Highly Qualified Activity

Residency Visa

Builds partnerships between Portuguese academia, state-backed R&D facilities, industry, and the world’s transnational business leaders.

Creates a more innovative Portugal and delivers economic benefits to the people who matter most – the citizens of Portugal.


New fast-tracked business-class residency program

Leverage legislation designed to attract highly qualified professionals to stimulate R&D in Portugal.

View required documents for
Highly Qualified Activity visa (art. 61.º)

Benefit from services provided by Empowered Startups, a recognized transnational business incubator


Keep your freedom to manage your other commitments.

Provide strategic direction to your own R&D driven startup.

Seed an option on your future in the EU by contributing to Portugal’s growth.




Designed specifically for highly qualified transnational business professionals.

Smooth transition to a professional base of operations in the EU

  • Your own EU company and bank account, with credit history
  • 3 years concierge incubation services, from business concept creation to product market fit
  • R&D driven IP wholly-owned by your EU company

More flexible and more cost-effective than alternatives

  • Fully refundable if Residency Visa is refused
  • 25% of total cost of the Portugal Golden Visa
  • No additional operational or maintenance fees
  • No business performance requirements

Clear path to eligibility for permanent residency or citizenship

  • Freedom to travel internationally as needed
  • Fast processing : 4-6 weeks until Residency Visa approval
  • Accompaniment through renewals required for PR/ Citizenship eligibility


The Portugal Highly Qualified Activity residency visa business incubation program represents a partnership between Empowered Startups, the transnational business incubator, and top tier research facilities in Portugal. Program participants are selected based on level of expertise and demonstrated ability to provide strategic direction to an innovative R&D-driven venture.

The Selection Process follows three clear steps:


Meet with Intake Committee via videoconference

Discuss your success metrics for your innovative EU start up


Secure your Highly Qualified Activity residency visa

Provide oversight as Empowered Startups lays the groundwork for your venture


Begin the Portugal Highly Qualified Activity business incubation program

Provide strategic direction to your venture’s development



The Portugal Highly Qualified Activity residency visa business incubation program is designed for accomplished professionals capable of providing strategic direction to their own innovative startup, who require the freedom to travel.

Qualify through the Selection Process

Applicants are evaluated on the depth and breadth of their domain(s) of expertise and on their ability to provide strategic direction to an innovative venture with the potential for significant growth.

Launch your new EU venture

Benefit from IP derived from your venture’s R&D project commissioned from a top tier public research institution.

Iterate your business model

Empowered Startups is certified to deliver its LEAN start up incubation program, which follows state of the art business model de-risking methodology.

Choose your future

After final renewal required before PR/citizenship, evaluate your strategic options, and choose the future of your company emerging from incubation.


Empowererd Startups has partnered with Portuguese R&D facilities to deliver the Portugal Highly Qualified Activity residency visa business incubation program.

  • Paul Girodo
  • Chris Lennon
  • Laura Blumes
  • Shawn Olson
  • Alex Rodrigues

Paul Girodo

Empowered Startups Co-Founder

Paul Girodo, MBA is expert in transnational entrepreneurship, scaling startups, and designing leading edge immigration products that deliver clear benefits to the governments, start-up ecosystems, and most importantly the citizens of countries accepting transnational business class migrants. As Co-Founder of Empowered Startups he helped build it into the largest deal flow provider to the Government of Canada’s Start-up Visa Program. He also leads Empowered’s delivery of new leading edge fast-track business investor class migration programs for entrepreneurs in Portugal and France with a growing number of established incubators in both countries. His industry interests range from combating human trafficking with his father (former Team Leader for INTERPOL Group of Experts on Corruption and Chief Human Factors Consultant in specialized drug and money laundering investigations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to deep tech and social venture enterprises. He is a shareholder and director of many Canadian, French, and Portuguese companies.

Chris Lennon

Empowered Startups President & General Counsel

After spending a little over a decade with a prominent law firm in Vancouver, primarily advising technology companies, research organizations, and corporate boards, Chris joined Empowered Startups Ltd. as President and General Counsel. Prior to taking on this role, Chris had acted as Empowered’s primary legal counsel since the organization’s inception. Chris also acted as an advisor on strategic issues and specific ventures incubated with the organization. As President and General Counsel Chris now oversees all Empowered’s operations and legal matters, working closely with the business incubator’s Board of Directors.

Separate and apart from his role with Empowered, Chris also continues to advise technology companies and other organizations through Lennon Law Corporation.

Laura Blumes

Empowered Startups Managing Director – Europe

Laura co-created the Empowered Startups incubation programs in Portugal and France respectively, which she continues to lead. She has the honour and privilege of forming and nurturing important partnerships in the dynamic start-up ecosystems in Europe.

Prior to her role as Managing Director, Laura took responsibility for Empowered Startups’ key operational initiatives, at global and local levels, through her role as VP Int’l – Strategic Initiatives. Laura is a systems strategist, with over 15 years experience designing and implementing IT-enhanced organizational development systems. She served in senior leadership positions in service-driven organisations with distributed operations. Her specialty is in creating robust, scaleable and practical systems that allow for ad hoc adaptations within a variety of socio-economic contexts.

She holds an MBA in the Management of Technology and an M.A. in Educational Technology; Laura served as an immigrant settlement assistance volunteer for 3 years.

Shawn Olson

Empowered Startups Vice President – Business Development

Shawn is a graduate of the University of British Columbia who has lived and worked all over the world. He is a dynamic leader and lifelong coach who believes in the inspirational power of the human spirit. His 6 years living and working in Central Europe has provided Shawn a global perspective on life and business. He has a proven track record of driving business results and fostering long term strategic global partnerships. Shawn has years of experience building and leading national sales and recruitment teams in multiple industries. His unique experience working for and with some of Canada’s most prestigious universities provides Empowered Startups with valuable insight.
Shawn is a passioned mentor, an avid sportsman, who is passionate about travel, people and relationship building.

Alex Rodrigues

Brigantia Eco-Park Technology & Innovation Officer

Alex leads the operations of Brigantia-EcoPark, an IAPMEI-certified Start Up Visa incubator in northern Portugal, 90min outside of Porto. As a key co-creator of the Portugal Angel Visa protocol, he facilitates the partnerships with authorities and public bodies in Portugal. Empowered Startups first incubator in Portugal was launched within the well-appointed facilities of Brigantia-EcoPark.



Applications for admission to the Portugal Highly Qualified Activity residency visa business incubation program may be made directly to Empowered Startups, or through one of the program’s recognized agents, who offer priority processing.


Curated Articles of Interest

Portugal HQA residency visa business incubation program FAQ

Commonly asked questions about the program


About the Business Incubator

Empowered Startups is a transnational business incubator, recognized in Canada, France and Portugal.


Global Peace Index: Portugal

The 13th annual ranking of nations identifies Portugal as the world’s 3rd most peaceful society.


Ernst & Young Report: Portugal

EY’s comprehensive report highlights Portugal’s marked and continued gains, as it outpaces the EU for economic growth.


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