As Consul General of the Luxembourg Consulate and Executive Director at LTIO (Luxembourg Trade Investment Office) in San Francisco, Mr. Georges Schmit talks about Silicon Valley’s perception of Luxembourg and explains why U.S. startups can use our nation as a hub to support their growth in Europe.
The TIO-SF assists Luxembourg-based startups by connecting them to accelerator programs or other relevant professional advice in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What are Silicon Valley’s assets, and what ideas from Silicon Valley should we implement in Luxembourg?
Thinking big, ambition, culture of failure, speed of innovation all add up to make Silicon Valley’s highly energetic and contagious entrepreneurial climate. Top universities, research labs, think tanks, flagship organizations such as NASA and numerous workspace, incubator and accelerator programs generate and challenge frontier knowledge and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) talent. Add to this an abundant availability of angel, venture and private equity investors, as well as specialized technology banks, and you have Silicon Valley’s secret sauce!
Luxembourg has come a long way in creating its own unique environment for innovative startups and should continue to improve via promoting and attracting STEM talent, venture funding sources and interaction platforms.
How do you support Luxembourgish startups with their expansion into the U.S. market?
The TIO-SF assists Luxembourg-based startups by connecting them to accelerator programs or other relevant professional advice in the San Francisco Bay Area. To this end, our office has developed a network of relationships with companies, research organizations, universities, think tanks, venture and angel investor networks, accelerators, legal and IP professionals, etc.
Luxembourg can certainly claim the title of being one of Europe’s most attractive ICT hubs.
How do you charm U.S. startups into choosing Luxembourg as their base to expand into European markets? What are your main selling points?
Luxembourg’s track record in attracting international companies speaks for itself. The ingredients of the country’s recipe for success range from its political and social stability, business friendly legal and regulatory environment, quick access to key professional resources and decision makers to outstanding quality of life, first-in-class digital infrastructure, skilled multilingual professionals and technical talent, and its focus on research. Most recently, Luxembourg underlined its innovative stance for fintech when, as a first in Europe, a virtual currency service provider, San Francisco-based startup SnapSwap, was granted a payment institution license by the Luxembourg regulatory authorities.
Do you think Luxembourg can become a major digital hub in Europe – or beyond?
Luxembourg scores very high in international rankings for innovation in ICT and network readiness, and is home to an increasing number of innovative high-tech businesses in e-commerce, digital content, cloud computing, big data and fintech.
With a first-in-class digital infrastructure, ultra-low latency redundant fiber network, high security Tier IV hosting centers, innovative regulation – including electronic archiving, data recovery and privacy protection – and initiatives such as “Digital Lëtzebuerg,” Luxembourg can certainly claim the title of being one of Europe’s most attractive ICT hubs.
What is your personal point of view about Luxembourg’s startup ecosystem?
There is definitely an emerging entrepreneurial tech culture in Luxembourg and it is developing at a fast pace! The Luxembourg and Greater Region startup ecosystem has substantially strengthened during the last few years with extended government and private support programs, workspaces, incubators and accelerators, pitching and networking events and innovation oriented media such as Focus, ITnation, IT One, Paperjam, Silicon Luxembourg and, now, Silicon Mag. They get increasing attention from foreign startups, including those from California.
Luxembourg needs to continue attracting marketing and STEM talent, and increase the availability and diversity of angel and venture investment sources.