1.  Project DIGISTART

The project DIGISTART (Support Ecosystems for Digital Startups) is an EU funded research project in the area of startup ecosystems. The project aims to support European-Wide digital ecosystems through a set of coordinated activities targeting Lisbon and Malmo. It also aims to harness the capabilities of the largest European online platform for startups and web entrepreneurs: F6S, for providing online support to startups.

The Lisbon Ecosystem will be supported by UNIDEMI and BETA-i. UNIDEMI, A research centre at the Faculdade de Ciencias e Tecnologies, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, will initiate activities to provide greater access to the innovation ecosystem for students. This includes early stage mentorship, awareness creation, launching of the Startup Forum, a formal Entrepreneurship Course and an online MOOC. It will also undertake research activities that will provide greater insights on how Innovation Ecosystems have benefitted Startups. BETA-i already runs a very successful acceleration programme, the Lisbon Challenge, and will undertake other events to enhance the ecosystem. Clusterland Sweden based in Malmo, Sweden will initiate activities in sync with the activities in the Lisbon Ecosystem.

1.1         Partners

The project Digistart includes four partners from UK, Portugal, and Sweden:


UNIDEMI is a research centre in Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FCT) da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL). It is an interdisciplinary research centre which has conducted several research projects in the area of Information Systems/Digital Platforms and is actively holding courses for Web Entrepreneurship.

UNIDEMI’s team is responsible for annually organizing a 6 weeks unique entrepreneurship programme for 1000 MSc and PhD engineering students from different scientific fields, where the output must be a new business endeavour, prize of which is a trip to Silicon Valley. Due to its nature, UNIDEMI entrepreneurship activities focus on leveraging commercial exploitation of scientific research close to companies, governmental bodies along with providing guidance and support, in close liaison with FCT’s office for Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer, for intellectual propriety protection and patents application.


Beta-i has been the main private driver of entrepreneurship in Portugal. During its first couple of years, Beta-i effectively created the startup ecosystem by making explicit and available the network of startups, investors, corporate players, state interests and universities. Only then did the entrepreneurship ecosystem begin to flourish and present its current dynamic characteristics.

Acceleration programs such as the Lisbon Challenge have propelled more than 75 international startups in the first edition onto the global stage and for many, first relevant investments. This is the biggest, most sophisticated and attractive acceleration program in Portugal. It also boasts being the most well and internationally connected in Europe. Proof of this is the final roadshow of top startups in Boston, New York, London and São Paulo.

Beta-i has been able to aggregate and attract many state and private stakeholders to its mission of innovating entrepreneurship and create a visible startup culture.


Clusterland Sweden has more than 10 years of experience in cluster management, based on the former cluster Øresund IT and Cluster 55, founded in 1999. The organisation have built up a regional and international network and experience that they share with SME:s and Start Ups in IT and Telecom. With collaborations across boarders – as well industry sectors as geographical – the organisation has helped hundreds of companies to grow internationally.

Clusterland Sweden specializes within internationalization, match-making and fundraising. The organisation act as a bridge between businesses and academia and operate as an open arena for innovations within IT and its cross areas. Clusterland Sweden’s belief is that through working in a structured way with continuous change within and across sectors it will help companies, regions and individuals to grow.


F6S is the largest social network for startups and startup founders With over 700,000 users and more than 120,000 Startups, it currently supports the majority of the Startup/SME ecosystem through deal flow/applications, jobs listings, free services, communication forms and other areas.


2.  Course “Entrepreneurship FCT” (1000 students)

·         Schedule: 5 Weeks

·         Number of students: 1000

·         Number of theoretical/practical classes: 10  (all students together at a grand auditorium)

·         Number of practical classes: 5 (students distributed in 12 classes)

·         Number of startup ideas: 200 (each team including 5 members from interdisciplinary areas)

·         Final: 3 teams were selected for getting the prize.

One of the primary objectives of DIGISTART project is to bring a culture of Entrepreneurship into the University. However, students have a lack of exposure to Entrepreneurship at the early stage and that is where it is the job of academicians and teachers to not just focus on the evaluating through exams, but also help students to identify their excitement and provide them some kind of couching support which help them look clearly at the bigger picture.

Hence, Startup Europe through its project DIGISTART collaborated in organizing an entrepreneurship course at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT/UNL). The course was designed to train aspiring students from all engineering and science backgrounds. Around a thousand students participated during five weeks of FCT entrepreneurship course. This course is mandatory for the all FCT students, and was designed to help students evaluate the business skills and commitment necessary to successfully operate an entrepreneurial venture and review the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship. Students learned about themselves, their decisions, and their goals to determine how entrepreneurship can play a role in their lives. Students also were introduced to entrepreneurship from an economic perspective and the concepts of environmentally sustainable practices and social entrepreneurship.


Figure 1 – DIGISTART collaborated in organizing Entrepreneurship Course at FCT/UNL. The course was lead by UNIDEMI, the partner of project DIGISTART.


