Covering topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), fintech, supply chains, IT security and space technologies, ICT Spring is one of Luxembourg’s main meeting places for tech companies. It is also an interesting entry point for international companies looking for European business partners and a new location in the centre of the EU. 33 start-ups from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North and South America joined the “phygital” 2020 edition with support from the international network of Luxembourg Trade & Invest. Their main objective was to showcase their solutions, establish new business contacts and become part of the European business community.
Luxembourg plays an important role as a business hub in Europe.
“We participated in order to promote our technology and service to potential customers and to find business opportunities with global companies,” says Jun-Hyung Park, CEO of AI learning data company INFINIQ, who joined the event with support from the Luxembourg Trade & Investment Office (LTIO) in Seoul. “Luxembourg plays an important role as a business hub in Europe, and we have decided to set up an office here in order to push forward our European business and expand for future growth.”
Fertile ground for contacts
For many of the start-ups, ICT Spring was their first experience of hosting a virtual booth at an online trade fair. This, until recently, unusual set-up does not seem to have hampered business opportunities. “For our team, it was amazing to participate in the virtual booth and be able to connect with conference attendees in a one-to-one setting in spite of COVID restrictions,” comments Sumi Shanmuganathan, Chief Strategy Officer at Canadian agritech start-up Dunya Habitats. “We were able to connect with potential collaborators and investors and help spread the word around about Dunya’s innovation in the agritech space.”
Dunya’s participation was supported by LTIO New York after an introduction by Luxembourg’s honorary foreign trade council for Canada. “Luxembourg came to our attention due to its push for an urban farming initiative and its leadership in the circular economy,” says Ms Shanmuganathan. “Its support of start-ups has made it an ideal base for Dunya’s expansion into Europe.”
Indian Astrome Technologies is interested in Luxembourg due to the country’s track record of investing in the satellite communications industry, and joined the event to get connected with the ICT ecosystem in Europe. “We would like to explore investments in Europe to set up a satcom electronics components focused R&D centre,” explains CEO and founder Neha Satak. For her, the main takeaway for the future is the contact with a start-up accelerator, Tomorrow Street, launched by the Luxembourg government and Vodafone.
Luxembourg’s international network: opening doors
Astrome’s participation at ICT Spring was facilitated by Luxembourg’s embassy in New Delhi. “They have been extremely supportive and generous,” comments Ms Satak.
The role of the embassy economic advisors and the LTIOs is to provide information, advice and hands-on support to companies interested in setting up a base in Luxembourg. Taiwan-based cybersecurity specialist CYBAVO has already been in close contact with LTIO Taipei for a year. “The LTIO has helped us establish relevant connections with the fintech and cybersecurity industry in Luxembourg and provided a clear visibility of the start-up ecosystem,” says the start-up’s Product Director, Roberto Machado. “We have also received very active support to facilitate business opportunities between us and companies and other organisations in Luxembourg. We think that the country offers the right environment for a fintech/cybersecurity start-up like ours: it has dynamic regulations, local talent, and access to funds, industry partners and the market.”
The LTIO has helped us establish relevant connections with the fintech and cybersecurity industry in Luxembourg.
Lunar services and payload transportation company Moonscape had also established contacts with its local LTIO in Tel Aviv well before ICT Spring. “As an early-stage start-up, the LTIO is a very supportive and helpful point of contact,” CEO and founder Yoav Landsman points out. “I have received a lot of beneficial information about forming a company in Luxembourg and programmes such as the start-up accelerator Fit 4 Start, as well as access to events like ICT Spring.”
Welcoming international teams
Moonscape is about to launch the process of incorporating the company in Luxembourg, and participated in ICT Spring in order to make contacts with future customers, suppliers and business partners. “For a space start-up, Luxembourg is very appealing with its ‘new space’ ecosystem,” comments Mr Landsman. “The country is also a very welcoming place for companies with an international team, like us.”