With more than 200 partners having joined the initiative (150 private companies and 50 strategic partners), the evolution of Luxembourg’s Wood Cluster over its 36 months of existence is very positive, at the heart of a traditional sector, certainly, but demonstrating a real dynamic approach. “The Wood cluster has found its place in the wood ecosystem in Luxembourg and the Greater Region and is now well established there,” says Philippe Genot, the cluster manager.
Philippe Genot, if you were to remember only three highlights from the past three years?
“First of all, I would highlight the daily work with companies and especially with motivating and very innovative people. I will mention, for example, companies such as Annen Plus, winner of the Chamber of Skilled Crafts Award in 2017, or Steffen Holzbau, who is a finalist this year. We are constantly witnessing many developments and innovative projects. It’s really the whole industry that’s full of ideas.
Then I would talk about the Wood Cluster Forum. For its first edition, in 2018, we had about 150 participants and nearly 200 for the 2019 edition. This event, which has already reached its cruising speed, is the major meeting point for all the main players in the timber sector in Luxembourg and the Greater Region.
Finally, I would also mention the completion of a Wood Mapping, in collaboration with Luxinnovation’s Market Intelligence team. This mapping has allowed us, for the first time, to have a real view of the entire value chain and to better understand that with more than 1,200 companies, especially SMEs, linked to it, this sector is an increasingly important one in Luxembourg.
The Luxembourg Wood Cluster is one of the latest members of the Cluster initiative. What are your relationships with other clusters?
“These relationships are naturally very close. Within Luxinnovation, we favour cross-sectoral initiatives and collaboration between clusters. It is inconceivable to think in terms of silos, as the problems faced by companies are so transversal. Clearly, within the clusters, we are more than ever living up to the saying
“Together we are stronger”.
What precisely are the areas that you are working on together?
“There are several of them. The most obvious is that of sustainable development and the circular economy, which concerns all sectors of the economy. Wood obviously plays a major role in this. However, we are also very involved in the digitisation of companies, which is now also done in collaboration with the Luxembourg-Digital Innovation Hub.
The “Industry 4.0” approach makes it possible to optimise production flows, but above all to guarantee a scale up, which is absolutely necessary for the development of the timber construction market. A recent conference on Smart Manufacturing has shown this, with wonderful examples also from the wood sector.
What are the main action plans for 2020?
“The cluster will continue to intensify its primary mission, which consists of supporting companies in their innovation efforts.
At the same time, we will work on a “coordinated timber calendar” with all the main players and companies in the sector. This will allow us to focus together on the most important points. Of course, we are preparing the third edition of the Wood Cluster Forum, as well as a “Mir paken Holz un” tour, which allows us to discover, in the field, outstanding projects or achievements. We will also organise another cross-sectoral event on industry 4.0 and digitalisation.
Furthermore, we are closely monitoring a few major projects. The Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development is currently working on a feasibility study of a “Holz vun Hei” quality label. We will also enhance the Holzhaff project, a kind of regional market for high quality timber, which will certainly evolve in a first phase towards a digital platform.