Web Summit 2018: How Portugal pins its hopes on Lisbon
By Maria Thermann

Web Summit 2018: How Portugal pins its hopes on Lisbon

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Last year around 50,000 people turned up for the world's largest tech conference, when it was held in Portugal's capital. This year Lisbon expects to welcome more than 70,000 attendees, when the conference takes place from 5th to 8th November. Among them will be more than 1,200 speakers, over 2,600 journalists and most of the world's Fortune 500 companies. Around 68% of the attendees will be senior management, decision-makers who say where and when an investment will be made. No small wonder then that Portugal is looking to Lisbon with regard to a national resurgence.

Holding the conference has already born fruit: as far as tech startups are concerned, Lisbon is being hailed as the new San Francisco. Countless new firms and international young talent has moved to the Portuguese capital, which has had a huge affect on the local housing market. Prices have rocketed and prime properties are getting scarce, as even pop royalty Madonna discovered last year.

When the world-wide financial crisis hit Europe, Portugal had to go cap in hand to the EU and ask to be bailed out. Francisco Mendes, co-founder of Beeverycreate.com, which makes small, budget desktop 3D printers, was unemployed during the fiscal crisis, but now he's cautiously optimistic about his country's future. With the right support he believes Portugal could be on the verge of an amazing transformation from a nation dependant on tourism to a country rivalling California and Silicon Valley.

"We are quite small but there’s energy and new thinking and new technology here and it’s really happening," Francisco said in an interview with The Guardian in October last year. "We are not Silicon Valley in size, but maybe in dynamism we’re like it was 20 or 30 years ago."

Already there's renewed optimism everywhere, with the construction sector picking up too and new apartments being built. Much of Lisbon may still look a little shabby, but the cranes that are springing up like mushrooms over night are a sign that things are getting better. And it's easy to see why Lisbon is so appealing to young tech entrepreneurs. A great climate, lower property prices than in London or Paris, a fantastic nightlife and great cultural attractions on one's doorstep, not to mention fabulous food and easy-as-pie company set up rules make Lisbon a perfect choice to relocate. For entrepreneurs with young families there are also plenty of international schools to choose from:

  • Carlucci American International School of Lisbon
  • CornerStone Academy
  • Deutsche Schule Lissabon
  • International Preparatory School
  • Lyceé Français Charles Lepierre
  • St.Dominic's International School
  • St. Julian's International British School

are just some of the choices available. The cost of living is also considerably lower than in Paris or London. Buying an espresso in Lisbon costs between 60 cents and one euro. Try offering that in central London and be prepared to hear abuse. And there's the quality of life after work: it takes just a 15-minute train ride to reach Cascais where several wide sandy beaches await one's pleasure. A little further up the coast there's world-class surfers' paradise Ericeira, which hosts the annual international surf competition ASP World Surf Tour.

For startups and micro companies there are also plenty of co-working spaces available, such as Village Underground in the heart of Lisbon, or Liberdade 229 for example, which is home to entrepreneurs from many different backgrounds, not just the technology sector. Numerous networking events such as Entrepreneurs Break or Product Tank are also at hand to provide those who relocate to Lisbon to start their own business with valuable advice and networking opportunities among like-minded people.

For investors in international property, Lisbon offers a unique opportunity to be part of the country's emergence as a world-class tech startup destination. Not every young entrepreneur will be buying an apartment or town house; many will simply rent long-term before making a buying decision. Both segments of Lisbon's residential real estate market are thus benefiting from the startup phenomena. For further information about Web Summit Lisbon 2018, please visit https://websummit.com/.

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