Country Guide

Portugal

Portugal
Stephan Morais

Guest Editor

Stephan Morais

Founder and Managing General Partner at Indico Capital Partners

Stephan Morais is the Founder and Managing General Partner at Indico Capital Partners, the leading early stage VC in Portugal. He previously worked at Portugal’s former leading corporate VC Caixa Capital where he backed most global success stories coming out of Portugal with his current Partner at Indico, Ricardo Torgal. They were joined by the most successful female tech entrepreneur in the country in launching Indico in late 2018 - Cristina Fonseca. Cristina, was the co-founder of Talkdesk, the Saas global leader for call centers backed by major Silicon Valley investors.

Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Aveiro, Coimbra

Connected Country Ecosystems

US, UK, Germany, Spain

Differentiators

  • Very high quality of engineering talent at competitive cost
  • High level of English language proficiency
  • Portuguese startups go global from day 1 since there’s a limited local market
  • Few but good early-stage private sizable local venture capital firms

Challenges

  • Small ecosystem with few founders with broad knowledge about how to grow startups globally
  • Lack of founders turned angel investors given limited exits until now
  • Limited available talent in the sales and marketing fields and increasingly in engineering

Editor's Guide

Introduction

Portugal has become a highlight in the European tech scene over the last few years having produced companies such as Farfetch, Outsystems, Talkdesk, Feedzai, Unbabel and many others that became unicorns or highly successful at a global scale. While the ecosystem is small and still fairly immature, the talent pool is high and the emergence of two private funds (Indico and Armilar) with experienced VC partners in 2019 has changed the prospects of this emerging part of Europe that boasts the annual presence of Web Summit and a deep while small pool of talented engineers with a global mindset.

Outlook

The success stories and great quality of life in this small country have been proving to be a magnet for foreign founders to relocate and also for more locals to try their luck at launching a new successful tech company. With upcoming potential exits of a number of local companies doing well globally, expect capital to flow back into the system complementing the current established venture capital firms Indico (early stage) and Armilar (tech transfer). Time is on the side of Portugal, as founders become more mature and hype gives way to consistency as time goes by.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

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Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

B2B SaaSGiven the lack of sizable internal market and deep engineering this is a natural choice for founders.
E-commerce MarketplaceDespite the general B2B focus, some of the biggest success stories are B2C such as luxury fashion unicorn Farfetch.
FintechWith the notable exception of local success story Feedzai, this industry has limited cybersecurity or blockchain examples, but high quality AI/data science teams mostly working on B2B & B2C solutions.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentUndeveloped
  • Experienced TalentModerate
  • International TalentUndeveloped

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

As a small country on the southwestern edge of Europe, Portugal has a rich history of taking risks and conquering the world, with Portuguese hence being spoken in countries all over the world and a huge diaspora. It also has a history of overspending which got it into trouble financially over the centuries and even recently after the financial crisis. With a hard working culture, the Portuguese are flexible and very friendly, particularly to foreigners. Over the last decade, The governments in power have been keen on getting the country on a higher growth path and changing the country’s external perception. They have prioritized technology innovation and have been very friendly to startups attempting to promote the local ecosystem.

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$64 million (2020)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: 40
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 31 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 31 (2018)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
2.2% (2019)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 39 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 63
Research and development
Research and development
1.4% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 38

Sources

Startup Funding: Dealroom
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
10.2 million (2020)
Government
Government
Semi-Presidential Republic
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 22 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
75.3% (2019)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
65.0% (2017)
Literacy
Literacy
96% (2018)
Population under 15
Population under 15
13% (2019)
Median age
Median age
42.2 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Community

Active Investors

Armilar Venture Partners (Lisbon): Armilar Venture Partners (formerly known as Espírito Santo Ventures) is an independent VC fund manager of more than 200 million euros of assets, represented by worldwide companies with innovative products and services that are improving our world, the way we live, and the way we do business. (Source: Armilar Venture Partners)

Bright Pixel (Lisbon, Porto): A group of experienced builders, creative thinkers and investors, whose goal is to transform two key things: the way companies address innovation and how new ventures are put together. (Source: Bright Pixel)

Bynd Venture Capital (Lisbon): Bynd makes seed stage investments in technology-based startups both from IT/digital and life sciences sectors. (Source: EU-Startups)

EDP Ventures (Lisbon): Invests in early-stage startups working in the energy space. (Source: EDP Ventures)

Indico Capital Partners (Lisbon): The leading independent venture capital firm in Portugal investing in global and sustainable technology companies. Indico focuses on artificial intelligence, software as a service, internet of things, fintech, cybersecurity and digital companies, targeting investments at the seed to Series A level. (Source: Indico Capital Partners)

LC Ventures (Lisbon): LC Ventures' team of well-versed engineers and business operators helps daring founders from incorporation to Series A. (Source: LC Ventures)

Portugal Ventures (Lisbon, Porto): The state owned VC invests in early to late seed startups in the tech, life sciences, and travel and leisure sector. Portugal Ventures holds open calls for entrepreneurship for companies to apply for MVP funding. (Source: Portugal Ventures)

RedAngels (Aveiro)

