Web Summit at risk of leaving Portugal

  • ECO News
  • 16 October 2020

Negotiations between the Lisbon's City Council and the AIP Foundation came to an end without an agreement.

The deadline for the Lisbon’s City Hall and the AIP Foundation to agree on the requalification works of the Lisbon International Fair (FIL) in Parque das Nações has expired, but negotiations have not even begun. Without agreement on the contract between the two entities to study and evaluate the expansion of the facilities, Portugal risks violating the contract signed with the Web Summit organizer.

The contract signed between the Web Summit, which moved to Lisbon in 2016, and Portugal was based on an agreement between the Irish company, the Portuguese government and the Lisbon municipality. The two national parties had, among other things, to guarantee the indicated space to hold the event, which given the dimensions, restricts the choice to only one location: FIL and Altice Arena, in Lisbon.

The formal negotiation of the contract should have been concluded by the end of the first semester of this year. But due to the pandemic, there were no negotiations. Therefore, the permanence of the event in Portugal may be at risk. In fact, the biggest technological event may even move to a Spanish city.

The FIL complex has belonged to the AIP Foundation since 2011, and includes, in addition to the four pavilions of the Lisbon International Fair, the Sony Square. In addition to these two spaces, the technological event has also used the Altice Arena. The Web Summit’s contract foresees that this available area will reach 90 thousand square meters in 2022.

In an interview with ECO in May last year, Paddy Cosgrave said that the growth of the Web Summit in Portugal depended precisely on the expansion works of the FIL. “My prediction is that yes, it is growing, but the scale of the Web Summit until the enlargement of the FIL will be the same, perhaps for two or three years. What for us is an opportunity to breathe and make a lot of improvements. If the event gets bigger, obviously the impact grows, but that will depend on the venue. There’s no way to make it bigger now,” he said in a conversation with ECO.