With over 4,000 participants and 130 companies participating as exhibitors, ICT Spring is the largest tech conference of Luxembourg and the surrounding area in neighbouring companies. “While exhibitors will certainly not have the same number of visitors at their booths as they would have on one of Europe’s major fairs, the quality of the people they can get in contact with is quite outstanding,” says Steven Koener, Senior International Affairs Advisor at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. “Rather than seeing a long stream of sales representatives trying to promote their products, you may well have the opportunity to speak to top managers of major companies interested in finding new innovative solutions.”
You may well have the opportunity to speak to top managers of major companies interested in finding new innovative solutions.
The network of Luxembourg Trade and Investment Offices (LTIOs) and embassies, supported by the Ministry of the Economy and the Chamber of Commerce, use the event as an opportunity to invite young innovative companies interested in opening offices in Europe to visit Luxembourg and see what the country has to offer. This year, around 35 start-ups accepted their invitation.
ICT Spring: Interesting connections
Duncan Hui, General Manager of Taipei and Hong-Kong based logistics solution specialist Spaceship, confirms the relevance of the contacts made at ICT Spring. “We build logistics ‘software-as-a-service’ solutions for e-commerce and work with shipping companies,” he explains. “Currently, we facilitate export from Asia to Europe, Australia and the US, but we have recently seen a demand to do the opposite with experts from Europe to Asia. Through conversations with Sophie Liao, Deputy Director of LTIO Taipei, we have discovered that Luxembourg is a central hub in Europe where we could potentially set up a company to build our logistics business here. We have met a lot of interesting people at ICT Spring, including potential logistics partners such as the national Post and DHL.”
Luxembourg is a central hub in Europe where we could potentially set up a company to build our logistics business here.
“I have made some interesting connections here with companies that we will definitely work with,” agrees Tukeer Hussain, Director of Strategy & Partnerships of TechTalent, a UK-based edtech company addressing the huge skills shortages across the world and specifically in the West. “We have already successfully expanded to the Middle East, but Europe is on the agenda. Our operations require two things: technical infrastructure and investments. I think that Luxembourg has both to offer. If our scale up goes well, we want to have our European HQ here.”
Turkish PLNBase, which has developed a portfolio tracker mobile app that helps investors manage their investments and track the performance of their portfolio, came to ICT Spring with support from Luxembourg’s embassy in Ankara to look for prospective investors as well as users of its solution. “We already have 5,000 users in 130 countries,” says CEO Umut Akgul. “Our next step will be to go abroad, and Luxembourg seems like the ideal place for our European office.”
Pentera, a cybersecurity company invited by LTIO Tel Aviv, has also a strong global presence with customers in 45 countries. “As part of our global expansion, we are focusing on Luxembourg,” says Nadav Elkiess, Country Manager for Belgium and Luxembourg. “Our cybersecurity solution is very relevant for the financial sector, with numerous existing clients in the industry, so we have a perfect market fit with Luxembourg. The business climate here is very favourable, the cybersecurity market is mature, and the strong international presence makes the market very accessible.”
Attractive support programme
For Rudder Wu, founder and CTO of deep tech start-up Thermalytica based in Japan, ICT Spring was the first opportunity to present his company in Europe. Themalytica has developed a patented materials technology (TIISA®) that provides an innovative thermal solution to customers and help them lower their carbon footprint. “We have just finished our first fundraising and are building a pilot facility producing our super insulation materials,” he says. “After finishing the proof-of-concept stage, we will have one production facility in the US and one in Europe. We decided to go to Luxembourg as ICT Spring is a very good event for start-ups.”
Mr Wu also points out that there are several interesting government-supported schemes in Luxembourg that he could apply to, in particular the start-up acceleration programme Fit 4 Start. “Such programmes are very useful for Asian companies that do not yet know the European market and its regulations,” he underlines.
A welcoming country connecting with Europe
Several of the start-ups point out how well received they feel in Luxembourg and how open people are to new business connections. “People in Luxembourg are really helpful, and I feel at home here – not like a foreigner,” says Mr Akgul.
“Luxembourg is a very peaceful country, but it is dynamic with a lot of friendly investors and start-up accelerators,” says Everine Jo, founder of South Korean EverTreasure that provides a co-investment and profit-sharing platform for artists and investors. “I’m very impressed. It could be interesting to open an office here and target France or Italy from Luxembourg.” Mr Hussein shares the same view. “Luxembourg is a perfect place to be housed between France and Germany where you can work with members of staff who are able to operate in French, German and English.”
Luxembourg is a perfect place to be housed between France and Germany where you can work with members of staff who are able to operate in French, German and English.
“I love Luxembourg!” says Fatima Zehra Anhaili, who represents Moroccan Arwa Solution, enthusiastically. “We have developed an innovative agrometeorological station adapted for small and medium-sized farmers that provides data related to the weather, the soil and the irrigation system and help them optimise their work. We are now aiming to make it accessible all over the world.”
She finds people here kind, helpful and welcoming. She was also very positively surprised to discover that all public transport in Luxembourg is available without costs. “When I took the tram from the train station I obviously expected to pay, but it was for free! I found the ICT Spring event very well organised. I will for sure be back next year with a full team.”