The co-founder of Nest Collective, Miguel Antunes, was born in South Africa and raised in Coimbra, the city he currently calls home after a year-and-a-half stint abroad and a short period living and working in Lisbon. He founded his own software development company, RedLight ten years ago, which he merged five years ago with other existing software development companies in order to, as he put it, “combine overflow and go after bigger projects.” The seven original founders wanted to use this new platform to train new talent, get the new context in the field, and collectively learn from those who have grown from their own trials and errors.
“There aren’t a lot of business incubators here in Coimbra other than the University, so most of the University’s talent would immediately go to one of three big companies or go abroad. We need to make the startup scene interesting enough to keep the talent here…something more in line with what’s happening in bigger cities like Berlin, London, and others. Almost immediately after we were founded, people wanted to join us. We currently have ten companies with over 100 people combined.” Antunes told the IPBN.
At one point, the team was able to raise enough private funding to buy a vacant building built in the ‘60s in the city center of Coimbra. “We were the first tech hub to do that,” Antunes said, “and now others have popped up. Now, we are at a crossroads and we want to level up so we are starting to work with even bigger companies. We’ve been told that we are paving the way for something interesting. Let’s see where it takes us!”
Speaking of future interesting somethings, the Nest Collective recently posted this message on their Facebook profile: “If you have an idea for an IoT (Internet of Things) solution that could improve the city of Coimbra, The Future City Challenge Coimbra is a challenge for you. It's an IoT contest organized by Fikalab, Critical Software's innovation lab. Now get your hands dirty and submit your idea before 31st May and be in the running for a 5,000€ prize.” The IPBN dug more deeply to find out what this means, how the Nest Collective fits into it, and what it will mean for the city of Coimbra.
Critical Software is a services company of over 1,000 people, and the first to work with the space segment with clients like NASA for whom they are developing software. According to Antunes, “They want to shake things up.” Through the Future City Challenge, Critical Software is shaking the public up to imagine the future of the city of Coimbra through positive impact on communities via transport monitoring, air quality, noise control, and other solutions that take advantage of “The Things Network (TTN),” a long-range wireless network (LoRaWAN). If this is all Greek to you, you aren’t alone.
In short, the company is helping to target the sustainability goals set in place by the EU Council. “The more data we have, the better we can analyze the cracks,” Antunes explained. “The radius [of the TNN] is 500 meters from each access point. You have a lot of coverage without the investment in infrastructure you would incur with WiFi. Nest collective was invited to the table with companies 20 years older than us, and we are working with some of their employees who actually started their careers at the Nest Collective.”
Antunes went on to say that this initiative is taking place in Coimbra before it’s happening in most cities, and it’s certainly the first city to make this move in Portugal, so this is just the beginning. Antunes went on to say, “The EU predicts that 1.3 of IT jobs until 2030 are going to get filled in the next few years, so if you’re jumping into software development, Nest Collective is offering software bootcamps, teaching people how to code, and scaling up their resources to collaborate with companies to avoid poaching with an aim to truly enrich the community.
To prove their expansion goals, three IPBN members from within the Nest Collective are all currently recruiting: Deemaze (hiring link here), Pinkroom (hiring link here), and Antunes' brainchild, RedLight (hiring link here).
*Pictured: The Nest Collective's Founding Fathers' First Day at the Nest's New Office: With Miguel Antunes, João Gonçalves, Pedro Cioga, Renato Vaz, João Diogo Costa
Following our annual St. Patrick’s Day Sustainability conference, the IPBN was led on an exclusive tour of the Hub Criativo do Beato in Lisbon and Ombria resort grounds in the Algarve to do a deep dive into what these projects are offering toward a greener future and what steps they have taken to ensure sustainability stays a number-one priority.