A large population of under-30s was a major pull for Accenture when it chose Braga in Portugal for its latest tech services centre. Strong links with local universities and a receptive local investment agency were also key factors, as Courtney Fingar reports.
Despite being one of the oldest cities in Portugal – once serving as capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia – in terms of its demographics Braga is markedly youthful, with 45% of the population aged under 30.
This was a key factor in consulting and technology services firm Accenture choosing the northern Portuguese city for a technology delivery centre, which was inaugurated in June 2017 and will employ about 100 highly skilled workers. The centre, which will provide support to clients in Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America, is expected to double its capacity by the end of 2018.
Youth on its side
“Braga is one of the youngest districts in Europe,” says Susana Mata, managing director of Accenture Portugal, who is responsible for the Braga Delivery Centre. As a student city, the population is not just young but well educated. Ms Mata cites the proximity to the University of Minho, “which has one of the best computer engineering courses in the country”, as crucial to the decision.
“The partnership with the University of Minho, already carried out, is fundamental for us. We also have frequent contact with other universities and polytechnics in the area,” she adds. “So far we have been able to recruit the people we need… but it is also important to mention that it is not only the technical skills that make one candidate better than another; the already well-known soft skills are also fundamental for us.
“That’s why we hire people from a wide range of skills, which cover a bit of engineering, applied mathematics and other areas of knowledge. We pride ourselves on being a heterogeneous company with regard to the academic background of our employees. We even think this is a differentiating factor in the market.”
Connected and lower cost
While workforce was front of mind in Accenture's decision, other factors came into consideration, such as accessibility, connectivity, costs and quality of life. “Braga, after Porto and Lisbon, is the most densely populated area of Portugal. In addition, although the city does not have an airport, it is only 30 minutes away when we travel by car to Porto’s airport,” says Ms Mata. Access time in a city such as Lisbon may be higher due to heavy traffic flows.
Braga is also well placed in Portuguese city rankings for quality of life when taking into account such metrics as education and employment, infrastructure, economics and housing, she points out. Proactive support from local investment agency Invest Braga also played a role. “InvestBraga has helped us finding a location in Braga as well as other processes as a facilitator. Undoubtedly this was also a factor that influenced Accenture’s choice for the city of Braga,” says Ms Mata.
The Braga Delivery Centre will be Accenture’s second technology centre installed in Portugal; the Lisbon Delivery Centre, inaugurated in January 2013, has 400 professionals. The Dublin-based company has pursued active international expansion in the past two years. fDi Markets, a crossborder investment monitor associated with fDi Magazine, recorded 24 greenfield investment projects announced or launched by Accenture in 2016 and 28 in 2017, in locations ranging from Iberia to the Nordic markets.