In what sectors do you see particularly strong business synergies between the US and Luxembourg?
Paul Steinmetz: By sheer volume, Luxembourg’s business ties with the US are particularly strong in finance. US funds represent almost 20% of the total assets under management in Luxembourg, and at least ten US banks and four insurers are based here and experiencing growth.
Industry is another key sector. The majority of the approximately one hundred American businesses located in Luxembourg are active in this field. Manufacturing companies such as Goodyear, DuPont or Guardian have been here for many years and are important pillars of the Luxembourg economy. Amazon, Cisco Systems, PayPal and other companies active in ICT and data technologies also have key operations here. Major Luxembourg industrial companies are present in the US, and we are in touch with several others that are thinking of expanding into the US via the East Coast. American companies also leverage Luxembourg’s logistics infrastructure and e-logistics capabilities to expand their commerce throughout Europe and globally.
One of my preferred missions is to be alert for new talents, technologies and markets.
The US has pioneered space exploration, and as Luxembourg is developing its own space resources sector, our cooperation in this field is absolutely natural. Luxembourg’s global satellite operator SES has a long-term presence in the US market, and several American space companies have established their European headquarters in Luxembourg where they can find a robust space ecosystem and international talent base that help them grow in and beyond Europe.
One of my preferred missions is to be alert for new talents, technologies and markets. I’m proud that US accelerator and venture capital firm Gener8tor has placed its European office in Luxembourg, and we always encourage American start-ups to apply to the Fit 4 Start acceleration programme. Ambitious Luxembourg start-ups wanting to expand abroad have the opportunity to participate in the Benelux Catalyst Accelerator that we run each year in New York with our Belgian and Dutch partners.
What synergies do you see in healthtech?
Health, bio and data are new areas in our ties with the US. For Luxembourg healthtech start-ups and scale-ups looking for new markets, the US is an obvious choice. It is definitely a leading country in healthcare innovation, and there is much for us to learn about how to build an ecosystem where health technologies thrive and successfully interact with the healthcare system. Over the last year, government and business representatives from Luxembourg have visited Boston to learn more. We were impressed to learn about how the area’s prestigious academic centres, hospitals and organisations have built sustainable collaboration models to support and adopt innovation in digital health. Their collaborative approach reminded me of Luxembourg.
We also learnt about how healthcare innovators connect with strategic partners, talent and investors. US hospitals and academic institutions have much freedom to invest in technologies and innovation and to find companies that can provide them with the solutions that they seek. The US is also home to the most commercially open practices in data collection and management as well as healthcare delivery systems. We had the opportunity to interact with healthcare groups and researchers that seek a shift from the prevailing fee-for-service model towards value-based healthcare and discuss how high-quality data helps enable this shift. Luxembourg – and sometimes Europe in general – can provide inspiration to the US in fields such as universal access to healthcare, well-developed regulatory frameworks and data privacy.
What aspects of the Luxembourg economy and business climate do US companies find interesting?
CEOs of US companies based in Luxembourg often tell me that the country is an ideal gateway to Europe: it is perfectly situated within easy reach of major markets, politicians are internationally focused and business minded, and officials are very accessible. They also appreciate that English is widely used, even for legal and administrative procedures. At the same time, as Luxembourg is very international – it closely resembles big US cities like New York – there are French and German speakers working in every office. For an American investor, it is almost as if his or her offices were located simultaneously in Luxembourg and in one or more of the larger neighbouring countries.
For an American investor, it is almost as if his or her offices were located simultaneously in Luxembourg and in one or more of the larger neighbouring countries.
Luxembourg’s AAA rating and nimble but solid public and private institutions offer US companies the economic and political stability that is paramount for them in Europe. The country offers them a great ecosystem for growing in Europe and beyond, including top-rate data and physical infrastructure and financial R&D support. American CEOs also tend to be very enthusiastic about the simplicity and quality of our public healthcare system, the availability of multilingual education and the safe, clean and green environment.
What added value can LTIO New York bring to US companies wanting to explore Luxembourg as a potential location for their European offices?
Initially, we provide them with general and sector-specific information about Luxembourg’s political, economic and business environment. However, our real job is to help people make one-on-one connections.
Once American companies are keen to proceed, we put them in touch either with Luxembourg experts such as consultants and law firms in New York, or with officials at the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy and partner organisations – the Chamber of Commerce, the House of Entrepreneurship or national innovation agency Luxinnovation, for example. We can also count on feedback from sector-specific agencies and organisations. Sometimes US companies just ask us to find and connect them with potential business partners.
Our real job is to help people make one-on-one connections.
When they are ready to visit Luxembourg, we put together a programme and help them with useful introductions. We encourage them to time their visits to relevant events to get the most out of their stay. Depending on their needs, we also introduce them to the like-minded community that we have built in our US jurisdiction. The Luxembourg-American Chamber of Commerce (LACC) is instrumental. Such introductions often lead to unexpected but fruitful business opportunities.
Are there any aspects of life in Luxembourg that you particularly like and do not find in other countries?
I have had the honour to serve my country as a diplomat and ambassador in large countries in Asia and the Americas, and there, comments about Luxembourg’s geographical size may be unnerving at first. However, the truth is that our dimension works to our advantage. Things just work better here. The government is small enough to get the job done, bankers and businesses know their clients at a deeper level, and teachers are able to give more attention to individual students. Public transport is free and well planned. Luxembourgers know both their neighbours and their politicians – who are sometimes the same people. Rather than seeing my country as too little, I have come to wonder whether some others are perhaps a tad too big for the Luxembourg style of efficient governance.