Luxembourg Start-ups - a Smart Investment Opportunity for Early-Stage Investors

Author: January Barnes


As a founder what are some of the key factors that contribute to a start-up’s success and as an Investor how do you identify the best start-ups to invest in?



Whilst there are many ingredients that contribute to a

start-ups or investors overall success rate, there are some key factors that can ensure you’re on the right track to help future-proof your next start-up investment opportunity.


How can investors best navigate the global start-up ecosystem to identify start-ups that will yield long-term opportunities and financial return? Perhaps the answer is to seek those start-ups that have a solid foundation and support network to ensure they have the longevity and resilience to not only weather the start-up journey but excel within it.


One key contributing factor to a start-ups overall success is training and education, another is often access to mentorship and despite living in a pandemic world, location still has influence over a start-ups overall access to both education and capital.


Above all else, there is one thing that simply location and capital can’t guarantee and that is on-going “support”. Let’s face it when we often hear the word “incubator” we presume a short-form support that takes your start-up and produces a finished minimum viable product and the rest is well, up to you.


What if we told you that we’d discovered an incubator with an accelerator that not only makes you market and investment ready but provides genuine ongoing education and support before, during and after your participation. What makes this particular incubator different from the rest you ask? It’s a combination of many factors but primarily it’s about community and mentorship. It’s via these mentoring opportunities that start-ups can truly accelerate and reach their full potential.


It’s also wise to never underestimate the significant power of quality entrepreneurship education within a key location, that can ensure a primary launchpad for reaching the whole EU market and beyond.


Whilst there are some entrepreneurial characteristics that just can’t be taught such as risk-taking, thirst-for-knowledge or passion, there are key business attributes that can be learned, experienced and taught, especially in a well-connected, central European education institution such as University of Luxembourg.



With almost half of its residents of foreign origin, Luxembourg’s start-up scene is comprised of a generous mix of local and international talent. Buoyed by a booming financial services industry, Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in Europe, and with the help of University of Luxembourg Incubator, start-ups can enjoy access to a broad variety of resources.






SO WHAT DO MOST START-UP FOUNDERS NEED?


Business modelling, growth and access to capital, right? That’s when selecting the right source of support is vital, welcome to the University of Luxembourg Incubator and its Accelerator.


What sets one incubator or accelerator apart from another? If you’re looking for an incubator or accelerator that values entrepreneurship and embraces diversity then look no further than University of Luxembourg.


Not only does this university rank among the most influential international universities in Europe. It has also forged partnerships with 78 universities worldwide. It’s no wonder Luxembourg produces some of the most progressive and disruptive start-ups in the world!


The University of Luxembourg was founded in 2003 and is situated in the iconic and multicultural epicentre of Europe, offering interdisciplinary and research-oriented courses. As the third-highest country by GDP per capita in the world after Qatar and Liechtenstein, Luxembourg offers various funding sources for young innovative enterprises with high growth potential.


Luxembourg's start-up ecosystem has taken a quantum leap over the past years. Today, it is an investment hub attracting increasingly more innovative start-ups, global talent and consequently capital investments.


Based on the quality of Luxembourg start-ups and quality entrepreneurship initiatives like the ones from University of Luxembourg there is good reason international investors are looking to Luxembourg for their next big investment opportunity.


The University of Luxembourg Incubator aims to support start-ups – to grow and scale-up – but in their own ways. It's accelerator offers entrepreneurs vital opportunities early on to quickly grow their businesses and better their chances of attracting a top venture capital (VC) firm to invest in their start-up at a later point.


THE INCUBATOR



At the University of Luxembourg Incubator, students and researchers get inspired on a daily basis about the possibility to put their skills into practice and turn their ideas into viable businesses.


Additionally, the Incubator understands the importance of strong partnerships not just from within the University but also externally from the corporate ecosystem from mentoring to key coaching opportunities.


So far, the University of Luxembourg Incubator, still only in its 5th year of operation, has already created 100+ jobs, 60+ start-up projects, garnered 2700+ participants and earned a combined start-up valuation of over 25 million.


The Incubator also offers workshops with leading businesses and thought leaders that can help students learn how to build a solid foundation for business ventures whilst learning how to be both an entrepreneur or intrapreneur.



The Incubator also gives access to the “Disciplined Entrepreneurship Masterclass” by Bill Aulet, MIT Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, covering 24 Steps to a Successful Startup and a run at the House of Startups Luxembourg.


