Few businesses can remain competitive today without adapting their product offer to a constantly and rapidly evolving market. In order to deal with global competition, they need to distinguish themselves from their competitors by offering new or improved products and services. Research, development (R&D) and innovation allow businesses to renew their product range and to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors.
The Luxembourg Portal for Innovation and Research centralises information on research, development and innovation (RDI) in Luxembourg:
- creation of innovative businesses ;
- research and innovation in businesses ;
- financial support for projects ;
- collaborations and partnerships ;
- innovative clusters ;
Innovation is not restricted to experts or major innovative businesses. Everyone can innovate:
- innovative entrepreneurs;
- business managers or their employees who wish to implement new ideas;
- researchers with regard to their findings concerning the development or improvement of products or services, etc.
As research can have different objectives, it is also undertaken by a number of different players:
- innovative businesses;
- public research centres or universities.
Starting up an innovative business
Starting an innovative business is a very particular challenge. An innovative business sells new products or services, often based on new technologies or discoveries from scientific research. As these products or services have often not been finalised yet, the innovative business must find new funding to finance the developmental phase before the actual sales phase can begin. It runs the risk of technical failure – maybe the product cannot be used as initially intended - and commercial failure - the market may not be interested in the product. Careful preparation is vital.
The new business may find it useful to develop a business plan. A business plan helps businesses clarify and structure their ideas and to communicate these ideas to others.
It also needs to find suitable premises. Luxembourg has several interesting possibilities to offer: incubators, which offer flexible facilities, strategic support and economic parks where businesses can find plots of land or ready-to-use buildings.
In order to maximise chances for success, the innovative entrepreneur may benefit from personalised support from specialists with various areas of expertise such as: official procedures, financing, business plans, etc.
There are several initiatives which are dedicated to the support of future entrepreneurs in Luxembourg, such as the aid programme Fit4start which aims to improve the start up conditions of young innovative businesses by offering tailored financing and coaching measures in order to allow them to:
- develop functional prototypes of their products;
- validate these products with their customers;
- attract potential investors more easily.
Research and innovation for businesses
Innovation, first and foremost, is a process which can be learnt. With the help of innovation management techniques, anyone can learn to innovate. Innovation management techniques are easy-to-use tools which can be applied throughout the innovation process. They are also useful for a business which intends to launch a strategic reflection on its activities or to transform a new idea into a commercial success.
A technology transfer may be useful for any business that intends to undertake an innovative project but which does not have the necessary technical means to carry out the project. One solution may be to take on partners that are in a position to provide the technology or know-how needed. It can be businesses, research laboratories or any other entity with which the business could establish a partnership agreement. Different types of agreement exist such as licensing agreements, sub-contracting, joint development or joint venture agreements. The Luxembourg Portal for Innovation and Research can offer a gateway to technology transfer via its Technology Market.
Financing R&D and innovation projects for businesses
Financing research, development and innovation is key for each innovative business involved in these activities. Several financial aid schemes aim to support R&D and innovation activities in both the public and private sectors.
The start-up financing of an innovative business has a major influence on its development. Launching a new business requires both own equity capital and loans. There are also specific financial aid schemes which support the start up of an innovative business.
The entrepreneur may benefit from several financial aid schemes and accompanying measures to finance his business' R&D and innovation projects. These support measures target specific and predefined projects and activities.
In many cases, R&D cannot be limited only to national interests. Projects often require transnational cooperation and a joint use of resources. Several European programmes aim to promote transnational cooperation and enhance the European potential in the field of research.
Partnerships in R&D and innovation
Research, development (R&D) and innovation often require a considerable amount of resources and solid efforts. For this reason, the different players are strongly encouraged to share their knowledge, skills and technology. Collaborations and partnerships between the private and/or public sectors may allow for specific technological challenges to be handled efficiently.
The directory of innovative companies and public research units in the section Finding partners on the Luxembourg Portal for Innovation and Research can facilitate the formation of partnerships.
It contains information files which present their skills, resources, products and services, as well as their contact details.
Research institutes and innovative businesses which want to present their skills in this directory can do so by registering their business in the relevant section.
Innovative clusters in Luxembourg
In a rapidly changing global market, the competitiveness of a country or region is more and more dependent on effective innovation networks involving both the private and public sectors. Luxembourg has therefore implemented various initiatives in order to strengthen the R&D and innovation potential of businesses and to reinforce links with public research institutes and academia.
The 'Luxembourg Cluster Initiative', launched in 2002 by the Luxembourg government, is a key element of the national R&D and innovation policy which brings together various clusters and innovation networks established in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It actively encourages networking between the private and the public sectors and focuses on key technologies that have been identified as being important for the future sustainable development of the Luxembourg economy.
The 'Luxembourg Cluster Initiative' is headed by Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research.
A cluster is a grouping on a geographic area of businesses, specialist suppliers, service providers, research institutes and other organisations that voluntarily develop collaborations in one or more areas of technology or research.