Go South: Portugal’s Startup Incuvation scene

LAOCON channel
Feb 28, 2019 · 4 min read

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is one of the most famous destination of startup companies these days. The city has many tourist spots, and also some incuvation centers. According to AICEP (Portugal Global — Trade & Investment Agency), there are 180 startups that received acceleration in Portugal in 2016 and this number is the fifth largest in Europe.

Coworking space for startup companies (left) Laughing over snacks and beers before conference (right)

Startup Lisboa is a incubation center that locates in the city center of Lisbon. There are 50 physical companies and 50 virtual companies. What is the use of having company in Portugal? They gave us following answers. The attraction of the Portugal is that prices are cheaper than the other western European countries, with sunny weather throughout the year. Although prices are on an upward trend, housing and restaurant expenses are at a low level of around 75% of the EU average.

On the day we visited, there was a conference about how to build the browser-based application with websockets that can be even used for complex hardware development project to build rockets.

One of the attendee told us that he is working for the company in the US. Even though his salary is not very expensive in comparison with the average salary in the US, he could have a good life here in Lisbon.

And that’s essentially what it’s all about. The average salary of engineer is still lower in Portugal. But they are enough educated to hire, and most of them can speak English fluently. That’s why many tech companies reach to Lisbon to start their business.

And there’s an organization that supports entrepreneur to apply for resident permit and find the investors. It’s Startup Portugal.

Portuguese Ministry of Economy
The office of Startup Portugal

After we were recommended to visit and taught the street name, we visited the place immediately on that day. Then we found it is inside of the antique building of the Portuguese Ministry of Economy.

Startup Portugal accept the application of the entrepreneur visa and choose them to support.

And they held Web Summit from 2016. Approximately 60,000 people visited from over 170 countries in 2017, about 1,400 investors took part. More than 1,200 lecturers including Netflix, Instagram, Twitter. Every year they have more than 300 pitches, and the president of Portugal also participated with this startup pitch.

However, eue to its strength in the manufacturing industry, hardware startups also tend to pick Porto as its base, the second biggest city in the northern part of Portugal.

Porto, the second biggest city in Portugal (left) Application to learn sign language was demonstrated in the metro station (right)
Every Tuesday Porto I/O has a meeting for digital nomad, freelancers.

Despite its highly educated standard, Portugal has been underrated for many years. But the bigger enterprise like Google, Amazon, Daimler also pay attention to its potential. This is because the government offers tech visa not only for entrepreneur but also for those big companies.

In 2017, 245 projects were approved for use of the start-up voucher, 409 entrepreneurs, 93 staff members approved to use the instant voucher. The ecosystem for tech company is quite eclectic and flexible in Portugal. Thus, there will be more opportunity for our service of cybersecurity and blockchain technology. It is trivial, isn’t it?


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