In addition to the workshops, the Incubator offers interactive entrepreneurship courses, discussions and problem-solving challenges from researchers. There is a constant flow of unique learning and discovery opportunities to help start-ups flourish.


Another unique offering of the Incubator and University of Luxembourg Entrepreneurship Programme is the “Ideation Camp” a four-day intensive learning-by-doing course in which students get a glimpse of the life and traits of an entrepreneur by working in cross disciplinary teams to tackle challenges, come up with solutions, assess and present their ideas.


But don’t just take our word for it, “Ideation Camp” is so beneficial to entrepreneurs to the extent that participants in a post-event anonymous survey rated “Ideation Camp” with 99% positive feedback!


THE ACCELERATOR


So what would be the logical next step for a start-up to learn how to scale and become investor ready? Joining a sector-agnostic Accelerator of the University of Luxembourg Incubator ensures you’re in a program that doesn’t just preach to the choir but rather equips each start-up with crucial business acumen from various industry sectors.


This Accelerator is powered in partnership with the University of North Carolina and Tel Aviv University. It is funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund via a Knowledge and Innovation Transfer (KITS) grant and further supported by Aureus, Ars et Scientia Foundation.


Importantly the Accelerator is equity free and gives start-ups the opportunity to meet and network with investors in the Accelerator’s Israel and USA investor roadshow planned for summer 2022.


We spoke to Farida Dawood, the University of Luxembourg Accelerator Officer, to learn what distinguishes the Luxembourgish market and why the Accelerator was developed!

“The Luxembourgish ecosystem is an ideal market for early-stage start-ups. It offers start-ups a unique opportunity to validate and test their product and later it can act as a launchpad to the rest of Europe. The diversity of cultures and nationalities provides the country with different ideas and perspectives leading to innovative technologies and start-ups. The University of Luxembourg is the only university in the country making the Incubator an essential player in the ecosystem. Due to the relative underdevelopment of the investment ecosystem in Luxembourg, The Accelerator was born in 2021. It was developed to support top, aspiring and committed entrepreneurs to scale their business and be investable in Luxembourg and beyond.”

Farida Dawood – University of Luxembourg Accelerator Officer


Those start-ups smart enough to select University of Luxembourg Accelerator will achieve international exposure, customised strategy and eventual commercialization.


Those investors savvy enough to invest in Luxembourg start-ups will reap the good fortune of unlocking the ambitions of entrepreneurs with vision, leadership and pathing a way to success.


We asked Prof. Eyal Benjamin, Head of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Strategy from Tel Aviv University and a University of Luxembourg Accelerator partner, about why he believes in this particular accelerator and its overall mission.


“Entrepreneurship is the key to human and economic development. I see it as a personal mission of mine to improve and support any quality process that will better facilitate entrepreneurial processes. The Accelerator and it’s leadership seem to be one of those opportunities working on professionalizing the entrepreneurial journey for its participating founders, while learning and improving along the way.”

When asked why he is interested in Luxembourgish start-ups:


“They are established by extremely competent founders, with interesting technologies and a lot of passion. The university background and their close Accelerator environment gives them great backwind moving forward.”

When asked why he sees potential in Luxembourg as an entrepreneurial ecosystem? He replied:


“Luxembourg seems to grow into being an innovation hub, embracing a diversity of talented people from many places along with unique funding sources. Those resourced are backed by great efforts done to expand and professionalize the ecosystem. Things seem to be moving the right direction.”

Eyal Benjamin – Accelerator Workshop Instructor University of Luxembourg



THE COMMUNITY


What is particularly unique to both the University of Luxembourg Incubator and its Accelerator is the community it is built upon and how it welcomes all start-ups and entrepreneurs at any stage of their start-up journey to benefit from a whole range of trainings and services.


The high number of educated international people combined with the stable economy of Luxembourg make it a perfect recipe for a successful entrepreneurial community and excellent investment landscape for your next venture capital opportunity.


We spoke to Dr. Shai Harel Professor for Strategy and Entrepreneurship and the Academic Director of the online MBA program at Tel Aviv University and a University of Luxembourg Accelerator partner, about what attracted him to the University of Luxembourg Accelerator.

