Page 1


N° 7 / 2013

on Research & Innovation in Luxembourg

A home for growth Laying the foundations for innovation Pages 05 –07

National Agency for Innovation and Research

Laser sharp: Supporting industry through manufacturing engineering Pages 40 – 41



Diversity is the Spice of Life Studying at our international research university will spice up your life : students and lecturers from all over the world, a multicultural environment, multilingual degree programmes and programmes in English as well as individual mentoring - it’s all in the mix ! As for the practical side of life : the European institutions and the financial centre Luxembourg are in direct proximity. Our master’s programmes offered by the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance : Master in European Law LL.M • Master in European Economic Law LL.M • Master in European and International Financial Law LL.M • Master in Economics and Finance • Master of Science in Banking and Finance • Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation • Master in Accounting and Audit • New : Master in Wealth Management

Multilingual. Personalised. Connected.

Blitz Agency

University of Luxembourg

“Innovation: the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat” Imagine.

Imagine the world of tomorrow. It will, for sure, be different from the world of today. The demographics and composition of the population are changing, globalisation is continuing at an increasing rate, our lifestyles are evolving and our work environments and the skills we need are likely to change dramatically. Tempting as it might be to stay in our usual comfort zone, we know that we will not be able to deal with these challenges unless we change our way of living and pay more attention to the consequences for future generations when we take important decisions. As we like to say in Luxembourg: “If we want to remain as we are, we cannot remain as we are!” Dare. To build a sustainable society for tomorrow, we need people with the audacity to think outside the box. To make new discoveries. To come up with new ideas. Stimulating creativity and encouraging innovative entrepreneurs are Luxembourg’s key challenges and Luxinnovation’s key missions. This is why we are placing the creation and establishment of new, innovative businesses at the centre of this issue of FOCUS on Research and Innovation in Luxembourg. We believe that Luxembourg can provide so much in terms of business opportunities, geographical location, a stimulating environment and profes­ sional help and support. We also believe it is our duty to make sure that both present and potential new entrepreneurs understand what is on offer here and use it to their full advantage to create new ventures. On the following pages, you will meet Luxem­ bourg entrepreneurs who have launched innovative ventures in fields such as optical wood scanning, medical devices and mobile payments. You will also read about companies of foreign origin that have chosen Luxembourg as their entry point to the European market. Persevere. Failure may not be the end, but the beginning. Entrepreneurs know this. So do researchers. Most success stories have a history of hard

Raymond Schadeck, Chairman, Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research

work, mistakes and disappointments. The ones who make it in the end are those who press on until their vision becomes reality. This issue of FOCUS introduces several research­ ers working tirelessly to achieve their goals: de­ veloping new laser technologies for industry at the University of Luxembourg, achieving a bet­ ter understanding of companies’ innovation be­ haviour at CEPS/INSTEAD, or contributing to the fight against AIDS at CRP-Santé. Be inspired. The success of the people portrayed in FOCUS is the result of both their passion and their sources of inspiration. We hope you too will be inspired, not only by our business and research coverage, but also by the photos of the beautiful Philharmonie concert hall, a top cultural site that delights the eye as well as the ear. If you would like more information about innovation and research in Luxembourg, please feel welcome to contact Luxinnovation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Raymond Schadeck

Chairman Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research - T. +352 46 66 44 - 6060 - Focus 7 I 2013




Table of contents Laying the foundations for innovation Interview with Françoise Hetto-Gaasch, Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Tourism


News from innovative Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg A home for growth Multi-layered start-up support Smart wallet, smart phone Monsters, dragons, virtual worlds From idea to reality The new nucleus for innovation Incubation, development, success Resources and initiatives Keyhole surgery: looking ahead The rewards of being disruptive An antidote to information overload Next generation genetic analysis “All the tools you need are here ….” Innovative spaces

11 12 14 16 19 20 22 24 27 28 31 32 34

Philharmonie: how music was meant to sound


Public research Laser sharp: Supporting industry through manufacturing engineering The anatomy of innovation Using intelligence to fight HIV

40 42 44

Did you know it’s from Luxembourg? 46

Advanced sensors increase efficiency Five questions for … Georges Schmit, Consul General, Luxembourg Trade & Investment Office, San Francisco


The RDI directory


FOCUS on Research and Innovation in Luxembourg is published by Luxinnovation GIE National Agency for Innovation and Research Director of publication Gilles Schlesser Editor-in-chief Lena Mårtensson

Graphic design and layout Comed Communication Cover Boshua Printed in 15,000 copies

Journalists Susan Alexander, Stephen Evans, Mike Gordon, Frederick Gordts, Shamala Hinrichsen, Jennifer Rose

Sponsors Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce National Research Fund

Copy-editing Ruth Bloomberg

For a free subscription, please contact


Focus 7 I 2013

The publisher has tried to ensure that all information is accurate but cannot be held responsible for the use that might be made of the information, for omissions or for any mistakes that might appear. Reproduction is authorised, provided the source and copyright are acknowledged. © 2013 Luxinnovation GIE This publication is cof inanced by :

Blitz Agency

Françoise Hetto-Gaasch, Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Tourism

Laying the foundations for innovation

“Small and medium sized enterprises maintain employment, create jobs and drive innovation through their use and dissemination of new technology,” says Minister Françoise Hetto-Gaasch, head of the Ministry of Small and MediumSized Businesses and Tourism. Mrs Hetto-Gaasch spoke to FOCUS about the contribution that smaller companies make to the economy and how Luxembourg is working to support the SME sector.

“Smaller firms have a profound understanding of their clients’ needs,” says Mrs Hetto-Gaasch. “That knowledge, and the flexibility that comes from their size, enables them to respond quickly to reinvent their products, services and internal organisation.” The need for small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) to innovate is clearly a key driver of the country’s economic growth and the development of its skills base. However, these companies often do not have sufficient human and financial resources to do full justice to their ideas. This is where Luxembourg’s comprehensive support comes in, with funding available on favourable terms specifically for SMEs. “SMEs are the backbone of the economy,” Mrs Hetto-Gaasch continues. Luxembourg currently has around 28,000 SMEs, employing approximately 280,000 people – 80% of the workforce – and creating new jobs every year. About 17,000 smaller businesses are engaged in skilled crafts and the retail and liberal professions, which between them account for 150,000 employees. On top of this come companies based in neighbouring countries that supply

the Luxembourg market; in the craft sector, for example, nearly 3,000 annual licenses were issued to non-resident firms in 2011, more than four times as many as in 2006. Mrs Hetto-Gaasch also speaks about the impact of the economic downturn on the smaller business sector. “SMEs have been coping fairly well,” she says. “There were problems at the start of the crisis, when we saw a sharp fall in demand from the automotive and construction industries, but most areas have seen a return in confidence.” She attributes this turnaround mainly to the recovery in exports and the fact that spending power has remained relatively strong, adding that on the domestic front, demand has remained stable owing to relatively moderate job losses and the policy of maintaining high levels of public spending.

Joined-up support

There are several aspects to the ministry’s role in respect to the SME sector: improving competitiveness; maintaining employment levels;

Focus 7 I 2013






for tasks such as quality assurance and certi­ fication. Aid may also be offered to assist with extra costs arising from, say, new environmental regulations or food safety legislation, or for new entrepreneurs starting their own business or taking over an existing one. Mrs Hetto-Gaasch notes that the National Society for Credit and Investment (Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement – SNCI) also offers development loans to SMEs, while the country’s incubators offer strong support, including premises, to technology-focused smaller businesses.

fostering entrepreneurship and innovation; granting and issuing business permits; ensuring that competition, advertising, sales, distribution and so on are conducted fairly; and providing support to help companies maintain their market position. These activities have clear synergies with the ministry's responsibility for tourism, which includes the oversight of hotels, restaurants, cafés and bars. Of particular importance to the ministry is minimising bureaucracy for start-ups; as a result, assuming the applicant fulfils the basic conditions, it should take no more than ten days to acquire a business permit in Luxembourg. The Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Tourism maintains an ongoing dialogue with the various trade organisations, with the aim of ensuring that policy and regulation are both effective and fair. The ministry is based in the same office complex as the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade, and the two work in close partnership to support research, development and innovation, together with Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research.

Funding initiatives

The Department of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses supports several initiatives designed to assist SMEs in the different stages of startup, growth and ongoing development. For example, funding may be made available for new equipment, patent purchase and participation in business fairs, or to engage external consultants


Focus 7 I 2013

Owing to the fact that unit costs are higher for smaller businesses, the funding limit for SMEs engaged in fundamental, applied and competitive development research is 10% higher than for large firms. Funds may be available for R&D and innovation infrastructure, tools and instruments, personnel, consultancy services, technical expertise and know-how, purchase of user licenses and operating expenses such as for materials, equipment, energy and transport.

Supporting new markets

Smaller businesses in Luxembourg tend to regard the region around its borders almost as another home market. In addition to strong cultural similarities and a shared linguistic understanding, many of the region’s over 11 million residents cross the border daily to go to work. Both the country’s government and trade bodies provide financial and organisational backing as a means of offering active support to the export effort. Luxembourg is also a member of the Enterprise Europe Network, established by the European Commission in order to foster international business collaboration and technology transfer. The network facilitates SMEs’ access to new markets throughout the EU and beyond.

Promoting tourism

Mrs Hetto-Gaasch is keen to promote innovation and quality in tourism, a growth industry that currently generates a direct and indirect contribution of 5.7% of GDP, 17,500 jobs and 1.6% of exports. Luxembourg has a thriving business

travel industry owing to its central location, topclass hotels and high-quality meeting venues, and the sector is attracting growing receipts as a result of recent government investment in new conference facilities. The country also sees a fair number of leisure tourists, traditionally from north western Europe but increasingly from China, Russia and Japan. Last year alone, for example, 130,000 Chinese people visited the Grand Duchy, an increase of 22.4% on the year before. People are intrigued by this small country, blessed as it is with unique geological, architectural and cultural attractions. The government is offering a package of financial incentives to encourage visitor attractions, hotels, hostels and campsites to upgrade their premises and facilities. Support for promotional campaigns and moves to improve tourist access have also had a noticeable effect.

Enterprise and the young

Both government and business are supporting schemes to encourage a spirit of enterprise in the country’s young people. Pupils at primary school are given an insight into business life, and secondary school students participate in business plan games and work experience programmes. In addition, postgraduates at the University can opt for a Master’s in entrepreneurship and innovation, while the more experienced can attend training sessions offered by trade organisations to learn more about becoming their own bosses. Luxembourg is an ideal place for small enterprises to thrive. The business community has an interesting mixture of long-term residents who know the market well and ambitious new arrivals eager to seize the opportunities on offer. The final touches to the picture are added by the large and small firms operating across the country’s borders. Owing to all these factors combined, Luxembourg has become a true centre for innovation.

Françoise Hetto-Gaasch Françoise Hetto-Gaasch gained a diploma in socio-education at Luxembourg’s former institute for higher education and research in pedagogy (Institut supérieur d’études et de recherches pédagogiques, ISERP). After 12 years as a socio-educational worker and youth group leader at Colnet d’Huart Foundation / Red Cross, she moved into a very different field, working as a radio and television presenter from 1993 until her election as a Member of Parliament in 2004. As an MP, she took on a variety of roles, including that of vice chair of the Committee on National Education and Vocational Training, and also became involved in local politics, an interest that led to a period from 2007-2009 as mayoress of the municipality of Junglinster. In 2009, Mrs Hetto-Gaasch was appointed Minister of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Tourism and Minister for Equal Opportunities. Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Tourism +352 24 78 47 14

Focus 7 I 2013




Luxembourg, like everywhere else, is expe­ riencing rising healthcare costs, and the effective optimisation of resources is becoming an even more pressing issue. Public Research Centre (Centre de Recherche Public, CRP) Santé recently announced that it is setting up a Health Economics Research Unit to examine not just how to keep expenditure within limits, but also how to “do more with the same funds.” A particular emphasis will be on doing “better and differently” in the treatment of cancer.

