I took a little time out from taking time out recently – visiting Porto Innovation Hub during a short (and wonderful!) holiday in Portugal.

Invited by SDN Portugal, Porto Digital, and Porto Innovation Hub, it was a great pleasure to be the first guest at a new series of meet-ups call “City Café”.

My excellent hosts shared a tonne of materials from the
ScaleUp Porto initiative as well as the innovation practice of the City of Porto.

The work being done in Porto builds on previous experience of many cities, but doesn’t disregard the need for local ownership and context in the approach and the ways of working.

Tools, guides, and other information published by the City of Porto as part of their innovation initiative.

Considering the “Guia Para Innovação” (Guide for Innovation) published by the city, even with a minimal grasp of Portuguese it is easy to see how a design thinking approach, coupled with service design methods, has been applied here and is being used to empower everyone from startups through to internal municipality teams.

We discussed Service Design principles and how them might apply at scale in cities.

I presented to a group on a Thursday morning made of local entrepreneurs, city employees, designers and citizens. We discussed the application of Service Design principles at scale, including examples, and considered the economy of data in the city.

Porto is a place to watch for urban innovation. Aside from the fact it’s a beautiful and vibrant city (I extended my stay it’s so good!) the municipality and local enterprise scene is strong on innovation and leading the way on collaboration.


Sunset over the Douro River in Porto – too beautiful not to share!