Shilling Capital (Lisbon): Shilling Capital was founded in 2011 and specializes in angel and growth capital investments. Their focus is products or services in the digital sector, retail, and banking. (Source: Shilling Capital)

incubators

IPN (Coimbra): Created in 1991 through a University of Coimbra initiative, Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) is a private non-profit organization which promotes innovation and the transfer of technology, establishing the connection between the scientific and technological environment and the production sector. (Source: IPN)

Startup Braga (Braga): Startup Braga is an innovation hub designed to assist the inception and development of high potential entrepreneurial projects for international markets. In partnership with Microsoft we provide business acceleration programs for startups with global ambitions. (Source: Startup Braga)

Startup Lisboa (Lisbon): A business incubator that began its activity on February 2012. Founded in 2011 by the Municipality of Lisbon, bank Montepio and IAPMEI (Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation), it is a private non-profit association whose mission is to support the creation of companies and entrepreneurs in their first years of activity, to promote job creation, and aid the urban, social, and economic vitality of Lisbon. (Source: Startup Lisboa)

Startup Sintra (Sintra): Startup Sintra is a hub that supports the creation of companies and accompanies its first years of activity. Founded with the support of the Council of Sintra, Metal Group, Sintra Business Association, IAPMEI - Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and IEFP - Employment and Vocational Training Institute, provides entrepreneurs and technology and industrial companies with office space and supporting structure to maximize your chances of success. Startup Sintra is the place to be to succeed. (Source: Startup Sintra)

UPTEC (Porto): Science and Technology Park of University of Porto. UPTEC is a meeting point between different disciplines, contexts and experts. (Source: UPTEC)

accelerators

Indico Powerd by Google for Startups (Lisbon): A 6 month program followed by 6 months of incubation at Indico's office where companies get the best support between Indico's hands-on approach and Google's knowledge, tools and mentors. (Source: Tech.eu)

Lisbon Challenge (Lisbon): A 10-week program for up to 15 startups culminating in Investment Day, when the startups share their journey with investors. (Source: Lisbon Challenge)

Porto Design Accelerator (Porto): Focused on the best new ideas in design and manufacturing industry, Porto Design Accelerator is the place for you if you are developing a new furniture, fashion, automotive, or an aerospace product and you need additional mentorship from experts, as well as working space, storage space, prototyping resources, and materials. It also hosts an international road show. (Source: Porto Design Accelerator)

Startup Porto Accelerator (Porto): The Startup Porto Accelerator is a 7 week acceleration program that includes mentoring sessions, access to free services, a network that includes Silicon Valley investors and partners and the possibility to win €17,000. The 252-hours of acceleration are held in the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs headquarters, where startups have access to workspace, a library, meeting room and training opportunities. (Source: Startup Porto Accelerator)

Startups Raising Capital
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Startups Hiring
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conferences

Commit Porto (Porto): Commit Porto is a one-day tech conference focusing on software development professionals, who use the opportunity to discuss challenges in their work and latest developments in the field. The event features prominent speakers and excellent networking opportunities. (Source: Commit Porto)

Desafios Porto (Porto): Created by the Municipality of Porto in partnership with NOS, EDP, CEIIA e EY, the competition is aimed at finding solutions that will improve the quality of life of the citizens of Porto, in sectors such as health, mobility, and energy. Each winner gets up to €50,000 to implement its solution in the city. (Source: Desafios Porto)

Hackacity (Porto): A hackathon for data scientists and data enthusiasts. During one day participants play with the city’s data and come up with solutions that will trigger the improvement of the quality of life in the city. (Source: Hackacity)

Lisbon Investment Summit (Lisbon): During two intense days, this conference brings together top tier investors, bold entrepreneurs, and visionaries. (Source: Lisbon Investment Summit)

Porto Tech Hub Conference (Porto): Among the many initiatives and events of the Porto Tech Hub, the conference is their flagship event, bringing businesses and people together to celebrate the power of technology. (Source: Porto Tech Hub Conference)

Start & Scale Week (Porto): Under the ScaleUp Porto initiative, the city hosts an annual 7 day- event, dedicated to the promotion of innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology. Typical features include hackathons, master classes, conferences, meetings, startup and industry tours, panels, and much more. (Source: Start & Scale Week)

Web Summit (Lisbon): One of the largest and most well-known tech conferences in the world. Web Summit brings together people and companies redefining the global tech industry. (Source: Web Summit)

meetups

Porto Startup Coffee (Porto): Regular informal meet-ups for entrepreneurs, investors and people interested in entrepreneurship, everyone is welcome. (Source: Meetup)

Government Programs

Startup Lisboa (Lisbon): Supports the creation of companies in Lisbon and their first years of activity. (Source: Startup Lisboa)

Startup Portugal: A public-private think tank in charge of benchmarking government initiatives against compatibility for a thriving entrepreneurship community. It operates as a medium between government, entrepreneurs, incubators, and accelerators, finding the needs of the ecosystem. (Source: Startup Portugal)

Non-Government Organizations
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Universities

Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisbon): Investment in innovation and entrepreneurship, acting as a catalyst for technology transfer, contribute decisively to the economic development of Portugal. (Source: Instituto Superior Técnico)

Universidade do Porto (Porto): Has established itself as the ideal space for new talent to turn brilliant ideas into entrepreneurial initiatives. (Source: Universidade do Porto)

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