Aside from the fact that Lisbon is the European capital with the most hours of sunshine per year, Lisbon has the potential to become a key player in Europe’s start-up scene. Invest early to get spacious properties, great staff, and make the most of one of the best connected cities in the world.
It’s no coincidence that Portugal was one of the world’s first global powers. During the 15th and 16th centuries the Portuguese empire stretched from Macau to the Philippines, and from Brazil to Mozambique. Now Portugal has the shortest flight times in Europe to the emerging South American market – perfect for SMEs keen to export – and it’s also the closest to Africa and North America too.
This year Lisbon was chosen (along with Northern Ireland and Valencia) as one of the European Entrepreneurial Regions of 2015 thanks to their strategies to support SME innovation and promote entrepreneurship. Setting up in Lisbon can be a great financial choice – Lisbon’s economic ties mean lower tax rates and tariffs for SMEs. In Lisbon, you can set up and register for a business in just 45 minutes, one of the fastest times in the EU. As a whole, Portugal ranks 10th in the world for setting up a business according to 2014 world bank stats, putting it ahead of the United States – it has simple real estate laws and a reliable and available local workforce.
Many people in Portugal speak a second language – those who don’t speak English have French or German, and 25 per cent of the total population have a higher education degree. Lisbon is open to tech innovation and produces 40 per cent of the country’s GDP – it’s a great place for start-ups to seize opportunity, secure low-cost business premises, and tap into the global market.
It’s time to look beyond the traditional tech start-up cities of Berlin, Copenhagen and Dublin, and see where the next promising location could be for start-ups. In the next instalment of the EU Hotspots series, we look at Birmingham.