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Last year, Lisbon earned the title of European Capital of Innovation from the European Commission. This recognition hailed Lisbon’s burgeoning tech scene and reputation as the ‘Unicorn Capital’, attracting entrepreneurs globally.

However, multinational interest in Portugal’s innovation factors has surged beyond the startup realm. The average greenfield projects in R&D soared by 215% from 2018–2020 to 2021–2023, as per fDi Markets.

A notable instance of this trend is the launch of an innovation hub in Lisbon by Swiss state-owned supplier Beyond Gravity.

Facing the evolving space industry demands, Mario Melo Guedes Vidal, Beyond Gravity’s transformation director, links Lisbon’s choice with the company’s future growth.

“We must be faster, more volume-driven, with lower margins, and more innovative,” he asserts in an interview with fDi. “That’s where Lisbon shines.”

Once dominated by state-owned models, the space industry now sees private players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX. This shift prompts reevaluation among firms like Beyond Gravity, part of the Swiss aerospace company RUAG.

Attracted by Portugal’s skilled engineering talent, especially in space engineering, Mr. Vidal notes the ease of recruitment.

“Though competitive, hiring in Portugal is faster,” he remarks.

By 2025, the company targets 200 employees, aiming to be Lisbon’s premier space engineering firm.

Portugal’s expanding technology ecosystem bolsters confidence. In 2018, BMW partnered with Critical Software, while IBM announced an innovation center in Coimbra last year, focusing on quantum computing.

“The supportive ecosystem and network are remarkable,” Mr. Vidal acknowledges. “Portugal fosters a collaborative community of international and local entities.”

Portugal ranks among the world’s top 30 innovative economies, per the Global Innovation Index 2023. Diverse domestic industries, software spending, and scientific publications underscore its innovation prowess.

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