Top 13 Reasons To Launch Your Startup In Portugal In 2022

Discover why more foreign startup founders are choosing Portugal as their preferred EU base in 2022…

Growing Portugal’s appeal as an international startup hub is a key priority for the Portuguese government, going into 2022. Already boasting a thriving (if small) startup scene, the country is home to tech challenger brands like:

  1. Barkyn, an ecommerce startup based out of Porto.

  2. Bizay, a digital printing services startup based in Lisbon

  3. Casafari, a real estate tech startup based out of Lisbon

  4. ComparaJa, a fintech startup based in Lisbon

  5. Feedzai, a fintech startup with offices in Porto, Lisbon and Coimbra

  6. Fibersail, an energy technology startup headquartered in Porto.

  7. GoParity, a fintech startup operating a peer-to-peer /crowd savings and investment platform out of Lisbon.

  8. GOVWISE, a predictive data analysis startup headquartered in Lisbon.

  9. Infraspeak, a Porto based platform provider in the facilities management space

  10. PlatformE a 3D tech and fashion focused startup offering online Made To Order (MTO) services for clothing products.

  11. SMARKIO, a martech startup headquartered in Porto.

  12. Stratio, an AI and machine learning driven fleet management / SaaS startup based in Lisbon.

  13. Swogo, a retail technology startup headquartered in Lisbon.

  14. Sword Health, a HealthTech / MHealth startup based in Porto

  15. TalkDesk, a B2B SaaS startup with offices in Porto, Lisbon and Coimbra

  16. TonicApp, an MHealth startup for medical doctors based in Porto

  17. Unbabel, an AI focused translation startup based in Lisbon.

  18. Wisecrop, an agritech startup based in Porto.

  19. Xhockware, a retail tech startup based out of Porto.

Boasting a local talent pool renowned for the depth of its engineers, combined with an incredibly high level of English language proficiency, the country is fast becoming the destination of choice for American, British, and Asian companies seeking to break into the European markets.

In fact, Portugal is the destination for affordable talent in tech stacks such as Python, Node, Angular, Go and React.

Given the lack of a meaningful local market for B2B SaaS solution and a deep, affordable engineering talent pool, this sector is an obvious choice for foreign startup founders seeking to launch in Portugal.

While the scene is predominantly B2B focused, some of Portugal’s biggest startup success stories are B2C operations. Farfetch, for example, is a Portuguese unicorn in the luxury fashion space. The country also has relatively few startups in the blockchain and cybersecurity space.

Below we highlight 20 of the reasons more startup founders and scalers are choosing Portugal as their EU base in 2022…

  1. STRATEGIC LOCATION: Being an EU member country, Portugal offers resident startups access to frictionless trade and investment across 26 European countries. Boasting excellent flight connectivity with the Americas and Asia, it is an excellent location for establishing your European startup headquarters.

    Gaining Portuguese residency via the HQA Visa Program also gives startup founders from non-EEA countries the ability to travel visa-free across the EU.

  1. CLEAR PATH TO CITIZENSHIP: Startup founders applying for the Portuguese HQA Startup Visa can become eligible to apply for citizenship after only 5 years. In contrast, founders opting to obtain residency in Spain will only become eligible to naturalize after 10 years (or even longer). 

  2. AFFORDABLE TALENT: Portugal offers an exceptionally low cost of living (the country’s minimum wage is only €665 per month in 2021). Combined with the high quality of graduates coming out of their tertiary learning institutions, the country boasts a deep pool of engineering talent willing to work for salaries than those earned by their counterparts in France, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Germany.

Portuguese technology workers generally have an excellent, flexible work ethic and a global mindset. Furthermore, local founders are typically highly qualified, with the majority holding at least a masters degree.

  1. HIGH ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: Compared with competing countries like France, Spain and Italy, English is spoken far more widely and proficiently in Portugal. This is a competitive advantage when hiring for talent in the areas of sales, client service and/or customer support.

  1. EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: Over the past decade or so, a succession of Portuguese governments have prioritized placing the country on a path to greater economic prosperity. Promoting the country as a preferred EU destination for foreign startups has been a key priority, and the country really rolls out the red carpet to welcome foreign startup founders.

  1. ECONOMIC INDICATORS: Portugal ranked 31st globally in terms of innovation (2020), 31st in terms of entrepreneurship (2021), and it is projected that the country will rank 26th in terms of its overall ease of doing business by the end of 2021. Given the country’s reliance on inbound tourism, its economy contracted by 7.6% in 2020, setting it up for a major recovery in 2022 as local and global vaccinations gather momentum.

  1. CRYPTO FRIENDLY DESTINATION: Portugal treats crypto as a currency, rather than a security, making it an attractive destination for startup founders sitting on unrealized capital gains stemming from winning investments in Bitcoin, Etherium, etc.

  1. FIBER OPTIC CONNECTIVITY: Portugal scores very high in terms of its level of penetration for high-speed fiber connectivity. This makes it an excellent choice for startup founders, remote workers and digital nomads alike.

  1. FOREIGN TALENT FRIENDLY DESTINATION: Unlike in Spain, where pocketed resentment towards foreign workers is a frequent reality, both the Portuguese authorities and local population are highly welcoming of foreign, productive talent. Portugal is also a Top 10 country in terms of its migration integration policies.

  2. SUNNY, TEMPERATE CLIMATE: As one of Southern Europe’s top travel destinations, Portugal boasts an excellent year-round climate, stunning natural scenery and safe, highly livable cities. (Portugal ranks as the 3d safest country in the world.)

  3. TAX-FRIENDLY JURISDICTION: Portuguese residents are eligible to apply for the country’s Non-Habitual Residency Tax Regime, which offers a 10-year tax holiday on practically all types of foreign sourced income. Under this program, Portuguese sourced income is taxed at a flat rate of 20%, while foreign pension remitted to Portugal is also taxed at a flat rate of only 10%.

  4. EXCELLENT CO-WORKING SPACES ABOUND: While long-term commercial space rental in Lisbon can be up to 80% cheaper than in London’s preferred startup rental locations, the remote working trend is arguably here to stay – and especially in the tech space.

    Lisbon caters to this demand with a range of affordable, state-of-the-art coworking spaces, including the likes of Startup Lisboa, Canopy, LACS, Impact Hub and Cowork Central.

    Remote workers can also look forward to the launch of Beato Creative Hub, a mammoth coworking space that will occupy around 100,000m2 upon completion. Launched with support from Startup Lisboa, it is anticipated that this coworking location will become one of the most prestigious facilities of its kind in Europe.

  5. US TIME ZONE OVERLAP: Lisbon is in the same time zone as London, running only one hour behind most of Western Europe. If you’re a US startup founder looking to launch a new venture in Portugal, you can also look forward to a very reasonably six-hour overlap with the US East Coast, and a three-hour overlap with the US West Coast:

    New York GMT – 4 8am 11am 2pm
    Lisbon GMT + 1 1pm 4pm 7pm
    San Francisco GMT – 7 _ 8am 11am

Considering launching your startup or business branch in Portugal to get residency in 2022? Contact us now to discover your Portuguese visa options.