Technological Free Zones in Portugal
The general principles for the creation and regulation of Technological Free Zones (in Portuguese Zonas Livres Tecnológicas – ZLT) were established on 21 April last – physical environments geographically located, for tests in a real or near real environment, intended for the testing of innovative technology, products, services and technology-based processes by their promoters, in a safe way, with the support and monitoring of the respective competent authorities – as the principles for the development of a legislative framework to promote and facilitate the conduct of research, demonstration and testing activities, in a real environment, of innovative technologies, products, services, processes and models, in Portugal, in a transversal way (Council of Ministers Resolution No. 29/2020, of April 21). The goal is to take advantage of all the opportunities brought by new technologies – from artificial intelligence, to Blockchain, bio and nanotechnology, 3D printing, virtual reality, robotics and the Internet of Things, and including Big Data and the 5G network, among others.
With Decree-Law No. 67/2021, of 30 July, although ZLTs are not created, the basic legal framework for their creation in Portugal it is now established, being the conditions for their implementation set out, with the aim of setting up several ZLTs, each one specially geared to certain technologies or sectors and thus contributing to the dynamism of the regions of Portugal by leveraging their specific characteristics.
This Decree-Law also establishes the possibility of creating, within the ZLTs, specific instruments for experimentation, in the form of programs for innovation or legal and regulatory instruments, aimed at facilitating the testing of technologies, products, services and processes.
This diploma also creates a testing authority – whose powers are exercised by the National Innovation Agency (Agência Nacional de Inovação, S. A.) – which, without prejudice to the competences of other entities, has the role of centrally following and monitoring the ZLT Network (a system integrated by all the ZLTs, open to public and private sector entities, including research and development institutions, including interface institutions, academic institutions, public entities and any other relevant partners in the productive, social or cultural fabric, national or international, public or private, that show interest in the monitoring, use and promotion of innovative technology, products, services and technology-based processes).
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