $435.5 billion was invested in climate initiatives, while only $74.045 billion went towards social impact goals, according to the Dealroom report.


Following the pan-European investment curve, Portugal-based impact startups are also challenged by underfunding. While there are VCs still biased about the profitability and potential political restraints, many social impact startups struggle to raise investments because they fail to achieve product-market fit and accurately calculate unit economics.


I’m from ULTRA.VC, an EU-based accelerator and investor in impact-driven startups. We understand the problems faced by social impact-oriented founders as we work with them daily. Acceleration programmes offer impact makers a great opportunity to test hypotheses, focus on important bottlenecks, and achieve first traction.


We’ve gathered a list of 5 acceleration programmes for Portuguese impact startups, which help founders achieve the first revenue, secure financial support, and become investable. We’re confident it will inform the readers about the existing opportunities for socially-driven startups and highlight the programmes open for application. Please, read more on the impact-oriented acceleration programmes below:



Fueling the Future: Acceleration Programs Helping Underfunded Portuguese Social Startups Get Investable


The European investment climate is getting warmer for impact startups, with the region emerging as a global leader in impact investing in 2023. While climate startups have secured some of the most significant raises in the last year, as of Sifted, another report signals that startups addressing social-related UN Sustainable Development Goals remain underfunded.

How it relates to Portugal’s startup scene.

Portugal, often referred to as the European Silicon Valley, has gathered a large international startup community. It offers a warm Mediterranean climate and abundant opportunities to launch and develop a tech company. The country is home to 3,880 startups and scaleups, as well as unicorns like Farfetch, Anchorage, Talkdesk, and others.

However, despite positive numbers, the global economic fluctuations didn’t go unnoticed by startups and investors. Following the pun-European curve, in 2023, Portugal witnessed decreased financing volumes for tech companies. Additionally, the local startup ecosystem faces the need for fundamental business skills, hands-on training and practical application, and limited incubation opportunities.


Underfunding has also challenged impact-driven startups, which poses a prominent obstacle to positive social change.


Supporting Portuguese Social Impact Startups


To support mission-driven tech companies, impact organizations around the EU have published The Impact Manifesto, calling on investors to seize their opportunities to support socially needed initiatives. While external support remains essential for the startups’ scaling and development, early-stage founders must concentrate their input on achieving the first paying customers, perfecting the business plan, and calculating unit economics.


Specialised impact-oriented programmes by Portuguese and European accelerators and VCs are there to help impact founders save time and money, maintaining focus on elevating business metrics and making startups investable.



Here are five programmes accepting applications for Portugal-based startups:



1 - ULTRA.VC is an impact-focused early-stage investor with an acceleration programme that helps founders test as many hypotheses as possible, validate their solution, define a business model, find the first signs of market fit, and start generating revenue via scalable sales channels. In addition to one-on-one coaching and mentorship, complemented by weekly focus sessions and a personalized progress plan, participants are offered $70,000 in initial investment and warm introductions to a curated list of early-stage angel investors and VCs.



2 - Startup Lisboa is a Lisbon-based private non-profit incubator providing virtual and physical incubation at Hub Criativo do Beato. Startup Lisboa’s support includes mentoring, connecting with strategic partners, access to funding, and domain expertise. The incubator focuses on early-stage startups, with special programmes for sustainable and health tech companies.

Monitor the start of applications for the acceleration programmes.


3 - Maze X is a three-month funding programme for impact-driven early-stage startups to multiply their execution capacity by threefold ahead of their first round of funding. It focuses on startups in the spheres of healthcare and wellbeing, the future of learning and work, and sustainable consumption, offering access to the international expert network, a community of like-minded founders, and €100,000 in funding.




4 - Techstars Impact Accelerator focuses on startups that aim to solve social and environmental challenges. The programme offers mentorship, access to a global network of investors, and a strong emphasis on founder wellbeing through mental health resources and support groups. Techstars ensures founders have the tools to succeed without compromising their health.


5 - Bethnal Green Ventures: This London-based accelerator supports tech startups that address social and environmental issues. The programme includes tailored mentorship, access to impact investors, and a strong focus on the founder's well-being. Weekly sessions and mental health resources are integral parts of its curriculum.

The European social-impact market has matured sufficiently in recent years, with many Portuguese startups, such as Glooma, Miles in the Sky, UpHill, Landing Jobs, etc., winning global attention. However, as a large share of VCs sticks to the bias on profitability and potential political restraints, acceleration programmes become a necessary link between impact-makers and risk-averse investors.


Author - Ana Hryshchenia, AROUND PR Studio with Portugal Business News





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