In October 2022, national innovation agency Luxinnovation and the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce both signed memorandums of cooperation with JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organisation, aimed at enhancing business and investment opportunities for Japanese companies in Luxembourg and for Luxembourg companies in Japan. Two months later, Luxinnovation also signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Tsukuba, a leading centre for research and innovation in Japan, with the objective of providing mutual support to innovative companies.

Kozo Saiki, Director General of JETRO Brussels, on Luxembourg as a gateway to EuropeThe visit of the Japanese delegation is a direct result of these agreements. Six of the visiting companies have been invited by JETRO and the other three by the City of Tsukuba. “This business delegation is a wonderful result of our collaboration with Luxinnovation,” comments Kozo Saiki, Director General of JETRO Brussels.

Introduction to Luxembourg

The delegation spent the first half day of its Luxembourg visit at Luxinnovation, where the participants were introduced to the Luxembourg economy in general as well as to business opportunities in the fields of smart mobility, smart applications, smart city, industry 4.0 and health technologies. They also had the opportunity to meet two start-ups that develop their international business with Luxembourg as their base.

This was followed by visits to the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust of the University of Luxembourg and Neobuild, an innovation centre focusing on sustainable construction.

I hope that this visit to Luxembourg will be an opportunity to start doing business here.

The following two days include visits to the Ministry of the Economy, the Chamber of Commerce, the House of Startups and the Luxembourg City Hideomi Morii, Morii ManufacturingIncubator, as well as meetings with several companies. “Our objective is to immerse our Japanese guests into the Luxembourg start-up ecosystem and introduce them to various players who can give them an understanding of what it means to do business here,” explains Jenny Hällen Hedberg, Head of International Relations at Luxinnovation, who together with Pedro Ferreira Leal, Project Advisor at the House of Entrepreneurship, put together the programme. “Hopefully, the visits will also spark conversations that can eventually lead to cooperation between Japanese and Luxembourg players.”

The Japanese delegation members clearly show their interest in such conversations. “We are looking for companies that we could work in partnership with, as well as for institutional players that could support us in our expansion to Europe,” says Hideomi Morii who represents Morii Manufacturing. “I hope that this visit to Luxembourg will be an opportunity to start doing business here.”

Kanji Okazaki, CEO, RimTechVoice analysis specialist RimTech has the same objective. “Our technology can understand emotions expressed by the voice and identify the level of drowsiness of the speaker,” explains CEO Kanji Okazaki. “This is a radically new field, and we want to use our product, Nap Meter, to prevent accidents related to drowsiness among professional drivers and highly skilled workers. We are looking for partners with whom we can do a proof of concept and hope to make interesting contacts during the next few days.”

A multilingual gateway to Europe

Luxembourg’s highly multilingual workforce and international atmosphere are two key aspects that attracted the interest of JETRO and the City of Tsukuba. “In my opinion, Luxembourg is one of the best countries for companies that want to get access to the 450 million population of the EU market,” says Mr Saiki. “Today, I have also discovered that Luxembourg has a very friendly atmosphere, in particular for start-ups. The country can offer them support that they need to face the challenges of launching innovative businesses. It is a fantastic gateway to Europe.”

Today, I have also discovered that Luxembourg has a very friendly atmosphere, in particular for start-ups.

Mr Saiki points out that the relationship between Japan and Luxembourg has deepened since a visit to Luxembourg by the Japanese Prime Minister eight years ago. The cooperation agreement with Luxinnovation was a concrete step forward. “Luxinnovation is a very good partner that can help Japanese start-ups get access to all the advantages that Luxembourg can offer,” he says.

Mr Saiki hopes that this visit will lay the foundations for new, business-related collaborations. “The best possible outcomes of our three-day trip would be concrete cooperation opportunities that would help the Japanese companies deploy their business all over Europe.”

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