Mr Brebels, what is the objective of the Cluster Initiative?
“It is to support the data-driven innovation strategy led by the Ministry of the Economy. Our cluster managers have three missions. The first is to manage the relationship with companies in order to help and support them in their innovation processes. The aim is to help them develop and become more resilient.
They also support the sectoral diversification of the national economy, through thematic events, working groups and technological and economic analyses.
Finally, they capture ideas with the intention to help them mature and turn them into flagship projects that serve the country’s economy as a whole. The creation of the National Composite Centre is one example among others.”
Which sectors are covered?
“We manage six clusters: AutoMobility, CleanTech, Creative industries, HealthTech, Materials & Manufacturing and Wood. All these clusters have a digital dimension in common, since information and communication technologies are an indispensable enabler at all levels.”
How is the interaction between clusters and companies organised on a day-to-day basis?
“The cluster managers are regularly in contact with company executives, currently mainly via video link. Specific methods for identifying company needs through diagnoses and analyses are used.
As a next step, the cluster managers help the companies formulate potential solutions to their problems and connect them with other Luxinnovation teams, as well as with external service providers and partners.
Once the roadmap is set up, we support the companies on the long term with regular follow-up.”
Has the role of clusters changed since the COVID pandemic?
“We have obviously adapted to the situation. We have a more proactive approach in terms of innovation, with the support of state aid such as Neistart Lëtzebuerg or COVID Invest.
We are more involved in strategic thinking. We have put in place programmes such as Fit 4 Resilience and in-depth reflections on digitalisation, value chain diversification and the development of new business models.
These reflections have sometimes led to a reorientation of certain production or research activities directly linked to COVID.
In general, we have also noticed an acceleration in innovation activities, both in the digital field and in the circular economy.”
How can we capitalise on the feedback from companies in the field?
“Together with our market intelligence department, we have analysed the major post-COVID trends that are emerging. This initiated an ideation process around five themes: business model innovation, regional value chains, digitalisation, new innovation models and sustainable development.
We are in the process of establishing promising action plans, in line with the strategy of the Ministry of the Economy, and we are working on several promising projects. This concerns possible new instruments for support and public funding, awareness campaigns and the implementation of digital platforms.”