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Luxinnovation CEO Sasha Baillie speaks at Goodyear Patent Dinner 2019Goodyear’s first Luxembourg-based tyre production plant opened its doors in 1951, and an adjacent European Research and Development Centre was set up in 1957. Six decades later, the company’s operations include production facilities for truck and off-the road tyres, a mould plant and the Goodyear Innovation Center * Luxembourg, one of the group’s two main innovation centres. With a staff of over 3,400, Goodyear is one of the country’s largest employers. “We are incredibly proud to host one of your two Innovation Centers worldwide, and we really appreciate that you are so willing to work with other organisations here in Luxembourg. You are a real engine of innovation,” Ms Baillie pointed out.

Strategic partnerships for R&D and innovation

Goodyear frequently undertakes mutually beneficial and collaborative initiatives with players in the surrounding Luxembourg ecosystem. Ms Baillie mentioned in particular a collaborative research project initiated with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) aiming at making tyres more environmentally friendly in terms of materials, performance and the manufacturing process. The five-year project is expected to create almost 40 full-time research jobs and a significant number of PhD and post-doc positions. This open innovation project is co-funded by the Ministry of the Economy and is the largest of its kind in Luxembourg so far.

The group has also recently initiated a four-year research project focusing on Near-Field Communication (NFC) in automotive safety systems together with the University of Luxembourg. This collaboration is co-funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).

Goodyear and Luxinnovation have a long history of working together. “As head of Luxinnovation, I am particularly pleased that Goodyear is such a strong partner of ours,” said Ms Baillie. “The company has for many years been a very active and engaging partner of the Luxembourg Materials & Manufacturing Cluster.”

Luxembourg: a fertile ground for growth

Luxembourg has undergone a tremendous development during the years that Goodyear has been located here. “Starting literally from scratch in the 80s, Luxembourg has built up an entire system comprising well-recognised public research organisations and a university, really attractive funding measures and an increasingly expansive start-up community,” said Ms Baillie. She also highlighted the efforts of Luxembourg policy makers to set up a favourable environment for intellectual property management.

Luxembourg currently has a strong focus on the digital economy, and the government is working to ensure that all the key elements are in place that will allow many sectors using data – materials and manufacturing, health-tech, eco-tech, the automotive industry and space – to thrive successfully here. The cross-border digital testbed for autonomous and connected driving that connects roads in France, Germany and Luxembourg is one example of the measures put in place to benefit both industry and research.

“I am really pleased that Goodyear has also chosen Luxembourg to carry out one of its key Industry 4.0 projects,” said Ms Baillie. “Your investment in the fully automated Mercury tyre plant is a real milestone for our country and shows concretely what the government means with its agenda for digitalisation and smart industry.”

With operations all across the globe, Goodyear nevertheless continues the development of its Luxembourg-based activities. The new investment of $36 million in its Colmar-Berg facilities announced on 10 April shows the group’s confidence in its small but vibrant host country. And Ms Baillie trusts that the synergies will remain over time. “There are many challenges ahead of us, for you as a company and for us as a country, but as a team in innovation, I know we can really make things happen,” she concluded.

Photo credit: Goodyear

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