The PM at the inauguration of the Innovation Centre of the Superior Technical Institute in Lisbon today. Image: Lusa
The PM at the inauguration of the Innovation Centre of the Superior Technical Institute in Lisbon today. Image: Lusa

Number of tech firms setting up in Lisbon rising; economy changing – PM

54 tech companies (including 12 unicorns) have set up in capital recently

Portugal’s prime minister has picked up on a speech by the mayor of Lisbon about the growing number of technology companies setting up in the capital and argued that the Portuguese economy is changing, even in a climate of international instability.

António Costa defended this position today at the inauguration of the Innovation Centre of the Superior Technical Institute in Lisbon, in a speech that followed that of Carlos Moedas, in which the mayor and former European commissioner pointed out that 54 technology companies have recently set up in Lisbon, 12 of which are ‘unicorns’ (with capital in excess of one billion US dollars).

Closing the session, the prime minister “went back to the end of the Estado Novo (the dictatorship of the New State) regime, with former minister Veiga Simão, to talk about Portugal’s first qualitative leap with the generalisation of education. But, above all, he centred his speech on the period of António Guterres’ socialist governments, with Mariano Gago and Marçal Grilo, respectively as ministers of science and education between 1995 and 1999”, writes Lusa.

“He then referred to a series of data on the evolution of qualifications in Portugal from 2000 to 2022, comparing indicators relating to the fall in early school leaving, the increase in young people with secondary education, with bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorates.

In 2000 there were 17,000 researchers, but the country now has more than 60,000,” he said, listening to him were the ministers of science and higher education, Elvira Fortunato, economy, António Costa Silva, and territorial cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, as well as the European Commission’s representative in Portugal, Sofia Moreira da Sousa.

“In front of an audience including many students, António Costa, who was involved in the launch of this new Higher Technical Innovation Centre in 2010 when he was mayor of Lisbon, said that there are currently “many reasons for concern” because of wars in Europe and the Middle East, climate change, pandemics, inflation or rising interest rates.

“But if we look at the fundamentals, we have good reason to be confident about the future. There has been a structural change in the Portuguese economy as we have overcome the skills deficit, because there is no innovation without skills,” he said.

Once again praising the governments of António Guterres, of which he was a part, the prime minister emphasised that Portugal’s working population “has changed, because 28 years ago the seed was sown that bears the fruit that Portugal has today” in terms of human resources

In this context, he pointed out that last year, “for the first time, national exports represented more than 50% of Gross Domestic Product”.

“This qualified generation that we have in the labour market is transforming companies today,” he said, pointing out, among other data, that the export of goods is now higher than the export of services.

“This is what allows us to say that the economy is really changing,” he said.