IV. Internationalisation of the ICT Sector and Attracting Direct Foreign Investment

IV. Internationalisation of the ICT Sector and Attracting Direct Foreign Investment

The ICT sector is believed to be an essential strategic element for the Portuguese economy, which ensures the competitiveness of Portuguese companies as well as the capacity of the country destination that attracts investment.

This commitment to the internationalisation and attraction of investment, in light with technological training, R&D and the qualified human resources - based on the systematisation of knowledge with a digital component, consolidated by a collaboration between higher education institutions through the establishment of consortia - will be leading Digital Economy in the following years.

Hence, the identified strategic goals for this priority shall be in line with the initiatives of Horizon 2020 - oriented towards innovation and research - and the Digital Portugal Agenda - oriented towards SME -where a significant reinforcement in financing tools for the sector’s internationalisation is to be expected, to which a component is also added in order to:

  • Reinforce the role of Portugal as a nearshore platform in telecommunications, software, and IT services, as well as shared service centres;
  • Reinforce the role of Portugal in the competitive supply of creative industries in digital entertainment.

This sector includes 11 599 companies and employees 79 926 people. In 2012, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estatística (National Institute of Statistics), the turnover was 13,2 billion Euros. According to data from Banco de Portugal (the Bank of Portugal), in 2014, ICT exports made a total of 1054,8 million Euros, which represents a 6.8% growth from the previous year (989,4 million Euros).

There are currently 1927 exporting companies. Most companies are SME, out of which 96% are based on national territory. Telecommunications represent 49% turnover, and consultancy and programming are the activities with the highest number of enterprises (64%). Big companies represent half the turnover of the sector (6420 million Euros). Only 3% of the companies have exported over one million Euros.

According to the World Economic Forum, PPortugal has gone from being the 51st to the 36th most competitive economy in the world as per Global Competitive Index 2014/2015 and according to Gartner, it is the 7th Leading Offshore Services Locations of 2014 for technological services based in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In terms of Business Services and R&D, EY’s atractiveness survey Portugal 2014 identifies 46 new foreign investment projects in Portugal, in 2012, and 38 in 2013, which originate from Germany, Spain, France, the USA, UK, and Brazil. There are already over 100 technological Service Centres in Portugal, which operate for a wide number of markets in Europe, Angola, the USA, and Canada, according to a recent survey from the Confederação do Comércio e Serviços de Portugal (Portugal Commerce and Service Confederation).

The international business component certainly has a relevant weight on all the companies given the Portuguese market’s characteristics and dimensions. Investors look at Portugal as an attractive destination and a platform for other geographies, where Portugal takes a strategic place.

Portuguese technological companies will continue to internationalise in order to scale, while international companies based in Portugal will continue to search for new revenue sources beyond the internal market.

Goals and lines of action

Following the Portuguese framework, in terms of the Internationalisation of the ICT sector and Attracting foreign investment, specific goals and lines of actions are established, as provided next:

  • To support the internationalisation of Portuguese technological companies or those that provide an external ICT supply;
  • To make it easier to attract investment in Portugal through technological employment centres (company services, digital entertainment, user applications, etc.);
  • To support Portuguese technological companies in retaining company talent by developing digital skills;
  • To support the development and expansion of digital employment centres in Portugal;
  • To attract Portuguese-speaking citizens back to Portugal in order to develop ICT companies, and attract properly qualified and experienced foreigners.