To support this initiative, CRP-Santé hosted an international symposium on Health Economics and Personalised Medicine in June 2012. The event focused on ways in which personalised medicine can improve healthcare in general, and how research priorities and policies can be designed to promote the use of high-value personalised medicine in the treatment of cancer.

The merger is based on both CRPs’ shared long-term vision for the public research and innovation ecosystem in the Grand Duchy. The University of Luxembourg will focus on pure scientific research and academic teaching, while the new CRP will be charged with mission-driven fundamental and applied scientific research and knowledge and technology transfer in specific areas. The merger is also designed to strengthen the strategic coordination between Luxembourg’s CRPs and to put in place joint research platforms between the CRPs and the University of Luxembourg. The new organisation will begin operations in January 2015 and will later move to the City of Sciences in Belval.

Eco-Systems Biology Lab develops new microbiological research method

Focus 7 I 2013

Biologists have long suspected that microbial communities in the human body can cause or contribute to diseases such as diabetes. The new research method systematically measures and integrates biomolecular information de­ ri­ved from a single unique sample and thus creates the potential to significantly increase our understanding of the effect of microbes on human health. The research team at the University of Luxembourg is headed by Dr Paul Wilmes and funded by the National Research Fund’s ATTRACT programme.

HITEC Luxembourg and SES Techcom supply ground station to German Aerospace Centre

Luxembourg-based engineering and technology company HITEC Luxembourg, in partnership with SES TechCom, has delivered an In Orbit Testing (IOT) ground station to the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). The project, led by SES TechCom, included the design, manufacture and on-site installation of a high-end, highprecision, full-motion antenna developed by HITEC Luxembourg, in addition to the training of DLR personnel.

Public Research Centres Gabriel Lippmann and Henri Tudor to merge


The Eco-Systems Biology Laboratory at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) has developed a research method that significantly advances man’s ability to study microbes such as bacteria, fungi and viruses and their impact on human health.

As part of Luxembourg’s drive to promote internationally competitive R&D and innova­ tion, CRPs Gabriel Lippmann and Henri Tudor announced last April their intention to merge to form a single organisation. In order to facilitate the move, the Minister for Higher Education and Research, François Biltgen, nominated the

University of Luxembourg welcomes world-famous sociologist Louis Chauvel

Dr Louis Chauvel, former Professor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, has joined the INSIDE research unit at the University of Luxembourg, where he is to conduct a research study into social inequality. The project will combine the disciplines of sociology, economics and political sociology © University of Luxembourg

CRP-Santé sets up Health Economics Research Unit

combination of the small wavelength of the Ka-Band’s signal and the large diameter of the antenna.

© HITEC Luxembourg

© CRP-Santé


same members to the two boards of directors in October 2012, and a joint economic interest group, “Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology” (LIST GIE), was formally established in January 2013.

The antenna system is the first to be put into operation at DLR’s ground facilities in the KaBand. The HITEC Luxembourg design overcame significant challenges in terms of pointing accuracy, angular velocity, acceleration and rain-fade mitigation, issues resulting from the

with the aim of analysing the social advantages and disadvantages experienced by different generations in Luxembourg, Europe and the rest of the world. The project will be based on data supplied by the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), which has been collecting income data from 40 countries worldwide for the last 25 years. In a related development, the University recently became a privileged LIS partner. The study will receive a €4.5 million grant from the PEARL programme, funded by the National Research Fund.

Luxembourg supports ecotechnology initiatives

Etienne Schneider, Minister of the Economy and Foreign Trade, recently announced the government’s two strategic priorities in the field of ecotechnologies. This is in line with the 2009 Eco-Technology Action Plan, under which subsidies are available for environmental protection and sustainability projects. The first of these priorities is the development of innovative materials that require less energy to produce and lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions. Examples are composites, conductive polymers and nanomaterials, as well as biomaterials such as biodegradable biopolymers and insulation materials. The second focuses on the intelligent use of natural resources, of which examples are the conversion of biomass into energy, sustainable mobility, “smart grid” energy solutions and microgeneration of heat and electricity. In this broader context, sustainable and green construction has emerged as a particularly promising sector, and further research into this area is under consideration.

EU’s Joint Research Centre strengthens ties with Luxembourg

The EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) held an infor­mation day in Luxembourg, organised in partnership with Luxinnovation. The event was designed to inform Luxembourg researchers and entrepreneurs about JRC activities, debate topics of common interest, strengthen ties and explore the potential for future collaboration with

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

© Estonteco



Luxembourg’s national research institutions. Discussions focused on four topics: ICT security, water and agricultural resource management, financial stability and innovation policy. The event included roundtable discussions on cyber­ crime research, smart meter security, privacy and data protection, monitoring agricultural and water resources, the modelling of regional economics and industrial research and innova­ tion.

Luxembourg eco-innovation points the way to a climate-smart Europe

Anton Paar OptoTec acquires University of Luxembourg patent

Luxembourg-based company Estonteco has been selected as a good practice example by the EU “A world you like with a climate you like” programme, an initiative designed to raise awareness of climate protection issues by showcasing practical examples in different member states.

Hannover-based measuring instrument manu­ facturer Anton Paar Optotec has acquired the patent for a new optical measuring process developed by physicists Dr Ulrich Müller and Prof. Dr Jan-Kristian Krüger at the University of Luxembourg. Anton Paar will use the technology in their refractometers, devices that measure the optical properties of a sample using the refraction of light. Refractometers are used for purposes such as gauging the ripeness of grapes prior to harvest, and in fundamental research in the areas of physics and materials science.

Estonteco is the company behind Open Charge Points, a network of electric car battery recharging points designed to assist drivers and promote the use and mass production of zero-emission electric vehicles. The charge points, currently available across eight Euro­ pean countries, are linked to an interactive management system that enables drivers to use the web or a mobile phone app to locate their nearest point, check its availability, charge their vehicle and make a secure payment to the rele­ vant supplier.

The new measurement technique allows for a very precise determination of the frequency dependence of the thermo-optical and the volume expansion coefficients, raising interes­ ting possibilities for both industry and research. The University and Anton Paar plan further cooperation in the future.

© Anton Paar

A home for growth

There are many reasons to choose to set up an innovative business in Luxembourg: its central European location, its state-ofthe-art infrastructure networks, its business-friendly legal and regulatory environment, its highly skilled, multi­ lingual workforce and the accessibility of its public research centres. Indigenous technology-based start-ups are created every year, while many international groups, including internet giants Amazon, Skype and eBay and global logistics company Expeditors International, have chosen the Grand Duchy as the ideal base for their European operations. The strong political determination to support the creation of innovative enterprises has been translated into solid support structures and measures. Concurrently, a variety of public and private sector activities has been put in place to foster entrepreneurship and creativity and contribute to building an environment where new companies can prosper and grow.


Focus 7 I 2013

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Multi-layered start-up support

can submit applications for support in English or German.

Blitz Agency

Luxembourg offers a full, multi-layered range of support services to innovative companies, whether in their start-up or growth phases. The country welcomes domestic, regional or international firms that can demonstrate genuine ambition for growth, and offers a combination of targeted loans and grants, sophisticated advisory services and access to specially designed business premises. FOCUS spoke to Mario Grotz, Director General for Research, Intellectual Property and New Technologies at the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade, about Luxembourg’s ongoing efforts to promote innovative enterprise.

of specially designed facilities. Plans are also in hand for further investment. Work is currently underway to expand the original incubators, most of which were designed to host information and communication technology and manufacturing start-ups. At Foetz, in the south of the country, 4,300 m2 will be added to the 8,000 m2 of manufacturing space currently available. Meanwhile, construction work is about to begin on 5,000 m2 of tailor-made premises for clean-tech businesses and a 4,500 m2 public and privately-funded “House of Bio-Health”, dedicated to bio-tech and environmental technology. “All the science-based premises will be equipped with specialised laboratory facilities,” says Mr Grotz.

Encouraging potential

Mario Grotz, Director General for Research, Intellectual Property and New Technologies, Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade

One of the current government’s key policy promises was to continue to promote and encourage the small and medium-sized business sector. Efforts to support research, development and innovation were scaled up in 2009 and a range of co-financing initiatives put in place to assist entrepreneurs with financial aid, business mentoring, technical and scientific input and other advisory services.

Tailor-made business incubators

More recently, the government has restructured the provision of premises for start-ups, placing the management of the Technoport business incubators under the control of a single organisation offering entrepreneurs a choice


Focus 7 I 2013

The Ministry works closely with Technoport and Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research, to select promising candidates for specialist help with business development. Mr Grotz explains: “We receive about 100 business start-up ideas every year, select around 40 to work on further, and usually end up with at least 20 brand new start-ups.” While all candidates receive personalised assistance, the level of input they need can vary considerably. Some arrive with solid business plans, often with funding already in place; others may have an extremely bright idea but a relatively hazy notion of how to turn it into something that can actually be brought to the market. “Together with our partners, we can help candidates to understand the environment, walk them through the necessary administrative steps and help them construct a business plan,” says Mr Grotz. He adds that as nearly all the candidates come from outside the Grand Duchy – mainly the neighbouring regions – it is very important to make it as simple as possible for non-native entrepreneurs to move into Luxembourg. For example, although French is the main administrative language, candidates


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Silicon Valley experience

The Ministry has a particularly interesting initiative for social media businesses, offering selected companies three months’ intensive mentoring at the renowned Plug and Play centre in the Silicon Valley. “They have a dedicated mentor whose job it is to help them integrate into the Valley’s technical and venture capital networks,” says Mr Grotz. “Not only does this give them access to a type of experience and funding they could not find elsewhere, but they come out with a very clear understanding of how viable their idea is in the commercial market.” The experience may also give them the knowledge and contacts to enable them to fine-tune their ideas, form partnerships with US companies and even set up branch offices. To date, four businesses have taken advantage of this initiative, but more could benefit if the demand is there. The scheme is also helping to increase Silicon Valley’s awareness of Luxem­ bourg as a base for investing into Europe.

Innovative support

In addition to the programmes specifically designed for innovative firms, there are several more standard forms of support on offer to viable new businesses setting up in Luxembourg. Loans can be made on favourable terms to start-ups looking to facilitate friendly takeovers or purchase equipment, support is available for new businesses with high-growth potential and various options are open to SMEs needing equity investment. The combination of all these cannot but help ambitious business people to overcome the funding gap, and demonstrates the innovative thinking behind Luxembourg's approach to supporting small business growth.

Research, development and innovation support Substantial financial support is available to large and small companies and public bodies for: • R&D projects or programmes • Technical feasibility studies • Protection of technical industrial property • Aid for young innovative enterprises • Innovation advisory services and inno­ vation support services • Temporary secondment of highly qualified personnel • Process and organisational innovation in services • Investment in innovation clusters and ani­ mation of innovation clusters • "De minimis" measures • Medium and long-term loans. Luxinnovation can help companies prepare funding applications and gain access to European and international programmes.

Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade Directorate-General for Research, Intellectual Property and New Technologies +352 24 78 41 64

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Smart wallet, smart phone

With Luxembourg home to so many banks and financial institutions – including e-payment giant PayPal – it is no surprise that several Luxembourg-based companies have launched innovative new mobile payment apps for smartphones. These young start-ups are using Luxembourg as a test ground for now, but their ambition is to go global, and to do it fast. Do you often pay for products or services on your mobile phone? Perhaps not yet, but in 2012 around 10 billion mobile payment transactions were made worldwide, and in 2013, according to PwC, that figure is expected to grow by a further 50%. Luxembourg is not only at the forefront of technological innovation; its legal framework provides for licenses granted to “electronic money” institutions to be used throughout the European Union. For several reasons, it is an excellent environment to launch and nurture new ideas.

Direct integration with the bank


Mpulse has grown into a major player in Luxembourg and the Greater Region over the last few years, mainly owing to its success with mobile payment by Premium SMS, generally used for items such as ringtones or pay-to-enter competitions. In 2010, Mpulse’s co-founders, CEO Raoul Mulheims, CTO Georges Berscheid, Chairman Mike Sergonne and Chief Business Development Officer Jonathan Prince, set up Digicash, initially as an R&D project co-funded by the Luxembourg government. Last year,

Luxembourg’s Financial Sector Surveillance Commission (Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier; CSSF) granted Digicash a full EU license as a payment institution. Digicash is a free app for iPhone and Android smartphones that debits the purchaser’s current account directly for transactions up to €2,500. “This is the first of its kind in Europe,” says Mr Prince. “It initiates a wire transfer from the purchaser’s account to the payee’s account, so customers don’t have to load up an electronic wallet first.” To make a payment, the customer scans a QR Code at the store’s cash desk, enters their PIN and waits for the confirmation to appear both on their phone and the merchant’s payment terminal. The QR code can also be printed on invoices or displayed on websites. Digicash was officially launched in November 2012 and after only a few hours was the mostdownloaded app in the app stores. At the time of writing, Digicash can be used at around 100 businesses, including supermarkets, petrol stations and public transport and utility companies. Merchant commissions are very low, as Digicash does not use credit cards. At present, the app can be used with one large local bank (Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat, Luxembourg), but Digicash has further agreements in the pipeline to offer a multibank mobile payment solution. Pointing to banking interoperability and the EU license, the company expects the service to be available throughout the EU very soon. Digicash is part of a group employing 45 people. According to Mr Prince, “It was Luxembourg’s strong network and connections, along with the proximity to and simplicity of communications with local authorities, organisations and deci­ sion makers, that helped to make the Digicash launch such a success.”

Payments via any bank

Mobey recently launched its own mobile payments app, Flashiz, which can be used by customers of any bank with no need to set up a prior agreement. Mobey, which was started in 2011 with support from, among others, the


Focus 7 I 2013

Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade, the datacentre eBRC, the PwC Accelerator and Luxinnovation, now employs 35 people in Luxembourg and a further 10 abroad. Mobey has also received financial backing from BGL BNP Paribas and is now based in the centre of Luxembourg City. Like Digicash, Flashiz uses QR codes scanned in with a smartphone camera. CEO and founder Alexandre Rochegude says: “We have a true multi-channel solution that can be integrated by merchants not only with payment terminals but also with invoices, cash tickets and websites. Moreover, merchants can integrate loyalty cards, so customers no longer have to carry those around.” The app also allows individuals to pay each other, for example to split a restaurant bill, without being charged commission. “We have a pan-European electronic money institution license, granted by the CSSF,” continues Mr Rochegude. “Our customers can choose to either top up beforehand by transferring money to their e-money account, or enter their credit card number to make a secure payment.” The payment is not debited from the customer’s account until the transaction has been completed. In Luxembourg, 400 merchants and 5,000 individuals are already using Flashiz, which will be launched soon in other countries including Belgium, France, and Spain.

Just like cash

The German founders of PayCash, CEO Jürgen Wolff and Chief Marketing Officer Marcus Becker, describe it like this: “PayCash is a secure and efficient mobile payment service that can be used for point-of-sale and person-to-person payments either in person or online.” The process works in the same way as a traditional cash payment: the buyer opens his PayCash wallet app and types in the amount he wants to pay to generate an instant QR code. This code is scanned by the payee; either a merchant operating a small PayCash terminal, or a private individual who has an iPhone or Android smartphone with the Paycash app installed. The merchant or individual scans the code, and the payment is instantly transferred to the payee. Like Flashiz, the PayCash app works with any bank, and also makes it easy to make personal payments to friends and other individuals. As

Mr Wolff explains: “The payer does not transmit any sensitive user data to the receiving party, so it is extremely secure – rather like giving somebody a banknote.” Several businesses in Luxembourg and Ger­ many, including shops, restaurants and a university campus, are already using PayCash, and the company is actively enrolling other merchants and expanding to other European countries. According to Mr Becker, Luxembourg was an obvious choice: “It is an open-minded country which promotes new ideas and provides genuine assistance to entrepreneurs. Luxinnovation has been and is of great help to us, providing valuable support through its extensive network with all aspects of setting up a start-up company.”

Digicash +352 26 37 36 1 Mobey +352 42 42 79 53 PayCash +352 54 55 80 49 8

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Monsters, dragons, virtual worlds

Close readers of the Luxembourg business pages may have been struck by the appearance of some fairly untraditional names over the past couple of years. One by one, Kabam, Zynga, Nexon Europe, Innova, Onlive, Big Fish and Agopia announced plans to set up operations here, and seemingly overnight, the Grand Duchy has found itself with a new, rapidly-growing business sector: online gaming. And no, it's not about gambling, but about having fun fighting dragons and other monsters.


California-based gaming firm Kabam first heard of Luxembourg when it was looking for a European base from which to service the then 35% of its revenue coming from Europe. “We saw huge potential to increase that portion of our revenue,” explains Boris Pfeiffer, managing director for Kabam Europe.

Paramount, and free-to-play games based on The Hobbit film trilogy for mobile devices and the web, with Warner Brothers.

Highest common denominator

Kabam discovered Luxembourg after deciding to assemble a team of native speakers from the company's five key European markets: France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK. In terms of possible locations, Mr Pfeiffer says there were not many candidates; when he asked his staff what they thought of the short-list, Luxembourg came up as “the highest common denominator.” The firm contacted Georges Schmit, Luxem­ bourg's Consul General at its San Francisco Trade and Investment Office. Mr Schmit presented the country's strongest point: ease of access to government departments, ministers and tax authorities. Mr Pfeiffer says these factors have allowed his firm “to move through the hurdles and grow as fast as we wanted to.” Kabam has set up a slice of the Silicon Valley in its office off the Route d'Arlon, which has arcade games for its team as well as a top-of-the-line coffee bar. The building buzzes with about 50 staff handling customer support, localisation, human resources, finance and marketing. Over the past year, as Kabam has gradually moved more operations into Luxembourg, the size of the team has increased by a fifth.

Behind the surge in gaming Kabam reported gross revenues of over $100 million in 2011 and experienced 50% growth in 2012. It started out with strategy games and has since moved into role-playing games – known by players as RPGs – such as “Realm of the Mad God”. The company is now working with a number of high-profile partners; projects include The Godfather-themed games, with


Focus 7 I 2013

According to Tom Kettels of the Media and Communications Department of the Ministry of State, there is “no single factor” that explains the rapid growth of the gaming sector, which he says involves 10-15 companies that the ministry is in touch with. However, he thinks that the government's decision back in 2006 to invest in an extensive information technology infrastructure played a key role. Among the

various initiatives, LuxConnect and the P&T's Teralink built several very fast fibre optic routes connecting Luxembourg to the rest of Europe. Mr Kettels also points to the effect of the numerous data centres built over the past decade by public companies including P&T's ebrc division, LuxConnect and private sector players such as the European Data Hub. In addition, the country's 2008 intellectual property regime is of particular interest to gaming companies.

International work atmosphere

Another member of the local gaming sector is Nexon, which describes itself as “one of the world’s biggest international publishers of Free to Play games.” The company, listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, reports a gross revenue of over €850 million and publishes over 50 PC, social and mobile games in Korea, Japan, the US and Europe. Its top-selling game is Maplestory, a 2D side-scrolling multiplayer online role-playing game, with over 100 million registered players worldwide. In Europe, its top game, Combat Arms Europe, has over 6 million registered users. Nexon arrived in Luxembourg in 2011, after originally setting up its European office in the UK in 2007. The firm was drawn by this country's international work atmosphere, explains André Ruff, a Nexon PR associate. He continues: “Our company employs a multilingual international team to serve games across Europe, and our managers see Luxembourg as a good home.” Over 25 of the company’s employees are based here, running the company’s customer support, legal and finance operations.

Advanced infrastructure

Russian computer games outfit Innova Systems joined the local sector at the end of 2011. In its own words: “Innova has taken an active role in developing the domestic MMO (massively multi-player online) games market to the level of leading world trends, with its high quality services and leading titles to the European and Russian markets.” The company is behind a variety of established games, including Linage 2, Aion, Atlantica Online and APB Reloaded, with over 2 million active users. The firm employs nearly 200 staff worldwide. Garegin Margaryan, Vice President of software engineering, describes Luxembourg’s data centre infrastructure as “one of the most highly developed in Europe.” In addition, the country has “the best possible quality in terms of connectivity

and co-location and the most business-friendly environment.” Innova's local presence provides the operational infrastructure for the European market and the firm is working with Telindus Telecom, which runs a data centre in Strassen.

Plans for expansion

The gaming sector will continue to grow in Luxembourg and many firms are reporting plans for expansion. According to Mr Pfeiffer, “Kabam plans to bring new functions to Luxembourg over time, such as community management.” Both Innova and Nexon expect to expand by introducing new games to Europe, driving the need for more technical resources and staff, and Nexon is currently recruiting new talents. As Mr Pfeiffer says, “Game companies in general tend to grow much faster than traditional Luxembourg industries such as banking.” Kabam Europe +352 27 44 93 73 Innova +352 26 26 21 34 Nexon Europe

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Start-ups in Luxembourg

From idea to reality

“We support innovative companies throughout every stage of their development,” says Marc Ferring, Head of Funding Programmes and Innovation Support Services at Luxinnovation. The agency, funded by three Luxembourg ministries, two professional chambers and one business federation, provides services free of charge to companies of all sizes. Luxinnovation’s key strengths lie in two directions: a strong multi-disciplined team that complement each other’s skills; and a wide-ranging, high-quality national and European network on which it can draw to find appropriate partners for local businesses.

Blitz Agency

A brilliant business idea or brand new technology is an excellent starting point for a new company, but no guarantee of success. To transform an innovation into a commercially viable and attractive product or service is a complex exercise requiring multiple skills and resources. Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research, offers an integrated range of personalised services to help Luxembourg-based innovative start-ups and foreign companies establishing innovative activities here to develop and thrive.

Determining potential

Luxinnovation has a support team specifically for companies in the start-up phase. One service offered is the analysis of innovative business ideas: “We help entrepreneurs identify what is unique in their offer, define the optimal business model and determine the commercial potential,” Mr Ferring explains. Every entrepreneur needs a solid business plan to present to potential investors and partners. The team offers help with business plan development, a process invaluable in analysing the commercial feasibility of a project. “We do a detailed analysis of plans submitted to us,” Mr Ferring says, “and look in particular at the financial aspects and forecasts to determine the viability of the enterprise.” In addition, Luxinnovation can help to assess whether the entrepreneur needs intellectual property protection, and advise on next steps.

