Lisbon: Portugal’s largest venture capital firm held its first international investor summit in Lisbon today in a bid to showcase what it considers to be some of the nation’s most promising startups.

Portugal Ventures, a state-backed fund with €450 million in assets under management, asked 18 early stage companies that it has invested in to give eight minute pitches to a room full of VCs and angel investors from as far as China and Silicon Valley. 

The idea behind the event, which was attended by Techworld, is to promote Lisbon as a technology hub that can rival what’s happening in the likes of London and Berlin. It’s also designed to give startups in the Portugal Ventures’ portfolio a chance to secure additional funding to grow their businesses. 

Speaking at the summit in Lapa Palace Hotel, situated in an upmarket enclave within Lisbon’s city walls, Portugal Ventures CEO José Franca said: “We know fully well that Portugal still has a long way to go to become a hub for international venture capital and recognised as a leading startup nation but we are on the road to make it happen.”

Image: A view over Lisbon's dimplomatic quarter towards the River Tagus (Credit: Sam Shead)

“It will take determination, perseverance, and above all, the courage to do things that will take time to mature to generate results and success. Portugal Ventures has a mission to make this vision a reality.” 

Franca added: “We want to encourage and support world class entrepreneurship in Portugal and further open up our economy to the world.”

Companies that pitched on the day included: AuditMark, a security startup that helps businesses protect their code from thieves; Codacy, a tool that allows developers to test their code; and iClio, a free travel app that generates tours for people based on the time they have in a particular place.

After each company pitched their business they were grilled in front of the audience by a panel of four seasoned investors, in much the same way that Duncan Ballantyne and Peter Jones question entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den. 

Many of the early stage investors in the room will typically offer startups a figure between £30,000 and £200,000 in return for a percentage of their company. 

Jon Castor, a Silicon Valley VC who sat on the panel told Techworld that he will probably have “follow up conversations” with approximately four of the startups that pitch at the event, adding that he “may” invest in one of those. 

However, VC funding isn’t for everyone and many entrepreneurs argue that founders should try and grow their business organically without giving chunks of it away in return for cash. 

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