LES START-UP APPELÉES À LA RESCOUSSE CONTRE LE COVID-19

Le ministère de l’Économie, en collaboration avec Luxinnovation, lance le jeudi 9 avril un appel à projets sous le nom de «StartupsVsCovid19», pour soutenir les start-up luxembourgeoises et recueillir de bonnes idées pour lutter contre le coronavirus. Ce programme s’adresse aux jeunes entreprises innovantes et porte sur le développement de produits ou services innovants d’ordre technologique. Objectif: limiter, voire surmonter les effets économiques, sanitaires ou sociétaux de la crise liée à la pandémie. Jusqu’à 20 projets seront sélectionnés, qui bénéficieront chacun d’un soutien financier pouvant aller jusqu’à 150 000 euros. Les projets retenus devront être développés et mis sur le marché dans les 6 mois suivant. Les informations sont disponibles ici.

Des webinars seront organisés à partir du mercredi 8 avril pour informer les start-up sur les principales mesures de soutien dont elles peuvent bénéficier dans le cadre de ce programme.

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Campagna di solidarietà EMERGENZA ACQUA ALTA A VENEZIA

A seguito della eccezionale acqua alta a Venezia, che ha gravemente danneggiato un patrimonio storico-artistico di valore incalcolabile, le Ambasciate d’Italia nel mondo sostengono iniziative di solidarietà. I contributi, che saranno devoluti alla popolazione in difficoltà e al recupero del patrimonio artistico e culturale, potranno essere versati sul conto corrente appositamente istituito dal COMUNE DI VENEZIA:

Intestazione conto: Comune di Venezia – Emergenza acqua alta

Causale: contributo emergenza acqua

Per bonifici effettuati dall’estero, oltre al medesimo IBAN, sara’ necessario riportare il codice BIC.

IBAN: IT 24 T 03069 02117 100000 018767 BIC: BCITITMM

Per bonifici effettuati dall’Italia:

IBAN: IT 24 T 03069 02117 100000 018767

I residenti in Lussemburgo che desiderano avvalersi di detrazione fiscale possono convogliare i propri contributi alla FONDATION CAVOUR, specificando come causale: “contributo emergenza acqua alta a Venezia”

IBAN: LU84 0019 3755 5952 7000 BIC: BCEELULL

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NEL SEGNO DI LEONARDO ITALIAN INNOVATORS IN LUXEMBOURG (MUDAM, 17 settembre 2019)

Nell’ambito delle relazioni di collaborazione sempre più stretta fra Italia e Lussemburgo, spicca il lavoro di numerosi ricercatori e professionisti italiani che contribuiscono a introdurre innovazione nel Granducato. L’Ambasciata d’Italia, in collaborazione con il Museo di Arte contemporanea MUDAM, ha organizzato l’evento “Nel segno di Leonardo – Italian Innovators in Luxembourg” martedì 17 settembre 2019 alle 17.30, per mettere in risalto la loro attività.
La presentazione è stata introdotta dall’Ambasciatore d’Italia, Rossella Franchini Sherifis, e dal Vice Presidente della Camera dei Deputati lussemburghese, Mars Di Bartolomeo. Il dibattito in forma di panel ha esposto progetti innovativi di natura teorica o in fase di sviluppo. I protagonisti dell’evento sono stati i ricercatori e gli scienziati italiani che lavorano presso l’Università e i Centri di ricerca lussemburghesi LIST, LISER, LIS, LBMCC, le Organizzazioni internazionali che hanno sede nel Granducato (in particolare la BEI), e professionisti italiani che introducono innovazione a livello industriale e nei servizi finanziari.
Ispirata al grande genio di Leonardo Da Vinci – inventore, artista e scienziato riconosciuto universalmente, la presentazione si è soffermata sull’espressione artistica, la ricerca fondamentale e le start-ups, l’innovazione industriale e le ripercussioni che questi sviluppi comportano per l’economia, la finanza, la società.
Il primo panel ha presentato il processo che porta i ricercatori ad investigare la natura dai suoi aspetti più fondamentali a quelli applicativi, sviluppando idee innovative che stimolano la spinta imprenditoriale. Due ideatori di start up che hanno ricevuto sostegno dai programmi di Technoport hanno offerto esempi concreti di applicazioni innovative da immettere sul mercato. Il secondo panel ha proposto esempi di creatività industriale nell’era digitale, con la partecipazione di professionisti che lavorano nella filiera spaziale italiana e nei centri di ricerca di grandi gruppi multinazionali presenti in Lussemburgo. Negli spazi espositivi sono state mostrate alcune applicazioni di tecnologie digitali nelle aree della realtà aumentata, del Digital connected packaging, della robotica e del 3d printing. Il terzo panel ha chiarito come i ricercatori in scienze sociali, ingegneristiche e finanziarie contribuiscano a dare applicazione all’Agenda 2030 per lo sviluppo sostenibile: la loro attività si inserisce nello sforzo comune che coinvolge università e centri di ricerca, la sfera politica e le aziende, per integrare fattori ambientali, sociali e di governance nei progetti di investimento. Le conclusioni del dibattito sono state affidate al Direttore di STATEC, Dott. Serge Allegrezza, responsabile per la competitività e il mercato esterno presso il Ministero dell’Economia lussemburghese.
Fra le società che hanno aderito all’iniziativa figurano Guala Closures Group, OHB-Italia, Avio, SES, Delfin, Eurizon Capital, Algebris Investments, Ferrero, Goodyear, Husky, Luxair.