Finding the right partners

According to Mr Ferring, two of the most important success factors are the ability of the management team and the additional skills and experience brought in by outside partnerships. Luxinnovation helps entrepreneurs to identify technology partners in local companies


Focus 7 I 2013

Marc Ferring, Head of Funding Programmes and Innovation Support Services, Luxinnovation

and public research laboratories and, via its membership of the Enterprise Europe Network, to find scientific partners abroad as well as opportunities for technology transfer. “We facilitate the entrepreneurs’ interactions with the different actors involved in the process of setting up a company, such as the professional chambers, ministries and administrations,” Mr Ferring continues. “We work in close collaboration with the Technoport incubator, and often refer clients to the 1,2,3, GO business plan competition, which offers personalised coaching to its participants.”

Financial solutions

Many innovative enterprises will not have an immediate source of income and may need interim funding. Luxinnovation provides infor­

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg

mation and guidance on suitable funding mechanisms, and can help companies to prepare applications for state-funded grants such as those offered by the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade and the Ministry for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses.

“We expect commitment from the start-ups we work with, but the assistance we offer is directly tailored to their needs,” Mr Ferring concludes. The results speak for themselves: of the 150 or so queries Luxinnovation receives every year, between 20 and 30 lead to the creation of fullyfledged innovative new companies.

Luxinnovation +352 43 62 63 1

The new nucleus for innovation Blitz Agency

The aim of the national incubator Technoport® is to help and support innovative new technology-based companies starting up in Luxembourg. Last year, Technoport® moved into new modern premises at Belval in the south of Luxembourg. Now a limited company, it continues to attract both new entrepreneurs and foreign companies pursuing R&D and innovation. Luxembourg now has a brand new, state-ofthe-art Technoport® incubator headquartered in what used to be an old industrial site at Belval. The new Technoport is the result of the merger between the country’s first incubator of the same name, originally set up in 1998 by CRP Henri Tudor, and the Ecostart initiatives in Foetz, launched in 2001 by the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade. Today Technoport is a limited company with responsibility for around 12,000 m2 of office and industrial facilities. The Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade has a 75% shareholding, while the remaining stake is owned by the SNCI, a state-owned bank that specialises in mediumand long-term financing of investments made by Luxembourg-based companies. Technoport’s CEO, Diego De Biasio, says that Belval is the ideal location for the new incubator: “At the moment, the government is setting up many new facilities there for the University of Luxembourg and the public research centres. As such, Belval represents not only the industrial past but also the technological future.”


Focus 7 I 2013

“It makes very good sense to have one single organisation managing all our incubation initia­

The best advice

“Next to our offer for start-ups, we have started to hold regular events such as the Apps Foundry Contest, a 36-hour non-stop competition for mobile apps developers,” adds Mr De Biasio. “That event, and our recent Startup Weekend when 76 participants formed teams and developed a business plan over 54 hours, illustrate the two best pieces of advice I can give: speak to other entrepreneurs about your ideas, and test your assumptions! And, of course, take advantage of the support on offer from Technoport and other agencies.”

tives,” Mr De Biasio continues. “With our offer, we can now provide suitable support and premises for new entrepreneurs in fields ranging from ICT to industrial applications. On top of that, our Belval premises have dedicated space for all types of events, seminars and workshops.” Technoport has supported no less than 80 start-up companies in the last 15 years, of which 24 are currently based at Technoport’s three incubation facilities. One of these companies is TaDaweb, now developing a powerful application to structure and organise the often very disparate information found on the internet. Ecostart, meanwhile, is home to eight companies, including Agilis Engineering, a specialist in the machining and recycling of graphite and composite materials for industrial high temperatures applications.


“State aid can be very helpful, even though it can never replace private equity,” says Mr Ferring. “For instance, Luxembourg offers oneoff grants to young innovative enterprises that we think have particularly high development potential. These can be for as much as €1 million, although the company needs to match that with at least an equal amount of private funding.” Luxinnovation also puts entrepreneurs in contact with private investors, often via the

Diego De Biasio, CEO, Technoport®

3-year fee-based contract that gives them access to all Technoport’s infrastructure and services, including dedicated office space. In the longer term, the ”Grow your business” programme for Technoport ”alumnis” helps to maintain links with former entrepreneurs who have passed through the incubation programmes and can bring valuable expertise to companies still in the start-up phase.

Luxembourg Business Angel Network and the Seed4Start initiative.

Challenge for growth

Technoport has two main roles: it acts as an independent coach for start-ups and provides specialised programmes offering targeted services. ”Challenge your idea”, for example, is aimed at individuals or teams who want to complete a business plan, feasibility study or proof of concept. “Candidates receive a decision within a few days. If they are accepted, they receive support and free co-working space at Technoport for at least four months.” Not surprisingly, this is one of the most popular programmes available; last year alone, it received 117 applications. Once a company has been officially set up, it can apply for the ”Launch your business” programme, designed for young innovative companies focusing on product and market development. Applicants are chosen at board level and the process is extremely selective; last year, only five got through. Those that do, however, receive a very high level of support through an initial

Technoport S.A. +352 54 55 80 1;;

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Incubation, development, success

Two very different but equally innovative start-up companies say they owe part of their success to their beginnings at the national incubator, Technoport. Trendiction specialises in data collection, aggregation and web search technologies; Raval Europe develops and manufactures ventilation systems for fuel tanks. Both companies talk to FOCUS about how they started, how they have progressed and the support and advantages they have gained as a result of basing themselves in Luxembourg. Trendiction was founded in 2008 by two young Luxembourgers, Thibaut Britz and Christophe Folschette. The company, which reached breakeven point in 2012, was based at the Technoport incubator in Esch-sur-Alzette from 2009 and moved into new city centre offices last year.

TalkWalker tracks up to 20 million sources a day, including Facebook, Twitter, news articles and blogs, and generates up to 12 million results. Users enter a search term using a quick and intuitive interface and the system displays the most relevant results in a structured format. “It is an invaluable tool for companies wanting to monitor their brand or products, track their marketing campaigns and respond quickly to comments on social sites,” says Mr Britz, “and we will also track specific sources if our customers request them.”

Tracking the social web

Mr Britz, a past winner of the Creative Young Entrepreneur Luxembourg award, is now the company’s Chief Technology Officer. His team of 12, which includes 7 developers, is responsible for the firm’s suite of “web crawling” applications. As he explains, Trendiction specialises in “data collection, data aggregation and search technologies on the so-called social web.”

Clear market focus

Trendiction focused initially on media moni­ toring agencies, market research companies and consulting firms in German-speaking Europe, but is now expanding rapidly into new markets. Boshua

Most of Trendiction’s media agency clients use its data-tracking application TalkWalker, which is hosted on the firm’s 250 web servers.

The TalkWalker interface is available in multiple languages and the app tracks sources in all the main European ones. The company has also developed a new product, Social Stream, specifically for media monitoring companies. “This works in much the same way as TalkWalker, but has an API (application programmer interface) instead of a graphical interface so that companies can integrate the results into their own systems.” Technoport CEO Diego De Biasio has high praise for Trendiction and its founders. “They had an extremely innovative approach, built an excellent product and had very clear market focus from the outset. In 2010, they brought in Robert Glaesener of online broker Internaxx, an inspired decision which gave them the benefit of very strong experience in the management team.” Mr Britz is equally happy with the support the company received: “Luxinnovation gave us the introduction to Technoport and also helped us right from the start to find potential clients and partners.”


Focus 7 I 2013

Innovation in fuel and engine management

Raval Europe, founded in 2002, is the European subsidiary of the Israeli group Raval, specialists in the development and production of ventilation systems for fuel tanks in cars. Bascharage, in the south of Luxembourg, is one of four global production sites, along with Israel, China and the USA. Although R&D is headquartered in Israel, all its subsidiaries, including the one in Luxembourg, use local development teams. “The Raval group has approximately 900 employees, of which about 10% are directly employed in R&D activities,” explains Julian Proffitt, Managing Director of Raval Europe. “Raval Europe has been growing consistently to meet customer expectations and currently has 85 employees, of whom 4 are involved in development activities.” Raval’s products are used by all the major European car manufacturers, including Volks­ wagen, BMW, Mercedes and Opel. The main products made in Luxembourg are roll-over valves, used for fuel tank venting and leak protection in case of an accident, inlet check valves and filling limit valves, both used to ensure the safe filling and venting of the fuel tank, and complete venting systems. Raval Europe is currently developing an inno­ vative fuel level measuring device, capable of extremely accurate fuel level measurement over the full volume of the fuel tank. “In a further development, the device will be capable of continuously measuring the ethanol content of E85 flex fuel to enable the engine management system to correctly adjust ignition and injection settings for optimal combustion,” Mr Proffitt explains. A further variant of the device will allow the precise measurement of the level of urea (“Adblue”) used in the catalytic reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in diesel-engined passenger cars, thus complying with the Euro 6 emissions legislation due to come in in Europe in October 2014.

Support from Ecostart and the Ministry of the Economy

Raval Europe started in 2002 at the Ecostart incubator (now part of Technoport) in Foetz, which offers access to production facilities for innovative industrial start-ups. According to Mr Proffitt, the company benefited from considerable support from the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade in its early stages: “The fact that we were able to rent premises at Ecostart for the first five years gave us the opportunity to create a solid initial foothold in Luxembourg. On top of that, we had help finding a suitable site for our first factory, in addition to various tax benefits, preferential loans and direct grants for investments and R&D projects.” In addition, Luxinnovation provided assistance in the form of services, advice and useful contacts. “We are still using the strong links and the network we built when we were located at the incubator,” concludes Mr Proffitt.

Trendiction +352 20 33 35 34 3 Raval Europe +352 26 55 51 1

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Start-ups in Luxembourg

Company creation resources online

Entrepreneurs creating companies in Luxem­ bourg should go to the government’s online “Guichet”, a single portal solution that explains the procedures they have to follow and provides information on areas such as setting up, financing, human resources and tax. Forms are available to complete online and the site uses LuxTrust document signature authentication for safe electronic submission. Meanwhile, the Luxembourg Portal for Innovation and Research provides a single, consolidated point of access to information on R&D and innovation in Luxembourg, including a section on setting up new innovative enterprises.

© Europe4Startups

Resources and initiatives

© The Impactory

Helping firms go places

PwC's Accelerator programme offers help to fast-growing companies seeking a global market or international firms interested in doing business in Europe. Described as a first in Europe and offering a “unique ecosystem”, the Accelerator helps European small and medium-sized companies gain access to capital, international expertise and business intelligence, as well as to large corporations and international clients. The programme has links with Silicon Valley in the US, as well as with PwC offices across Europe. For nonEuropean companies considering a move into Europe, the Accelerator promotes Luxembourg as a base, offering a complete range of services to support their operations. PwC also points out that its programme here benefits from proximity to European private equity funds that do significant business in Luxembourg.

Promoting collaborative innovation

The Impactory is a new community and meeting place in Luxembourg City for anyone who wishes to develop a project or business idea in a dynamic community of like-minded peers. Entrepreneurs, students and representatives of companies or institutions are welcomed to the Impactory’s “co-working space”, which offers access to desk space, meeting rooms, internet, printers and so on on a part-time or full-time basis. The Impactory organises conferences, workshops and training sessions on entrepreneurship, social enterprise and social innovation, and frequently gives its members the opportunity to share, discuss, brainstorm and co-create solutions for themselves or others. The overall aim is to enable members to acquire the skills and contacts they need to turn a good idea into a practical success.

