Ecosystem Deep Dives #9: Portugal - Start-up Eldorado
Having been badly hit by the 2008 crisis and a painful EU bail-out in 2011, Portugal has completely rebranded itself as a digital nomad paradise.
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Flipping the script
Portugal's recent history has been in strong contrast with its idyllic location, picturesque landscape, and colorful culture. Following decades of military dictatorship that ended in 1974 following the so-called Carnation Revolution, Portugal's young democracy was hit hard by the global 2008 financial crisis. Severe austerity measures put in place following the 2011 EU financial bailout led most of its talent and young population to leave the country in search of better opportunities abroad. However, in recent years, Portugal's image on the international scene has changed drastically, as a result of strong improvements on the economic and social front. Today, Portugal is often revered as a "digital nomad" paradise, an enviable title in the era of remote work.
With a population of 10 million, a GDP per capita of around $35,000 and arguably one of the countries with the best weather in the world, Portugal also differentiates itself through its strong standards of living. Portugal is recognized as the 3rd most peaceful country in the world, behind Iceland and New Zealand. It has excellent connectivity, with 96% of the country enjoying 4G coverage. The country is seen as a great mix between EU stability, relatively cheap cost of living, high national English proficiency, and a great entry point into the EU's massive 500 million+ consumer market.
Ancient buildings that used to house daring seafarers now host ambitious and outward looking entrepreneurs, giving birth to an eclectic mix of traditional architecture and new technology, united by the same desire to build something bigger than oneself. Slowly but surely, Lisbon is turning into a sunnier, cheaper and dare I say "Europeaner" version of London. All of these preconditions, combined with public and private initiatives to boost Portugal's start-up scene, have led Portugal's start-up ecosystem to enjoy exciting, steady and extremely promising growth throughout the past decade.