We just landed in Lisbon and something captured our attention: a billboard saying “This is not the new Silicon Valley… This is Portugal”.
This billboard was everywhere in the city and it is an initiative from Startup Lisboa, an incubator that supports the creation of companies in the city of Lisbon. By good fortune we had the pleasure to meet two members of the Administration Board: Rui Coelho, a Board Member (Executive Director from Invest Lisboa) and its Chairman Fernando Medina (Mayor of the City of Lisbon. We had the opportunity to discuss why Lisbon is a great choice for startup companies and foreign investment. After the Web Summit experience, I could not agree more with both of them.
With Fernando Medina, we had the chance to talk about the Web Summit and its impact. According to him, it has been incredible, thousands of people, big companies, start-ups and investors travel to Lisbon just to see the event happen. But for him the most important impact will be seen in the mid-term, affecting the visibility of the city of Lisbon for companies in the near future.
According to Rui Coellho, Lisbon is a good choice due to its weather, its infrastructure, its startup environment, but above all the energy from its people. As an example, he mentioned that if it wasn’t for its people, the Web Summit wouldn’t have happened in Lisbon, since many people from the city contacted the organizers directly to move it to Lisbon.
Among other things he mentioned were the cost of living, the quality of life, and the open mindedness of the city (language and willingness to help), the most relevant argument for me, to be sincere.
Fernando Medina agrees with Rui Coellho, he also believes that Lisbon is such a good choice for foreign investment since Lisbon is quite an open minded and tolerant city. It is a city that receives everyone properly, a city that loves it when everyone is successful.
As an example, most of the people you find on the street speak another language besides Portuguese, or at least they try to or are willing to do it. Lisbon citizens are very gentle, they are always willing to help, always with a smile in their faces.
And … let’s not forget that Portugal is the 5th most peaceful country in the world.
In addition, something we had the chance to discuss were the 200MM€ the city of Lisbon has in its power to invest in startup companies. Rui Coellho explained to us that is not money the city of Lisbon is giving to startups, it is money they provide for companies as a way to alleviate capital risk. It is an easy way to invest in Lisbon and diminishes the fear of losing their investment.
According to Medina, this is a very important instrument to help the private investment in risk capital which bring them the opportunity to assume a greater risk than they normally do and this is very important. This is the kind of actions they are taking and more are yet to come.
For Lisbon, Web Summit is helping the Portuguese government to take more actions like this in support of investment.