Ready, set, grow! Portugal is the best place to start up

There is no news that Portugal has blossomed into one of the best countries to build a startup in Europe — and the startup ecosystem isn't showing signs of slowing down.

There is no news that Portugal has blossomed into one of the best countries to build a startup in Europe — and the startup ecosystem isn’t showing signs of slowing down. With 160 incubators and more than 2000 active startups, which is 13% above the average number of startups per capita in Europe (190), the Portuguese entrepreneurial ecosystem is among the best in Europe.

Where does Portugal stand?

Portugal has embraced a world of fast-paced change and has positioned itself in the international entrepreneurial landscape as the perfect place to kick off.

The country has been improving and promoting what it has to offer. Today, it is a modern and welcoming country that attracts tourists, expats, and companies to establish their lives and business in the territory. One of the most recent companies establishing operations here is Uber, with an investment of €90 million on a new hub, which stands as an affirmation of Portugal in the services industry.

Regarding last year’s pandemic, the Portuguese government launched over 30 initiatives to protect workers and families and mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19. Among the many measures, it established a €60 million credit line for micro-businesses in the travel and tourism sector, undergown support for the maintenance of employment contracts in a company in the amount of 2/3 of the remuneration, and ensured 70% of social security, promoted exceptional financial support for employees and self-employed who had to stay at home to accompany their children, and has approved state-guaranteed credit lines including €200 million for travel agencies, recreational services enterprises, and event organisers.

Portugal has also excelled in attracting foreign investment, consistently seeking to attract industry and businesses with added value. Quality of life, the sun and sea, cost of labour, and specialized talent have something to do with it.

Here, we leave you some of the reasons that make Portugal a country with much potential:

1. Portuguese Talent

The Portuguese education system has witnessed historic improvement in access, attainment, and performance over the past 20 years, and Portugal is now recognized for its qualifications, flexibility, and commitment. This is, in part, thanks to local faculties churning out hundreds of great developers every year. Around 53% of people in Lisbon between 20 and 30 are STEM graduates, which goes a long way to serve the demand for developers from Lisbon’s startups and tech firms. Also, the people behind Portuguese startups are highly qualified, with the majority of them holding at least a master’s degree.

2. Vibrant startup ecosystem

All this talent is supported by a network of accelerators and incubators, mainly providing the first steps in the startup development process. From 2016 to 2020, the number of incubators grew by 40%.

Portugal has been establishing itself as a robust and resilient entrepreneurship ecosystem, in a vibrating stage, with a Startup portfolio that has matured significantly in terms of quality, substantial international visibility and awareness, and an exciting track record, now with four unicorns.

Also, as the local market is relatively small, nascent startups address international markets by design. With global product validation, it is usually more efficient to build for the world from the very beginning.

3. Easiness of investment

There has been a growth of national players that play the role of investors in their multiple formats and reinforce the ecosystem’s capacity to attract more international investors who look at our market with interest. In Portugal, there are no restrictions to foreign capital entry, for the regulatory framework says no one can be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality. In that way, the rules applicable to foreign investment are similar to those applicable to domestic investment.

4. Real Estate at fair prices

Real Estate prices are 80% to 66% cheaper than in places like Zurich and Berlin. Based on headline price, office spaces in Lisbon’s buzzing city centre cost on average of 22€ per m² per month, and that’s over 80% less than London’s West End. Despite Lisbon’s recent spike in home rental and sale prices due to the influx of tourism in the city centre, it’s still an affordable place to live. According to Numbeo, the average cost of an apartment in the city centre is 54% cheaper than comparable apartments in London.

5. A very international country

Portugal is characterized by a great local culture of welcoming foreigners (and where the Golden Visa program has gathered unanimous approval as a key facilitator). People genuinely like to help and are pretty at ease with using other languages. It has a historical legacy of people that embrace different cultures and are used to doing business with other countries. It is then no surprise the country’s connections to the rest of the world, with privileged bridges to relevant markets like Brazil, Angola, and other Portuguese-speaking countries. Also, if you decide to launch in Portugal, you will be in the same timezone as London, only one hour behind the majority of Western Europe. More than this, there is a six-hour overlap within reasonable working hours with the US’s East Coast and a three-hour overlap with the West Coast.

The local tech scene is clearly heading in the right direction. Feel free to reach out, and we will prepare an action plan together to have you start to operate immediately in Portugal.


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September 24, 2021
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