Lisbon bids for tech talent — with EU passports as a prize

LISBON — Forget about London, Paris or Berlin for a minute.

The new place on the map for tech entrepreneurs in Europe is Lisbon, where they can live cheaply, take in views of the Atlantic Ocean — and jump on a train to citizenship in the European Union.

Geography, culture and the relatively benign costs of real estate and labor all play into Portugal’s boa-vida appeal — especially compared to London or Paris or, increasingly, upwardly mobile Berlin. Techies here can also count on serious support from the Portuguese government, which is eager to lure them in the wake of a blistering economic crisis.

In Europe’s race for tech talent, Lisbon has a wild card: a plan to offer residency, and eventually citizenship, for anyone who invests at least €1 million in the local economy, buys property worth €500,000 or creates 10 jobs. The passport-for-investment scheme has already drawn thousands of  investors and has begun to catch on with the tech community. Its potential to draw talent from Brazil, for example, which is brimming with skilled programmers, gives Portugal an edge at a time when Brexit and new restrictions on immigration are increasingly problematic for London, Europe’s No. 1 tech destination.

“Lisbon cannot compete with Berlin in terms of its dimension, its territory, its history. And why should we?” — Graça Fonseca, Portugal’s secretary of state for administrative modernization

So far, fewer than a dozen entrepreneurs, including some from the tech sector, have taken advantage of the passport-for-jobs option. But supporters expect numbers to go up now that numerous major companies, including some of the world’s tech giants,

 »