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When IT security expert Aaron Turner decided to uproot his budding company HotShot Technologies and his family and move from his native Idaho to Luxembourg, it was quite a radical step. “I have worked in over 75 countries around the world, but I always had my home in the US,” he says. “But Luxembourg attracted me from a business point of view and spurred my sense of adventure.”

Protecting digital privacy

Driven by a dual fascination of the endless possibilities offered by the internet and the challenge of limiting its criminal use, Mr Turner has worked as a cybersecurity specialist for Microsoft and the US government. He also created start-ups working on mobile payments and the prevention of ATM skimming. “After selling my second company, I started to think about all the ways that people’s privacy is compromised when they communicate digitally. I wanted to create a system that would give them more power over who could access their information,” he explains. He developed and patented a technology generating encryption keys based on people’s physical location that are only valid in that specific place and thus very difficult for most hackers to compromise, and launched his third start-up, HotShot Technologies.

Luxembourg attracted me from a business point of view and spurred my sense of adventure.

HotShot soon partnered with HighSide, and the two companies developed an ultra-secure messaging system incorporating Mr Turner’s encryption technology. As a second step, they developed a complete identity management platform using location-based encryption to eliminate the need for passwords. After securing a deal with a very large client, the two partners decided to merge and Mr Turner joined HighSide as president and chief security officer.

Technology, business, growth

The link to Luxembourg was formed in 2018, before the merger. “One of our advisors introduced us to Vodafone’s procurement centre here in Luxembourg and its start-up accelerator, Tomorrow Street. HotShot was a pre-revenue start-up at the time and not ready to join their programme, but they put us in contact with the Technoport incubator that offered us a place at their premises. When my daughter was accepted at the International School of Luxembourg, we sold our belongings in the US and moved here – and we have never regretted it,” Mr Turner points out.

Luxembourg is now becoming HighSide’s centre of technology development. The company employs a growing, multinational team of highly qualified specialists and expects to have a staff of 12 here by the end of 2020. It is building good business traction, especially in the US market, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This event is helping us find customers faster as everyone is looking for secure remote working platforms. We just hired and on-boarded another three people, and have kept them busy working remotely.”

Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy have built great programmes such as Fit 4 Start that make it very hard not to come to Luxembourg, especially if you have R&D activities.

Highside was recently selected to represent Luxembourg in the prestigious Startup World Cup 2020. “There are a lot of good start-ups here,” Mr Turner comments. “Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy have built great programmes such as Fit 4 Start that make it very hard not to come to Luxembourg, especially if you have R&D activities.” He appreciates the personalised support offered by Luxinnovation and other players, and the dynamic business environment. “The combination of available private capital and a flexible national business strategy encourages entrepreneurs to take a chance. This is how innovation happens.”

Photo: © Luxinnovation / Marion Dessard

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