Luxembourg Cluster Forum: Stronger together_

“Together we are stronger” was the motto of the Luxembourg Cluster Forum which took place in the presence of the Cluster community. This simple principle describes in a few words the basis and rationale of the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative. Same venue, same date, a year to the day after the first edition, the Clusters are taking stock of the past year and provide an outlook on 2015.
The Luxembourg Cluster Initiative is much more than a tool of the national innovation and research policy. It is a “glue” for bringing together different actors, sharing resources and know-how and also stimulating various research and innovation projects among its members. “Innovation is a major challenge for our companies that want to seize the opportunities offered by technology or stand out from their competitors,” underlined Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Economy. “It is even a necessity for those who want to succeed.” The government has set up ambitious objectives for the Clusters: to contribute to the creation of 3,000 new jobs and 300 new companies by 2020. “These goals can only be achieved if all stakeholders concerned join forces,” said Laurent Federspiel, Head of the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative at Luxinnovation. Together, public authorities, investors, entrepreneurs and researchers showed the strength of networks and inter-sector collaboration through their presence at the second edition of the Luxembourg Cluster Forum.

Innovation is often the result of a successful combination of a diversified network of partners, shared expertise and common interests. A “good network should be able to link and enhance all skills of its various partners,” explained Thimon de Jong, head of Whetston / Strategic Foresight, a think tank on future human behaviour and business strategy, and lecturer at the Department of Sociology of Utrecht University. Over the past ten years, renowned companies such as Samsung, Ikea, Deloitte, Tetra Pak, Coca-Cola, Philips, Asics, Aon, Citywire, RTL and GDF Suez have benefited from Thimon de Jong’s expertise. “Adapt your business strategies to various behaviours,” he suggested in his passionate and interactive presentation.

Creating value and promoting development opportunities

There are many ways to innovate and no one single model. Innovation can be managed in many different ways. So how can one know what to do? How can one succeed with one’s innovative projects? The true strength of innovators lies in their ability to bring together all stakeholders and make them work together successfully. Through the Clusters, members form a group, reflect collectively and set up joint projects, i.e. create value. « It is this value that enables Luxembourg’s companies to remain competitive, » said Laurent Federspiel.

Throughout the year, the Clusters have proposed specific services and tools tailored to the needs of their members. Examples of projects conducted by the Clusters, which are in line with the five pillars of the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative (business development, product and service innovation, branding, internationalisation and prospection and promotion) were presented to the 200 people present. A study of a composites competence centre, the potential of the circular economy, the creation of an automotive campus, the economic impact of the maritime sector, the launching of the eco-label “Lean & Green” and the strengthening of international cooperation are among the areas that have attracted the interest of Cluster members.

These major themes of the Clusters were confirmed by the intervention of their respective Presidents, who highlighted key themes for the Luxembourg economy and announced major trends and outlooks for 2015. The members of the Luxembourg EcoInnovation Cluster, which is chaired by Romain Poulles (ProGroup), and of the Cluster for Logistics (Carlo Thelen, Chamber of Commerce) will discuss priority issues for the country such as circular economy and the reduction of polluting emissions in cities. Several studies will be launched to find quick and effective solutions.

Progress, federate, stimulate

« We will strengthen the international visibility of Space Cluster members by our presence at the Salon du Bourget next June and promote Luxembourg’s space skills during a visit at the West Coast of the United States in the first half of 2015,” said Yves Elsen (HITEC Luxembourg), President of the Luxembourg Space Cluster. Paul Schockmel (CLEPA) and Jean-Paul Scheuren (House of BioHealth, AxoGlia Therapeutics), who are Presidents of the Automotive Components and BioHealth Clusters, also agree that it is crucial for the development of their sectors to strengthen the presence at international level to attract new talent.

For the ICT Cluster, safety and the protection of personal data will be a key concern. “With the explosion of the internet, the rapid growth of smart phones and the emergence of the ‘all-connected’ era, security and encryption will be major themes of the coming year, as well as the future internet and mobile services to boost the digital revolution in Luxembourg,” said Xavier Buck (EuroDNS), President of the Luxembourg ICT Cluster. Inter-sector collaboration will be put into place in 2014. “We are constantly looking for new opportunities and partnerships,” said Freddy Bracke (CLdN COBELFRET), President of Luxembourg Maritime Cluster. “In order to achieve this, we will stimulate inter-sector cooperation between our member companies and those active in the European Network of Maritime Clusters (ENMC).”

For Georges Thielen (Goodyear), President Luxembourg Materials Cluster, 2015 will be marked by Additive Manufacturing. This technology makes it possible to design optimised parts (decreased weight, increased structural strength, etc.) that cannot be produced with traditional means. Other key advantages include that products can be made to measure, even in small quantities, and this in one single step. “This technology can help Europe remain competitive. Focusing on Additive Manufacturing means contributing to the reindustrialisation of the country, while also ensuring growth and new jobs.”

Bringing high-level skills into Cluster activities is a guarantee of success. “Cluster services are tailored to a concept based on quality and excellence, which corresponds to the capabilities and know-how of our members. We hope to mobilise a maximum of actors to launch our first financed Cluster call for proposals,” Laurent Federspiel concluded.

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