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Europe’s Answer to Silicon Valley

Portugal has been synonymous with exploration since the 15th Century, when sailors reached Brazil, Japan, and various points along Africa’s coast. As the world around us gets smaller, Portugal’s quest for discovery has extended beyond reaching new shores, and instead focuses on mapping new technologies. “Portugal once launched ships, now it launches startups,” as Bloomberg Markets recently described it, as the country’s tech scene is flourishing.

While Portugal’s tech scene is relatively small compared to that in the U.S. ($18.5 million invested in 2016), it’s growing. Last year, the government announced a €200 million investment fund, earmarked for both startups and foreign tech companies interested in relocating to Portugal. Meanwhile, the annual Web Summit technology conference moved to Lisbon in 2016 with over 50,000 attendees, and will remain there until 2018. Now, rather than leave for jobs in London, many of Portugal’s best and brightest are remaining at home, and Lisbon is a prime beneficiary of this talent retention.

In fact, given the growing attention paid to startups and the city’s low cost of living, some entrepreneurs are even opting to leave steady jobs in London and set up shop on Portuguese soil. One such London-to-Lisbon transplant, Clara Armand-Delille, the founder of Third Eye Media, a strategic communications and PR consultancy, told Forbes that “I feel more focused and creative in Lisbon than anywhere else I’ve lived.”

The thriving startup culture goes along with several other similarities to America’s tech capital, San Francisco. Lisbon is located on Europe’s west coast, and the Ponte 25 de Abril, a bright red suspension bridge spanning the Tagus river, bears a striking similarity to the Golden Gate. Entrepreneurs, surfers, artists, creatives and tech workers regularly commingle in the city’s bars and cafés in their off hours, and with temperatures that almost always exceed 60 degrees, it’s easy to feel the California vibes.

When it comes to cost of living though, Lisbon stands on its own. Rent prices in Lisbon are 80.59% lower than in San Francisco, according to data from Numbeo, and consumer prices are 40% lower than in London. The average beer price is only €1.50 ($1.64) compared to the $6 standard in New York and San Francisco, while a cappuccino that runs more than $4 in the U.S. can easily be found for less than $1.50 all throughout the city. It’s no wonder the city has become a destination for experienced entrepreneurs and millennials alike.

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