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DIEGO DI BIASIO : A PIONEER IN THE ECOSYSTEM

He has been at it for 16 years and knows the ecosystem better than anyone. Meet the man who took Technoport, Luxembourg’s main incubator, to the next level. His door is always open to meet eager entrepreneurs who want to get started or scale up their businesses. These days you’ll also find him running around Europe in an effort to connect Luxembourg with other major hubs. Who is he?

Diego De Biasio, why Technoport?

For the brand it’s quite simple: it’s a combination of two French words: technologie for technology-oriented companies and port, as in harbor, where entrepreneurs can moor and then leave to expand into new and bigger markets. A harbor is usually an area protected from rough water by piers, jetties and structures, similar to what an incubator should be for these entrepreneurs. It is a place you can also return to – some serial entrepreneurs have done so in the past, which I guess shows that they appreciated the harbor.

Now for the job. I somehow fell into it. It was not really planned. I met Claude Wehenkel, former CEO of the Public Research Center Henri Tudor, for my master thesis. We agreed to a one-hour interview, which actually turned into a four-hour discussion. It was his secretary, Daisy Thill, who stopped us. After my studies I applied for several jobs and got an offer from the Research Center, which originally had nothing to do with Technoport. That’s when Mr. Wehenkel called me and asked if I would like to work part-time at the incubator for six months to see if I like it. I accepted, and six months later I switched to a fulltime position. He gave me this incredible opportunity to develop the incubator over the subsequent years. After the merge in 2012, I was fortunate to be able to continue the development. I think that without that interview during my master thesis I would probably be sitting somewhere else today! But don’t ask me where.

 

When was that?

My first working day was on October 28, 2001, over 16 years ago!

 

So you saw quite a lot of evolution in the ecosystem. How was it back then?

Very different! The whole environment was way less dynamic. Technoport, founded in 1998, was the first incubator established. We still had everything to prove and had to show that such an organization could be beneficial to the whole innovation system, in the mid and long term. Back then we had less applications, very few resident entrepreneurs and far less interest in startups, innovation and incubators from all stakeholders.

 

“To become a startup nation you need an efficient national innovation system. You need more than good public research, corporates that are supporting innovation and startup development, and entrepreneurs and business development support schemes.”

 
Today, we hear a lot about Luxembourg being, or aiming to become, a startup nation. What’s your opinion on this?

To become a startup nation you need an efficient national innovation system. You need more than good public research, corporates that are supporting innovation and startup development, and entrepreneurs and business development support schemes. Today, more than ever, I think that the system is highly intertwined with other dimensions too. Every city, region or country wants to be the most attractive place for startups and innovation. So it is a matter of what the system has to offer compared to others. Foreign entrepreneurs look at many aspects of a location. We get more and more questions about the social environment, housing, mobility, the education system or the cost of living. In general, I think that Luxembourg has some great advantages to put forward, but the challenge for a small country is being able to continuously grasp and adapt the entire system.

 
You said that the ecosystem has changed a lot. Can you elaborate on that?

For me, the pivotal year was 2012. In parallel to the creation of the new Technoport, initiatives like co-working spaces, corporate incubators and support programs were being established to invigorate the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since then, year after year, there has been an increase in terms of startup offerings. Today in Luxembourg, you probably have over half-a-dozen incubators and over a dozen new support programs and players. This evolution is not only coming from the public sector but also from the private sector – service providers, consultants and corporates. There has clearly been a change in mindset that is now making its way into schools in the form of new innovative practices revolving around makerspaces, digital skills development and entrepreneurship.

