“Entrepreneurs Are A Community”: Founders Solidarity Appeal In Luxembourg

Oleksander Petrykov launched LetzCompare in late 2021 (Photo © Kaori Anne Jolliffe / Silicon Luxembourg)

Luxembourg’s business community is appealing for local companies to incubate Ukrainian startups on their premises.

Two weeks after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukraine-Luxembourg Business Chamber launched Biz4ukraine.org, a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and business leaders wanting to help.

“Our main focus is to help Ukrainians coming here to find a job,” business club spokesperson Arnaud Lumet told Silicon Luxembourg

In addition to finding jobs, Lumet hopes the platform will connect businesses with Ukrainian startups to offer incubation or mentoring while they establish activities in Luxembourg. Lumet said that the early signs are looking positive. “This morning I had some questions from a Ukrainian woman who has an IT company,” he explained, adding that he is in contact with companies in Luxembourg who can potentially incubate Ukrainian entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurs are a community. People help each other during difficult times. This is a difficult time for Europe and the Ukrainian tech industry,” said Lumet.

Mentoring, he said, would also be helpful in guiding founders through the administrative process of establishing a business in Luxembourg.

“It could be an extension of a deadline […] giving startups a credit for the first year.”

Oleksandr Petrykov

On 3 March, the European Commission activated the temporary protection directive exempting Ukrainians fleeing the war from having to apply for a temporary work permit. It means that Ukrainians coming to Luxembourg can “access the Luxembourg labor market, without the need for a specific authorization, as long as their temporary protection attestation is valid,” the government said in a press statement.

Eurosender, a B2B shipping business with operations in Luxembourg and Ukraine, has agreed to find roles for the 35 or so displaced workers from the firm’s Kiyiv partner in its European offices. “So far about a third of the people we’re talking to have accepted,” Eurosender managing director Jan Stefe told Silicon Luxembourg. He expected that interest in Luxembourg would be limited to mostly senior managers and web developers, because of the high cost of living in the grand duchy.

“We offer a soft landing and accommodation for a few weeks,” he said, adding: “Realistically, we expect to welcome 5-8 people to Luxembourg, based on discussions”.

Some entrepreneurs were skeptical about how attractive Luxembourg would be for Ukrainian startups, compared to startup hubs like Berlin and Amsterdam. But also because of the onerous administrative procedures they may face in the grand duchy.

Oleksander Petrykov, who launched LetzCompare in late 2021, said: “There are many roadblocks for anyone coming to the country to establish a business. Unless it’s in finance, where most doors are open, it’s extremely difficult.” He would like to see an effort from the state to alleviate the bureaucracy around business establishment for early stage founders.

“It could be an extension of a deadline […] giving startups a credit for the first year. Perhaps they don’t need to pay registration fee, income taxes or social security. Because the startup fees are huge,” he said.

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