Lisbon opens The Gaming Hub to foster game startups

Portugal is getting serious about game startups with the opening of the Lisbon Gaming Hub.

Unicorn Factory Lisboa, a tech startup program, announced today it has opened The Gaming Hub in Lisbon with multiple startups housed in a building in the city.

Fortis Games, which a floor in the building, is a partner in opening The Gaming Hub. The hub is part of a new phase in the strategy of creating innovation centers dedicated to high-growth industries to help the city be more competitive internationally. I toured the building at an event during The Web Summit last month.

The Gaming Hub is the first innovation hub to be inaugurated by Lisbon City Council and Unicorn
Factory Lisboa, as part of the city’s strategy to create communities and hubs focused on
innovation in high-growth areas.

The Lisbon Gaming Hub is open for business.

The Gaming Hub aims to foster the growth of the video games industry by promoting synergies between startups, investors and multinational companies, hosting new business acceleration and incubation programs, and acting as a meeting point for the gaming community.

Fortis Games is a U.S.-based game company that opened a studio in Lisbon as part of the project. Also joining the project as property partners are Maleo, an office space management company, and APVP
(Association of Portuguese Video Game Producers), representing Portuguese companies in the sector.

In Portugal, the video games industry is currently worth $400.7 million, according to a forecast by Statista Market Insights.

The building housing the Lisbon Gaming Hub.

The Gaming Hub officially opens today, located on Avenida da República in Lisbon in one of Maleo’s spaces. The Gaming Hub also positions the Saldanha area as Lisbon’s new “Innovation District”, where the Técnico Innovation Centre, the recently opened innovation centre of the Instituto Superior Técnico, and Fintech House, an incubator for financial start-ups, are already located.

Like all Unicorn Factory Lisboa projects, the Gaming Hub focuses on the ability of startups and studios to scale, and on creating synergies between all the mentors, investors and other companies in the sector. Divided into two floors, the new space includes 13 private rooms and 12 coworking spaces, with Fortis Games as the anchor, occupying one of the floors entirely, and various organisations such as OnTop Studios, a Portuguese video game studio, GameDev Técnico, a group of university students made up of 50 students from various faculties dedicated exclusively to video game development, and more than 18 virtual members such as Volt Games, Infinity Games and Didimo.

“Today we begin another stage in Unicorn Factory Lisboa’s strategy. We already have the project’s headquarters in Beato, which brings together all the industries and areas, and now we’re creating new centers in the city, developing highly specialized innovation centers in industries where we know Lisbon can stand out internationally. This is further proof of the dynamism and strength of this project, which is so important for the city’s economy: Unicorn Factory Lisboa companies are creating 10,000 jobs in the city! I hope that many professionals, especially young people, can find these new opportunities here,” said Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas, in a statement.

The Hub is also already associated with venture capital companies.

“The Gaming Hub is a physical location promoted by Unicorn Factory Lisboa and Lisbon City Council, which brings together innovative companies, universities, leading companies in the sector, investors and talent, in order to foster the growth of this ecosystem in the country, attract investment and create jobs,” said Gil Azevedo, Executive Director of Unicorn Factory Lisboa and Startup Lisboa, in a statement. “The partnership with Fortis Games, Maleo and APVP will contribute to the creation of a strong gaming community and the development of an important ecosystem in Portugal, which, in Europe in 2021, had more than 5,500 companies, representing 85,000 jobs.”

The decor in the Lisbon Gaming Hub.

As part of this new specialization strategy, Unicorn Factory is already preparing new communities
and innovation centers in high-growth areas such as AI, Web3 and XR, and collaboration agreements have already been signed with organizations active in each of these verticals.

The goal is to provide mentorship for game startups and a place for networking events, game jams, meetups and workshops.

The Association of Portuguese Video Game Producers has 19 member companies now and it is headed by Jeferson Valadares, vice president at Fortis Games, with board members including Rui Guedes and Andre Pais. Some of the companies are big, like Miniclip, which has 360 employees, while some are small. There are roughly 1,000 people employed by those companies (as of a few years ago) in the association and the number is growing. A number of the developers are from other countries, as Portugal makes it easy to establish residency in the country.

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