Figure 2 – Over 1000 students from different area of engineering and science

There were 10 theory classes including subjects shown in Table 1. During the theory classes, some speakers were invited from outside of university (e.g. a member from linehleath, a successful Portuguese startup). The goal of these 10 sessions were to develop the student competency from idea development to funding and establishing a company. The students learned:

  • How to have ideas.
  • How move your idea forward.
  • How to develop a product.
  • How to define, evaluate and build Value Proposition.
  • How to building their startup team.
  • How to establish a culture that will inspire their team to support the vision and mission.
  • How to be good at customer acquisition.
  • How to develop a Business Plan.
  • How to do sales and marketing.
  • How to find the customers and how to get them to buy the product.
  • What are the main benefits provided by communal workplaces for startups.
  • How to raise money.
  • How to pitch investors.

Moreover, there were 5 practical classes during this course. The students distributed to 12 classes. At each class, students were divided into interdisciplinary teams including 5 members each. (The students were from different area of engineering and science). These 200 teams were practically were trained to follow different activities. At the end of classes each team had an idea with value proposition and developed the business model for


Figure 3 – The students in one of the practical classes starting their team development process.


Figure 4 – Aneesh Zutshi along another professor and two invited mentors selecting the teams to send for final pitching.

Finally, 12 teams from 200 teams short listed based on their pitch. Then, during one full day, each team got more training about how to pitch professionally. Then the next day, these 12 teams pitched their startup ideas in the big auditorium.


Figure 5 – Final day! The 12 selected teams are presenting their startup idea to the jury members. The participants are eager to see which teams are wining.


Figure 6 – DIGISTART participating at final selection process of the best teams that developed their startup idea during this course.


3.  Course Digital Ecosystems

The Digital Business Ecosystems is an academic course aimed at imparting practical skills and training, regarding Digital Businesses, Startup Development and the Startup Ecosystem. Its objectives are:

  • In depth understanding of Digital Business and the unique opportunities it offers to Startups.
  • Understanding the digital ecosystem and its various actors.
  • Learn the processes and stages of development of a Startup.
  • Practical experience in developing a Digital Business

Currently this course is being given to students of Industrial Engineering at the New University of Lisbon, but will be openly shared over this platform so that other students can also benefit and use this course.











4.  Digital NOVA  Pre-Accelerator (to be held in 2016)

At NOVA we are organizing a pre-acceleration program for early stage university startups. By pairing startup founders with mentors, the program provides valuable connections to get teams prepared to join a top accelerator raise a seed round or just continue their entrepreneurial journey.

5.  Madan Parque (over 55 startups)

Madan Parque was established in December 1995 by means of a joint effort of 4 founding members, namely: FCT-UNL (Faculty of Sciences and Technology | NOVA University of Lisbon), Almada Municipality, NOVA University of Lisbon – Rectory, and UNINOVA (Institute for the Development of New Technologies, a ROR). Seixal Municipality was the fifth stakeholder to be added, in effect by October 2002.


Madan Parque provides four main service that will be discussed in following sections:







6.  NOVA Office for Entrepreneurship

In Entrepreneurship Office of NOVA UNIVERSITY students, Professors, researchers and Alumni find support for developing their ideas, grow their business or even go international. The

In the ​​Entrepreneurship field, NOVA is creating and developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem within the University, through the involvement of various entities. At NOVA we seek to encourage entrepreneurial culture among students and increase their potential for success.



Starters Academy powered by NOS is an innovative joint initiative of “NOS” and  NOVA. This is the first Portuguese entrepreneurship academy within the university focused on all students at the University, spread across different schools and campus. The main goal is to provide students with the opportunity to work ideas and innovative projects together in a multidisciplinary environment getting knowledge through entrepreneurial experiences, in a logic of full market orientation. The Academy offers the following programs:


This is the Internal competition for “Business Plans” that aims to promote entrepreneurial culture within the university and stimulate multidisciplinary work through the creation of teams composed of members from diferente Schools.

The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem NOVA rely in the elements – individuals, organizations or institutions – in favor of choosing the path of entrepreneurship and what determines your success.

In NOVA is being created an ecosystem with diverse objectives ranging from stimulating entrepreneurship to monitoring the registration of industrial property, since the monitoring of business creation to leveraging research laboratories.

From the momentum that has been created since the genesis of the NOVA University of Lisbon, many of his students, alumni and teachers had followed the path of entrepreneurship. Also they can be found here.

6.1         Creating and Managing Entrepreneurial Ventures

This course was designed to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit of the best students of the University. The goal is to provide participants with the basic tools so that they can develop a business initiative and turn it into reality.

6.2         Starters Academy

The course: Creating and Managing Entrepreneurial Ventures

This course was created to give NOVA students the basic tools to create a startup.

Because of NOS support, this course is free for students.

This is a multidisciplinary class: The class will have students from all over the University so students can create the most awesome teams.


  • Introduction to the Entrepreneurial Process
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Design thinking
  • UX design
  • From Idea to Business
  • Business Planning
  • Executive Summary
  • The Market
  • Social media marketing
  • The technology, product or service
  • IP issues
  • Management Team
  • Business Operations
  • Financing New Ventures
  • Details on the Use of Funds
  • Termsheets
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • How to do a pitch
  • Pitch training
  • Final Pitch

6.3         Workshops

Every year it develops numerous conferences and workshops in order to motivate and encourage the best entrepreneurial practices in our students and our University.

6.4         Entrepreneurial University 2014

NOVA was awarded with the Startup Lisbon “up” prize as the most supportive Portuguese University on entrepreneurship in 2014.