Portugal has disclosed plans to establish technological free zones (ZLTs) with tailored regulatory regimes which facilitate both innovation and experimentation.

The government unveiled the ZLTs on April 21 as part of its 'Digital Action Plan' to create a favourable environment for innovation and strengthen Portugal’s economic competitiveness.


The plan draws a roadmap for the “construction of a digital society”, outlining a set of 12 strategic measures for its promotion. It includes a digitisation programme for schools, an e-residency programme, digital innovation hubs for entrepreneurship, cloud strategy for the public administration, as well as the promotion of technological free zones.

The new ZLTs include a legal framework which enables the testing of products and services that cross more than one sector and would therefore be subject to different regulations, thus streamlining the process of experimentation, according to independent Portuguese law firm Vieira de Almeida.

“The [government’s] resolution notes the importance of approving a legal framework for experimentation in a cross-sector manner, in order to take advantage of all the opportunities brought in by new technologies –from artificial intelligence to blockchain, 3D printing, virtual reality, robotics and the Internet of Things,” Vieira de Almeida stated.