Nurturing online and multimedia businesses

Europe4StartUps is a not-for-profit organisation set up by ten key European partners with the specific aim of helping promising eBusiness and multimedia companies to start up or develop their ventures in Europe. Under the programme – the first major European private initiative of its kind – twelve selected companies will be offered a year’s access free of charge to premium cloud computing and a range of additional business services. The partners involved are: SecureIT/ HP and LuxCloud (cloud services), Ernst & Young (advisory services in assurance, tax, transaction and business development), Tango (telephony and internet), Farvest (marketing and communications), Lancelot (recruitment), Bonn & Schmitt (legal services), Technoport (business incubator) and Amcham Luxembourg (networking). The programme is also supported by public sector organisations including the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg, the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade, the European Investment Fund and Luxinnovation.

Help to deal with red tape

Two key sources of support are available for entrepreneurs starting or developing a business who need help with administrative procedures. The Chamber of Commerce’s “Espace Entre­ prises” information centre is a one-stop shop for all types of business excluding crafts and the liberal professions. Services offered include assistance with communications with government departments. Crafts professionals can obtain personalised assistance and advice at “Contact Entreprises”, run by the Chambre des Métiers (Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts). Services include grants for those either taking over a company or looking for a company to take over from them.

Co-financing for SMEs

The National Society for Credit and Investment (Société Nationale de Crédit et d'Investissement, SNCI), is a public law banking institution fully owned by the state of Luxembourg which specialises in investment financing for industrial, craft and commercial companies. The bank also offers a range of financing initiatives aimed at young companies, including start-up/takeover loans for entrepreneurs looking to set up or acquire small or medium-sized enterprises and equipment loans on advantageous terms for SMEs. In addition, the bank’s subsidiary, Société Luxembourgeoise de Capital-Développement pour les PME SA (CD-PME), offers additional equity or convertible capital loans for small and medium-sized innovative companies looking to strengthen their capital base. Applicants must be able to provide adequate equity capital and a business plan.


Focus 7 I 2013

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

Sustainable construction for the future

The construction sector has some important challenges to face in the coming period, of which the most significant is sustainable development. The construction sector eco­ nomic development agency (Conseil pour le Développement Economique de la Construction, or CDEC) has created a Sustainable Innovation Centre, Neobuild, the first in Luxembourg to apply technological innovation to sustainable construction. The Centre aims to promote innovative technologies in the building sector and to provide coaching to innovative construction projects and start-ups, via its Neobuild Innovative Centre. This centre, currently under construction, will also be used a pilot for future zero-emission, positive energy buildings.

Angel investors join forces Supporting entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs with early-stage companies can take advantage of a cluster of support initiatives linked to the Chamber of Commerce. Non-profit organisation Business Initiative Luxembourg – created by the Chamber and best known for its 1,2,3 GO network – offers expert coaching and free, personalised advice and support for innovative companies developing their business plans. Another Business Initiative project, Seed4Start, extends the 1,2,3 GO concept with an annual event linking entrepreneurs in the Greater Region (Luxembourg, Lorraine, Wallonia, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate) with private investors looking for interesting projects. Managers of established companies can gain help from a mentor experienced in starting businesses and promoting their growth via the Chamber of Commerce’s own Business Mentoring initiative. This initiative – coordinated by the economic interest grouping Business Support – focuses on the three key phases in the life of a business: start-up, development and transfer to another owner.

The aim of the Luxembourg Business Angel Network (LBAN) is to bring together potential investors and companies looking for startup capital. In particular, LBAN promotes business angel investment at an early stage to encourage local SMEs with high growth potential. The network is keen to create “an organic entrepreneurial community” of private investors, early stage funds and promising entrepreneurial ventures. Investors that join LBAN have access to proposals that meet the network’s investment criteria and can be put in touch with the corresponding entrepreneur for further discussion. LBAN is supported by the Chamber of Commerce and maintains links with the government to lobby for action in support of early-stage industry. The network is one of the founding members of the Seed4Start platform, which aims to facilitate contacts between entrepreneurs and investors in the Greater Region. LBAN is also on the board of the European Business Angels Network (EBAN).

Keyhole surgery: looking ahead

It is not only cinemagoers who find it irritating to have to wear 3D glasses to see the latest blockbuster. Doctors performing laparoscopic surgery find them even more frustrating. Realising the severity of the problem, Luxembourgbased Neo Medical Systems’ CEO François Scalais accepted the challenge: develop a system that provides 3D laparoscopic images in operating rooms without the drawbacks of traditional 3D glasses.

Neo Medical Systems specialises in installing and maintaining operating rooms in hospitals in Luxembourg and Belgium. In the course of this work, Mr Scalais became aware of an urgent need for improvements in the way images from laparoscopic surgery are viewed in the operating theatre. Laparoscopy, an increasingly common tech­ nique also known as keyhole or minimally invasive surgery, is used for digestive, urological and gynaecological procedures. It has the advantages of reduced post-operative pain, a shorter recovery time and – due to the smaller incisions needed – minimal scarring.

The drawbacks of glasses

Operations are carried out using a laparoscope, a narrow tube containing a light source and a camera which captures 2D or 3D images and transmits them to a television monitor. The problem is that 2D images can be difficult for the surgeon to interpret, while 3D images, although better, require the surgeon to wear 3D glasses not dissimilar to the ones used by movie goers. However, these glasses have specific drawbacks. Mr Scalais explains: “The first major problem is that the glasses are not sterile. If the surgeon touches them during an operation, they will contaminate the surgical glove and then anything the glove touches. The second disadvantage is that because surgeons wear a surgical mask, the glasses can get steamed up with condensation from their breath and then the surgeon cannot see properly. In addition, laparoscopic surgery is done in the dark and the 3D glasses significantly decrease the luminosity of the display screen. Finally, it is not unusual for operations to last as long as five or six hours, and using the glasses for long periods can cause eye fatigue.”

The “eye tracking” challenge

Mr Scalais decided it ought to be possible to design a screen that would display 3D images that could be read without special glasses.


Focus 7 I 2013


© Neobuild

Start-ups in Luxembourg

However, the project comes with significant challenges. For a start, two images must be transmitted and combined into one 3D image on the screen in “real time”, with virtually no delay. Another issue is the operating room environment; not only is it dark, but the viewing screen might be as far as two metres away from the surgeon. The biggest challenge, however, is ensuring accurate “eye tracking” and avoiding “pseudo­ scopy,” a phenomenon that reverses the views from the left and right eyes. Currently, Neo Medical Systems is working to develop the algorithm needed for accurate eye tracking in conjunction with Germany’s Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), a leader in innovative software technology and the world’s largest AI research centre.

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

The benefits of local support

Neo Medical Systems’ decision to base itself in Luxembourg has provided it with a variety of benefits. Its close collaboration with Lux­ innovation encouraged Mr Scalais to submit a business plan to the 1,2,3,GO programme, which selected the company as a laureate in the 2012 round. The company has also been awarded a Young Innovative Enterprise grant by the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade. Finally, with a prototype of the device expected

to be ready early this year, Neo Medical Systems is currently preparing to participate in the Seed4Start initiative to bring in additional financing. As Mr Scalais says, “Luxembourg is great for us.”

Blitz Agency

Start-ups in Luxembourg

Neo Medical Systems +352 27 17 75 68

The rewards of being disruptive

Gerard Lopez is one of Luxembourg’s leading lights in the field of innovation and how it is financed. Most famously an investor in Skype when it was just an internet telephony start-up, he sold his stake two years later to eBay for $2.6 billion, 100 times the original outlay. That investment, made through his firm Mangrove Capital Partners, brought Skype to Luxembourg, opening the door for other e-commerce players such as PayPal and eBay. More recently, Mr Lopez has taken over the high-profile Lotus Formula One racing team through a newer investment venture, Genii Capital.

Lopez traces his development as an entrepreneur back to his teenage years, when he wrote his first piece of software. However, he really got going when he discovered the internet, set up his first venture online and sold it a year later. “That company was quite successful,” he says. “I kind of got a taste for starting up businesses.” After joining accounting firm Arthur Andersen “to learn how big corporations work”, Mr Lopez met Mark Tluszcz and Hans Juergen Schmitz. In 1999, the three set up venture capital firm Mangrove Capital: “The idea was to promote the type of capital that young entrepreneurs were really looking for – not just money, but people with hands-on experience.” He points out that back when they started Mangrove, there were very few technology start-ups in Europe. “It proved very successful,” he says, “and technology is still my main focus.”

Disrupt and succeed

Mangrove makes a point of seeking out the type of entrepreneur or company that has the courage to create disruption in an industry: ”When you succeed with a company like that,


Focus 7 I 2013

the payoff is much, much bigger.” As examples, Mr Lopez cites the company’s investments in US/Israeli online web development firm Wix and Russia’s KupiVIP online shopping club, both major market successes. In 2008, Mr Lopez started his second project, Genii Capital, with co-creator and real estate investor Eric Lopez. The two had identified a demand for later stage investment and a wider approach: unlike Mangrove, which invests its own funds, Genii functions “almost like an investment bank offering advisory services.”

Racing car driver, business ambassador

Mr Lopez has become involved in several motor racing and car-related ventures through Genii, but says this is not because he is a particular fan of motor sports. He is pragmatic about the reasons behind his Formula One investment: “The idea was really to have a platform that could serve as – how do I put it? – an embassy for our companies.” To help in this, former Formula One driver Sir Jackie Stewart has been hired by Genii to act as its “ambassador” to the business world.

Gerard Lopez, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Mangrove Capital Partners, and Chairman, Genii Capital

Many of Genii Capital’s investments are shrouded in confidentiality, but Mr Lopez can reveal a few, including its 50% stake in Mov’it, a leading manufacturer of brakes for military systems and high-end cars. Genii is also leading a $35 million fundraising effort for Zink Imaging, a firm developing new imaging technology, and in 2012, joined up with Mangrove to fund the Metrocab green taxi project.

Mr Lopez says he hopes other investors like him will be encouraged to set up in Luxembourg: “It’s at the heart of Europe and it goes without saying that it has an incredibly businessfriendly atmosphere. It’s a great place to have one’s headquarters. And anyway, it’s far more interesting to have your co-investors locally than abroad.”

An interesting place for venture capital

Mr Lopez is happy to be able to remain in his native country to do business, but emphasises that his reasons are practical: “First, it has a certain built-in efficiency simply because of its size, and on top of that, decision-makers are very open to discussion. In Luxembourg, it is comparatively easy to get things done.” Another major factor is the high level of social stability, which makes it possible for companies to actually think long-term.

Mangrove Capital Partners +352 26 25 34 1 Genii Capital Investment Management and Financial Advisory +352 26 39 65 1

Focus 7 I 2013


Need good

advice ?

Start-ups in Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg

An antidote to information overload

More than most, the financial services industry depends on timely, high-quality, reliable infor­ mation with no underlying commercial agenda. Yet every day, professionals waste hours of valuable time sorting through overwhelming amounts of news and reports in their search for useful business intelligence.

Blitz Agency

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and digital media veteran David Schrieberg knows all about information overload. In fact, with a CV including positions as Vice President of Content at AOL Europe and South American Bureau Chief for Newsweek, it could be said that he helped to create it in the first place. Analysing the problem, Mr Schrieberg concluded that what business people need is information relevant to their professional needs, screened for quality and delivered digitally. In 2011, he launched VitalBriefing.

