8th September 2022
Building and raising the right talent

“The Portuguese Innovation Ecosyem is now able to attract talent from all over the world. As the world becomes small due to digitalisation, Portugal’s talent is spreading across the world once again”

Joana Mendonça, the President of Portugal’s National Innovation Agency, reflects on raising the right talent


Portugal has become increasingly attractive for technology-based development, not only by hosting several high-tech companies that have been basing R&D operations in the country, but also by developing a number of ‘unicorns’,(tech companies with a valuation over $1bn) thus  becoming one of the European countries with the highest number of ‘unicorns’ per population.


Different factors have contributed to Portugal’s  ability to attract companies to set up technology-based operations here, including the maturity and quality of the research environment in several scientific fields, the quality of higher education, (especially in the technological and digital areas, and a growing number of highly qualified personnel, including PhDs, who work with companies and benefit from support from the Portuguese R&D tax incentives for R&D (a 91% increase since 2015).


Patenting by universities and public research institutes has increased, although the country is still below the EU average. Furthermore, the co- publication of scientific papers by academic and business researchers has also been increasing. Portugal now ranks 31st in the Global Innovation Index, with  human capital and research indicators and creative output measures as its major strengths.


These results are thanks to a clear national strategy for R&D and Innovation, which has established concrete targets for Portugal, allowing public policies to be created that can pursue these goals.


The National Strategy for Technological Innovation now allows 3% of Portugal’s GDP to be invested in R&D, of which two-thirds should come from the private sector.


This strategy has as its main goals to get 60% of Portugal’s 20-year-olds into higher education; to develop digital skills at all levels, and to attract foreign direct investment.


To support this national strategy, different programs promoting the relationship between academia and industry have emerged, providing a variety of complementary policy instruments that offer incentives for the two entities to collaborate.


One important example of these programs is the Collaborative Laboratories (CoLAB) program, which was launched in 2018 to promote the collaboration between academia and industry through public-private partnerships, as well as to contribute to scientific employment.


These laboratories were set up to develop research agendas in key areas, addressing societal challenges in issues identified as critical for corporate innovation roadmaps, by using scientific knowledge in different fields.


This programme has given rise to a network of 35 collaborative laboratories in Portugal partnering research units of higher education institutions and public research laboratories with the right  organizations, companies, and business associations.


This initiative has directly involved around 120 companies, and generated 640 new direct jobs, of which around one third are for PhDs.


This initiative is also benefiting from a complementary policy designed to foster the competitiveness of the Portuguese Innovation Ecosystem, which is now able to attract talent from all over the world. As the world becomes smaller with digitalization, Portugal’s talent is making its way across the world once again.


For more information see: https://assets.ey.com/content/dam/ey-sites/ey-com/pt_pt/topics/attractiveness/ey-attractiveness-survey-portugal-july-2022.pdf