Portugal’s  booming startup ecosystem

  • Portuguese entrepreneur
Published 2017-11-09 13:06

2017 has definitely been Portugal’s year, with its thriving startup ecosystem holding the front page of tech and business news. While the country is still recovering from 2011’s economic and social crisis, and high unemployment rates challenge its youth, entrepreneurship is an opportunity to reimagine Portugal via revenues, jobs, and a prestigious profile as an international startup hub.

Where in Portugal

Centre-ville de Lisbonne

When we talk about Portugal’s startup ecosystem, in reality, we refer to the west, seashore, and more precisely Lisbon, which accounts for almost 33% of national startups. This clustering phenomenon can be easily justified when we take into account that Portugal’s young population is also concentrated on that side of the country, as well as the universities and job vacancies. But Lisbon’s vivid vibes play an important role too in this dynamic entrepreneurial atmosphere — arts, music, legendary soccer, delicious food, all come at a very good price and in a scenic location. A good work-life balance boost creativity and innovation, and the Portuguese have understood this better than anyone. Surfing anyone?

Who’s providing capital

Startup incubator

Portugal’s entrepreneurial and startup growth has occurred within the past five years — before that, the population wasn’t much aware of the terms, nor of coworking spaces and incubators. But it seems that the economic crisis set the stage for innovation, creativity, and the desire among young people to dedicate their time to the things they love, and they care about, leaving behind the nine to five routine they inherited from their parents.

Truth be told, it’s not easy to find investors for your business in Portugal unless you agree to seed money. However, the biggest funders and mentors are Faber Ventures, Caixa Capital, and the government-backed Portugal Ventures. Other resources come from European institutions, incubators and accelerators, banks, and family and friends — let’s not forget that we are talking about a family-oriented society.

Which fields startups operate in

IT and software developers

A 2016 report by the European Startup Monitor has found out that the most popular fields are IT and software development (almost 20% of the startups), which suggests the influence that the North American and European ecosystems have had on the Portuguese startup ecosystem. However, another very successful area is the bio-nano-medical technology with 9,5% of the startups operating in it.

What’s the profile of the Portuguese startupper

Portuguese entrepreneur

Again, according to European Startup Monitor’s results, 79% of the startup founders are men, above 26 years old, Portuguese citizens (72%), and are not alone in the business but are in a partnership (33,6%). For the time being, as we are still at the very early stages, startuppers are focused on making revenues within Portugal, and internationalisation is not quite yet in the picture. However, from the startups that have expanded overseas, 67,8% are spreading within Europe, 27% have reached North America, and 19% South America. Other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Africa, and Australia are not under the Portuguese radar yet.