David Schrieberg, with his partner, search expert and former Thomson Reuters technology division president Gerry Campbell, came up with a solution: combining cutting-edge, online search technology with best-practice journalism to produce targeted summaries for businesses and their clients. Since Mr Schrieberg is based in Luxembourg, they have started by targeting the Grand Duchy’s thriving financial sector.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises when you get your business off the ground, feel free to contact us. We can help you sort out your legal, administrative, economic or social matters or create, take over or transfer a company. The mission of Espace Entreprises at the Chamber of Commerce is to efficiently and effectively assist those who, through their own initiative, contribute to the expansion of Luxembourg’s economy.

Chambre de Commerce 7, rue Alcide de Gasperi Luxembourg-Kirchberg +352 42 39 39 - 330


Focus 7 I 2013

As its clients’ “Personal Journalist”, VitalBriefing offers an evolving and customisable choice of information products, including: Personal Briefings, which give subscribers the most essential information on issues they select; Focus Briefings, in-depth examinations of specific topics such as FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act); and White Label Client Briefings, which provide balanced, unbiased reports, customised for the financial institution’s customers. Say, for example, a funds company is launching a fund specialising in Chinese securities, its VitalBriefing Client Briefing will feature an analysis of the Chinese equity market as well as details about the fund. This means that the recipient is provided with objective information on which to make a decision, as opposed to a standard marketing pitch.

While this situation is of concern to many, it has presented VitalBriefing with a unique opportunity to take advantage of the more than usually high availability of experienced journalistic talent. That expertise is a critical component of news reporting, which depends not only on specialised search technology but also on the journalist’s critical and analytical skills.

The importance of journalistic talent

A model virtual organisation

The financial crisis and the surge in “free” news media via the internet have led to severe contractions in the news industry. 2008 and 2009 saw particularly harsh waves of news­ paper closures and job cuts and there is no sign of an end to this process; in 2012, more than 2,000 journalists lost their jobs in the US alone, with equally significant layoffs in the UK.

David Schrieberg, CEO, VitalBriefing

Although VitalBriefing’s headquarters and core team members are based in Luxembourg, its Advisory Board members and journalists are located in, among other places, New York, France, Singapore, and Washington DC. Mr Schrieberg was one of the first participants in the Plug and Play Tech Centre start-up accelerator

Focus 7 I 2013


programme, which sends Luxembourg entre­ preneurs to Silicon Valley for three months. The aim of this initiative, which was set up by the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade, is to help young, innovative technology-based companies from the Grand Duchy to break into the American market. The internationally renowned Centre hosts more than 300 startups and, since its creation in 2006, has helped fledgling companies raise more than $750 million in risk capital. While currently focusing on Luxembourg’s financial institutions and their information needs, the company has started expanding overseas and already has clients in Asia and the US. “VitalBriefing’s approach can be readily adapted to cover other financial centres, such as London or New York, and other industries, such as entertainment media,” says Mr Schrieberg.

VitalBriefing S.A. +352 621 19 11 07

Next generation genetic analysis

WaferGen Biosystems, a young and innovative leading US developer of state-of-the-art genetic analysis systems, set up its European headquarters in Luxembourg in 2010. As part of its initiative to intensify research into personalised medicine, the Luxembourg government provided the company with significant support towards increasing its R&D activities and raising its profile in Europe. WaferGen is currently working in close partnership with the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), further strengthening the symbiosis between the company and the Grand Duchy.


A biomarker is a measurable indicator of a biological condition that can be used to examine normal physiological processes, disease states and responses to treatments, and to assist in the development of therapeutic interventions.


Focus 7 I 2013

Increased worldwide interest in personalised medicine has created the need for innovative technologies. WaferGen Biosystems Inc is a relatively young California-based biotechnology company with a particular focus on the genetic analysis systems that researchers, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies need in order to make sense of the enormous amounts of available data on disease. The identification of genetic profiles is an essential part of research into how diseases begin and progress and therefore crucial for the development of potential treatments. WaferGen’s next-generation SmartChip RealTime PCR System – PCR standing for polymerase chain reaction – is the most flexible gene pro­ filing and genotyping platform on the market, combining rapid throughput with high levels of sensitivity and precision. The company also

recently published the proof-of-concept data for its newly developed target amplification platform for Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), a system which uses the same technology based on miniaturized single PCR reactions. Dr Stefaan Derveaux, Managing Director of WaferGen Biosystems Europe, explains that the SmartChip Cycler makes it possible to go from biomarker discovery and identification to validation using one single system. "You can run thousands of reactions in parallel on one miniaturised chip that can accommodate any combination of samples, assays, and replicates. The user can therefore perform the experiment to the highest degree of accuracy in their own laboratory.” WaferGen Biosystems, which collaborated closely with a number of research partners


Start-ups in Luxembourg


Start-ups in Luxembourg

to develop new applications for the system, is now seeking to establish the SmartChip as the leading choice in Europe for both biomarker identification and validation and for target amplification for NGS.

Government support for development

In 2012, the Luxembourg government awarded WaferGen a €1,000,000 young innovative enterprise grant to be used to run its European marketing and sales, service and support, distribution, intellectual property management and R&D activities from Luxembourg. "Luxembourg is very motivated to establish its biotechnology sector and hence provides a very dynamic environment for companies like ours. We are now recruiting sales, support and technical personnel in Luxembourg and eventually plan to set up research and diag­ nostic operations here," says Dr Derveaux, adding that the new biotechnology incubator and connecting buildings currently under construction in Esch-sur-Alzette will be warmly welcomed.

Strong private/public synergy

WaferGen has proved a strong addition to Luxembourg’s life sciences sector, a point clearly demonstrated by its close partnership with the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), a young, dynamic public biobanking and biotechnology institute that supplies biological data and analysis to medical research organisations in Luxembourg and abroad. The two organisations complement each other perfectly. Many of IBBL’s medical research clients regularly require the type of genotyping and expression profiling services provided by WaferGen, which until recently were in very short supply. Under the agreement, WaferGen is offering these and other genetics researchers high-throughput Real-Time PCR on the SmartChip system, with IBBL acting as WaferGen’s European fee-for-service provider. The private/public synergy is clear; IBBL gains access to high-throughput genetic analysis services, while WaferGen has the benefit of a strong and developing partnership with a public research institution.

WaferGen Biosystems hopes to form similar partnerships with other organisations, including high-level laboratories and core facilities. The company also plans to collaborate with other industry or research partners to develop new genetic analysis systems from its base in Luxembourg.

WaferGen Biosystems Europe S.à r.l. +352 54 55 80 28 1

Focus 7 I 2013


Start-ups in Luxembourg

“All the tools you need are here ….” Blitz Agency

“Luxembourg is a very good place to start an ICT business: all the tools you need are here,” says serial entrepreneur Jean-Yves Hergott. He should know – over the last 15 years, Mr Hergott has been involved in the launch, development and expansion of several ICT companies in the Grand Duchy. While appreciating the financial aid available, he points out that this would count for little were it not for the quality of the skills, infrastructure and networking opportunities on offer, not to mention access to global markets.

High-tech to the world

The scanners developed by the company conduct in-depth analysis of wood quality, processing up to 80,000 metres in 8 hours and replacing the more time-consuming and less reliable method of sight checks. Not only is scanning technology more efficient, it also contributes to a substantial decrease in waste, enabling manufacturers to reduce the number of finished products made with sub-standard wood. In addition, the scanners allow for the detection of good quality raw materials within apparently low-grade batches. LuxScan was sold to the German Weinig Group in 2007, with Mr Hergott remaining as head of engineering. Joining the group enabled the firm to tap into a substantial sales network, consolidating its position in Europe and North America while expanding into South America, China and Russia. Latin America has proved particularly promising; as a result, LuxScan has appointed sales and service representatives in both Chile and Brazil.

Jean-Yves Hergott, Co-Founder and Head of Engineering, LuxScan Technologies, and Board Member, Chameleon Invest

In the late 1990s, two French engineers, JeanYves Hergott and Raphaël Vogrig, identified a gap in the market for high-tech wood scanning devices. Impressed by the enthusiasm generated in Luxembourg by their ideas, they chose to start their company here rather than in France, taking advantage of relatively easy access to research, development and innovation assistance. Their company, LuxScan Technologies, received help from the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade as well as a loan from the state investment bank, the SNCI. The company was also one of the first tenants of the Technoport business incubator, a facility which has since spawned many successful startups. “This help gave us an initial boost,” says Mr Hergott, but points out that “ultimately, you have to live from what you sell.”


Focus 7 I 2013

Surviving the downturn

The takeover by Weinig also helped the firm ride out the 2009 downturn. In this, they were also assisted by the Luxembourg state, which helped them to overcome cash flow issues during the temporary drop in sales. Mr Hergott believes that without these two factors, the company would have been obliged to make substantial redundancies, leaving it ill-prepared for the subsequent market recovery. As it was, it was able to retain most of its 40 or so highlyskilled employees, who continued to work on in readiness for the upturn. The result is that the firm now has a new innovation in the pipeline. Interconnected scanners will be able to communicate and coordinate with each other to achieve optimum output from the minimum amount of raw material. According to Mr Hergott, this technology, the first of its kind in the market, will help manufacturers meet the new market


Start-ups in Luxembourg

demand for niche smaller-production batches of wooden products. LuxScan is currently seeking state aid for the research and development process.

Backing good ideas

Meanwhile, Mr Hergott has been actively seeking out further creative and original ideas. In 2009, he backed GentleSecurity, an IT startup developing a system to prevent data leaks within companies, an area of obvious interest to the financial and government sectors. With his assistance, the company was able to finalise the development work on the system and evolve a strong business approach. This support was key in eventually attracting the attention of the US firm BeyondTrust, which bought GentleSecurity out in 2011.

Plugging the investment gap

Mr Hergott then began to look at the potential for innovation in the investment process itself. Both he and business angel Serge Rollinger had spotted a gap in the established venture capital market between the financing offered by business angels – generally up to an average €50,000 – and the venture capital industry, which starts to become interested at around half a million euros. This led to the creation in 2011 of the Chameleon Invest fund – “venture angels” investing in the ICT sector within this financial gap and also providing consultancy and advice via its group of 7 analysts.

the two companies are collaborating to produce joint work. More recently, and independently of Chame­ leon, Mr Hergott is supporting Agil-IT, a startup offering a full IT infrastructure delivery, implementation and maintenance service. Mr Hergott’s positive personal experience of the Grand Duchy has convinced him that it is well placed to build a world-class niche ICT cluster. With its funding, skills and access to markets, Luxembourg is the ideal environment for entrepreneurs with the drive to turn good ideas into reality.

Mr Hergott was one of the first financial backers of Chameleon Invest and is also on its board, representing the interests of about 10 investors. Initially, Chameleon looked at over 80 funding applications and selected 5 projects to support in the period to autumn 2012. Work is now ongoing to develop these projects, promote synergies and cooperation between them and prepare each of them for the next round.