 

“Today, we are an internationally recognized organization thanks to our operating model, our capacity to innovate and support from a range of corporate partnerships.”

 
How did Technoport contribute and adapt during that period?

From 2012 on, we saw a considerable increase in applications, projects, startups and activities. We had to innovate our support services to satisfy the entrepreneurial requests we were getting. These became more and more specific as the ecosystem quickly evolved.

We started to organize the first-ever hackathons in Luxembourg with Neopixl, a startup we were hosting at that time, and the Startup Weekend with individuals from the community. This heavily contributed to fostering the ecosystem. Today, we organize, in cooperation with other organizations, or host an average of five hackathons per year. These are public or internal corporate hackathons.

In January 2013, we decided to launch our digital manufacturing laboratory (FabLab) to support rapid prototyping. We expanded it in 2016 with additional fabrication tools. We developed new services like the Digital Experience Studio, which aims to validate innovative customer experiences and their related business opportunities. Both activities allowed us to build synergies in sectors related to digital content creation, like music, video games and digital animation.

Today, we are an internationally recognized organization thanks to our operating model, our capacity to innovate and support from a range of corporate partnerships. We are also a member of several European and international networks of incubators and innovation centers to keep us engaged with our peers.

 

“I personally think that entrepreneurship is driven by passion. Some people might prefer to scale slowly or not beyond a certain size.”

 
Let’s talk a little bit about the startup journey. What is a startup to you?

You can find many definitions of a startup – just like you can find several definitions of an incubator. For us at Technoport, a startup usually has several common characteristics:

• Encompasses a technological dimension
• Offers something new that is not yet widely adopted by the target market
• Requires support to start, either financial or in terms of business development
• Needs to go international fast (one of the particularities of being in a small country)
• Aims to scale quickly

All of these characteristics could, of course, be challenged. I personally think that entrepreneurship is driven by passion. Some people might prefer to scale slowly or not beyond a certain size. We’ve seen that in the past and those companies were definitely no less interesting or innovative than others. Small can still be smart. What matters is that they create value for their clients.

 
What are the key ingredients for a startup to become a scale-up?

I believe that there are mainly three ingredients: the team, the vision and the execution. Those with a good team and a bold vision were able to execute in a way that already took into account plans for scaling up. Of course it is easier to scale if you tackle a problem that addresses a big market, alleviating a real pain rather than just being a “nice to have.” Entrepreneurs with bold visions usually want to have a major impact.

 

“If incubators like ours join forces with large corporations, we can make the system more efficient and more appealing to entrepreneurs.”

 
How can you support scale-ups?

The main value we bring to scale-ups is through our corporate partnerships. There are different types of models.

In the industrial field, we have a close collaboration with Paul Wurth’s incubator InCub that began two years ago. The company is a leading global player in the design and supply of technological solutions for the primary stage of integrated steelmaking. They have defined 10 pillars that guide how the group identifies, selects and collaborates with startups. These pillars include topics like industry 4.0, clean-energy technology and mining and resource management. They can offer great support in developing solutions or implementing proof-of-concepts, which could then be exported globally throughout the group.

The SATLAS program, run by SES, represents a more sector-specific collaboration. The aim here is to support applicants with innovative ideas in the field of satellite-based services, with or without prior experience in space technology. The goal is to develop, prototype, build up and/or improve their products and business applications in Europe, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan West Africa. We partnered with SES Techcom Services to support these entrepreneurs for future growth and expansion.

Finally, we have launched a joint innovation center with Vodafone Procurement called Tomorrow Street to support the globalization of innovative startups with impressive track records. This program complements Technoport’s focus by aiding more mature startups.

If incubators like ours join forces with large corporations, we can make the system more efficient and more appealing to entrepreneurs. It is important for us to understand what challenges these corporations face in order to propose the best match for both them and the startups.

 
What are your best memories from your time with Technoport?

The best memories are certainly those related to the different journeys of the entrepreneurs behind our successful companies – to see how they have evolved over the years and how they were able to grow their company despite many challenges. Knowing that we have contributed, even just a little, to their success is extremely rewarding.

