Highlights Series: What Makes the Tech Scene in Portugal So Special

In a nutshell: local talent, incoming digital nomads, venture capital valuations, a proven track record, and more.

In April 2021, the IPBN held a Tech Investment and Hiring in Portugal event via zoom that took place over two days and carried out a significant number of interviews with our member companies working in the sector. Our goal was to discover what makes Portugal such a desirable place to expand tech teams, and what sets the companies that have done so apart. Enlightening talks with industry experts gave the IPBN enough food for thought to launch our own Tech News section on the IPBN website.

Here's what we garnered at a glance. 

Venture Capital valuations in Portugal’s tech scene reached new heights across financing stages in 2020, a trend that persisted into 2021 despite the constraints to growth presented by the pandemic, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The Portuguese not only have a wealth of tech talent ready to put their services to use, but they also have an incredible penchant for speaking and understanding English. In fact, Portugal is ranked 7th out of the 34 European countries according to the report by the EF English Proficiency Index.

So it’s no wonder that, according to TechCrunch, successful English-speaking companies like Global Shares, DefinedCrowd, Farfetch, Talkdesk, Outsystems, and others are branching out into Portugal while bringing in substantial interest from international investors. Aisling Riordan of the equity compensation management company Global Shares told the IPBN in this interview, “For us, it isn’t just about expansion [into Portugal], it’s about growing a team. Retaining employees is important— it’s the core value of what we do and why we do it.”

One of the speakers at the IPBN’s April Tech event, Pedro Henriques from the Portuguese Tech company Bridge In, maintained that, “Growing teams across the globe with more diversity brings value — organizations benefit from decentralized teams.” During his presentation, Henriques gave credit to Portugal’s ability to attract digital nomads and tech talent through safety, language skills, climate, location, education, political stability, and more — the things that set Portugal apart.

Alexandre Barbosa, Founder and Managing Partner at Faber Ventures seconded that sentiment during his presentation to the IPBN at the online event. He believes that Portugal is the perfect playing field for Tech companies to experiment, telling attendees that entrepreneurs can easily leverage lower operating costs in Portugal while keeping their teams below the radar to avoid poaching. If that’s not enough, companies can have global ambitions from day one due to the size of the Portuguese ecosystem, with an eye to open to a front office in larger international markets. Barbosa said, “The region has a significant concentration of highly technical educated people…a magnet for talent across Europe…to apply their research work to apply to…startups…Many (of them) will stay longer than planned… and it’s all about deal flow and opportunity.” 

Miguel Fontes of Startup Lisboa agreed wholeheartedly with Barbosa’s idea. He told webinar attendees that international companies are deciding to be incubated in Portugal to gain access to tech talent. “We have the right dimension to test and validate when you are trying to create a new service for a global market…if you achieve your success here, maybe you can do it in other markets…We have a good infrastructure, a very open society…and people feel welcome when they come.”