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“We were encouraged to apply to the start-up acceleration programme Fit 4 Start, which has a space vertical, and were the first company from Lithuania to graduate successfully,” says says Marius Klimavičius, CEO of Blackswan Space. We already had a partnership agreement with the University of Luxembourg before starting the programme, but not many other contacts. Fit 4 Start helped us grow our network. We also got plenty of encouragement, although they were not easy on us in the beginning and really pushed us to think through our business case and our way of presenting ourselves. We really came out of the programme as a stronger and better company.”

Understanding business in Europe

Roberto Machado, CYBAVO, speaks about understanding business in EuropeWe were also selected for Fit 4 Start. The programme gave us an opportunity to refine our messages and customer approach, and to fine-tune our value proposition,” says Roberto Machado, General Manager EMEA at CYBAVO. “It also helped us understand the specific nature of business and industry here in Europe and to develop an explicit go-to-market strategy for Luxembourg and the EU. Our participation opened the doors to co-working spaces, different ministries and the financial regulator and gave us a soft landing in Luxembourg.”

Fit 4 Start helped us understand the specific nature of business and industry here in Europe and to develop an explicit go-to-market strategy for Luxembourg and the EU.

“We already had a good network in Luxembourg, so that helped us get the first partnerships with leasing companies and so on,” explains Renaud Marquet, COO of UFODrive. “We also had good support from Luxinnovation. They helped us apply for a process innovation grant from the Ministry of the Economy, which provided an important injection for the development of our innovative services. In addition, we received government support during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped us very much during these troubled times. Now we are growing again and recruiting massively, so it was a good investment.”

Start-up support in COVID times

Caroline Assaf, Founding Director of CoCo World, was also impacted by the pandemic. “One month after we received our EU grant that enabled us to get the company going, COVID-19 shut Europe down,” she remembers. “In order to spur start-ups to help combat the effects of the pandemic, the Ministry of the Economy and Luxinnovation launched a call for projects called StartupsVsCovid19. We work in edutech, and with schools switching to online teaching, we saw an opportunity to make a difference.”

With schools switching to online teaching, we saw an opportunity to make a difference.

In five days, the team did a survey with 1,000 students about the challenges they were facing and came up with a validated problem and a proposed solution. 15 projects were selected out of the over 300 applications submitted, and CoCo World was one of them. “This made it possible for us to develop Peer Square, a dedicated peer-to-peer digital learning platform. We have now signed a contract with the Ministry of Education to make the platform available in all schools in Luxembourg.”

Strong start-up community

Another factor that really contributed to building our business network is that we are located at the fintech incubator Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT),” Mr Machado points out. “They know everyone in fintech and have been very helpful.”

I have the same experience from being at the Luxembourg City Incubator.” says Ms Assaf. “Having our office here opens a lot of opportunities, especially for someone like me who is new to the country. They have relationships with many other entities in Luxembourg, and have helped me with my government contacts. They are like your PR team, but you only pay for your desk!”

They are like your PR team, but you only pay for your desk!

Antanas Petrovas (Blackswan Space): “Our office is located at the technology incubator Technoport,” says Antanas Petrovas, Business Development Manager at Blackswan Space. “The team there has been extremely supportive and helped us not only to plant our feet in Luxembourg, but also with business development, sales, finding the right contacts and generally moving the company forwards.”

Photo: © Luxinnovation / Luc Deflorenne

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