Politics Of Policy | Lisbon As San Francisco
Portugal government, investors and startups are collaborating to make Lisbon an exciting hub for new age technology
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An Irishman in Portugal is doing what most European leaders have not been able to -- strengthen the fabric of Europe on the loom of technology. Thirty something Irish entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave launched Web Summit in Dublin to celebrate the city's arrival as a tech hub in Europe.
The Web Summit that brings investors, startups, futurists and policy makers together began with 400 people in Dublin. Now it has more than 50,000 participants from 166 countries. The stats of the summit are bewildering for any tech and business event. The move from Dublin to Lisbon underlines how Europe seems to be becoming more aggressive in technology. While most cities have tech incubation, none seem to have created a global giant like Silicon Valley does effortlessly.
At the Web Summit, the government of Portugal led by Prime Minister Antonio Costa created a $220 million fund for supporting global startups. La French Tech, an effort by government of France is actively promoting its strengths at the Summit. "We have 1,490 startups joining us in Lisbon, of which 135 will join START, our track for our most promising startups. 270 will join BETA, our growth-stage track, while 1,080 will join ALPHA, our early-stage track," says a statement by Web Summit.
For Europe, a growing Web Summit is a good attempt at economic resurgence. The smart start-up community doesn't believe in borders, focuses on the future and has the potential to undermine rising unemployment in Europe. As most countries are discovering, it is important to move from large MNCs to small start-ups to boost the creation of employers.
San Francisco's place as tech leader is not under threat. But San Francisco and Silicon Valley have become too expensive for many entrepreneurs. New hubs like Lisbon and Dublin are allowing start-ups to work from more affordable cities where talent and funds are easily available. Europe will have to work harder to make it easy for global tech talent to move freely for new hubs to succeed. Capital moves easily but talent still struggles to overcome visa and work permit related issues.
Web Summit is working hard to create a new tier of tech hubs. The last summit raised more than billion dollars for start-ups that participated in Dublin. And it is getting bigger. Lisbon can be a turning point for Europe.
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