Why Lisbon is becoming Europe`s hottest startup hub
Lisbon´s startup scene is booming more than ever before. The “city of the seven hills” is attracting an ever-increasing number of investors and entrepreneurs from abroad due to its tech-friendly infrastructure, creative, talented youth and the — compared to Berlin or London — still small, but highly ambitious startup community. The transition into a startup capital, however, has only began a few years ago.
Being home to approximately 550.000 inhabitants, the Portuguese capital has been growing into one of Europe´s most thriving tourist destinations in the past years. More than 270 days of sunshine every year, an amazing bar and restaurant culture, and a number of magnificent beaches around the city are only some of the many elements that attract visitors.
Rapid change in the last three years
For a long time Lisbon was far from flying under the radar of European startup hotspots. Too far away from everything, too small, and rather beautiful than cool was what many had on mind. While a few years ago no one would have ever associated Lisbon with the term „entrepreneurship“, startups are now strongly intertwined in the city´s identity. Driven to a large extent by the economic crisis the transformation into one of Europe´s most potential startup hubs has brought a great deal of fresh momentum. Nevertheless, Portugals economic situation is still far from how it should be, leaving substantial room for improvement. In this context, the burgeoning startup ecosystem is without any doubt the key driver of growth. With several hundreds of startups founded in the last years, Lisbon´s startup scene has been expanding at a tremendous speed, faster than in any other European city.
Crowned as „Europe´s most entrepreneurial region for 2015“, Lisbon´s startup mindset has undergone a complete 180 degree turn giving rise to the emergence of various venture capital firms, incubators and accelerators. Faber Ventures, Fábrica de Startups and Beta-i are only a few of the firms that have built a remarkable portfolio of successful startups that have also received great international attention: Uniplaces, Unbabel, Chic by Choice, or Talkdesk, just to name some of them. Codacy, a company that rapidly analyzes and optimizes complex codes represents another Portuguese figurehead on international stage, which at least since 2014, when the startup won the Beta category pitch competition at the Web Summit, gained worldwide recognition.
Hosting this year´s Web Summit
The Web Summit is one of the biggest startup events for technology and innovation in the world and in the last years has been organized in the Irish capital Dublin. In November 2016, the Web Summit will be held in Lisbon for the first time, where more than 50,000 attendees and world-class speakers, investors and international media are expected. Not only this year, but also in the two upcoming years Portugal will host the event, which demonstrates not only Lisbon´s, but the whole country´s role in the startup world nowadays. As Paddy Cosgrave, founder of the Web Summit, explained in the Irish Times there were good reasons for the relocation of the event:
“It is no secret that we have been looking at various locations around Europe to support future growth and provide attendees with the best possible experience. We chose Lisbon because of the strong infrastructure in the city, the world-class venue and the thriving startup community.”
“Europe´s San Francisco”
Often referred to as the European counterpart of the Californian city, there are a lot more similarities between the two than just the long, red bridge. Lisbon is no less home to a vibrant tech-scene, fashionistas, varied cuisine, rolling hills, landmarks and hot summers. One could compare it to a tasty soup with the perfect quantity of various premium ingredients: high quality of life, top talent from tech, management and design universities, fascinating culture, beautiful architecture and landscapes, a great, international startup community that makes it easy to fit in, amazing climate, low costs of living, an endless offer of bars and restaurants, easy access to other European cities through the very central airport, and on top some of the best surf breaks in the world within less than an hour by car. As the famous blogger Mike Butcher from TechCrunch puts it nicely:
“Lisbon is emerging as a genuinely new tech ecosystem in Europe, with Berlin-levels of cheapness but with Southern European weather.”
What the future will bring
The startup hub of Lisbon is bringing to life more and more successful startups and simultaneously ensures continuous improvement of the conditions for young founders to build their own business. Through the increasing international exposure it is forseeable that more international players and investors, especially the big ones, get involved. Lisbon´s startup scene is already on fire, and together with other Portuguese cities with strong entrepreneurial spirit like Braga, Porto and Coimbra, it will reposition the country into a bellwether in the global startup landscape.
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