ANTÓNIO MARTINS DA COSTA

PRESIDENT, AMCHAM PORTUGAL

Innovation is what drives economic development and social welfare. Societies are made of citizens, corporations and States, who need a permanent culture of innovation for two main reasons: its own survival, if a society misses the competitive race for progress there is a risk of stagnation, irrelevance and sometimes disappearance; and because it fits with the innate curiosity of the human nature, even if the risk-taking attitude is not the same for everyone.

Portugal is very well positioned to be a leader in these matters, according to different indicators. Its remarkable history of fostering international relations, both cultural and economic, with its openness to new ideas and a welcoming attitude towards foreigners, the high level of its infrastructures, health services, qualified and skilled people, universities and research centers, with an everyday growing entrepreneurial spirit, especially vivid in younger generations, are distinctive factors that support this view.

A very good example of Portugal attractiveness on this subject is the share of the Foreign Direct Investment dedicated to startups. Actually, according to the recently published Barometer of the American Companies in Portugal – developed by AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Portugal, together with PWC – the USA FDI in Portugal has been growing by 8% per year, with more than €1 billion p.a., representing circa 11% of the total FDI in this country. Of those, 77 % are invested in new projects and 52% go to the ICT (IT & Communications) sector. But even more evident is the fact that the USA are the number one investor in startups (59% of share) in Portugal, where 85% of the total funding comes from foreign sources.

For 70 years AmCham has been working as a platform and a bridge between the USA – a country where the word “innovation” has always been part of its business and individual culture and is the success factor of their society – and Portugal, with all the characteristics mentioned above. Some of AmCham’s reference members are today leading companies that invest in R&D, being the Chamber a promoter and a supporter of a permanent culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among its associates.

Innovation is not just a practice: it’s a cultural attitude that starts at the individual level and then expands to corporations and to society as a whole. It’s a permanent mindset of reinventing oneself, sometimes restarting all over again, especially in periods of crisis, like the one we are living in now, with the pandemic and the economic downturn. But it is the correct stance to have.

AMC is presently an Adviser to the Executive Board of EDP – Energias de Portugal, after being a member of this body for 15 years, as well as CEO and Vice-Chairman of the Board of EDP Brasil, Chairman and CEO of EDP Renewables North America, USA, and a member of EDP Renewables Board of Directors.

Before that, he worked in the financial sector, becoming General Manager at Bank Millennium BCP and member of the Executive Boards of MBCP’s insurance, pensions and asset management companies. During that period, he was also Director of Eureko BV insurance group, Netherlands, and Vice President of the Executive Board of PZU insurance group, Poland.

He is currently President of AMCHAM/American Chamber of Commerce in Portugal, President of the Strategic Council of Proforum (Association for the Development of Portuguese Engineering), Vice-President of APGEI (Portuguese Industrial Engineering Association), Vice-President of the Portuguese Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) and member of several Boards of Business Schools in Portugal (AESE, FAdS/Nova SBE, ISEG, ISCTE, PBS).

AMC is a Civil Engineer, has an MBA from Porto Business School, PADE from AESE/IESE, AMP/Advanced Management Program from the Wharton Business School, and IDP/International Directors Program from INSEAD.

AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN PORTUGAL

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