Miguel Fontes looks ahead to the city’s 2019 Web Summit and its potential benefits for Portugal’s capital city.

Q: Why is Lisbon’s tech scene booming?

A: It all started at the peak of the crisis, when innovation played a big role in our financial recovery. However, the ingredients were already here: [talent from our international education system, our quality technological infrastructure, and strong public and private networks that support innovation].

All of this has helped position Lisbon’s tech scene as the best place for an events such as the 2019 Web Summit, turning itself into an ecosystem that cannot be overlooked. Also, it’s a city that provides good work-life balance, while being cosmopolitan.

Q: How does Lisbon’s tech scene stand out from other European hubs?

A:Lisbon is really well positioned geographically, and well served for direct flights to important hubs in Europe, North America and South America. Also, you can hire highly skilled talent with a very competitive investment compared to other hubs, and it’s easy for companies to attract foreign talent to Lisbon. In a world deeply marked by closure dynamics, Portugal adopted a strategy of open doors to the world.

If you look at our country, you can only be surprised by the ratio of startups, considering our geographic and population dimension – and a lot of them have in a global reach.

Q: What effect has Web Summit had on Lisbon?

A: Web Summit is the biggest event. But what has been interesting is to see is how many entrepreneur communities and events have emerged in Lisbon in order to be close to the [tech] community. It’s important to highlight the fact that Lisbon has now a fast-paced schedule of events for every kind of player in the ecosystem. It’s good to see how we’ve got companies that foster big entrepreneur and innovation communities, such as Second Home or Factory, wanting to invest and be present in Lisbon as soon as the ecosystem started to flourish, for example.

Q: What are some of the best or newest incentives for tech investors to move to Lisbon? 

A: I would say that Startup Visa, Startup Tech Visa and the 200M fund are the incentives [that] stand out. I believe we’re on the right path, so the government should continue its strategy: facilitating the visa issuing and establishing co-operation frameworks with other countries.

Q: How is the government reducing rental prices and improving Lisbon’s venture capital (VC) market? Should investors be wary of Portugal’s legislative elections on October 6 2019? Why did [online fashion platform] Zalando leave Lisbon?

A: The main challenges would be to continue leveraging the ability to educate more good talent and attracting international VCs willing to have a regular and permanent presence in Lisbon. Historically, access to capital has always been the biggest fragility of Portuguese economy. I don’t think elections will have a big impact on the tech scene, since all parties are involved and committed to support these industries and fostering science and technology. For Zalando, as far as we know, leaving Lisbon was [part of its] strategic direction of trying to concentrate its activity in fewer hubs. 

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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