Scouting Portugal

A delegation of young Macau entrepreneurs has finished a trip to Portugal that focused on industry research and networking. The trip was a joint effort between the Macanese Youth Association (AJM) and Macau Youth Entrepreneur Association (AJEM), taking 22 young local entrepreneurs to Portugal between September 11 and 18. “The trip has fulfilled many objectives. Many of the association members had not been to Portugal before, so any contact is always positive,” Jorge Valente, president of the AJM and Vice-president of the AJEM, told Business Daily. The delegation was comprised of entrepreneurs from different business sectors, with the organisation making sure the members could visit companies and industries of interest to their own local projects. Something for everyone In order to know which companies and departments to visit and contact, the associations requested help from aicep Portugal Global, a Portuguese government business department that helps Portuguese companies to expand internationally. The first three days where spent in the northern Portuguese cities of Porto and Coimbra, where the delegation visited entities and companies such as the Portuguese National Association of Young Entrepreneurs, the Sandeman wine cellars, online gaming development company Bet Fair, and the Pedro Nunes Institute. The remaining three days were spent in Lisbon, where the group visited entities such as Beta-i – a startup accelerator for new technologies and the Millennium BCP bank. “We also used feedback from people that registered for the trip, on what entities or companies they would prefer to visit and get to know. For example, if someone was from the wine sector, we visited a wine cellar, if someone worked in information technology (IT), we visited an IT company,” Valente told Business Daily. The AJM President also added that “Portuguese food products and real estate investments” were some of the areas that raised more interest. Tech woes Technology development was also one of the areas that the delegation members got to know better. “Maybe 30 or 40 per cent of the group had already been in Portugal and they considered the programme diverse enough for them to get to know areas they didn’t know yet, such as the Pedro Nunes Institute and the Beta-i. They considered it very interesting, not just in macroeconomic terms, but for their own local projects,” said Valente. The Pedro Nunes Institute was created by the University of Coimbra in 1991 to promote innovation and technology transfer, having its own laboratories and investing in incubation and acceleration of technology-based start-ups. However the AJM President told Business Daily that although many of the entrepreneurs viewed certain tech ideas as “very interesting”, they considered that implementation in Macau would be challenging. “The [tech] area is very developed in Portugal with many quality companies and start-ups, and the most doubts were on how to link the two regions, how to take a good technology idea and adapt it to a different market, for example, replicating very successful online sales portals in Portugal in the Macau market. Local businessmen in the delegation said they were more worried about how to hire qualified human resources in Macau to do similar websites than the money to fund it,” Valente told Business Daily. Government help According to Valente, the Macao Foundation helped finance “around 50 per cent” of the trip’s expenses, with the remaining being paid by the association members. The trip also coincided with the MSAR Chief Executive (CE) Fernando Chui Sai On’s own visit to Portugal to discuss better cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, however Valente said the timing was “coincidental”. “We knew he was going to Portugal in September but we didn’t make a special effort to be there at the same time (…) The trip was already included in the associations annual schedule,” Valente explained.