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ARE ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND RESEARCH COMPATIBLE?

nyuko recently welcomed the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) researchers for a 3-days introduction to entrepreneurship. Meeting with Erica Monfardini, director of operations of the LSCB to get her opinion on entrepreneurship in the research sector.

Erica Monfardini, you are director of operations at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg. Can you tell us more about your role?

I am responsible of running the operations and of driving the development of LCSB. One of my main objectives is to thrive valorisation of scientific innovations into biomedical and ICT applications, through the boost of entrepreneurship, the creation of spin-off companies or licensing of intellectual property.

 

How is this the situation today in Luxembourg regarding entrepreneurship in the research sector?

Entrepreneurship in the Luxembourgish research sector is still at its inception phase. When researchers join LCSB, their main focus is to successfully manage their PhD or their research project, and unfortunately little time is left for other matters. Therefore, to increase the critical mass of possible ventures, at LCSB we have decided to put in place an innovation team, whose role is to bring all what is related to entrepreneurship closer to the researchers. What we have on our side is that researchers are extremely curious human beings, willing to learn and to tackle issues. They often approach the innovation team as they are willing to submit a patent, or they have an idea they want to have evaluated, and then the connection is made.

 

What are the challenges for researches willing to become entrepreneurs?

Here in Luxembourg there are several:

  • They need to understand what being an entrepreneur means and eventually taste it, but without hampering their research performance. Research performance and international positioning at LCSB is extremely important, and cannot be disregarded until when the end of the contractual agreements approaches. This means that the ‘switch’ has to occur in a smooth mode, and that only very efficient and result-oriented individuals can make it.
  • Another challenge is actually to have the switch occurring. The way researchers and entrepreneurs work is completely different, along with the drivers behind. Often researchers are not prone to share ideas, as in such an internationally competitive environment sharing an idea might mean losing the opportunity for publishing in an high-impact factor paper. Whilst, if entrepreneurs do not share, they will never find the right mentors, investors, partners, customers… For making this switch possible LCSB would need to have in place processes and tools that are agreed, recognized and accepted  by the LCSB leadership and beyond. This is what we are currently building right now. We are trying to raise funds to help not only LCSB but the University in general to start a series of initiatives aiming at bridging the gap between researchers and entrepreneurs, such as workshops for building and testing prototypes, or for sharing, conceptualising, developing and formalising ideas for ventures. In this way the change in the mind of our researchers would occur in a structured manner, as they would have the tools to acquire the entrepreneurial skills they need and therefore the venture would not look so scary anymore.

 

Is the situation specific to Luxembourg?

In other much more entrepreneurial countries such as US or Israel, the living and the economic conditions are much less favourable than in Luxembourg, and people struggle to find a well remunerated and secure job. The ‘stress to survive’, as also Nicolas Buck has underlined is one of the prerogatives for entrepreneurial minds to flourish and succeed. If we look at how over the last years the research centres in Luxembourg have built up their talent pool, the picture looks rather interesting: highly skilled professionals are attracted from all over the world (LCSB and SnT both have people with more than 45 different nationalities), and after a period ranging from 3 to 5 years they find themselves obliged to quit their research job. In most of the cases, they have settled down, and it would be with regret that they also quit the country. In a nutshell, Luxembourg has the tremendous opportunity to retain the talents it has invested into for years by encouraging them to start ventures in the country. It would just need to build up a few initiatives which could help them grow in that direction, instead of letting them go fetch other opportunities abroad.

 

What are your expectations about the LCSB training in entrepreneurship at nyuko?

My expectations about the training in entrepreneurship and about the role of nyuko in general are extremely high. I’m convinced that the skills of nyuko are the ones we need to help some of our researchers to make the switch, and to eventually turn them into entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship training is a very good start for approaching our talents, and for having them thinking in a different, more open and interactive way. The training has had a very good feedback, and the approach has been perceived as innovative. It basically pushed people to go out of their comfort zone, and to make them comfortable to address business related matters with a well-defined and structured approach. For sure this training at nyuko is one of the initiatives we are putting in place to shape entrepreneurial minds at LCSB.

Also, we are currently working to introduce this training as part of the Doctoral School the UL offers to PhDs. To conclude, we would like to further work with nyuko for developing other initiatives boosting entrepreneurship in the research centres in Luxembourg, such as the ones I’ve mentioned above. We strongly believe that LCSB alone cannot accomplish such a big task, and that we need to leverage on the strengths of actors such as nyuko to increase the critical mass of entrepreneurs and of ventures in Luxembourg.

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