Catarina Sanjuan, Director of Canela’s office in Lisbon explains why Lisbon has emerged from the recent recession as a destination for entrepreneurs from all over the world.
Lisbon, bouncing back, stronger than ever
There is a new Lisbon, no doubt. Although we´re still healing from some rough years caused by a huge economic crisis and external interventions it seems things are finally getting back on track. As they say a crisis always presents an opportunity and Lisbon has now become more active and entrepreneurial. And everybody, nationals and ex-pats, seems to like it more and more each day. If you don´t believe me, take Lenox Morisson from BBC´s word or continue reading.
Portugal has got Start Up fever
It’s impossible to hide how bad unemployment is in Portugal, even though the country came out of recession in 2013. The Portuguese jobless rate rose from 7.6% in 2008 to 14.1% in June 2015 and last January was in the 6,5% – still the third highest rate in the EU region.
So we need entrepreneurship, and people willing to set up businesses. In the past 3 years governments have put a lot of energy into entrepreneurship policies and it seems to have started to yield results. In 2015 Lisbon was chosen as the European Capital of Entrepreneurship. Also the city received the 2015 “European Entrepreneurial Region” presented by the Committee of the Regions that recognizes regions for the strategy they developed to foster entrepreneurship and for carrying out key European policies such as the Small Business Act and the Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and employment.
Along with this strategy is the fact that the Milennials, (those born between 1977 and 2000) have very different values from the previous generations which has forced a complete change in the business “game”. We, Milennials work to live (and not the way around) and we want to make a difference with and in our lives, either as self-employed or not. This is a very challenging generation that will definitely put your company´s t-shirt on and will show you a whole new range of possibilities you probably haven´t thought about before.
Forget Lisbon´s traditional image
If you visited Lisbon before as a tourist you won´t recognize the city anymore. National and mainly international investors are being attracted to Portugal due to a range of benefits such as the Golden Visa. 93M€ investment in Portuguese “Golden Visa” in last March alone through real estate investments with 168 residency permits (112 Chinese, 17 Brazilians, 5 South-Africans, 4 Russians and 30 from other nationalities). So not surprisingly, in Portugal 1 out of 5 real estate transactions comes from a foreign investors.
Also due to this patrimony progress almost every month we hear about a new startup incubator opening up and more excitingly having foreign incubator businesses coming to Lisbon. In January Second Home, London´s “coolest incubator”, announced its arrival in Lisbon in May. This space was founded in 2013 is an icon to creative industries and IT businesses and has recently announced a round of investments of almost 10M€.
“Now Lisbon seems the East part of London before the tech cluster had exploded. It’s a super creative city with not enough places to gather people. At the same time big companies are shrinking, there are more people self-employed and the city´s environment has to evolve to pace that rhythm” Rohan Silva, Second Home´s cofounder.
The event that brings all the pieces together
I couldn´t finish this post without referring the best tech event EVER in Portugal…yes, we´re counting the days up to the Web Summit!
It´s pretty obvious that this is a result of a national strategy to put Lisbon on the map. We´re changing mentalities, taking care of our city and receiving whoever wants to grow with us. Personally I´m very proud to show you this beautiful city and to be part of this movement.
When will you be visiting?