More than 40 business leaders representing Scotland’s tech startup scene will travel to Portugal in November to attend Web Summit.

The group of ecosystem builders and founders will visit the global tech event in the capital Lisbon to drum up business for Scottish digital firms seeking in a place in international markets.

Funded by the Scottish Government, with financial assistance from sponsor accountants Johnston Carmichael and Thorntons Law, the ‘Foras’ trip takes place during the event from 13-16 November, with over 2,300 startups and over 1,000 investors in attendance globally.

The Lisbon 2023 Foras Programme was designed by Foras co-founders Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray, and Carolina Melendez. 

Caro Melendez, Foras co-founder, said: “We’re excited to bring together a richly diverse cohort, not only in the focus and stage of business growth but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience. Selected from 106 applications from across this amazing country, our delegates are a true illustration of Scotland’s eclectic entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We know the trip will bring inspiration and professional opportunities, but the ‘Foras’ model also encourages trust, openness and fostering peer relationships within the group.

“The cohort will return with invaluable experiences, new connections and a global mindset that we hope will benefit the Scottish startup ecosystem as a whole.”

The trip is supported by the Scottish Government, enterprise agency Scottish Development International (SDI) and Techscaler, the startup support programme run by CodeBase. The startup cohort programme is aimed at ‘making connections with the international startup community, peer-to-peer learning, investor engagement, and learning best practices from the Web Summit conference and local startup success stories such as Unbabel’.

In line with the Pathways report, commissioned by the Scottish Government earlier this year, the programme will have a strong focus on addressing the barriers and challenges women face in entrepreneurship, including professional mentorship, peer connectivity, access points to relevant support organisations, fundraising best practices and investor-facing opportunities. Women are well represented in the programme, making up 70% of the delegation members. 

Startup incubator CodeBase has also partnered with the initiative, supporting 7 female startup and ecosystem leaders from their Techscaler membership community to join the Foras cohort. 

The Lisbon trip follows the success of similar trips to Silicon Valley in April 2022, Helsinki in Nov 2022 and NYC in April of this year. The visits stem from Mark Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review in 2020, with Logan stating recently, with regard to the Foras model, that “To build world-class companies, startup founders should always be outward-looking, learning from best-practice techniques and frameworks from around the world.”

Kelly Gardner, head of national community at CodeBase, said: “Techscaler exists to support fledgling and growing startups, and a key aspect of that is signposting to the amazing opportunities across the ecosystem. We’re excited to be able to amplify and support this delegation, and expose our members to new opportunities through our collaboration with Foras.”

The Foras cohort will experience the vibrant culture of Lisbon, have quality time with established global startup success stories and be part of unique networking opportunities with entrepreneurial representatives and investors from around the world at Web Summit. The week will come to a close with a series of pitches from cohort companies at an exclusive investor showcase event.

Dr Damla Khan, co-CEO of digital health startup, Selfily, said: ”As a first-time female founder, this opportunity is invaluable. I’m excited to build a strong network and establish long-term connections with like-minded individuals, both personally and professionally. Exposure to a diverse international audience presents the potential for forging strategic partnerships, exploring new markets, and seizing investment opportunities for Selfily.”

Jo Halliday, founder & CEO of data tech startup, Talking Medicines, said: “I am delighted to be joining the Foras Lisbon cohort. I see Web Summit as the place ‘where the future goes to be born’, and I relish the opportunity to not just attend, but to actively represent Scotland’s innovative startup ecosystem, sharing our knowledge and insights around our capabilities, and showcasing our company, culture and country to the international community.”

The Foras Cohort selected is:

Anne Marie Alexander of Within Eve

Ash Penley of ZOEX

Asha Anderson of DragonflAI

Barry Leaper of LiberEat

Beena Sharma of CCU International

Cara Bielecki of Present Pal

Charlie Winton of OK Positive

Damla Khan of Selfily

Danae Shell of Valla

Elaine Ford of Electric Explorer

Hamish Livingston of Willo

Hilde Frydnes of Together

Jo Halliday of Talking Medicines

Karen Robinson of Three Robins

Lisa Venter of Snappy Shopper

Matthew Freer of Infix

Mo Khan of Lokali.Shop 

Natalya Ratner of Robotical

Nick Guy of No Logo

Nikki Gibson of SWURF

Rachael Brown of Creative Entrepreneurs Club

Rachel Jones of Snapdragon

Sarah Morgan of Nano-Lit

Sean Walker of Bondd

Stephen Elliot of Neurobright

Wes Beard of Konversible

Yemi Scott of XRology

Startup leaders from the Techscaler Community are:

Elizabeth Pirrie of AccelerateHER

Lingsay Wong of Data Understood

Maria Bell of Mesomorphic

Melissa Sully of Sensecity

Mia Risk of Chauffeur Drive Systems

Roisin McClory of ScribePro