Lisbon Startup City

July 6, 2016 |

Accelerating in Lisbon

“Get to know Lisbon’s startup scene, before everybody else,” says Filipe Ramalheira, a counselor in the Embassy of Portugal in Canada.

Web Summit is the best time to make an impression in Europe’s hottest startup hub. This November, ICT West is heading to the conference with the rest of Canada and a strong delegation of innovative companies.

Ahead of the Summit, we’re looking at organizations and companies that transformed the Portuguese capital into one of Europe’s most startup-friendly cities.

Returning to Lisbon

Portugal’s economic downturn in 2010 positively impacted Lisbon’s entrepreneurial boom as more young people took chances to fill needs in the marketplace. In his article for, Robin Wouters describes the ‘reverse brain drain’ effect occurring in Lisbon with the city seeing more entrepreneurs who’d gone abroad for their education return to Portugal to start businesses.

In 2012, the Portuguese government formally recognized the potential in tech startups by creating Portugal Ventures, a €450 million investment agency fund for innovation and technology-based companies, as well as companies based in the more traditional Portuguese tourism and industrial sectors. In March 2016, the Portuguese government debuted Startup Portugal, a national public strategy to foster entrepreneurship and promote local startups internationally.

Capital for Lisbon’s startups is also coming from organizations like Faber Ventures and Caixa Capital and earlier this month the Lisbon Investment Summit brought investors and executives from companies like Microsoft and Cisco to town.

Counselor Ramalheira mentions companies like Uniplaces, Unbabel, Codacy and Outsystems as examples of startups attracting talent to the city, but bringing space to entrepreneurs is Lisbon’s next challenge.

Impact Hub and Second Home

Founder Rohan Silva told TechCrunch that Lisbon is “a super-creative city, but there are not enough places for creative people to come together.” That changes now.

This month brings the first Impact Hub to Portugal, a network of innovation-based incubators and coworking spaces encompassing 70 cities. It’s set to take over 3000 square metres of abandoned space in the Beato-Marvila neighbourhood with desk rentals for up to 300 entrepreneurs for a €80 euros a month.

London-based Second Home, a creative accelerator and workspace, has also received funding to join Impact Hub in Lisbon to bring space to entrepreneurs and sit alongside incubators such as Startup Lisboa.

Billed as the city’s top incubator, Startup Lisboa is a private non-profit providing startup space, mentoring, access to strategic partners and investment. The agency typically hosts around 80 startups at any one time.

The Lisbon Challenge is also attracting international talent to the city with its 10-week acceleration program for tech startups, and is listed as the fourth most active accelerator program in Europe by Fundacity. Companies that graduated from this spring’s session include Wonderroute, an online platform that enables travelers to request custom travel guides to locals and Rnters, an online community platform where both rental companies and individuals can safely rent any personal item to other users.

Web Summit

In six years, Web Summit has grown from 400 attendees to over 50,000 from more than 150 countries. This is the first year that the conference will be held in Lisbon, moving from Dublin where it was held the past five years.

Web Summit’s blog on Lisbon’s startup scene tells you nearly everything to expect in the city, outlining its history as a commerce hub with neighbourhood guides and their favourite Lisboa hangouts for entrepreneurs.

As Pedro Rocha Vieira, President of Lisbon’s Beta-i incubator, told Web Summit that “we don’t need to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, we can be Lisbon.”

Counselor Ramalheira says that it’s this Lisbon you’ll get to see.

“Connect with the game-changers who made it happen, meet top investors from all across Europe, understand better how investment is driving innovation, learn about company culture and talent in today’s organizations. Get inspired by a surprisingly informal, extremely insightful and slightly unexpected startup conference. And do all that, before everybody else gets here.”

The climate is right for Canadian tech to make a breakthrough in Lisbon and across Europe at Web Summit. Find out more about the show on our Web Summit page and join ICT West’s delegation to make the most of your experience in Europe’s startup city.

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