In the streets of the old industrial district of Beato, in East Lisbon, start-ups and co-working spaces have set up their business in abandoned warehouses on the edge of the Tagus. To survive the crisis, Portugal has put in place a strategy to attract investors and innovative companies. Time for a closer look.
The arrival of the Web Summit in Lisbon is no coincidence: for several years, the Portuguese capital has been turning its attention to high-tech. The “Davos of geeks” has, in fact, left Dublin to settle at the edge of the Tagus, in November 2016, in order to celebrate its great annual mass there. The event served as a catalyst for the many projects that are flourishing across the city, but also to attract young entrepreneurs looking for innovation.
Lisbon is buzzing. It is here that start-ups set up their headquarters, thanks to an impressive network of incubators for entrepreneurs. Innumerable industrial buildings now house corporate accelerators, co-working spaces or creative hubs. Thanks to its quality of life, the city is like a paradise for young entrepreneurs. As was the case 30 years ago in California, the sun, the charm of the city, the available facilities, the qualified staff, the cost of living and the proximity of surfing spots all led to the creation of a new ecosystem.
The epicentre of this redevelopment is the former industrial district in the east of the Portuguese capital. Long considered a “dead zone” by the Lisboans, Beato is destined to become a major hotspot for innovative companies, with the upcoming opening of an immense creative hub. At the heart of the project: 35,000m2 of a former complex of military factories converted into offices to accommodate the crème de la crème of new technologies and creative industries. A start-up paradise.
Attracting technology giants
But like Dublin, Berlin or Barcelona, Lisbon is also trying to attract larger investors. As demonstrated by Google’s second large operational centre in Europe, which is located in Oeiras (Greater Lisbon) and offers 1,300 jobs. As Google executives felt that it was the only place in Lisbon that met their requirements in terms of size, price and green space, the company decided to its sights on Oeiras and its Lagoas Park. Other projects, such as the future Mercedes Benz Digital Innovation Centre, also based in Lisbon, prove that even though Portugal may not offer subsidies the country remains nevertheless attractive thanks to its hospitality, its sunny climate and, above all, the provision of high-potential premises.