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When a company considers setting up shop abroad or expanding its operations to a new country, it considers many essential aspects to facilitate a smooth transition and ensure a favourable environment for its operations. These encompass activities like recruiting skilled personnel, adeptly navigating the regulatory landscape, and securing an optimal office space – tasks that can prove time-consuming, especially when conducted from a distant location.

Around 50% of our deal flow comes from foreign companies.

Some of them start their journey by benefitting from the ready-made offer of business hosting structures. In fact, many international companies opening their European offices in Luxembourg find a first home in one of the country’s incubators and accelerators. Notable examples include Bitflyer, a Japanese crypto assets brokerage firm, Italian payments company Satispay, US data analytics firm Hydrosat, or space start-ups Yuri and Ispace that have constantly grown their workforces, among many others.

Incubating the future

At the heart of this entrepreneurial growth is the House of Startups, aptly referred to as the “campus of innovation”. CEO Philippe Linster explains that this institution’s allure lies in its comprehensive suite of services catering to a wide spectrum of players. Remarkably, over one-third of Luxembourg’s 500+ startups find their home within four prominent incubators and accelerators co-located under its roof. These include the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the Luxembourg City Incubator (LCI), Le Village by CA and the International Climate Finance Accelerator (ICFA).

We support and guide the companies through each phase of the model to help them succeed in a multi-national corporate environment.

This unique co-location fosters seamless interactions, networking opportunities, and knowledge transfer, enriching the ecosystem. As Mr Linster puts it, “You meet people very fast, and this can be corporates, public actors, other startups and SMEs, incubators and accelerators, or funding partners. Everyone passes through this building at least once per month.”

Expert guidance and mentoring

A cornerstone of this thriving ecosystem is the expert counsel and coaching available. Companies, regardless of their familiarity with the Luxembourg’s business landscape, receive invaluable support in rapidly establishing themselves and scaling their operations. For instance, Tomorrow Street, a collaborative venture between Vodafone and Luxembourg incubator Technoport, offers hands-on operational support to technology scale-ups and facilitates introductions across Vodafone’s global network. Its Scale-Up X programme aims to select the next generation of strategic partners, offering numerous companies an opportunity to embed and scale their technology in a global company. “We work with a three-step model: scout, validation and scaling,” explains CEO Kenneth Graham. “We support and guide the companies through each phase of the model to help them succeed in a multi-national corporate environment.”

Advisors within our team are in constant exchange with companies.

Bastien Berg, CEO of the Luxembourg City Incubator, underscores its long-standing commitment to supporting incubated companies. This support extends to masterclasses, bootcamps, partner events with venture capital funds and large corporations, speakers’ clubs for refining pitching and public speaking skills, and peer-to-peer learning sessions. Furthermore, mature companies with substantial accomplishments offer their expertise to early-stage companies. “We also have individual support sessions with experts in different sectors depending on the company needs. Advisors within our team are in constant exchange with companies to see where they have struggles,” he adds.

International expansion

Luxembourg’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe facilitates international expansion for resident companies. CEO of the LHoFT, Nasir Zubairi, highlights a general observation: the ease of access to neighbouring countries like Germany, France, and Belgium. “Companies quickly become international because of the location and make-up of Luxembourg,” he states.

Sébastien Wiertz, General Manager of Paul Wurth InCub, which focuses on industrial innovations, emphasises the ongoing support provided to companies even after they graduate from the incubator.  “We often keep monitoring the status of prototypes, make occasional investments, and share our expertise on non-technical aspects such as project management, legal, financial strategies and human resources,” he recalls.

Geographically speaking, you are close to the airport and railway station, and within minutes or hours, you are in other major European capitals.

One standout success story, Sitetracker, a current scaleup partner of Tomorrow Street, has expanded operations to ten countries while maintaining a significant presence in Luxembourg, delivering complex infrastructure management solutions primarily within the Vodafone ecosystem.

Well-equipped co-working spaces

During the early days in Luxembourg, companies often find well-equipped co-working spaces within larger firms and other establishments. The House of Startups, with nearly 6,000 square meters of space in Luxembourg City, accommodates up to 200 companies at any given time. Mr Berg notes, “Geographically speaking, you are close to the airport and railway station, and within minutes or hours, you are in other major European capitals.”

We work with a three-step model: scout, validation and scaling.

Technoport, which has hosted over 170 companies, caters to a diverse range of start-ups, including spin-offs and foreign companies looking to ramp up R&D pursuits in Luxembourg. “Around 50% of our deal flow comes from foreign companies,” underlines CEO Diego De Biasio, stressing its commitment to testing and implementing new concepts for the entire ecosystem. It organises and provides a space for hackathons, game jams, themed weekends, and other activities fostering innovative solutions for industry needs. Technoport also hosts industrial companies with dedicated industrial spaces in its second location in Foetz.

Access to key sector players

From conception to scale-up, Luxembourg’s ecosystem ensures a seamless journey for start-ups. Each year, national initiatives like the Fit 4 Start accelerator attracts many promising start-ups from around the world, serving as a launchpad into Luxembourg and Europe. Mr Berg asserts, “We are here to support and put them in touch with potential clients and corporates”.

We often keep monitoring the status of prototypes, make occasional investments, and share our expertise on non-technical aspects.

The close-knit community in various sectors makes it easy to get quick referrals to the appropriate structures within a heartbeat. Mr Zubairi points out the crucial role LHoFT plays in enhancing Luxembourg’s competitiveness in the financial services sector, offering support like ecosystem development, knowledge sharing, training, and marketing assistance for resident companies in the field. Others, such as Neobuild, which focuses on sustainable constructions, 1535° for creative entrepreneurs, cleantech-focused Innovation Hub Dudelange, and many more, provide a targeted and well-rounded offering that facilitates easy access to key players in niche markets.

“If you are looking for a European hub or headquarters, consider Luxembourg. Pay a visit and you will not be disappointed,” concludes Mr Linster.

Photo credit: Luxinnovation/Michel Brumat

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