Promoting synergy

One example of this cooperation is between two of these projects, Maps and Allotools. Maps is developing a master data management solution and multichannel publishing platform, while Allotools is creating online sales tools for the building industry, including plan scaling, 3D visualisations in real time and instant pricing. Where there is overlap between these areas,

Chameleon Invest +352 27 84 94 82

Focus 7 I 2013





Philharmonie: how music was meant to sound

The Philharmonie concert hall has succeeded, in a very short space of time, in establishing itself both at home and abroad as a much-loved venue for making and listening to music, meeting new people and simply relaxing. Designed by French architect and Pritzker Prize winner Christian de Portzamparc, the Philharmonie was inaugurated in 2005. Seen from above, it looks like a giant rugby ball flanked by two leaves. The design of the building is striking: 823 slender white columns support the elliptical foyer, creating a transparent envelope for its three auditoria. The main concert hall, the Grand Auditorium, hosts up to 1,500 people, while the intimate Chamber Music Hall seats 313 and the smaller Espace DÊcouverte, which holds hugely popular children’s concerts at weekends, offers seating for up to 180. The Philharmonie is a concert hall that makes music sound like it was meant to sound. Top artists such as Herbie Hancock and Cecilia Bartoli have commented on the quality of the acoustics, and more than 150,000 music lovers flock to this stunning building every year.


Focus 7 I 2013

Focus 7 I 2013





Focus 7 I 2013

Focus 7 I 2013





Laser sharp: Supporting industry through manufacturing engineering

Blitz Agency

The Laser Technology Competence Centre at the University of Luxembourg offers new research opportunities in the area of manufacturing engineering. Headed by Professor Peter Plapper, the centre will change the way Luxembourg looks at translational research in manufacturing. Its mission is to provide a focal point for laser-related research, educate students in cutting-edge production technologies and increase the competitiveness of industry in Luxembourg and in the Greater Region.

scientific expertise to enhance the stability of manufacturing processes and improve efficiency. “As Luxembourg and the Greater Region mi­ grate to a knowledge society, industry needs innovative technologies. Working with indus­ trial partners, we intend to support this development by optimising laser processes and demonstrating how laser technology can contribute to increasing manufacturing competitiveness,” says Professor Plapper, professor of manufacturing engineering at the University of Luxembourg’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication.

Future technology for electric cars

The LTCC’s first major research project focuses on new laser techniques for fusing plates of copper and aluminium. These plates are essential components of the lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles such as the Ampera and the Volt, manufactured by General Motors. Peter Plapper, Professor, University of Luxembourg

Even before its inauguration on 1 October 2012, the Laser Technology Competence Centre (LTCC) was gaining the attention of many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a number of global companies attracted by its research into the application of innovative laser beam technologies to support manufacturing industry. While many companies are already using lasers in manufacturing, many more could benefit from the full potential of this exciting but also challenging niche technology. SMEs cannot always afford experts for every aspect of production, but a research partnership with the LTCC can provide the know-how and


Focus 7 I 2013

The automotive industry is looking for ways to improve the mechanical strength, electrical conductivity and chemical durability of copper and aluminium joints to enhance the performance of the next generation of lithium ion batteries. Copper and aluminium cannot be welded together, but Professor Plapper and his team of researchers at the LTCC have devised a method under which lasers are applied in a circular motion to fuse the two materials using a controlled process that improves the strength, conductivity and durability of the joints. The LTCC have taken this process one step further in partnership with CRP Henri Tudor in Luxembourg. CRP Henri Tudor provided testing facilities used by the LTCC to analyse the interface between copper and aluminium and so gain further insights into the application

of laser optimisation to the fusing process. This innovative manufacturing process led to reduced resistance and enhanced stability in the joint, significantly improving the performance of the battery. Furthermore, the process can be used in other applications such as the production of heat exchangers. “Batteries manufactured with known fusing technologies are not very efficient. If we reduce the resistance and improve conductivity, we increase the efficiency of the battery, enhancing the driving performance of the next generation electrical vehicle. Thinner, more efficient batteries are critical for companies such as General Motors,” explains Professor Plapper. “We have received excellent feedback from industry.”

An investment in Luxembourg’s business future

In addition to laser welding and analyses in batteries, the LTCC also has expertise in the laser welding of thermo-plastics to narrow the processing window required in plastics manufacturing, as well as façade construction and the cutting of hard materials. The LTCC hopes to attract industry partners and to encourage manufacturers in Luxembourg and the Greater Region to contact them for assistance with possible research questions.

Mentoring the next generation

Teaching at Bachelor, Master and PhD levels, Professor Plapper ensures his students gain managerial, organisational and critical thinking skills. “I see myself as their scientific mentor,” he says, “coaching them to investigate new methods, push the limits and provide industry with useful results.” His team currently has six researchers. This next generation of engineers understand how to optimise processes, apply rigorous scientific methods and design projects that directly benefit industry. All Professor Plapper’s students are offered jobs before they graduate, while a recent employability survey showed that 95% of students on the University of Luxembourg’s Bachelor of Engineering programme entered the workforce within six months of graduating.

Bridging the industry/academic gap

Choosing to share his knowledge of industry with the next generation, Professor Plapper

was appointed professor of manufacturing engineering at the University of Luxembourg in 2010. His extensive theoretical and practical experience equips him to provide his students with the ideal preparation for a future in industry. Professor Plapper obtained his PhD at the Laboratory for Tool Machines (WZL) at RWTH Aachen University and subsequently worked for General Motors and Adam Opel, where he developed innovative production technologies, implemented lean manufacturing systems and was involved in most laser installations in European GM plants. From 1998 to 2002, he shaped the global manufacturing strategy for Body Shop and General Assembly for General Motors in Michigan, USA. The LTCC is an innovative centre, training engineers for the future, and will require a total investment of more than half a million euros, a third of which will be provided by the European Regional Development Fund.

Laser Technology Competence Centre (LTCC) University of Luxembourg +352 46 66 44 58 04

Focus 7 I 2013




The Oslo Manual

The anatomy of innovation

Luxembourg is the ideal laboratory for studying the factors that influence innovation in companies. This is partly because of its size, but also because of the exceptionally high contribution that its services sector makes to the economy. Vincent Dautel and his colleagues at CEPS/INSTEAD are currently engaged in research into what exactly it is that makes some service companies more innovative than others.

Mr Dautel explains that “the factors which lead to innovation in the services sector are observably more diverse than those that influence industry.” While it might be usual to assess a firm’s innovativeness on the basis of how many new products it has launched, or how it has made a production line more efficient, these are not measures that can be applied to, for example, a financial institution. After all, scientists do not usually work in banks, and insurance companies do not tend to file many patents. In services companies, innovation tends to appear in areas such as organisation and marketing, where a company might, say, institute multidisciplinary work teams or target its advertising on Facebook. As a result, in his analysis of Luxembourg’s services sector, Mr Dautel has had to look beyond standard innovation indicators such as patent applications and instead analyse the “microdata”.

Vincent Dautel, Research Fellow, CEPS/INSTEAD

With the services sector accounting for 86% of the country’s GDP, Luxembourg is the world’s leading services economy in percentage terms, comparing with the UK at 80% and the US at 79%. This statistic lies behind the direction taken by Mr Dautel and his colleagues in their research at CEPS/INSTEAD (Centre for the Study of Population, Poverty and Socio-Economic Policies / International Networks for Studies in Technology, Environment, Alternatives, Development), a Luxembourg public research institution focusing on the social sciences. Their aim is to uncover the factors that make some companies innovative and, since they are based in the Grand Duchy, the specific elements that propel services sector innovation.


Focus 7 I 2013

Mr Dautel has a strong background in this area. In association with STATEC, the national institute for statistics, he is a participant in the collection of Luxembourg data for inclusion in the Community Innovation Statistics (CIS). This two-yearly report, the primary resource for measuring innovation in Europe, includes data on innovation activity and expenditure, public funding, cooperation and general impact. Mr Dautel also has the Oslo Manual as a reference point. This publication sets out guidelines for identifying innovation in a way that allows it to be quantified and has been expanded since 2005 to include the services as well as the industrial sector.

located in Luxembourg city centre. The study ascribed this effect both to density – the achievement of a sort of “critical mass” of innovating firms – and physical proximity to competitors, suppliers, clients and public institutions. According to Mr Dautel, “Our findings strongly suggest that any company hoping to get the best from the new Belval innovation centre should be looking for a location very near Belval with easy access to Luxembourg City.” Citing in particular the decision to bring together research centres and higher education institutions in a single area, he says that “Government support will be invaluable in the bid to create a business environment that will continue to attract outstandingly innovative firms. Moreover, their presence here may in itself lead to a more innovative environment.”

Services companies that engage in R&D – assuming they have identified the need and have the resources – tend to focus simultaneously on both organisational and product or process innovation, for the obvious reason that a development in one is likely to require a change in the other. Even in “industrial” companies, products and services are converging. For instance, a smartphone, a product, is used with apps (applications) which are categorised as services. A prime example can be found in IBM, which used to be a company that produced computers and other equipment but has transformed itself into a high tech “solutions provider”.

Strong private R&D

Owing to the relative youth of its public research institutions, most research in Luxembourg has historically been funded by a private sector keen to develop its products and services, production methods and markets. In 2011, this sector accounted for 66% of R&D spending, compared to 34% funded by the government. Within the private sector, 5% of firms account for a full 71% of R&D activity, mainly owing to the presence of several large R&D-intensive companies.


Blitz Agency

Measuring services sector innovation

The OECD’s Oslo Manual, which sets out guidelines on interpreting data on innovation, is an essential reference for Mr Dautel. Traditionally, the manual focused on innovation in industrial production and processes, but in line with the shift to more service-based economies, was revised in 2005 to include guidelines on identifying the kind of organisational and marketing innovation more usually found in the services sector. The manual now lists four main types of innovation: product, process, organisational and marketing.

The location effect

A recent study by Mr Dautel and a colleague, Olivier Walther, established a relationship between a Luxembourg company’s location and type of business and its propensity for innovation, noting in particular a concentration of innovative activities among the companies

CEPS/INSTEAD +352 58 58 55 1

Focus 7 I 2013




Blitz Agency

The phenomenal efforts to develop effective prevention and treatment of HIV-AIDS appear to be paying off, with AIDS-related deaths now at their lowest level since 2001. That said, the threat is still very much present, with 2.5 million new infections worldwide in 2011. Luxembourg as much as any other country is alive to the issue of chronic viral infection caused by HIV, and the Laboratory of Retrovirology at the Public Research Centre for Health (CRP-Santé) is working tirelessly towards developing treatments that will contribute to the global fight against the virus.


Using intelligence to fight HIV

There is a strong focus on the transmission networks and the dynamics of epidemics caused by HIV and HCV in Luxembourg. Collaborative work is of the utmost importance, and Luxembourg is involved in partnerships with over 30 countries. The Laboratory of Retrovirology began a programme in 1992 to collect blood samples from patients at three-month intervals, and this information has been used to build a significant database. "We have become a national AIDS reference library," says Dr Carole Devaux, the laboratory’s Associate Head. In 2012, routine clinical patient follow-up was transferred to the National Service of Infectious Diseases at the Centre Hospitalier of Luxembourg, enabling the laboratory to focus on mapping the epidemic and developing further research into treatments.

Results that matter

Carole Devaux, Associate Head of the Laboratory of Retrovirology and Jean-Claude Schmit, Head of the Laboratory of Retrovirology, CRP-Santé

Founded in 1989, the Laboratory of Retrovirology focuses on basic research and development of clinical applications for HIV and the Hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV). The laboratory is very much treatment-focused: "We undertake no research, or any other activity, without asking ourselves how it will one day help patients,” says Dr Jean-Claude Schmit, Head of the Research Unit and Director of CRP-Santé. The laboratory conducts routine clinical activities and clinically-oriented biomedical research, concentrating on the treatment of HIV and hepatitis virology and immunovirology.


