SPECIAL | Macau delegations attend Lisbon WebSummit 2018

The WebSummit that starts on Monday in Lisbon, Portugal, is an annual conference on entrepreneurship: one of the most important in the world, focused on internet and technology

Lisbon (MNA) – The WebSummit that starts on Monday in Lisbon, Portugal is an annual conference on entrepreneurship: one of the most important in the world, focused on Internet and technology. It is known as Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace. Tech Entrepreneurs are constantly striving for improvement, and WebSummit is where they find the tools to make that happen.

Nowadays, most of the great ideas are driven by the Internet of Things. When we talk about acronyms such as VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), AI (Artificial Intelligence), or Crypto (Block Chain), many of these innovations are having a disruptive impact on our society, changing our way of life. We are talking about new products or services that have created new markets, changing people’s habits such as Netflix, AirBnB, Uber, Easy taxi, Drones, etc.

But we all have to agree that the transformation of our society by technology must be sustainable and has to create a positive impact in our lives.

Entrepreneurs using technology are always curious and want to stay up-to-date about the new trends happening in their business segment. VR, AR, and AI technology are already there in the market, transforming the future of our society.

This year WebSummit will have nine stages where Director’s of innovation & research, CEO’s, CTO’s, and CMO’s of companies such as Huawei, Xaomi, Apple, IBM, TripAdvisor, etc., will be covering topics ranging from deep tech and data science to design and environmental sustainability.

Websummit is not only about attending and learning about new technological innovations. The whole startup ecosystem will be present at the conference, formed by incubators, accelerators, universities, funding organizations, legal advisors, multinationals, and governments. A melting pot of attendees ranging from small startups to billion dollar companies have an opportunity to set up meetings and network during this three-day event. All attendees of the conference will seek to build up their network, trying to establish new partnerships and deals. Uber CEO often says that the most important investment deal of is life was signed during 2011 WebSummit in Dublin.

Two types of events will happen during WebSummit:

Side events: these are networking sessions in a format of mini presentations during happy hours getting people to socialize (i.e. Sunset Summit and other private events sponsored by large companies).

Night Summit: During nighttime participants are invited to continue networking in 3 different places for each night: LX Factory, Bairro Alto and ink road in Cais do Sodre. Here, networking will be much lighter, but not less effective.

Macau Startup Ecosystem

The Macau SAR Government is trying to follow the trend of these ecosystems that already exist in several parts of the world for 20 years and where entrepreneurship has proven to boost rapid and sustainable development of smart cities. Macau doesn’t want to miss the train with its neighbour cities of the Great Bay area such as Hong Kong and Shenzhen where the first incubators were born in the early 2000‘s.

Places like Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Tel-Aviv, Berlin and many others cities understood years ago the importance of these entrepreneurial structures and the real economic gain for the community, bringing knowledge exchange; connecting investors, stakeholders, and breeding of talents. Our neighbour city Hong Kong has already seen the birth of 7 unicorns, among them GoGoVan, Klook, Bitmex, Sensetime, Lalamove, TinkLabs, WeLab, (companies valued at more than US$1 billion)

In Macau the first incubators started to emerge in 2014. Macau Design Centre and the Macau Cultural & Creative Integrated Services Centre, funded by the FIC (Macau Fund of Cultural Industries), were the first incubators had the pretension to incubate and accelerate companies installed in their structure. Both structures accepting mainly companies from the creative industries such as design, multimedia and arts. Macau Envision is another accelerator also founded last year and currently houses approximately 10 startups, both Chinese startups part of Envision Capital – a partner of the space – and Macau startups.

In 2017 The Macau Economic Bureau (DSE) also launched a incubation co-working space under the management of state company Parafuturo. The Macau Young Entrepreneur Centre (MYIEC) is the first real incubator/accelerator embracing more diversified sectors such as software, medicine, multimedia, travel, logistics and is directly funded by the government. Parafuturo has received more than 120 applications and around 60 projects are being incubated in MYCE, helping startups to link with potential partners, investors but also mentors. Macau has now embraced this new wave of entrepreneurship and is already building its own startup ecosystem.

Early this year Parafuturo joined a startup competition “Protechting“ open to local entrepreneurs, in co-operation with Chinese investment and technology groups Fosun and Alibaba.

Protechting is a startup acceleration program launched 3 years ago and developed by Fosun and Fidelidade (Portuguese largest insurance Group). This year local Macau startups will participate in the final pitch competition dedicated to Healthtech, Fintech and Insurtech which will be held on November 8, at WebSummit Lisbon.

Future development of the ecosystem in Macau

Startups are key to help diversify the Macau economy. The development of Entrepreneurship ecosystem is part of Macau’s five-year development plan and is also part of one of the 19 governmental actions suggested by The Secretariat of Macau Economic Forum.

Even though Macau is a city with 650,000 inhabitants with an economy mostly dependent on gaming, many entrepreneurs are running businesses in the most varied areas ranging from sports, health products, fashion designers, programmers, consultants, and multimedia. The small size of the Macau market is an advantage for local startups since less investment is required to conquer a market share, meanwhile possibly catching the eye of a possible Chinese investment partner.

There is also a change of mindset of the new generation who wants to work independently and build their own business.

Macau is already working in expanding its local and international development opportunities for its entrepreneurs in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and the Portuguese-speaking countries. MYEIC signed a cooperation agreement with the Portuguese incubator, Beta-i in Lisbon, agreed to set up a “Beta-i Macau Interactive Zone” where both members can apply for the use of work space and enjoy their incubation services. The Macau Young Entrepreneur Incubation Center is working on partnering next year with Brazil’s incubator, Fábrica de Startups Rio, to extend the “Macau Interactive Zone” to Brazil and search for opportunities for local high-quality entrepreneurial projects to enter Macau and China. A similar model to the “Macau Interactive Zone” has already been set up at the 760 Creative Industry Park in Zhongshan, Guangdong province.

MYEIC and DSE are strengthening co-operation with many incubators from the great bay area: in Hengqin, Zhongshan, Guangdong, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Local Entrepreneurs with a Macau ID will be able to use this network of Incubators centres in China. That will help them facilitate the opening of a company in China, having offices there, participating in training sessions and helping to find qualified workers, and potential Chinese investors.

Another agreement was signed last year between Macau Economic Bureau and Fabrica de Startups enabling several entrepreneurs from Macau to enjoy mentoring programs in Portugal while having to share offices in Second Home. Some companies in the MYEIC already have international success with the cases of Aomi and Bingui.

Macau’s futures role in the great bay startups ecosystem is to connect with companies from Portuguese-speaking countries that want to gain access to the Chinese market. This also works the same way around with companies of the delta region that want to have access to the Western world. It is already happening, timidly, and it will develop further with the commitment of MSAR Government.

The long term strategy passes by strengthening relations & partnerships between the various entrepreneurship hubs: Linking all the cycle chain of the ecosystem: Incubators, accelerators, investors, universities, government entities, legal advisors, mentors etc.

Permanent Incubation & Acceleration Programs for local entrepreneurs are needed: advanced mentoring that covers various aspects related to business management (similar to Tech Stars, Beta-i, Fabrica de Startups), and open up the investment channels to facilitate development of these startups.

Consolidation of the existing ecosystem of the Greater Bay Area with laws that help to break the barriers of co-operation is essential. In the case of Portuguese-speaking countries, we are in a less advanced stage because of the distance, but we will certainly see the fruits of the partnerships with Beta-I and Fabrica de Startups in the coming years.

*By Marco Duarte Rizzolio and Hugo Ricardo Felicio, Co-Founders at Follow Me Macau