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Annual Investment Meeting places Porto on the podium of foreign investment and smart cities

Annual Investment Meeting places Porto on the podium of foreign investment and smart cities
26 Oct 2020
The investment made in Porto by Critical TechWorks, the joint venture between the BMW Group and the Portuguese Critical Software, was distinguished by the "Investment Awards" of the Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai. At the same event, Porto's innovation ecosystem was awarded the "The Smart City Innovator Award".

The investment in the newly opened operations center of the joint venture in Porto was considered the second-best foreign investment project in Europe,  last year.

The jury of international experts at the "Investment Awards" attributed this distinction to the city of Porto and the Critical TechWorks project during a ceremony that closed the Annual Investment Meeting 2020.

The event, organized by the Ministry of Economy of the United Arab Emirates, brought together investors, experts, and decision-makers from more than 170 countries. This year the forum was held for the first time in digital format, between the 20th and 22nd of October.

Critical TechWorks' investment in Porto was distinguished by its size, positive effects on the local economy, and by being a reference case in terms of digitization, knowledge transfer, and sustainability.

The Investment Awards also recognized the role played by InvestPorto's investor support services during the process of installing Critical TechWorks' new downtown operations center.

The city of Porto also won the "The Smart City Innovator Award", in the "Future Cities" category, thanks to the Porto Innovation Hub, a project by the Municipality that integrates a global vision of innovation as a factor in the city's progress.

This project created in 2016 by the Municipality, through the Porto Digital Association, seeks to function as a space that promotes co-creation between citizens, collaborators and city leaders, contributing to a culture of innovation in the city and encouraging the citizen to assume the role of innovation engine.

The Municipality of Porto was present at the virtual delivery ceremony of the AIM 2020 Investment Awards through the Councilor with the portfolio of Economy, Tourism and Commerce, Ricardo Valente. In his message, Ricardo Valente thanked the organization of the Annual Investment Meeting for the distinction given to this "remarkable achievement for the city of Porto", stressing that Critical TechWorks "is a global project, thanks to which we will have the first autonomous BMW car made, in part, in the city of Porto".

Critical TechWorks' new operations center develops digital solutions exclusively for the BMW group. In the "enterprise IT" area, Critical TechWorks develops software for the production technology and management systems of the German automotive giant. In the area of ​​automotive connectivity, the company develops software for BMW cars, from the entertainment system autonomous driving systems, after-sales management platforms, and data management systems.

The joint venture currently employs more than 850 highly qualified staff, mainly in the ICT area, with an average age of around 31/32 years. The company aims to end 2020 with 1,000 employees, two-thirds of whom are in Porto. For 2021, the expectation is to reach a team with more than 1,200 people.

The pace of growth of the company's staff has followed the evolution of its turnover. In 2018, when it started operations in Porto in a small space in the Campo Alegre area, Critical TechWorks' turnover was 3 million euros. In 2019, it skyrocketed to 32 million euros and in 2020 the company expects to reach 57 million euros.

The company's investment volume in Porto has already exceeded 22 million euros, to which is added 40 million euros invested by the owner of the former Post Office Building, for the rehabilitation of this infrastructure that houses the new operations center of the joint venture.

In August, in an interview with the news agency Lusa, the Chief Operations Officer of Critical Techworks, Jochen Kirschbaum, recalled that the choice of Portugal and Porto was the culmination of a "very long assessment, made in different markets, to see which one is more appropriate", being one of the main conditions" to be close to Germany, because it was intended to maintain a close relationship with the headquarters of Munich". Porto ended up standing out due to its location, easy connection to Germany, and also "due to political stability, the quality of higher education in the areas of science, mathematics and computer science and the level of innovation in different domains".

In the balance sheet of Critical TechWorks' first years of activity, Jochen Kirschbaum assured that "BMW is very satisfied with the joint venture and with its level of performance and value creation", considering the choice of Porto to achieve the investment project.

Among the products already developed by Critical TechWorks from Porto, we highlight the systems for the new electric vehicle, which BMW will launch in July 2021, and the new BMW mobile application, which allows remote control of some functions of the vehicles of the German brand. The application was launched in July 2020 in some of BMW's main markets, such as Germany, France, and the Netherlands, and will be available soon in our country.