Nov 8, 2016

'Davos for Geeks' will earn €200m for Lisbon economy

Portugal's success in getting the organisers of the Web Summit to move to Lisbon from Dublin, beating contenders like Amsterdam and Paris, may have been the easy part. Now, it wants to convince participants to move some operations there.


The government is wooing the 50,000 tech leaders and their followers who have descended upon Lisbon this week for a gathering described as the "Davos for Geeks", hoping they will bolster investment and create much-needed jobs in the southern European country.

There are signs it may be already happening. Farfetch, a London-based startup which has half its staff in Portugal, is looking to add more.

"Ever since we won the Web Summit, companies have been telling me they want to move here," said Joao Vasconcelos, the secretary of state for industry and himself a former director of incubator Startup Lisboa. "We're pitching to the entrepreneurs, the startup founders and their teams to move here."

Hosting the event is regarded as a big victory for Portugal, which is still picking up the pieces after the sovereign debt crisis and ensuing recession left its youth unemployment rate at close to 30pc.

"The gathering will generate as much as €200m for Lisbon's economy through hotel bookings, restaurants and taxi rides, according to the Lisbon Tourism Association. It may also help bolster the reputation of the city, whose red suspension bridge, cable cars and nearby surfing locations often draw comparisons to San Francisco.

"The Web Summit is key to consolidate Lisbon and Portugal as a credible tech hub," said Stephan Morais, an executive board member at Caixa Capital, a Lisbon-based €500m venture capital and private equity firm that's part of state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depositos. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent
Henrique Almeida