NextRise Seoul connects Korean entrepreneurs with the global start-up ecosystem and brings together venture capitalists, accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. Invited by Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Luxinnovation, Luxembourg’s national innovation agency, organised a session on open innovation in practice.

Both Korea and Luxembourg aim to be at the forefront of technology.

The Luxembourg Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, opened the session. “Both Korea and Luxembourg aim to be at the forefront of technology,” the minister stated. “Innovation is a core value and a common interest that both our countries strongly share. The NextRise event is a further step to strengthen ties between our two countries. It is my firm belief that our relationship will continue to grow.”

The power of innovation

Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation, started her presentation by using the COVID-19 crisis to illustrate the power of innovation and digitalisation.

“Just a few weeks ago, few of us would have thought that a hybrid physical-virtual event like this could work,” she said, referring to the fact that the international participants of this year’s edition joined through video links. “But here we are, exchanging ideas interactively and creating new opportunities, without having had to spend time and energy travelling long distances. It is this type of innovation that we in Luxembourg consistently have encouraged: innovation that meets needs and provides a solution to a problem.”

In order to provide the right conditions for making innovation flourish, Luxembourg has over decades invested in a world-class digital infrastructure. The country has also built solid expertise in fields such as big data storage and processing, cybersecurity and high-performance computing. As a result, Luxembourg can today offer a dynamic environment where new technologies can be tested and applied and where all kinds of digital business can develop and expand onto the European and global markets.

Three pillars for data-driven innovation

In 2019, the Luxembourg government launched a national strategy for data-driven innovation, with the ambition of establishing the country as one of the most advanced digital economies in the world. David Foy, Head of International Business Development – Digital Economy at Luxinnovation, outlined the main pillars of the strategy, starting with the digital infrastructure. “It’s great to be innovative, it’s great to bring new services and products to the market, but you need a foundation on which those things lie,” Mr Foy emphasised.

We are very lucky in Luxembourg today as the government and the people making the laws and regulations actually understand business.

Luxembourg hosts 23 data centres, including 9 with Tier IV certification – the highest concentration of Tier IV data centres in Europe – and offers exceptional connectivity secured by very fast, ultra-low-latency connections with average round-trip times of around 5 milliseconds. It is also home to one of the eight petascale high performance computers (HPC) currently being set up as part of the EuroHPC initiative. While most HPCs are pure research centres, Luxembourg will make 65% of its capacity available to private companies.

The second pillar is a strong regulatory environment. “We are very lucky in Luxembourg today as the government and the people making the laws and regulations actually understand business,” said Mr Foy. “This means that the regulatory system is basically business-driven.” The third pillar, implementing innovation and testing solutions, is crucial. “We are working on making it easy for people to come into our environment – and on allowing them to fail, in a way that will make it possible for them to pick themselves up and carry on.”

Industry collaborations

As concrete examples of companies that are benefiting from the Luxembourg environment, Mr Foy mentioned injection moulding specialist Husky and global tyre company Goodyear. Husky has implemented a major Industry 4.0 project at its Luxembourg production facilities, with co-funding from the Luxembourg government. The result is a completely digitalised production process, from the moment clients submit an order until the delivery of the final product.

Goodyear has been present in Luxembourg for decades and has one of its two innovation centres here. With support from the Ministry of the Economy, Goodyear is working on a collaborative research project aimed at making tyres more environmentally friendly in terms of materials, performance and the manufacturing process with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). It is also running a research project on Near-Field Communication (NFC) in automotive safety systems together with the University of Luxembourg.

Luxinnovation welcomes entrepreneurs from all over the world looking for the right place to launch and expand their business on the European continent.

“Luxinnovation welcomes entrepreneurs from all over the world looking for the right place to launch and expand their business on the European continent,” Ms Baillie pointed out. “We are there to assist you, be it digitally via video calls, or physically, if and when you are able to travel again.”

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