When discussing Luxembourg many are quick to point out the country’s central location or small size. However, Luxembourg deserves to be equally acknowledged for its accomplishments in economics and business, visible through a number of innovation initiatives. Browsing the internet, one may discover that Luxembourg was responsible for putting the ball in ballpoint pens. Such a feat, though impressive, is only a small piece of the history of innovation in the Grand Duchy.
Today, Luxembourg has implemented programs that reinforce innovation as a main priority. The Luxembourg Cluster Initiative for example began in 2002 to further cooperation amongst similar industries and promote the use of new technologies. In 2013, five main pillars of the program were : business development, internationalization, flagship projects, branding, and prospection and promotion. The initiative has ambitions to create 300 new businesses and 3,000 new jobs. Luxinnovation specifically manages 6 clusters of various industries: Automobility, CleanTech, Creative Industries, HealthTech, Materials & Manufacturing, and Wood.
The Automobility Cluster is currently working to develop the Luxembourg-France-Germany digital cross border test bed. In addition, the cluster is focusing on the creation of a Mobility Innovation Campus to encourage green solutions. The CleanTech cluster looks to provide eco-technologies and implement sustainable construction, while offering information on funding opportunities for clean technologies. Other clusters encapsulate an array of industries, for example, the Creative Industries cluster includes up to 12 different areas such as visual arts and architecture with a goal of collaboration and international visibility for the activities.
HealthTech looks to improve medical devices and software through the use of technology. The Materials & Manufacturing Cluster similarly employs technology through joint flagship projects that grow areas such as automation and robotics. While it may be surprising that wood gets a cluster of its own, the newly added industry (set up in 2016) brings together many different organizations in the region. The Wood Cluster stimulates the product and attempts to optimize the market.
Each cluster is unique in its own way–addressing a field that has the potential for more economic success. This being said, all clusters share common themes of sustainable development and the formation of new relationships within the industries. Luxinnovation provides about each sector by outlining objectives, services, and upcoming events. Most of the clusters have events within the next few months. Some are as simple as a “GET2Know your Neighbors” (HealthTech) or a workshop on the “Applications of pulsed plasma surface technologies” (Materials & Manufacturing). It is clear to see that Luxinnovation truly believes in its motto of “#MakingInnovationHappen.”
The six clusters do not directly touch upon the impressive advancements that Luxembourg has made in commercial space business development. The of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology as well as the University of Luxembourg spans from space (satellite structures) to the ground (electrical support, equipment) to services (risk management, teleport). In fact, approximately of Luxembourg’s GDP comes from the space and satellite sectors.
The United States has demonstrated a desire to collaborate with Luxembourg to further space innovation as a member of the Artemis Accords. As one of the first signatories, Luxembourg was commended by then U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans in 2020 for being a leader in the industry. Ambitions for the future, including sending the first woman to the Moon in 2024, will only be made possible through the work of multiple organizations in both the United States and Europe according to Ambassador Evans (NASA, European Space Agency, etc.).
Collaborative efforts between Luxembourg and the United States have even extended to other industries. For example, the American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg hosts a wide range of events such as This event is in partnership with LACC New York and focuses on how companies must adapt to meet the needs of a more digitalized world. The work between Luxembourg and the United States not only fosters innovation, but allows both countries to maintain their positions as technological pioneers.
No matter what industry you are thinking of, it is likely Luxembourg is working to develop technology to improve upon it. Innovation in Luxembourg has come a long way since the ballpoint pen, yet the same goal of finding a better way of doing things persists. The Cluster Initiative is a means of doing just that.
About the Author: Ellie Walker is an intern at the U.S. Embassy Luxembourg. She is studying Political Science and Business and hopes to pursue a career in law in the future