Lisbon’s startup ecosystem at a glance


The Portuguese city of Lisbon is one of Europe’s sunniest cities, the most Eastern in-land capital of the continent and, lately, a place that is on the radar for many international companies and entrepreneurs. Lisbon lives between an old and modern atmosphere, an open-minded approach and cultural diversity which gives the city a special charm that is complicated to describe in words but easy to perceive once you set foot on its soil.

The Atlantic Ocean meets a Mediterranean climate, granting Lisbon a year-round good climate, which is appreciated by many water sports lovers and also gives the chance to live the city to the fullest. The capital isn’t very big, which makes it easy to move around by foot or public transport. It has buzzing streets, amazing well-priced gastronomy and breathes a medium-paced way of life that offers a good work-life balance.

In the midst of the economic crisis (2007), Lisbon learnt to open to the world to create new opportunities and embrace entrepreneurship in order to get the capital, and the country, back on its feet. The startup scene is embryonic, but it is growing rapidly, fueled by energy and attention. Still nowhere near European giants like London, Paris or Berlin, but everything is in place for it to grow to be the startup capital of Southern Europe. Between the most recognised Lisbon-born and based startups we can find: Talkdesk, and Unbabel, among many others.

The population of Portugal is a little over 10 million which can be seen as a challenge or an immense opportunity for professionals looking for a new opportunity, companies and entrepreneurs. Salaries are amongst the lowest in Europe, which although can be seen as a challenge for many, can make Lisbon a good place to test out a new career for young workers and entrepreneurs.

On the radar of big corporations who are looking to open an office abroad and entrepreneurs aiming to start a project, Lisbon, and the Portuguese government, offer a helping hand to settle, start or continue a project or company in its country. In 2018 the Portuguese government created a venture capital fund worth €200 million, intended to boost foreign investments in startups. Related to this, there are many advantages to starting a company in Lisbon, and Portugal, for non-EU residents, like getting a golden visa or a startup visa for tech entrepreneurs.

The Lisbon startup scene and entrepreneur community is growing each day. Since 2014 Lisbon based startups have raised more than €200 million. As of 2018, 7264 companies have been created in Lisbon, 743 of them in the high-tech sector, one of the most popular in the capital.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shaken up Portugal, but not as much as its neighbour country Spain. The government acted fast and declared a state of emergency mid-March, closing down its frontiers and implementing lockdown for its residents across the country, and specially in the northern region. Remote work and work from home is nothing new in most startups, which has made it easier for workers to keep the performance as if they were at the office.

After the worldwide economic crisis of 2007, Lisbon, and Portugal, found a way to come out and start to build the economy up again. Even though now there are many bureaucratic processes and company expansions on hold, there’s no doubt that Lisbon will continue to grow and shift from a startup and digital nomads hub to a scaleup centre.

For those interested in the Portuguese capital’s startup scene and those looking to move or invest there, here are some basic insights on the community and investment opportunities.

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