In today’s data-driven digital world, success depends on the ability to adapt. Over the last decades, Luxembourg has been continually opening up to new ideas, innovating and reinventing its economy by constantly adapting to economic framework changes and challenges. The economy has been growing steadily, continuously outperforming the EU average.

A digital nation driving growth

After developing a powerful steel industry at the end of the 19th century, the global crisis that affected this sector in the 1970s induced Luxembourg to become a major financial centre. More than 20 years ago, Luxembourg earmarked the importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the successful diversification of its economy. Major infrastructure investments have resulted in extensive broadband networks, ensuring international connectivity, and state-of-the-art high-end data centres. Today, new technologies and innovation are still driving the country’s economy and the digital agenda is a priority for  the government. “We have always been able to think in a similar way to start-ups,” notes Michele Gallo, Director of ICT Coordination at the Ministry of the Economy. “Developing Luxembourg‘s data-driven, trusted and sustainable economy is a challenge we are ready to take on.”

We have always been able to think in a similar way to start-ups.

Initially developed to support Luxembourg’s flourishing financial, broadcasting and space sectors, the rapidly growing ICT industry has enabled other key business sectors to thrive. This includes life sciences, automotive, clean technologies, fintech and logistics, all highly connected to and dependent on ongoing best-in-class ICT developments. One of the latest initiatives is the investment in a business-oriented high-performance computer.

Connecting international business with Europe and the world

Numerous multinational companies have established their worldwide or European headquarters in Luxembourg alongside well-known local companies. The development of the start-up ecosystem was a natural next step from which the country focused on its main asset, a dynamic and international business-oriented environment. Multilingual, multicultural and diversified, Luxembourg can be leveraged by start-ups as an ideal test market to develop concepts and test new products and services.

We are able to provide personalised support to each start-up.

To cement its position as an attractive location for start-ups, Luxembourg relies on easy access to support, major international players and public authorities and administrations. At the same time, the country is a clear gateway to the European market. “Luxembourg offers numerous support mechanisms for start-ups, and we are able to provide personalised support to each start-up,” confirms Stefan Berend, Head of Start-up Acceleration at Luxinnovation. “This is a competitive edge, which differentiates us from other larger start-up hubs – and you can feel this spirit, as soon as you come here. The ecosystem’s many established international companies, eager to partner with innovative start-ups, are close at hand too.” Contacts are direct and facilitated by several initiatives, such as the Luxembourg Open Innovation Club (Loic), which organises meetings on specific topics between corporates and start-ups.

Solidly rooted, naturally innovative

Luxembourg’s reliability and dynamism go hand in hand with its spirit of openness. People from more than 175 nationalities live here – one of the greatest resources of the open and outward-looking country – and around 70% of the workforce is made up of foreigners.

Openness is also a key component of the country’s economic development. Nestled in the heart of Europe between Belgium, France and Germany, Luxembourg has always valued international cooperation. Entrepreneurs who have chosen the Grand Duchy to grow their start-ups know this better than anyone else. The Chinese fintech PingPong decided 2 years ago to settle in Luxembourg in order to enter the European market. “Here in the financial hub of Europe, we received great support from the local regulators, banking partners and access to the vast talent pool available to support our growth,” says Aaron Shuai Lu, co-founder of this e-commerce start-up.

Startup Luxembourg gaining visibility

Since the creation of the country’s first incubator Technoport in 1998, the start-up landscape has been enriched with numerous public and private initiatives. In addition to hosting facilities, Luxembourg also offers a wide range of support services for young entrepreneurs, including those provided by Luxinnovation, the House of Startups and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (Lhoft), the main driver of innovation for financial technologies.

Many private players have joined the ecosystem over the years. Today, Luxembourg has about fifteen incubators and accelerators, funding support for each stage of maturity and dozens of dedicated start-up events. “We have always worked to build a complete ecosystem able to meet all the needs of innovative start-ups,” says Jean-Michel Ludwig, Director of Business Development at Luxinnovation.

We have always worked to build a complete ecosystem able to meet all the needs of innovative start-ups.

The joint efforts of the Ministry of the Economy and private organisations have led to a strong and continuous growth of the start-up ecosystem. The next step is to increase the international visibility and recognition of the ecosystem through all digital channels and build an identity of its own. This is why the initiative “Startup Luxembourg” was launched by the Ministry of the Economy and Luxinnovation, with the dedicated website Startup Luxembourg is now present on Twitter (@StartupLu), Facebook (@StartupLux) and LinkedIn (Startup Luxembourg) to provide start-ups with ongoing news about the ecosystem and dedicated events.

Photo: Jan Hanrion / Maison Moderne Publishing SA