‘From Cheltenham to the world’ A summary of our epic trip to Lisbon

'From Cheltenham to the world’. A summary of our epic trip to Lisbon

Last month, team CyNam jetted off to Lisbon with a group of key stakeholders from the Cheltenham ecosystem. The aim of the trip was to experience first-hand Lisbon’s exciting tech start-up scene and learn about how it has transformed the city into a tech hub of international significance. 

So, what did we get up to whilst we were away?

Thanks to the brilliant organisation of Jeremy Bamberg and the Factory x HBD team, we had a jam-packed whistle stop tour of Lisbon.

Day 1:

We kicked off the trip with a bang. The first stop on our agenda was a trip to City Hall to meet Lisbon’s Mayor and Municipal Director of Innovation. This was a real eye opener into understanding the steps Lisbon have taken to put themselves on the map for innovation and start-up growth. Carlos Moedas (The Mayor) was also the former EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation. 

For some context… back in 2010, post financial crash, Lisbon was facing a crisis of high youth unemployment and little to no prospects for young, talented people. This was the key factor that, led to new entrepreneurs starting up tech companies, out of necessity. The city council recognised this and invested in a start-up incubator which became Start-up Lisboa, a focal point for the start-up scene to convene around. 

So, after our first stop, we headed over to the famous Carmo Rooftop for a relaxed start-up event. It was great to see such a range of organisations there and experience the beauty of Lisbon at night.

Day 2:

Our second day was the real showstopper. We had a day jam packed with site tours, educational talks and behind the scene event action.

The first stop on the agenda was a morning of ‘meeting the ecosystem’ at Factory Lisbon on a former military site in the Beato district. We were lucky enough to have a site tour of the flagship Factory building, followed by talks from local stakeholders who shared their stories and explored the importance of story-telling, community cohesion and stakeholder engagement. 

With everyone in the group now feeling fully inspired, we headed for our tour and concept pitch at Hub Criativo do Beato. During the tour, we were told about the concept of Factory’s development and how it is ‘more than just a building’. The building itself saw a disused military food manufacturing building (mainly used to produce cookies and pasta!) transform into an innovation hub oozing with potential for both the local and overseas population. The Hub Criativo is the surrounding area, which was kept at the forefront when the development began, meaning opportunities remained for both local residents and business stakeholders. A great example of what’s to come in Cheltenham.

And now for something really cool. Our final stop of the day before the main evening event was a visit to the Now_Beato co-working space to meet some inventors from the Jack the Maker lab. A huge thanks to the team for the awesome demos. Their office was like an inventors paradise! Check them out.

And last but not least…. The Europas. On our final evening of the trip, we all got suited and booted and headed over to the Opening Night of Web Summit & Night Summit.

A bit about the Europas:

Founded in 2009 by Mike Butcher, editor-at-large at TechCrunch, the Europas was originally formed to recognize and celebrate the innovation emerging from Europe’s burgeoning tech startup scene. In this year’s fourteenth edition a number of companies were shortlist for various awards, including our very own Immersive Labs, and we got to be there!

Day 3:

Before heading back to the airport, we soaked up the last of the sights in Lisbon and reflected on what we had learnt on the trip.

So, what were our key take away’s from the trip?

  • The importance of storytelling/celebrating and shouting about entrepreneurial/start up successes 
  • The importance of having a flagship, internationally recognised event such as Web Summit in bringing together tech entrepreneurs from across the globe
  • The importance of having an organisation that can bring the various ecosystem members together under a single “brand” to champions the ecosystem and any subsequent development work
  • How creativity must be allowed to flourish and challenge the status quo. We saw this on a big scale with Start-up Lisboa and Factory Lisbon but, also on the smaller scale with Jack the Maker

For us, it was great to see how disruptive developments can help drive innovation and community join up in an area. We look forward to seeing what continues to develop within Cheltenham.

Another huge thank you to our hosts Factory and to everyone we met along the way.

Adeus for now, Lisbon.