Jean-Michel Ludwig is the Director for Startup Support and SME Performance at Luxinnovation, a key and trusted partner for those who are interested in – and committed to – launching successful innovative activities in Luxembourg. He is sharing with us his feedback regarding the collaboration between the national organization and InnoHub Luxembourg, the soft landing platform for late-stage startups blowing its first candle.
Who are you? And what does your entity do?
For over thirty years Luxinnovation has proved itself a trusted and reliable partner for innovative companies in Luxembourg. Start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises are two priority segments in terms of who we can offer support to and it is my role to coordinate the teams dedicated to these two target “customers”.
Our mission within our Start-up and SME Performance Department is to contribute to the creation and growth of innovative start-ups and to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs in Luxembourg through innovation.
To this end we have developed a series of programmes including “Fit 4 Start” for start-ups and “Fit 4 Innovation” for SMEs by implementing the most current methodologies and techniques for innovation management (lean start-up, design thinking, lean manufacturing, etc.). These programmes, which combine the expertise of Luxinnovation with that of external consultants who are selected and supervised by us, have been extremely well received and are very well liked by the beneficiary companies.
Beyond managing these programmes along with the support of external partners, Luxinnovation is also able to offer services with very high added-value, complementary to those provided by incubators and private accelerators. Known as a key player in accessing public funding for RDI (research and development) projects, Luxinnovation has been able to adapt and augment its offer according to the needs of the market. Access to private financing and technical and commercial validation through the member networks of the clusters managed by Luxinnovation are all services that are offered to the most promising start-ups.
How are you used to working with InnoHub? Can you share your experiences?
We have closely followed the creation of InnoHub and since the beginning of the initiative we have strongly interacted with the founding members. This arose from Innohub approaching us about offering support to start-ups, mainly from abroad, that they had succeeded in attracting to Luxembourg.
As the number of projects supported by InnoHub is constantly increasing, we have recently set up monthly CRM (customer relationship meetings) to help ensure that all the start-ups are created and developed according to the planned roadmap.
Even before the initiative was officially launched, more than a dozen projects benefited from the joint support of InnoHub and Luxinnovation, most notably the financing of RDI projects. Over the past year collaborations have accelerated and InnoHub has started to implicate Luxinnovation earlier in its international prospecting efforts. In this way we have participated in business trips aimed at attracting start-ups or investors from overseas.
As the number of projects supported by InnoHub is constantly increasing, we have recently set up monthly CRM (customer relationship meetings) to help ensure that all the start-ups are created and developed according to the planned roadmap. This joint support of start-ups along with other interactions can only take place in a climate of respect, trust and openness. This is another feature that I really want to highlight when talking about the working relationship we have with InnoHub because it really is a key factor.
How does your collaboration with InnoHub benefit companies in Luxembourg?
Our positioning within our department is very clear; we put the customer at the centre of our actions. They are the reason we do what we do. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who are sometimes in real need of the support and/or training that will bolster them to better face the challenges that they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Our role as back-up support is to do everything possible to ensure that entrepreneurs achieve the objectives that they have set for themselves. An effective collaboration between the start-up ecosystem players in Luxembourg is therefore crucial. It not only helps in meeting the needs expressed by the entrepreneurs who come to us for support and guidance, but above all it means we can take a proactive role in solving problems or even avoiding them all together.
What is your advice for entrepreneurs who intend to accelerate their growth from Luxembourg to international markets?
Believing in the strengths of this country and opportunistically taking advantage of all the available supports would be my advice to start-ups.
The numerous success stories, e-Xstream Engineering, Trendiction, Tadaweb, Job Today, Etix Everywhere show that internationalisation from Luxembourg is in fact enormously possible.
If you exclude start-ups that are active in the financial sector (such as Fin Tech, Reg Tech or other FSPs), the domestic market represents a very small proportion of their potential market. Any project that is created in Luxembourg must therefore very quickly integrate internationalisation into its development strategy.
Contrary to popular belief, Luxembourg has many assets to facilitate this growth. Beyond our cultural and linguistic proximity to neighboring countries which are often the main European markets of these companies, in recent years Luxembourg has attracted investors and talents that make up their teams. The numerous success stories,Exstream Engineering, Trendiction, Tadaweb, Job Today, Etix Everywhere, to name but a few, show that internationalisation from Luxembourg is in fact enormously possible.
A statement that you want to share with Luxembourg?
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it” (H.E. Luccock)
This quote perfectly illustrates my state of mind and the way in which we conceive relationships with our partners in Luxembourg. The Luxembourg start-up ecosystem is not yet like the orchestra that has created symphonies that the whole world loves to hear, but there is no doubt that if individual efforts are implemented within the framework of collective intelligence, in the coming years it soon will be an important European hub in the universe of start-ups.