“The fantastic potential this place has, ignites my imagination. Luxembourg university is a young one, still shaping its future. The Accelerator is an innovative endeavor within an innovation, making it the ideal place to connect between the dots and leapfrog the entire ecosystem. I love working with entrepreneurs and start-ups, regardless of their location. Yet, in Luxembourg, I found something unique. There is an old debate on the impact of a team’s diversity on the start-up’s performance. There are many facets to measure diversity. The one which fascinates me is cultural diversity. I am curious to see what this unusual mixture of so many nations in a tiny place will lead to. I think that Luxembourg has the potential to become the port through which start-ups can embark on their European activity. The multicultural environment, the funding opportunities, the geographic location, and the proximity to business hubs in Europe makes it ideal for developing a vivid and welcoming Entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Dr. Shai Harel Professor for Strategy and Entrepreneurship and the Academic Director of the online MBA program at Tel Aviv University and a University of Luxembourg Accelerator Partner


We also went straight to the source and spoke to a start-up founder that had experienced the program first-hand. Alberto Noronha founder and CEO of Nium, directly benefited from this Accelerator, gaining both key resources and fundraising opportunities:

“After my doctoral studies at the University of Luxembourg, I had the opportunity to receive entrepreneurship training and decided to apply for funding for the JUMP program with Luxembourg’s National Funding Agency. Through the University of Luxembourg Incubator, I have met Nium’s co-founder. We have benefited from training, interactions with mentors, and tailored support in response to our ever-evolving needs. We are now joining the Accelerator program focusing on fundraising to take Nium to the next level.”

Alberto Noronha – Founder and CEO Nium


THE LUXEMBOURG ADVANTAGE


It is clear that Luxembourg is an epicentre for start-up innovation and growth. With its rich historical culture, ideal geographical location and ample economic opportunities, it’s no longer a little-known fact that Luxembourg has become a home for ambitious entrepreneurs.


Resources and funding are critical for entrepreneurs, researchers, and start-ups to accelerate their businesses.


This is why the University of Luxembourg is dedicated to the on-going life cycle of a start-up both before, during and after their participation.


"University of Luxembourg Accelerator is an attempt to immerse promising young entrepreneurs into hot startup ecosystems around the world and provide them with an opportunity to validate their business alignment with top investors. Beyond learning, the start-ups gain visibility among investors who are constantly looking for the next propitious venture. Inadvertently, we are also making publicity for Luxembourg as a startup nation in making"

Pranjul Shah, Manager of the University of Luxembourg Incubator who created the Accelerator last year.


Once part of the University of Luxembourg family, you can guarantee you have access to abundant opportunities and networking for years to come! Catering to the bourgeoning European business and technology community, the University offers an on-site Incubator that has fast become a hotbed for both multicultural talent and resources. Ultimately giving Luxembourg start-ups a competitive edge over international competitors and creating many good reasons why early-stage investors should consider Luxembourg start-ups when seeking their next big unicorn.


The Accelerator gives access to start-up expert Dr. Ted Zoller’s training on his 6M Venture Circuit©

"University of Luxembourg Accelerator is one of the most innovative and well-managed accelerator programs in all of Europe combining highly innovative startups derived from a university ecosystem committed to research translation in a country similarly committed to catalyzing innovation in the startup ecosystem. I have engaged with entrepreneurial ecosystems all over the world through my work and research and find that the Luxembourg ecosystem is one of the most novel and dynamic economies emerging on the world stage.
Luxembourg is highly globalized, connected to the international marketplace, endowed with immense and outsized expertise in finance in capital formation, and committed to leapfrog innovations that inspire next generation ventures in fintech, life sciences, data, AI, cybersecurity and space technology to name a few. All of the founders I've engaged with in Luxembourg are ‘all in’ and focused on building growth ventures that make a difference and positioned for next-generation markets in the global marketplace. I believe that the Luxembourg ecosystem is an emerging leader globally in Europe and will be seen in the same light as Berlin and London in the next decade. They have developed strategic connections all over the world particularly in EU, US, throughout Europe and the Gulf which presents amazing opportunities for not only startup but scale. Luxembourg must be front of mind for any venture capital or private equity investor interested in engaging in entrepreneurship in Europe."

Dr. Ted Zoller - TW Lewis Professor & Director Center of Entrepreneurship UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School President and a collaborator on University of Luxembourg Incubator initiatives including the Accelerator where he provides his 6M Venture Circuit training to prepare startups for expansion into US.


If you think your start-up would benefit from 1-1 tailored guidance, workshops and robust networking, then University of Luxembourg Accelerator is for you!


Keep up to date with the latest announcements from the University of Luxembourg Incubator and Entrepreneurship Programme via LinkedIn and Facebook


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

January Barnes - Founder/Head Tech Reporter and Podcaster of ParlayMe an interactive tech-news platform for startups, investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Become a ParlayMe Member today and #ParlayWithUs