IN478 - Portugal – An Increasingly Attractive Location for Entrepreneurs


Historically, Portugal’s ‘brightest and best’ have looked for opportunities outside of Portugal. This was not necessarily because they wanted to, but because Portugal was more focused on keeping its head above water and on finding ways to leave the Economic Adjustment Programme agreed with the European Commission for the period 2010-2014 (the bailout programme).

Whereas in the past Portugal discovered numerous territories and maritime routes, more recently it has discovered the entrepreneurial way of life. Historically, Portuguese entrepreneurs have chosen countries where the communities are “idea or entrepreneur-friendly”, and where there have been incentives for creativity, government support, and venture capital.

The New Approach Towards Entrepreneurs in Portugal

A combination of factors is now encouraging leading entrepreneurs to establish and grow their companies in Portugal.

Traditional Portuguese Universities are now “Top Ranked” International Universities; “Universidade Católica Portuguesa” and “Nova de Lisboa” were included as two of the best universities in the world by the British newspaper The Financial Times, in May 2017. Also included in the list is the “Instituto Superior Técnico” in Lisbon which teaches students the art of entrepreneurship rather than just grooming them for careers in multinational corporations.

An Increasingly International Approach

There are many examples of the success of the increasingly international approach in Portugal, for example, “Hole19”which is an international social network for golfer and, “Uniplaces” which allows college students to book housing across Europe.

Initiatives for Entrepreneurs in Portugal

In 2016, the Allianz Kulturstiftung ranked Lisbon as the fifth-best-performing startup community in Europe, ahead of traditional powerhouses like Stockholm and Dublin.

The Portuguese Government is providing support through a platform called “StartUp Portugal” with several incentives for entrepreneurs, both national and foreign.

  • One of the most interesting programmes is the “Momentum Programme” which supports recently graduated students and finalists from higher education institutions who received social support during the time that they were studying and, who at the end of their studies, wish to develop their business idea but who do not have the financial means to focus solely on the creation of their start-up.

In 2016 Lisbon welcomed its first Web Summit (“Davos for geeks” according to Bloomberg, “The best tech conference on the planet” – Forbes). Portugal was represented by 66 startups

  • At that event, the Portuguese Government announced a €200 million fund to co-invest alongside venture capitalists in Portuguese startups and foreign companies that relocate to the Portugal.

The next summit will also be in Lisbon, and is taking place on 6th to 9th November 2017.

Startup Portugal – the Approach

“Startup Portugal” has identified three main areas: Ecosystem, Funding, and Internationalisation.

Ecosystem - the improvement of Portugal as a country to receive international know how, to address and overcome regional gaps and to improve the regulatory environment facilitating the attraction of R&D, cutting edge technology, production and investment.

Funding - public finance for start-ups through alternative routes to bank loans. Promoting new methods of financing, such as; equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, co-investment with the appropriate national and international investors, strengthening Portugal Ventures position and the effectiveness of its response as the body responsible for public venture capital investment.

Funding has initiated several programmes: Startup Voucher, Momentum Programme, Incubation Voucher, Seed Programme (probably the most popular),  Hiring Incentives, Calls Portugal Ventures, Co-investment with Business Angels, and Co-investment with Venture Capital Firms.

Internationalization is a series of initiatives to strengthen Portugal as a global destination to attract foreign start-ups, investors, incubators and accelerators. Activities include, supporting the presence of Portuguese start-ups at the main trade fairs, at the large global tech events, in official delegations, in State visits aboard, and at State receptions for foreign entities.

The StartUp Voucher and Other Options

The recently introduced StartUP Voucher supports the development of projects by individuals between the ages of 18 and 35, for a period of 12 months.

The Incubation Voucher is €5,000 for each approved application and is aimed at projects located in the North, Centre and Alentejo region of Portugal. 

 In other situations, entrepreneurs can access Portugal Ventures which is a Venture Capital Firm focused on innovative, scientific and technology-based companies.

In addition, the Portugal Compete 2020 Programme is also available enabling Portuguese companies to access EU incentives.

How can Dixcart Help?

I addition to assisting entrepreneurs to select the most appropriate legal route to structure their activity in Portugal, and the StartUp programme that best meets their goals and projects;

  • Dixcart also provides a complete range of services related to the incorporation of a company and its day-to-day obligations; from bookkeeping through to tax compliance. 
  • We are also able to help entrepreneurs and their families to relocate to Portugal and obtain the necessary residency permits.


Additional Information


If you require additional information regarding this topic and the types of company and tax frameworks available in Portugal and/or the types of visa and residency options, please speak to your usual Dixcart contact, or to Carlos Santos at the Dixcart office in Portugal: -




Categories: Portugal, 2017

Tags: IN478