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Porto, Lisbon-Cascais, Portugal

Program Description

Are you ready to take an idea from concept to tech-based start-up in FOUR weeks in the spectacular setting of coastal Portugal and Lisbon? In this one-of-a-kind summer abroad, you will combine team-based experiences in creativity, ideation, innovation, and multidisciplinary/multicultural teaming with opportunities to meet and learn from world experts in design, engineering, business and venture creation as part of a multicultural, multidisciplinary team.

Over the course of this unique summer experience, you will dive headlong into a hands-on, project-driven program focused on creativity, ideation, design, innovation, real-world business modeling, and entrepreneurship. As a collaborative partnership involving faculty from James Madison University, University of California Berkeley, and the European Innovation Academy, this program is an intensive and fast-paced environment where you will learn from experts in the field from businesses such as Intel, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, and include a diverse, worldwide cast of business, engineering, IT and design mentors, serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists

Joining with students from around the world you will learn what it takes to move an idea from concept to reality. Your Portugal innovation experience will cross the Portuguese cities of Porto, Lisbon and Cascais.  Porto is a historic and beautiful coastal city with narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district and grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados.  Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, the city center is one of the oldest in Europe with the western part of the city extending to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.  Cascais, a beautiful Portuguese fishing town on the western edge of the Lisbon coastline and just 20 minutes to Lisbon.  As a city, Lisbon is home to thousands of IT, tourism, manufacturing, healthcare industry companies, innovative small and medium enterprises, and high-tech startups. Across this landscape, you will explore the idea of starting a business from scratch, encounter what it takes to bring a great idea into a viable business venture, and expand your experiences in creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship in a true multidisciplinary and multicultural team-based environment. If you have ever thought you might want to explore the idea of starting a business from scratch, wondered what it takes to bring a great idea into a viable business venture, or just wanted to experience the process of innovation and entrepreneurship, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students in all majors, at all academic levels, and one that you should not miss!

“Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Europe”  is open to students in ALL MAJORS at ALL LEVELS (including graduate students) and offered for ISAT and/or Engineering credit. 

Location Description

The primary home of the program is in Porto, Portugal with the first program week based out of Lisbon-Cascais, Portugal.  While the program is packed with activities, team-based exercises, expert lectures, and project work, there is still time to explore the areas in and around Portugal and Spain that include beautiful coastlines, amazing surf, sun and sand, quaint fishing villages and the nearby beauty and excitement of Porto and Lisbon.

PORTO, PORTUGAL:  Porto is a varied and historic city, from the narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district through to the grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados.  Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, the city center is one of the oldest in Europe with the western part of the city extending to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.  The region is famed for the production of Port, which is still stored and matured in the vast cellars that stretch along the banks of the Douro River.  Situated along the Costa Verde, a dramatic coastline of rocky headlands, Porto is surrounded by coastlines of vast sandy beaches and powerful seas.

CASCAIS, PORTUGAL: Cascais is a beautiful Portuguese fishing town that is situated on the western edge of the beautiful Lisbon coastline, and is the region’s most popular holiday destination. Historically the town was a favorite with the Portuguese nobility, and today the town is an elegant blend of grand 19th century architecture, traditional Portuguese charm and outstanding tourist facilities.  At the heart of Cascais is the Old Town that has retained its traditional Portuguese character and heritage and overlooks the fishing harbor. Away from the town and beaches are scenic coastal walks along the cliffs to Cabo da Rocha, or that follow the beach promenade to Estoril.  

LISBON, PORTUGAL: Lisbon is the stunning capital city of Portugal, and is one of the most charismatic and vibrant cities of Western Europe. It is a city that effortlessly blends traditional heritage, with striking modernism and progressive thinking.  As a holiday destination, Lisbon offers a rich and varied history, lively nightlife and is blessed with a glorious year-round climate.  Perfectly reflecting the Portuguese culture, Lisbon embraces modern culture while maintaining its unique heritage and traditions. Lisbon is consistently recognized as one of the greatest cities in the world, a claim confirmed by the “Lonely Planet Guides", which named Lisbon as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit.


Jonathan H. Spindel | | Integrated Science and Technology


You will stay in accommodations near to the venue in both Porto, Portugal and in Lisbon-Cascais, Portugal.  With ready access to trains, and buses, Porto, Lisbon, and the entire coast of Portugal is easy access.  Accommodations include single and double rooms that are fully furnished and equipped with a bed, table, chair, TV, and cabinets and individual bathroom with shower and sink.

A meal/food allowance is included; however, each residence has access to a kitchen with dishes, cookware, and microwave. There are a wide range of restaurants and grocery stores with access to reasonable price food suitable for all dietary needs.

Additional Items to Consider

  • Non-US students will need to ensure that all appropriate visas and other travel documents are in place. Obtaining a VISA can take as long as three months.  All students will need a current passport.  Students should be prepared to have a cell phone capable of functioning in EU.
  • Students are required to bring a laptop computer for program related work.
  • At times, the program requires students to be physically active.  Students with medical conditions and/or a requirement for medical or physical accomodations should consult with the Program Director prior to departure. 
  • Usual precautions for international travel should be taken with regard to securing items such as backpacks, cameras, wallets, etc. while on location and while traveling before, during, or after the program.
  • Attendance at a pre-program meeting is required upon acceptance

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5

The program is open to students at ALL academic levels and to ALL majors.

ISAT 480 is open to students in ALL majors.
ENGR 480 is only open to Engineering majors.
ISAT 580 is reserved for graduate students only.
LEAD 703 is reserved for graduate students in Strategic Leadership Studies and will require pre-approval of that program.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Resume
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 


Program Open - APPLY NOW for priority

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ISAT 480 : Special Topics in ISAT (3 or 6 credits)

ENGR 480: Advanced Projects in Engineering (3 or 6 credits)

ISAT 580: Readings and Research in ISAT (3 or 6 credits)

LEAD 703: Special Studies in Strategic Leadership (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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