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Imagining Best Practice 20 October Oct 2017 1100 20 October 2017

A Record-breaking Incubator: Portugal invests in Startups

The Hub Criativo do Beato, soon to be the world’s largest incubator, will open in Lisbon in a few months.

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They are going to call it the Hub Criativo do Beato and opening day is scheduled for a few months from now. It will be the largest global campus dedicated to startups: an area of 100,000 square meters built in a former military building in Lisbon, entirely renovated and ready to accommodate offices, laboratories and exhibition halls along with refreshment areas, and spaces for entertainment, exhibitions and events.

However, startups will be the fulcrum of the Hub. Startup Lisboa is the incubator in charge of managing the building, but some global giants such as Mercedes and Factory Berlin (the factory for German startups that founded Soundcloud) have already joined the project. Many start-ups have already booked a place inside the campus.

The investment is not an isolated case: after years of devastating crisis - Portugal still carries a high rate of public debt and, at one time, was just a step from bankruptcy - the government of Antonio Costa has decided to bet on innovation. And we can see the results.

Last year, Lisbon won out over Ireland to host the Web World Summit, one of the most important tech events in the world that, which will be held in Portugal until at least 2020. Precisely during the 2016 edition, the president announced an investment of 200 million Euro to convince foreign companies to invest in Portugal, also exploiting the general conditions (such as, salaries and cost of living) which are generally favourable.

After years of devastating crisis, Antonio Costa’s government decided to bet on innovation. And we can see the results.

The record of Hub Criativo do Beato comes a few months after the opening of another huge centre dedicated to startups. Another European organisation: Station F opened in Paris last June, in a former railroad depot. Also in this case, around a thousand startups were involved, and they also have an auditorium, restaurants open 24 hours a day, and a 3D print workshop. But above, they have all the experience and strength of the large global players: Facebook has started space in Station F called Startup Garage, with work stations for a dozen startups specialized in data economy; and then Microsoft and the French e-commerce giant Vente Privée are also active parts of project to help startups.

New centres, new meeting points and new ideas that not only foster the growth of new businesses, but also the creation of shared spaces that regenerate whole neighbourhoods and provide communities with places for study, work and leisure. In Italy, we are still a little behind, but the case of Portugal shows that the train of innovation 4.0 will eventually slow down and let us get on.