Waking Up The Luxembourg Creative Mindsets

Charles-Albert Florentin, Manager of Luxembourg CleanTech Cluster (Photo © Marion Dessard)

Luxinnovation’s Creative Industries Cluster is accepting applications for the second edition of the Circular by Design Challenge. Starting in early 2022, the 12-week coaching programme aims to support and challenge Luxembourg’s most innovative and sustainable companies. Marc Lis, Manager of the Creative Industries Cluster and Charles-Albert Florentin, Manager of the CleanTech Cluster tell us about their newest edition, the circular economy and the state of affairs in Luxembourg.

What is the purpose and role of the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster? How many members does it have?

Founded in 2017, the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster was created to help build bridges between creatives and other sectors in order to foster economic growth and drive innovation. Whilst promoting Creative Industries in Luxembourg we also try to showcase their importance in being solution finders and highlighting their inventiveness. This clearly differentiates them from other sectors and is a great strength. Since a circular economy is only possible by more seamlessly connecting different industries, the idea was to stimulate creativity both across and within sectors and connect different industry players. Furthermore, we wanted to help integrate more circular ideas into Luxembourg’s tech ecosystem.

Currently, we have 617 members. At the beginning, our community grew really fast, but now we experience less higher peaks and a more steady flow of new members joining our cluster. However, we have acquired enough important members to gain some traction in Luxembourg.

The development of the circular economy in Luxembourg is a clearly stated goal. Can you tell us more about what that entails?

The circular economy has four main elements. It is about sound and cradle to cradle materials, increased frequency and duration of products’ use and lastly it is about “closing the technical and biological loops”, which refers for example to the idea of keeping waste to an absolute minimum and retaining the highest utility of products and materials.

What are Luxembourg’s ambitions in terms of moving towards a more circular economy?

In the past years, we have been focussing our efforts on supporting the construction sector to become more circular. Indeed, the construction value chain is one of the only complete value chain in the country and it includes several big industry names as well as many smaller very innovative companies.

The Circular by Design Challenge now also includes a Sustainable Cities category. Indeed, the sector is one of the heavy CO2 emitter in Luxembourg and there is plenty of room for improvement, using innovation and circular design.

“The use of different biomaterials which are more sustainable has really become a trend in Luxembourg.”

This is the second edition of the Circular by Design Challenge. Why did you choose these 5 topics and categories?

We asked colleagues working in different sectors which topics they are currently working on that are also in line with our Government’s national strategy. That’s how we came up with the following industries/topics:

1. Mobility
2. Industry 4.0
3. Fashion design
4. Sustainable Cities
5. LuXembourg – let’s make it happen

We also asked our partners about their specific needs. By involving the partners at the beginning of this process and helping us devise the briefings, we can improve the matching-making between the winners of the challenge and the partners.

What is the procedure of the Circular by Design Challenge?

We will select the best 30 ideas for a live pitch. After the live pitch on 6 January, we will select the 15 best participants – 3 per category – and mid-January we will start the official challenge with a series of three workshops. These include a workshop in design thinking, circular economy business models and user experience & customer centricity.

Afterwards, each team gets assigned one head coach who will support them for the rest of the programme. Workshops on Intellectual Property, Brand Positioning and Marketing as well as Product Circularity Data Sheet will follow.

The deadline for the final pitch submission for our 15 finalists is 11 April, before the announcement of the winner on 21 April, during a hybrid Award Ceremony event.

What are Luxembourg’s assets in terms of creative innovations?

There are a lot of changes in marketing and in fashion. The use of different biomaterials which are more sustainable has really become a trend in Luxembourg. What is also changing slowly but surely, and is bound to have an impact on the circular economy, is the implementation of virtual and augmented reality tools.

There are also a couple of running projects on two major topics: re-use and recycling. In terms of re-use, we are working with private partners to set up a virtual and physical deconstruction platform which aims to recover products and materials otherwise lost during the demolition or renovation of buildings. Belgium and The Netherlands are already quite ahead in these areas and Luxembourg could also position itself favourably.

In terms of recycling, concrete is an interesting topic. Since a lot of concrete waste is yet not recycled to make concrete again, there are still great opportunities in that area.

Another interesting aspect of circular economy concerns the bio-economy with the attempt to replace chemical molecules with natural ones and the use for example of organic waste to produce molecules of interest, new products and energy. Management of water resources is another key issue. Our consumption is not yet optimized and we waste too much of them. To conclude, a lot still needs to be done in those areas thus offering many opportunities for concrete actions, circular design and innovation in the future.

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