In Europe, adopting sustainable business principles is no longer a nice to have or a mere marketing strategy that companies can use to gain new clients. Regulations like the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requiring all large and listed companies to adhere to mandatory sustainability reporting standards, or the likes of the “Green Claims” directive being proposed by the European Commission to tackle misleading practices by businesses claiming to be sustainable, demonstrate that the regulatory landscape in Europe is changing, and so is the business mindset.

Projects reinforcing sustainable practices from finance to manufacturing, transport, and other industries, demonstrate that Luxembourg companies are coming to terms with the need to deviate from “business as usual” to compete in a sustainable future. However, not all businesses are at the same level of this transition.

Johnny Brebels Luxinnovation offers a wide range of services that help companies to innovate, become more digital, and more sustainable. All its services aimed at reinforcing sustainable business practices are regrouped under an umbrella term known as the Sustainability Innovation Hub.

“When it comes to sustainability, several categories of companies exist and the services we offer are aligned with their level of maturity,” says Johnny Brebels, Director Company Relations and Support at Luxinnovation. “Companies with detailed projects to install solar panels and reduce energy costs, for example, approach us and we accompany them to achieve this specific goal. But there are also others that may still be figuring out what parts of their operations has a high potential to make them more sustainable. As a solutions-oriented agency, we refer to dedicated instruments, programmes and services that best respond to these varying needs.”

Partnerships and finance for sustainable projects

Finance is an unavoidable subject when it comes to sustainability. One of the ways that Luxinnovation intervenes is by identifying suitable R&D and innovation funding opportunities in Luxembourg and Europe and accompanying companies to submit funding applications. In certain cases, companies might need to find the right competencies, technologies, products, partners, or services to increase their chances of success, and business connections enabled by Luxinnovation help to save them a lot of time and effort.

As a solutions-oriented agency, we refer to dedicated instruments, programmes and services that best respond to varying needs.

Environmental aid schemes by the Ministry of the Economy that help companies reduce the costs incurred from investments in studies, technologies, and other energy efficiency measures, also fall under the mandate of Luxinnovation. As a national contact point for European R&D and innovation funding programmes, such as Horizon Europe, Luxinnovation guides companies to access European funding that supports their sustainable projects. Luxembourg applications under its predecessor, Horizon 2020, had one of the highest success rates.

“Without the right information or guidance, companies risk missing out on these opportunities. To respond to certain calls, companies sometimes need to look beyond their network for partnership arrangements, for example, between a research and private entity, a public and private partner, or partners from various European nations as part of a consortium. The role we play here is sometimes the determining factor based on our vast national and international network,” explains Mr Brebels.

Making companies Fit 4 Sustainability

The Fit 4 Sustainability programme is one key tool Luxinnovation uses to assist companies in taking that first step to become more sustainable. It entails evaluating their environmental impact with the support of a certified expert by the agency, whose services are subsidised by the Ministry of the Economy. After a thorough business diagnostics, this expert creates a roadmap with specific actions tailored to a company’s operations.

“Under the Fit 4 Sustainability programme, projects are quantified based on their costs and benefits in terms of increased revenues, decreased energy consumption, or lower emissions,” says Mr Brebels. “Successful applicants in the Fit 4 Sustainability programme can go on to create projects around the recommended actions by the expert. Depending on the scope, they may also benefit from other investment or environmental aid schemes provided by the Ministry of the Economy or other entities.”

Companies can also discover a mapping created by Luxinnovation that identifies key “enablers” of sustainability in Luxembourg, as well as a sustainability framework showing where companies can innovate to become sustainable.

Successful applicants in the Fit 4 sustainability programme can go on to create projects around the recommended actions by the expert.

The Smart Manufacturing Week from 6 to 9 June 2023, is an annual cross-sector conference in Luxembourg, where companies can also discover also business actions that they can take to reinforce sustainable practices. According to Mr Brebels, “a shift in the business status-quo is inevitable and central to a sustainable future in Luxembourg. Companies that innovate to become more sustainable in their line of business also help to lay the foundations for a sustainable economy.”

Photo: Anders J/Unsplash

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