Portugal’s unicorns mostly US-based

 In Companies, News, Unicorns

Virtually all of Portugal’s unicorns are now based overseas, mostly in the United States.

Only one, Feedzai (high-tech fraud detection), is based in Portugal.

Six unicorns (meaning companies that are worth over US$1Bn) are based in the United States or, in the case of Farfetch, the United Kingdom.
But the phenomenon is not restricted to Portugal. Most European startups, thirsty for the capital investment they need to grow, move to the United States.
The six startups whose founders were entirely or partly Portuguese (Farfetch (luxury online fashion retail), Talkdesk (high-tech messaging), Outsystems (low-code computer programming), Remote (HR tech platform), Sword Health (health tech), and Anchorage (cryptocurrency and blockchain fintech) are based outside Portugal.
Portugal has a small venture capital market, which means that in order to grow many entrepreneurs go overseas to larger markets, with greater opportunities to raise growth capital and a wider talent pool.
The Portuguese Government has taken some steps to change this through a new body to promote tech entrepreneurship, an enhanced funding programme, and a flagship tech event, all recent signs that Portugal aims to become an innovation hub.
In November, Portugal’s Minister for the Economy, Pedro Siza Vieira, announced the launch of the Europe Startup Nations Alliance (ESNA), a new entity that will support 26 EU countries and Iceland in creating the domestic conditions for startups to flourish.
The Portuguese government has also announced the expansion of Portugal Tech, an investment programme to fund Portuguese startups with an additional €250 million.
“We are putting our money where our mouth is”, said Ricardo Mourinho Félix, vice-president of the European Investment Bank which co-finances the programme.
Furthermore, Lisbon’s new mayor, Carlos Moedas, has pledged to create a startup factory in the Portuguese capital.
Factory Lisbon is an urban revitalisation project led by Factory in partnership with the Lisbon City Hall and Startup Lisboa. The campus consists of two former food production facilities for the Portuguese military and naval forces, and boasts a grand total of 12,000 m2. With waterfront views, the former noodle and typography factories will be renovated and offer flexible, sleek and modern commercial office units of various sizes, with hints to the enriched historical past of the Portuguese armada.
In addition to office units ranging from 100 m2 to 2,000 m2, the campus hosts a speciality coffee shop and craft beer bar, rooftop public park, public restaurant, and three additional event spaces. Several established firms, including Mercedes-Benz.io have confirmed their presence in the building and a myriad of startups and international tech companies are requesting space within the campus complex. Upon completion the building will host over 700 international tech employees and entrepreneurs.
The surrounding neighbourhood is home to Lisbon’s creative and artisan community, and the project focuses on bringing the local district together with the international technology scene. Factory is working hand-in-hand with the Lisbon Mayor and his team with the goal of revitalising the district while maintaining the historic relevance and character to its buildings.
Portugal’s Government has also create a development bank, Banco Português de Formento to provide seed capital funding for promising startup projects through entities like venture capital company Portugal Ventures which has €184 million under management, has supported around 180 companies since 2012, with €171 million invested since 2012.