Web Summit Returned to Lisbon Last Week and Portugal is Back on the Global Stage 

Web Summit Returned to Lisbon Last Week and Portugal is Back on the Global Stage 

On November 1st, Web Summit opened its doors for its 2021 conference in Lisbon. After being held online in 2020, this year’s in-person event was highly anticipated both by its attendees and speakers and the city of Lisbon. Over 42 000 attendees participated in this year’s Web Summit, coming from 128 different countries. 

There were over 1333 talks across several different stages by 748 speakers, which covered topics such as sustainability, technological advancements, artificial intelligence, healthcare, human rights, and increasing access to technology and education. The event welcomed 1519 startups from various industries, and 872 investors looking to connect with relevant start-ups. 

After much uncertainty surrounding the event, it was a relief when opening night finally commenced on the 1st of November. Health and safety measures were strictly followed throughout the event, with masks being mandatory inside the venue and negative covid tests or vaccine certificates being required for entry.

Women in Tech

For the first time in the event’s history, the number of tickets assigned to women was higher than the number assigned to men. There has been significant effort from the event to get more women participating in the event and helping more women entrepreneurs and developers to be represented at the highest levels of tech remains one of the primary goals of the conference’s organisers. 

The Main Themes of Web Summit 2021

Whilst this year's two main talking points were cryptocurrency and climate change, there was a strong emphasis placed upon the increasing use of artificial intelligence and advances in virtual and augmented reality technology. 

The role of advancements in virtual reality will have a direct impact on the real estate sector, especially in the area of marketing, remote viewings and renovations. The increasing digitisation of real estate investments and of all aspects of real estate transactions was also evident at the event, where several companies present were focused on helping investors digitise their real estate assets and real estate companies bring their business online, in a more seamless fashion.

Web Summit and Portugal’s Startup Scene

Web Summit is a hugely important event for the Portuguese economy and each event is thought to generate €300 million through increased income from hotels, restaurants, local accommodation, investment in startups, and 250 Web Summit jobs. It also helps place Portugal and Portuguese companies on a global stage, and encourages investment in Portuguese startups.

The startup scene in Portugal has been growing in recent years, particularly the tech startup scene. There is a growing number of startup communities across the country, especially in Porto and Lisbon. 

Portugal has a high number of science and technology graduates, the majority of which speak English fluently. Property prices are competitive in Lisbon, compared to other European capitals, meaning that it’s often a more affordable option for both residential and office property. 

The growing startup scene in Portugal is still in its infancy but is unlikely to slow down in the coming years. Portugal consistently ranks highly in terms of innovation, startup culture, as well as for the lifestyle it offers those that make the move here. The number of digital nomads and startup companies making the move to Portugal is also on the rise. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next few years, and what the stages of Web Summit will hold in 2022.


Written by Emma Pengelly