António Miguel Castro
GAIURB, EM AND INOVAGAIA, Chairman of the Board of Directors

We could easily refer to Vila Nova de Gaia as a "small country" or a "big city", if we take into consideration that the city is home to 18% of the Área Metropolitana do Porto inhabitants – the equivalent to 3% of the Portuguese population. Or that population-wise it compares to Região Autónoma da Madeira, or even Iceland - and this is the main information to retain.

And if we go beyond the "big city" scale – as big in Portugal stands for medium in Europe -, Vila Nova de Gaia has unique features because of a perfect match between heritage and history, identity and character, uniqueness, and charm. With Port Wine as its main ambassador, the city breathes entrepreneurship, innovation, dynamic, collaboration, inclusion and, above all: future.

Vila Nova de Gaia has seen a balanced demographic growth and the good news is that it’s got the capacity to further expand in its 180 kms2, with the commitment of preserving its identity and increasing sustainability. There's no economic growth without population and there's no economy without a planet, therefore, the priority is to retain talent and work to build a future with culture, nature, and quality urban spaces. Creating opportunities for investment and career progression, dreaming about our city in the future while working daily to improve it with everyone's contribution.

The Municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia has shown a growing concern over the improvement of the urban environment and the implementation of policies on economic issues, tourism, housing, companies, energy, and environmental sustainability. We work towards sustainable urban development to improve people’s quality of life.

As public entities capable of intervening in the definition of public policies and territorial action, we are continuously questioning our governance and thinking of better and more agile ways of creating impact and progress.

What does the future hold? And what can we do to improve it?

This constant questioning has turned the global vision we have for this territory into a more disruptive one: closer to citizens and investors, able to creative growing positive impact, build the confidence of our fellow citizens, of those who visit us, and to those who invest and help us build a better city.

We could have taken a conservative approach and stuck with this vision where municipalities are to be regulated, and monitored, as some kind of prophecy we had to fulfil without taking risks. But we dared to show a new, dynamic and creative attitude, to invest in the territory and in people, to look at how we can have an active role in investment attraction.

We can work as real boosters - and we want to do it! - of economic activity, because we understand that this is the only way to ensure the future sustainability of the city and, more importantly, of the citizens.

We certainly count on national investors - whom we want to keep motivated – as well as on the international ones - who already see us us quality and safe product – to build a positive.

But we want more: in fact, we want a way to endogenize value, talent, and knowledge to create wealth and opportunities, and we can only foresee one way to do it for this generation: in co-creation with anyone who relates to this growth model and wants to take part in the construction of the city of the future.

Portugal is currently highly attractive for foreign investment, so we must work to build a strong innovation hub that is able to generate good value proposals worldwide.

A strong indicator of the external attention we are getting as a country of opportunities is the fact that about 92% of the investment in start-ups comes from abroad, which shows our technical and scientific capabilities for generating very positive innovation and financial results. As an example, today we have in Portugal an average of one unicorn for every 1.2 million people.

Despite the existing perception that we are a traditionalist country, this is the time to take risks and innovate. Being afraid of innovation and technology means destroying businesses and putting cities on hold in terms of growth and development.

The success of a city lies in the way it interprets the signs, the singularities of the moment, finding the form and the method, and then makes people, companies and start-ups know that their support is needed to design an inclusive city, a better place for everyone. In this context, our role is to allow people to get closer, contribute to the debate with different point of views, and help create more and more social value. To use technology, machine learning, data, and artificial intelligence to build a better life - we are on this path!

Since the Discoveries, Portugal has proved to be an innovative country, a pioneer, capable of climbing and making a difference. In the 15th century, to travel the seven seas and discover new lands would have been unimaginable with the resources available.

Today we work together with Matosinhos and Porto to form Greater Porto. And we want you to trust us to make a difference, to move towards a more competitive, happier, and more sustainable region. To support our companies in their growth and to reassure all foreign investors that we are capable of being intelligent and innovative. Of proactively looking for good investment and good practices that promote a better, happier, more inclusive and sustainable region. For this to happen, we must promote sustainability by working together towards the much-needed dimension.

We are taking steps today to bring the innovative and avant-garde spirit of the past to the present and prevails in the future.

Pay attention to Gaia, to this region of Greater Porto, and invest in the co-creation of a better future. We’re sure you’ll succeed.

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