“They found the right way to bring their ideas to life”: within Set.Up Guimarães

“They found the right way to bring their ideas to life”: within Set.Up Guimarães

Marta Mota Prego, Head of the Economic Development Division from Guimarães Municipality, took the time to explain to us their vision for the ecosystem, with a particular focus on bridging the gap between industry, academia and entrepreneurship. Come with us to get to know this incubator in the birthplace of Portugal.

This content is available in Portuguese.


– How did Set.Up Guimarães come about? What history have you made?

Set.Up Guimarães is the network of Incubators of the Municipality of Guimarães. Certified by the National Incubator Network (of Startup Portugal), it was created with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship and supporting the development of innovative business ideas. It is divided into 3 axes: LabPac – creative area, TecPark – technological area, and Set.Up In(dustry) – industrial area.

We have a network of almost three dozen mentors, made up of managers, founders and experienced academics. To date, we have supported more than 120 projects/startups, 220 entrepreneurs and organized hundreds of training, awareness-raising, mentoring and networking initiatives for the community’s startups, clearly focusing on connecting the various players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: startups, industry, academia, sector associations and investor networks.

– Can you tell us the story of a startup that made a difference in the incubator? And where did incubating with you make a difference?

At Set.Up Guimarães, we’re proud to say that most of our incubatees have found the right way to bring their ideas to life. Of these, we can highlight Hydrumedical, one of those great examples of how a spin-off that came out of academia and went through Set.Up Guimarães’ incubation program has been moving towards success.

Hydrumedical emerged as a spin-off from the 3B’s Group, a research group at UMinho, and the initial aim was to bring together the best in biomaterials and research into materials applied to health and the improvement of medical technologies. After three years of research and development, Alexandre Barros, CEO of Hydrumedical, worked on the idea during his PhD and developed a working prototype of a biodegradable catheter.

Hydrumedical has already received around 2 million euros in private investment and continues to be part of the Set.Up Guimarães/Avepark ecosystem. Proof of this is the recent inauguration of its own greenfield building, built and opened recently in Avepark.

– Failure is also part of the journey. What did you learn most from something that didn’t go well?

One of the biggest lessons we learned was with the Set.Up IN(dustry) industrial acceleration and incubation program, which promotes a win-win relationship: startups gain access to a workspace, tools and know-how to help validate their prototypes and the industry gains access to collaboration with startups, which can accelerate its technological (and digital) innovation process and improve its efficiency.

The first edition involved intensive work by Set.Up Guimarães with the participating startups. However, although the program had a very positive impact, we quickly realized that it was also necessary to train the industry, so that entrepreneurs and their teams were prepared to work collaboratively with the startups. In this sense, we believe that the first edition of the program could have had an even greater impact if the industry had been trained on how to take advantage of the work done with startups.

The first edition of the program ended up providing us with a very relevant set of lessons. We are currently in the process of launching a third edition, even more innovative and disruptive, in which we have also planned to organize a series of training sessions for industry. Our aim is to provide entrepreneurs and their technical teams with a full range of training courses.



– What is your incubator’s differentiating factor? In other words, what is it about you that uniquely enhances the success of the startups you incubate?

The Municipality of Guimarães has been working, through Set.Up Guimarães, to increase the startup-industry-knowledge center relationship, where the aforementioned Set.Up IN(dustry) acceleration program is a good example.

We mustn’t forget that Guimarães is a municipality intrinsically linked to industry, especially textiles, cutlery and metallurgy (verticals that have contributed to the dominance of the secondary sector to this day), so it is essential to continue developing programs that stimulate innovation in industry, helping the transition to digital in an articulated way.

The connection between incubated startups and the University of Minho, the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave and the academic interfaces and R&D centers is also an important factor in the growth and success of the projects. These structures are essential in supporting startups, allowing them to work in partnership with researchers, specialists and technicians from different areas, backgrounds and resources.

Another differentiating factor is the on-demand and individualized support we provide to startups. Set.Up Guimarães presents an incubation program that is open and adaptable to the needs of each startup in the community, adjusting resources and designing services to boost the growth and success of each one, increasing their chances of overcoming initial challenges and achieving long-term success.

– Community is one of the factors that distinguishes an incubator from an office center. How do you take care of yours and what plans do you have to make it more cohesive and fertile?

We consider the feeling of community on the part of entrepreneurs to be fundamental to the growth and development of startups. We often say that Set.Up Guimarães doesn’t just consist of two buildings for incubating companies, which simply provide work space for entrepreneurs. Set.Up Guimarães is a community, a living organism that was born to support entrepreneurship in the region and that evolves according to the needs of each project that sets up in the incubator.

All the initiatives we organize are aimed at exchanging synergies between the various startups installed at Set.Up Guimarães, contributing to a dynamic and collaborative environment that facilitates interaction between entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and the industry, thus creating a unique ecosystem.

An example of this is the various networking activities we organize (such as Creative Sessions, Creative Tours and Creative Breakfasts), which serve above all to connect incubated startups with other entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, academic experts and industry professionals, creating a network of contacts that is essential for the growth of the community’s entrepreneurs.

– What are the main challenges for incubation in your specific context?

The challenges ahead lie above all in increasing Set.Up Guimarães’ reach at national and international level. At this point, international partnerships are essential.

Set.Up Guimarães has been working to strengthen its participation in international networks made up of Universities, Interfaces and R&D Centers, with a view to increasing the support conditions for entrepreneurs in the Set.Up Guimarães community, providing access to an ecosystem that offers excellent conditions.

At this stage, we are also focused on strengthening and reaffirming the national and international positioning of Avepark – Science and Technology Park, to which we are also linked, as a reference hub for the installation of companies with a high intensity of scientific and technological knowledge and startups in the digital, medical technology and biotechnology areas.

– Do you want to share any news with us? Any events or initiatives that we should all keep on our agenda?

In 2024 we can highlight two major initiatives:

  • The 3rd edition of the Set.Up In(dustry) acceleration and incubation program, which will be more complete and more disruptive, with the aspect of empowering industry to enable the soft landing of startups, promoting strategic and successful collaboration.
  • We will also have the second edition of the Mês da Economia, Inovação e Indústria do Futuro (which in 2023 was held in October, with thousands of participants and more than 30 initiatives and events. The 2024 edition will also feature a week of events dedicated specifically to the theme of entrepreneurship and startups.


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Startup Portugal Team • March 15, 2024