Focus 7 I 2013

The laboratory constantly pushes the edges of research and frequently publishes its findings in peer-reviewed journals. Dr Devaux highlights one particularly outstanding discovery which emerged from an exercise to map the epidemiology of HIV-1 in Luxembourg, the identification and characterisation of a novel form of recombinant CRF42 virus which was found to be present nowhere in the world except Luxembourg, although now spreading rapidly into Belgium and France. This marks a very significant leap forward, as identifying the various recombinants/mutants of the original virus is crucial in the battle against HIV. Another key finding – one that had a global impact on HIV-infected mothers of new babies – was made by one of the laboratory's key researchers, Dr Vic Arendt. Dr Arendt found that mothers being treated with triple antiretroviral therapy could safely breastfeed their children without passing on the infection. As a result of this research (known as the AMATA study), and of other studies in Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) amended its guidelines, providing these mothers with the confidence to give their babies the benefits of breastfeeding while avoiding the stigma and risks of other feeding methods.

The laboratory also conducts considerable research into HCV, a particular potential problem for intravenous drug users who often share needles. Many of those infected with HIV are also infected by HCV, and these co-infections are more difficult to treat. The laboratory’s experience of research into HIV has been of invaluable assistance in this area. Another strong research area for the laboratory is the issue of resistance to antiretroviral therapy for HIV. While this is not a problem of the magnitude that it was, a strain of drugresistant HIV is beginning to infect some patients. According to Dr Schmit, the laboratory is researching this issue with a focus on its immunological aspects. Dr Schmit also sees the need for the development of new anti-HIV medication. "This is not because we do not have enough drugs on the market but because we need new ways of delivering medication. For some patients, it is very difficult to take a tablet every day." The immunology division is researching the viral and host factors involved in virus entry, hoping to identify new tools and therapies. In particular, work is being done to identify the humoral immune responses during HIV infection, with the aim of developing a multi-epitope vaccine. The laboratory's bioinformatics team is deve­ loping tools to support HIV research. Another ongoing project involves designing and building complex integrated clinical and virology databases for infectious diseases, developing a software application to automate HIV sequence analysis and alignment, and creating a new tool to subtype the viruses. The bioinformatics team is also working on structural simulations to analyse proteins and their interactions with different molecules.

Transferring knowledge abroad

Alongside its policy of collaboration with international networks and universities, the laboratory is a strong promoter of information exchange. The unit has helped to set up a laboratory in Kigali, Rwanda, which it continues to support through knowledge transfer. The Kigali laboratory is undertaking a substantial

amount of work, notably ongoing clinical trials into ways of preventing HIV transmission, and efforts to scale up treatment. The laboratory has also set up two com­ mercial enterprises. Advanced Biological Labo­ ratories (ABL), a spin off created in 2000, is a bioinformatics company that has built a database used to measure the quality of care, identify best practices and assess effectiveness through diagnostic testing. The second, Complix, is a biopharmaceutical enterprise focused on the development of new drugs known as Alphabodies™. According to Dr Devaux, part of what makes the laboratory stand out is its multi-disciplined team, with virologists, immunologists, clinicians, bioinformaticians and biochemists working together. Dr Schmit highlights the commitment to and success of the laboratory’s international collaborations, supported by its capacity to communicate in an unusually wide number of foreign languages. Owing to these and other qualities, the laboratory is developing a unique position in Europe and the rest of the world.

Laboratory of Retrovirology CRP-Santé +352 26 97 02 24

Focus 7 I 2013




Advanced sensors increase efficiency

Most European households use at least one Luxembourg-produced ELTH product in their car or in a domestic appliance. In fact, with over 300,000 finished products leaving its Steinsel factory every day, the company supplies 90% of Europe’s car makers and nearly 100% of its household appliance manufacturers. ELTH is Europe’s leading supplier of thermistors, heat-sensing electronic components found in several locations in every car, including the cylinder heads, radiator, coolant hoses, fuel pipes and the engine's air intake. The high precision and fast response of these sensors reduces emissions and fuel consumption in modern cars, ELTH reports. The company offers a wide range of temperature and level sensors, as well as heaters and headlight cleaning systems, including custom components, all developed in its R&D department and tested in its own laboratory.

ELTH S.A. +352 33 20 71


Focus 7 I 2013

Focus 7 I 2013




Five questions for... Georges Schmit, Consul General Luxembourg Trade & Investment Office, San Francisco The Grand Duchy’s Consul General, Georges Schmit, is also the Executive Director of Luxembourg's Trade and Investment Office in San Francisco. This office, set up as part of the Luxembourg government's drive to raise the country’s profile worldwide, oversees economic promotion activities in the Western United States – or as Mr Schmit puts it, “west of the Mississippi,” – offering a “one stop shop” for new investment projects. According to Mr Schmit, the main focus of the office is to convince companies that Luxembourg is the ideal European base from which to distribute and develop new products and technologies and increase market presence.

What do you think attracts Western US firms to Luxembourg?

Geographically, Luxembourg is located in the centre of the Latin, Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon cultures. For a US company looking for a single location in Europe, this is an important factor. In addition, Luxembourg is well connected to the surrounding markets, not only in terms of transport and telecommunications, but also linguistically and culturally, in the sense that our residents and businesses can relate so well to those markets. Finally, the stability and the simplicity of the legal, regulatory and tax environment make the country an extremely attractive place to do business from in Europe.

What kind of companies are you in contact with during your efforts to promote Luxembourg?

Here in the Western US, we focus mainly on companies in the areas of new media and e-business, health technology, new materials, clean technologies and, last but not least, logistics.

What key advantages can Luxembourg offer in terms of R&D and innovation?

The Luxembourg government has made substan­ tial investment in infrastructure, particularly in the ICT and health technologies sectors, and via the University of Luxembourg and the public research centres. Of course, companies looking for a base are also interested in the resources available and want to link up with individuals and institutions that will be able to help them adapt their existing technologies for the European market, or develop new ones. I would say that our excellent infrastructure and strong entrepreneurial environment are both major attractions for companies from this part of the world.


Focus 7 I 2013

What kind of support can Luxembourg provide to companies who plan to establish activities in the Grand Duchy?

First, of course, that's our role; we provide information to those companies about Luxembourg’s economy, work environment, living conditions, immigration procedures and so on. There is also support available to help set companies up quickly. Often companies are fairly young and still developing their products, and the Luxembourg government has several tools to help them. One of these is the Young Innovative Enterprise programme, which has turned out to be an extremely attractive way of helping start-ups. Also, generous public and private R&D funding and Angel and VC resources are highly prized by start-ups in the media and life sciences industries.

What is your vision for future economic links between Luxembourg and the Western United States?

The Western US, especially California and Washington state, can be considered among the top ten economies in the world, providing many opportunities for both Luxembourg itself, as an investment location, and for Luxembourg companies. In terms of technology and economic processes, this area is one of the most innovative in the world, and both government agencies and businesses can learn a lot here. That's why the government and business delegations regularly visit this vibrant technology area. Also, the government encourages young entrepreneurs to come here and learn about new tools to help their start-up succeed. I hope this exchange continues to grow! Consulate General of Luxembourg/Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in San Francisco +1 41 57 88 08 16

Focus 7 I 2013




The RDI directory Governmental portal for innovation and research


Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade Directorate of Research and Innovation 19-21, boulevard Royal L-2914 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 24 78 41 28 I Fax : + 352 26 20 27 68

Research and innovation agencies

National Research Fund Luxembourg 6, rue Antoine de Saint-Exupéry P.O. Box 1777 L-1017 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 26 19 25 1 I Fax : + 352 26 19 25 35

Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade 19-21, boulevard Royal L-2914 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 24 78 43 45 I Fax : + 352 26 20 27 68

Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement P.O. Box 1207 L-1012 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 46 19 71 1 I Fax : + 352 46 19 79

Chamber of Commerce 7, rue Alcide de Gasperi L-2981 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 42 39 39 1 I Fax : + 352 43 83 26

Luxembourg for Business GIE 19-21, boulevard Royal L- 2449 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 24 78 41 16 I Fax : + 352 22 34 85

University of Luxembourg 162A, avenue de la Faïencerie L-1511 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 46 66 44 60 00

University of Luxembourg Researcher Mobility Centre EURAXESS Service Centre Luxembourg 162A, avenue de la Faïencerie L-1511 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 46 66 44 66 81 I Fax : + 352 46 66 44 67 60

Public Research Centre Gabriel Lippmann 41, rue du Brill L-4422 Belvaux Phone : + 352 47 02 61 1 I Fax : + 352 47 02 64

Public Research Centre Henri Tudor 29, avenue John F. Kennedy L-1855 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 42 59 91 1 I Fax : + 352 42 59 91 77 7

Public Research Centre Santé Bâtiment Thomas Edison 1A-B, rue Thomas Edison L-1445 Strassen Phone : + 352 26 97 08 93 I Fax : + 352 26 97 07 19

CEPS / INSTEAD 3, avenue de la Fonte L-4364 Esch-sur-Alzette Phone: +352 58 58 55 1 I Fax : + 352 58 55 60

Luxembourg business promotion

Main public research organisations


Technoport® 9 avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette Phone: +352 54 55 80 1 I Fax: +352 54 55 80 55 5

Focus 7 I 2013

In e s te r fo est r f ed or t h in a co n A m in F R g c gr al an l s. t ? Go Ch an e c k d s el e e igi w h bil at i t y ’s c be ond hin i t d o ion n w s an ww d .f n r.l u

PhD and Postdoc Grants for Public-Private Partnerships See what’s behind. Through its AFR Grant Scheme, the National Research Fund Luxembourg (FNR) supports PhD and Postdoc researchers in Luxembourg and abroad. Next to offering grants for research projects carried out in public research institutions, AFR strongly encourages research projects performed as public-private partnerships (PPP) with Luxembourg-based companies. The salary of the PhD or Postdoc researcher who will work on a research project as a member of the company’s staff will be paid through the AFR-PPP grant scheme, whereas the full costs of the research will be borne by the company. In order to benefit of the financial support for PPP under AFR, an innovative research project needs to be developed jointly by the PhD/Postdoc candidate, the private company and a public research institution in Luxembourg or abroad.




AFR contributes to the development of human resources in Luxembourg research, translated in the long term by an increased number of qualified researchers pursuing a research career beyond their period of AFR funding. Interested in hosting an AFR fellow during his or her PhD or Postdoc training? Go and see what’s behind on or send an email to



Ministry of Higher Education and Research Department of Research and Innovation 20, montée de la Pétrusse L-2273 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 24 78 52 19 I Fax : + 352 46 09 27

Luxinnovation GIE National Agency for Innovation and Research 7, rue Alcide de Gasperi L-1615 Luxembourg Phone : + 352 43 62 63 1 I Fax : + 352 43 81 20

Invest in Luxembourg



/a f


Small size, outstanding effects.

Fall in love. In the heart of Europe the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg gleams with its multitude of facets. Innovation-driven companies, state-of-the-art technologies and cutting-edge R&D make Luxembourg a diamond of timeless beauty. An irresistible, trustworthy and flawless partner for your international business.

Luxembourg. Small country, safe values.

FOCUS on research and innovation #7  

FOCUS on research and innovation is the international magazine published by Luxinnovation, Luxembourg's national agency for innovation and r...