Nov 2, 2016

Lisbon startup entrepreneurs aim to create Berlin-style 'tech buzz'

Near a former red-light district around Lisbon's old Cais do Sodre docks, scores of young entrepreneurs are trying to leave depressing economic times behind and turn Portugal's capital into a hive for tech startups.


Just a few years after Portugal's debt crisis and bailout, their aim is to become the next Berlin in generating a cool 'tech buzz', offering talented young people and costs way below those in more established European centers.
Already Lisbon has earned the right to host Europe's biggest tech conference, Web Summit, this month. Now hopes are high that this will accelerate investment in new ventures, and reverse a brain drain of young entrepreneurs following Portugal's deepest economic slump in 40 years.
Lisbon is a small speck in the universe of Europe's startup giants like London and Berlin, not least due to an acute shortage of venture capital in the Portuguese economy, which remains slow growing and heavily indebted five years after the EU/IMF bailout.

But as a city on the edge of the European continent, it has ambitions to follow the German capital. Once isolated behind the Iron Curtain, Berlin has blossomed in the past decade thanks to low startup costs and a young workforce drawn by its alternative lifestyle.

"Lisbon is exciting," said German investor Simon Schaefer, who has decided to build office space for 400 tech workers in the city, hoping to replicate a similar project he founded in Berlin in 2012.

By Axel Bugge | LISBON