Caroline Muller, what have been the highlights of your activity over the last six months?
“Clearly, everything has revolved around the management of the COVID and post-COVID crisis. As early as April, we approached certain players to set up local mini-cells for the production of medical equipment to respond to the shortage that quickly became apparent.
We also followed the companies as they went through this health crisis, which turned out to be catastrophic from a financial point of view for many of them.
We also supported companies with their ‘classic’ R&D projects and projects funded by the new COVID-RDI and COVID-Invest aid schemes. As part of the ‘Neistart Lëtzebuerg’ initiative to support economic recovery, the Luxembourg Government passed a new law aimed at stimulating business investment in the COVID-19 era in July 2020. We are participating in the promotion and support of companies that could benefit from this initiative.
We are also looking ahead to the next few months. Together with our partners in the Greater Region, Materalia (in France), the MecaTech cluster and Skywin, in Belgium), we are preparing a series of webinars to promote cross-border collaboration. They will be held in October.
We are also actively working on mapping the manufacturing sector in Luxembourg, in collaboration with the Luxembourg Digital Innovation Hub and our Market Intelligence department.”
What impact has COVID had on your sector?
“As in many other sectors, most companies, small or large, have suffered and are still suffering from sometimes dramatic economic loss. Not only has their turnover fallen, or is going to fall, but in the long term, some markets are collapsing, such as those of the automotive or aeronautics industries.
Certain players have no other choice than to quickly find new outlets to survive. Fortunately, there are a few companies which have been less affected by the health crisis, but they are a small minority.”
What was your role, in particular, as cluster manager, to support companies in this unprecedented period?
“Our role is to contact them, identify their needs and guide them towards the most favourable solutions that can be put in place… We also communicate regularly with the Ministry of the Economy on the health of companies in our sector.”
How do you foresee the resumption of activities in the coming weeks/months?
“Most of our players are quite worried about the end of the year and the need for cash and investment is paramount. Hopefully the market will recover quickly.”
What is (are) the next key event(s) for your cluster? for your sector?
“As mentioned, we will be organising 3 webinars on 1, 8 and 15 October with our partners from the Greater Region and our EU Funding Department (registration HERE). The aim will be to promote cross-border collaboration on key topics and to present the financial tools available.
We will also organise the second edition of our cross-sectoral event ‘Smart manufacturing’. This time it will take place in virtual form and several webinars will be organised over one week, from 16 to 20 November and will address several aspects such as new technologies, environmental challenges and new business related to Industry 4.0.
Finally, by the end of the year we should finalise the mapping of the manufacturing sector in Luxembourg and present it to the whole sector and to media.”