Silicon Luxembourg examined the attractivity of the country’s space sector and of space in general at its State of Spacetech event hosted at Technoport on Thursday 9 March.
During his keynote speech Bob Lamboray, Policy Officer at the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), outlined the role of the Luxembourg Space Agency, as a non-traditional space agency to develop the space ecosystem through international engagement, attracting and training talent, and providing funding instruments.
“Commercial space is the main driver that’s deeply rooted in what we do,” he said, adding “It’s a lot about diversifying the industry and creating a very broad ecosystem compared to what we had in Luxembourg in the 1980s and 1990s with satellite communications.”
Two roundtables examined how to make Luxembourg more attractive for space startups and scaleups and the business opportunities for non-space players in space.
The former focused on the talent shortage, access to funding and other mechanisms for growth.
General manager for Redwire Space Luxembourg Jaroslaw Jaworski estimated that among the 80 or so space startups and scaleups present in Luxembourg, to fulfil their projects they needed to hire around 500 people. He said:
“We don’t have enough experienced hands to progress with these projects. We experienced amazing problems bringing people to Luxembourg. They think it’s expensive, see the salaries from the banking sector. So experienced people coming with families ask for crazy salaries which we cannot afford.”
He suggested the creation of broad technical bachelor degrees that could provide a good grounding for employees that could then be upskilled on the job.
Prof Christian Fisch associate professor for business economics and entrepreneurship with a focus on space at (SnT), University of Luxembourg, agreed on the need for talent. He said:
“What we have to keep in mind is that young people like to study and when they start to study young people do not necessarily have in mind that they want a career in space. So having an offering, getting people to universities is a great way to enhance the pool of people that are available in the country.”
Technoport Senior Business Advisor Olivier Zephir called for a broader view on recruitment, leveraging the tech skills of people with technical careers in the finance field, for example.
He said: “There are many really smart people in the financial industry here. They are excited to carry their experience into early-stage ventures. I believe we can have a working group to address the topic of carrying lifelong learning experience into space tech.”
The second roundtable showed the business opportunities in space being leveraged by investors, consultants and more general IT firms.
EY Luxembourg Senior Manager Audit Frédéric Munch talked about an arena in space that will generate a vast number of business opportunities: regulation and management of space debris. “We will have hundreds of thousands of satellites in space. So, if we don’t want to block this growth, we need to have some regulation,” he said, adding: “This opportunity for startups in the space debris management sector can be leaders for the future. Because there will be constraints on all players. For those startups which LSA promotes, it’s a unique opportunity to anticipate the upcoming regulation.
Nicolas André, Innovation Manager for InTech, a subsidiary of Post Group, outlined parallels and synergies between his company’s activities and those of satellite players, such as sharing authorisations and resources and the need for cybersecurity.
He said: “And it’s the same thing when it’s about cybersecurity or data protection or facilitations. This is knowledge that we have and gain when we innovate with startups.”
Partner Promus Ventures Pierre Festal talked about a shift in the profile of investors funding space activities. From a decade ago, when new space was still nascent to now. “We’ve done all we could to help mainstream the asset class in the sector and I think it’s starting to show,” he said, adding that the shift has also been driven by specific events. “I expect the next few years to be quite interesting because we could see major liquidity events in our sector with the likes of SpaceX and other companies.”
Find the complete photo gallery of the event below.