Europe

Is this the world’s biggest start-up incubator?

Rock-bottom rents, cheap living costs and an influx of overseas investors have kick-started a real estate renaissance in Lisbon.

Rock-bottom rents, cheap living costs and a record €2bn (£1.7bn) influx of overseas investment have kick-started a real estate renaissance in Lisbon.

And with 26.3% of take-up made up of TMT companies, the city’s emerging tech scene is grabbing the headlines as UK firms, including Rohan Silva’s Second Home, set their sights on the city.

However, local agent and Worx Real Estates’s head of capital markets, Pedro Valente, said that Lisbon is not yet a fully fledged tech market in its own right, more like a large tech incubator, allowing start-ups to get off the ground before heading – or returning – to London to mature and seek funding.

“You can eat here for €5 and buy a beer for €1.50,” he said. “It’s so cheap to live and rents are so low.

“Plus we have a lot of skilled unemployed people here after the last crash who have been setting up their own companies. It’s a great place for the tech firms to start. And as they grow we will see them moving to cities like London.”

Lisbon is currently experiencing a wave of overseas capital, mainly from the US but also from China and the Middle East. Out of just over €2bn of investment into the city last year, 95% was from overseas.

“We are a bankrupt country,” said Valente. “So there is no money here in sight. That makes us very cheap and we are selling big Portuguese companies to the Chinese, Thai, Americans.

“If it helps continue to revive the city, if these big investors continue to use Portugal as a route into the rest of Europe and improve our companies as they do that, we don’t mind at all.”

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