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M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Chris Lennon, President & General Counsel, Empowered Startups

By January 3, 2024January 4th, 2024Article

Chris Lennon believes in bringing great people to great countries to create great companies, and that’s exactly what he’s doing as the President of Empowered Startups.   

A lawyer by trade, Chris spent over a decade working with Canadian universities in technology transfer, as well as with startups spun-out of universities that sought to commercialize research products. That experience catapulted him into the leadership of a multi-national headquartered in Canada, which is focused on linking transnational entrepreneurs with university labs and researchers looking to apply and commercialize their discoveries.

Empowered Startups currently facilitates innovative business migration to Canada, USA, Portugal, and France. 

M.R. Rangaswami: There’s been a lot of talk and, quite frankly, criticism about Portugal in the Investment Migration space, yet Empowered Startups appears to be very optimistic. Why are you so positive about opportunities Portugal while others are openly critical? 

Chris Lennon: Portugal is going through a significant shift in the focus of its business / investment migration policy. Just as Canada moved away from passive investment migration schemes a number of years ago, Portugal seems intent on moving away from passive real estate investment schemes in favor of attracting investment in research, technology, and innovation. In a nutshell, they are moving their business migration avenues to those that benefit Portuguese Citizens more broadly by stimulating economic activity and creating jobs of the future, rather than attracting wealthy vacationers. There is nothing wrong with tourism activity, but tourists don’t typically contribute to the domestic tax base that supports the social services that benefit citizens and residents.

M.R.: A common thread between all of the products offered by Empowered Startups is an affiliation with universities. Why is this such an important component of your programs? 

Chris: Universities are critical hubs of innovation, discovery, and core research. And in the current economic climate in both North America and Europe, the coffers funding core research and innovation are strained and becoming more so. The overarching thesis that we have been pursuing for the past decade is that if nations transform their business immigration programs into those that stimulate industry funding for University Research and propel commercialization efforts to get University research products out of the lab, the resulting social benefits will be recognized in multiples of those programs as opposed to the ones that only attract passive investment in real estate and leisure tourism.

M.R.: In North America, the field of Investment Migration has become extremely competitive in the past decade. What are the biggest challenges in navigating the field with respect to the United States and Canada? 

 As many of the previously available passive investment migration schemes are closed or significantly restricted, there are many players from the old system attempting to fit their passive investors into the remaining programs available. Others are attempting to find ways to fit their clients into programs that do not cater to passive investors. From this perspective, yes, it can appear more crowded because the passive options are decreasing. The biggest challenge we face is distinguishing what we do and the programs we offer from all the noise created by the increasingly dwindling passive investment migration options.

M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of

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