Incubators in the Algarve, the secret of success
I have been saying for a long time – and I write it here now – that few entrepreneurial ecosystems have such favourable conditions for the success of new companies as the Algarve.
StartUp Portimão is a good example of this, with 13 companies investing and doing business with truly remarkable market-share levels. There are also other success stories to point out, such as Centro Regional para a Inovação do Algarve (CRIA), headquartered at the University of Faro: more than 40 companies, around 120 jobs created, over €7 million national sales and over €5 million exports.
Although CRIA has the advantage of working inside a university, successful experiences also occur in other contexts in the same city. For example, Faro Avenida – a coworking space in the centre of the capital of the Algarve is working amazingly, with 26 fully-occupied offices, lots of business to do, and even a waiting list!
I am identifying these good examples of successful stories for one reason only: there is a way of launching and managing incubators and business centres for startups making some real progress. There is a method that produces good results, which increases the number of jobs and per capita income in the areas in which it is applied.
If there is a way to work and manage the launch of new businesses and new companies producing good results, there is no reason for not replicating the proven method in other Algarve organisations to attain the same results.
What I am trying to demonstrate is that, if there is a small base of basic conditions, these success stories can be replicated in other Algarve cities, both in terms of industrial projects and good trade and services.
These new projects may even begin in incubators and business centres that are already in operation, but for one reason or another have not yet found the way to spread their wings and fly.
Projects that are already on the ground – municipal or business associations – are always a good starting point. With the right management and communication, they have everything to take off and reach the success indicators of the cases I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
There are also two or three aspects to be taken into account. The informal networking and sharing of information between incubators have to be improved. The synergies between companies need to be stimulated by a more intense communication between the managers/leaders of each unit. And they must also be run with professionalism, with a sense of opportunity, with a business spirit.
This is what we need to launch and build: a support network for entrepreneurship, a network of attraction for investment. The Algarve is a sea of business opportunities waiting to be monetized.
Luís Matos Martins is CEO of Territórios Criativos at StartUp Portimão