On 12 June 2024, Thermalytica officially announced the establishment of a subsidiary in Luxembourg. This marks the company’s first overseas presence, set up to introduce its innovative technology for enhanced insulation performance in the European market. We spoke to founder and CTO Rudder Wu about why the company chose Luxembourg and how it will proceed with its European market expansion.

Mr Wu, please tell us about your insulation technology.

The innovative insulation material developed by ThermalyticaRudder Wu: Thermalytica is a spin-off of the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), founded in 2021 in Tsukuba City, a major centre for research activities in Japan. We have developed a unique patented materials technology (TIISA®) that provides an innovative thermal solution for both terrestrial and space applications. We offer it as an insulation paint that, as a single layer of coating, radically transforms the heat insulation capacity of a surface. A 2 mm layer of TIISA can generate a temperature difference of over 1,000°C.

Why did you become interested in bringing your innovation to Luxembourg?

In June 2023, I was part of a delegation of Japanese companies attending a major tech fair in Luxembourg where our technology raised much interest. We were encouraged to apply to the startup acceleration programme Fit 4 Start, which is also suitable for deeptech startups, and decided to go for it. Our application was successful, and we joined the programme’s space vertical early this year for six months of coaching.

What do you consider as the main Fit 4 Start programme benefits?

The most valuable lessons learned were how to systematically lay out our strategy, carry out customer discovery, conduct a market growth analysis and refine the product/market fit. We had already done a similar process for Japan, but the European market is entirely new to us, so this was very helpful. Fit 4 Start has helped us identify and discover potential clients in the EU.

How has the programme helped you find the right focus for your European market expansion?

Even though we are in the space vertical, the steering committee members, who regularly reviewed our progress, encouraged us not to confine ourselves to this field. They told us to feel free to explore any other avenue that would be good for the company. Their open-mindedness was really impressive.

Fit 4 Start has helped us identify and discover potential clients in the EU.

Their support inspired us to add a parallel focus on the construction industry. We offer a product that improves the insulation and, most importantly, the energy efficiency of a building by as much as 15%. Our insulation coating is water-based and fully sustainable, and the solution is ready for use. We have already identified distributors for the construction sector in Luxembourg, Belgium and France.

Meanwhile, we also continue to work on space applications, but this is more time-consuming. We need to continue developing the technology together with research institutes and cooperate with the European Space Agency to come up with an offering that meets all requirements.

The graduation ceremony of Fit 4 Start took place on 26 June. What happens next?

I will manage the incorporation process in Luxembourg, and as soon as that is done, we intend to launch our first product from here. I will manage our European operations for the first year or two, but after that, we plan to recruit a local manager with in-depth knowledge of the EU market.

How is Luxembourg’s support to international companies?

Organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce or Luxinnovation, the national innovation agency, are very efficient. If I ask for something, I never have to wait long for an answer – not even if I contact the wrong person or department. They simply forward my request to the right people, who get back to me.

There is no competition; people work together as a team to do what is best for the companies they support.

Another amazing experience was looking for space in an incubator. Several of my Fit 4 Start coaching sessions took place at the Luxembourg City Incubator, so I naturally talked to them. They welcomed me and showed me all their facilities, but at the end of our discussion, they told me: “This is not the right place for Thermalytica. It would be much better for your business to choose the technology-focused incubator Technoport.” They connected us with Technoport, I went there the following day, and now we are opening the subsidiary there. There is no competition; people work together as a team to do what is best for the companies they support.

How do you as an international entrepreneur experience life in Luxembourg?

Luxembourg is a very good place to study and do business – I’ve noticed that I’m much more efficient here. I love taking my work to the Learning Centre of the University of Luxembourg, where I can really concentrate on my business.

This is far from my first experience of living abroad: I was born in Taiwan and have lived in both Canada and the United Kingdom before making Japan my home. So I’m looking forward to spending the next two years in Luxembourg. I like to learn about new cultures and languages and have great plans to learn both French and German in parallel with overseeing Thermalytica’s European market expansion.

Photo credits: Luxinnovation/Shine

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