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A innovation hub on the rise Porto is well-positioned for continued growth as an innovation hub, with a strong ecosystem and supportive environment for R&D and entrepreneurship.

Thriving startup ecosystem
Porto is quickly becoming a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in Portugal. According to ScaleUp Porto's startup map by Dealroom, there are close to 620 startups with more than 8,900 employees in the Porto metropolitan area, making it one of the largest startup ecosystems in Portugal

Weight of Porto in Portugal’s startup scene

Porto is a driving force in Portugal’s startup scene. The city is home to some of the top Portuguese startups an scaleups, including 6 of the 10 fastest-growing in 2022: Sword Health, a digital health company; Anchorage Digital, a digital asset platform; Infraspeak, a facility management platform using AI and IoT; Rows, a business intelligence platform; Jscrambler, a cybersecurity company; and Knokcare, a telemedicine platform.

The city has also attracted a number of larger scale-ups and global players, including 10 unicorn companies which have established technology centers in Porto, such as fintech firms Revolut,, Saltpay, and Feedzai; remote device access company TeamViewer; social networking platform New Work; and healthcare AI company

610+ startups and scaleups based
in the Porto Metro Area
Source: (Jan/2024)
10 unicorns have tech centers
in the city of Porto
Source: InvestPorto (2024)

R&D cluster
Porto hosts more than 40 research and development (R&D) facilities in a variety of fields, such as computer science, engineering, healthcare, and mobility. Local research centres like INESC TEC and i3s, along with academic institutions like the University of Porto, have established partnerships with world-class institutions such as MIT, UT Austin, Carnegie Mellon University, and Harvard Medical School. Porto's reputation for excellence in R&D and innovation has even attracted the Fraunhofer Center for Assistive Information and Communication Solutions, the first subsidiary of the Fraunhofer Institute outside of Germany.

Number of researchers in Porto and NW Portugal

Around 14,000 researchers work in the Porto Metro Area, a number which doubles when also accounting for the surrounding region of North-Western Portugal. The number of researchers in the region has increased by nearly 35% between 2017 and 2021, turning Porto into one of the leading hubs of scientific and technological innovation in Portugal.

R&D investment in the Porto Metro Area (% of GDP)

Investment in R&D plays a significant role in driving innovation. As of 2021, R&D expenditure accounted for 2,6% of GDP of the Porto Metro Area, which is well above the rest of the country and higher than the European Union average.

The weight of R&D investment in the region’s economy has been growing steadily. This growth has been led by private R&D investment. Company expenditure in R&D increased by 53% between 2017 and 2021 in the Porto Metro Area, reaching more than 530 million euros in 2021.

Porto: the epicentre of innovation in the region

Porto and its surrounding municipalities make up a significant portion of the R&D cluster in the region. The high number of researchers and startups within these municipalities creates a strong ecosystem of collaboration and support for innovation, making it a particularly attractive location for those looking to pursue research and development activities.

The city of Porto alone accounts for 41% of R&D investment in the Porto Metro Area, 55% of the researchers working in the region, and 64% of local startups. This concentration of R&D resources and innovation within the city and its neighboring areas highlights the importance of Porto as a hub for scientific and technological development.

28,450 researchers work in the region of
Porto and NW Portugal
Source: INE (2021)
+53% increase in corporate R&D investment Source: INE (2017-2021)

Support community
Porto is known for its supportive environment for entrepreneurs, with a long history of private enterprise and supporting SMEs. In recognition of this, the city has received several distinctions. In 2019, the Financial Times named Porto the best European city for startup and SME support at the fDi Strategy Awards, and in 2018, the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) dubbed it "The Best Start-up Friendly City of Europe". This supportive and inclusive environment has allowed a diverse range of entrepreneurs to thrive, with Porto ranking among the top 5 mid-sized cities in Europe for female startup founders according to Startup Heatmap Europe 2022.

Entrepreneurs in Porto have access to a range of resources to support them in their endeavors. These include 50+ co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators, as well as 50+ communities of founders, tech builders and enablers that meet regularly to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the city's startup ecosystem. One top incubator in the city is the University of Porto Science and Technology Park (UPTEC), which offers incubation, acceleration, and access to funding to help startups bring their products to market.

5th in Europe among mid-sized cities for
female startup founders
Source: Startup Heatmap Europe (2022)
50+ local tech communities active
in the city of Porto
Source: ScaleUp Porto (Jan/2024)
Local initiatives such as Porto Tech Hub, ScaleUp Porto, Porto Innovation Hub, and Porto Digital are also working to foster a collaborative environment for startups, researchers, companies and investors to work together and innovate. Furthermore, starting in 2022 and continuing through 2026, Porto will host the European Innovation Academy (EIA), one of the world's leading technology entrepreneurship bootcamps, taught by professionals from top institutions such as Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley and Google. These initiatives provide access to a range of support, including incubation and acceleration programs, funding opportunities, community events, and mentorship from industry experts.
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