Viana do Castelo, Portugal – July 18, 2023 – Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo has entered an MOU with Empowered Startups to expand Empowered’s HQA Visa™ Program to the institution. This will give IPVC the opportunity to receive foreign direct investment towards research secured through the program. 

“[This MOU] will leverage and allow closer relations between the Polytechnic of Viana do Castelo, which has scientific and technological know-how, and foreign companies, which aim to receive this knowledge and invest in the national market,” said IPVC President Carlos Rodrigues. “It will also make the territory more cohesive, inclusive and competitive.” 

Empowered Startups, a Canadian multinational based in Évora, has been operating its HQA Visa program in Portugal for a little over three years, but recently delivered to the Government a Commitment Letter agreeing to recruit 50 new entrepreneurs, business executives, and domain experts to invest in new projects within the next 12 months, and then to grow the program further each year thereafter. The Commitment Letter was presented to the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa in a session at the Alentejo Science and Technology Park, on February 8, 2023. 

Empowered Startups has already established partnerships with the universities of the Algarve, Aveiro, Évora, Beira Interior and with the polytechnic institutes of Bragança, Guarda, Leiria, Santarém, and Portalegre. With the addition of Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Empowered Startups will further its commitment to expand the program to universities and polytechnics throughout the interior regions. 

“With this program, we bring direct foreign investment to universities and polytechnics in the form of research funding and commercialization expertise. Our program also brings broader economic stimuli, particularly to the interior regions, by creating and establishing new companies, commercializing new technology, and bringing international talent to local economies,” says Chris Lennon, President of Empowered Startups.  

The HQA Visa Program aims to recruit highly qualified foreign professionals, with domain expertise, business leadership, and entrepreneurial experience, to start and finance research projects at Universities and Polytechnics and to spin out new startup companies to commercialize Portuguese innovation resulting from those projects. 

More information about the HQA Visa Program can be found at and at 

About Empowered Startups: 

Founded in 2009 in Vancouver, Canada, Empowered Startups’ mission is to connect work done in universities with the business world, helping researchers and entrepreneurs commercialize innovation. It has focused its work in remote and rural areas to attract talent and new job and business opportunities to these locations. Since its founding year, it has supported more than 450 startups on 6 different continents.