Why Lisbon is becoming Europe’s Silicon Valley

  • Markus Krammer
  • 19 May 2022

Lisbon’s tech scene is bustling and the city is one of Europe’s fastest-growing tech ecosystems, making a name for itself as Europe’s Silicon Valley.

Portugal and particularly Lisbon have been on the spotlight for the past few years as one of the top tourist destinations, conquering numerous international awards and attracting more and more people to visit. Sunny weather, closeness to both beach and nature hot spots, and vast historical patrimony, combined with the low cost of living – according to Numbeo, consumer prices including rent in Lisbon are 48,39% lower than in London, for example – , are some of the factors which have made Lisbon the place to go.

The amount of people swarming to Lisbon is not however solely based on its reputation for travelling. For the past few years the city has been getting more and more attention from a different type of crowd: tech entrepreneurs and professionals. Lisbon’s tech scene is bustling and the city is one of Europe’s fastest-growing tech ecosystems, making a name for itself as Europe’s Silicon Valley. Having lived here for a couple of years now it’s not difficult to understand why.

There is plenty of great local talent: Portugal has a very high proportion of STEM graduates and engineering talent at a competitive cost. According to Eurostat, the country has the third highest rate of Engineering graduates in the European Union, with around 90 000 students graduating each year. Universities like Instituto Superior Técnico and Nova School of Science and Technology, in Lisbon, churn out hundreds of excellent developers every year. A very high level of English language proficiency overall is also a great plus.

There’s a highly diverse, collaborative and innovative atmosphere: Lisbon is a growing destination for digital nomads as well as remote programs. The city’s strong tech crowd cultivates an active coworking scene, providing a great environment to meet others, collaborate, and have fun. Everyone from entrepreneurs, freelancers, remote workers to digital nomads with diverse backgrounds and professions can come together. This contributes to Lisbon emerging as a hub of entrepreneurial innovation and technology, with tech companies of all sizes and innovative start-ups setting up offices all over, as the tech talent swarms the tech city. Google, NFON, Cisco, Uber, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are some of the big names who recently have established their tech hubs in the Lisbon area.

Lisbon is home to hundreds of tech events and meet-ups: The annual Web Summit, for example, is probably at the top of the list, bringing together all different tech talent profiles from start-up founders, leadership teams of large companies, up and coming tech startups, entrepreneurs, investors and press journalists from around the world. However, many big and small events take place year-round, promoted by tech companies and brands, innovation-forward organizations and even the media. Living in Lisbon makes it easy to attend these important networking events and meet up with others that share the same interests.

Recognizing the pivotal impact the startup scene has had in reviving Portugal’s economy after the 2008 financial crisis, the Portuguese government and the City of Lisbon really put a lot of effort in providing support and resources for developing the country’s enterprise landscape. Initiatives like Startup Lisboa, a non-profit incubator founded by the Municipality of Lisbon in partnership with bank Montepio and IAPMEI which supports early-stage enterprises, and Invest Lisboa, a partnership between Lisbon City Council and the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce aiming at attracting investment, companies and talent to the city, among many others, have played a major role in this.

These are some of the many factors that contribute to putting Lisbon in the entrepreneurial map, rivalling with giants like the iconic Silicon Valley. For many it might not be obvious that a city in such a small country in the corner of Europe could become a true tech and innovation center, but if we follow the talent and look into everything Portugal’s capital city has to offer, there is absolutely no question: Lisbon really means business!

  • Markus Krammer
  • Markus Krammer, Managing Director of the NFON R&D Center in Lisbon