(L-R) Lisa Campbell, President of the CSA (Canadian Space Agency); Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, at CSA premises, Longueil, Quebec, Canada.; Credit: ME

On Thursday 23 June 2022, during the fourth and final day of the economic mission to Canada, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, accompanied in particular by the CEO of the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), Marc Serres, and the President of the LSA, Mario Grotz, visited the premises of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Longueuil, Quebec where they were welcomed by CSA President, Lisa Campbell, which was followed by a high-level meeting and an official ceremony to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two space agencies aimed at intensifying cooperation between Luxembourg and Canada in space.

This MoU will serve to establish a framework for cooperation, sharing of expertise and exchange of information between the two agencies. It also aims to strengthen collaboration by identifying projects of common interest, for example in the fields of earth observation, space exploration systems, including the use of space resources and space operations. The MoU will facilitate the establishment of projects related to research, exploration, development and use of space, not only at the national level, but also between academic and research institutes and private sector space companies in both countries.

The MoU will strengthen the coordination of Canadian and Luxembourg national policies and will promote the development of joint initiatives, for educational purposes or talent development.

Mr Serres, said: “Luxembourg and Canada have always had very good commercial relations. When it comes to space, we also share common visions and goals. I am very pleased to have signed today this memorandum of understanding, which will promote collaboration between our two countries in the field of space. I am convinced that this is an important step for the development of new cooperation projects involving actors from space, but also terrestrial actors". For her part, Ms Campbell, said: “International partnerships are essential to achieve our common goals in space. Today, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Luxembourg, which is an important first step in strengthening our mutually beneficial relationship".

While companies in the Luxembourg space sector had discussions with their counterparts in Canadian companies and institutions, Minister Fayot visited the CSA premises. In particular, he was able to discover a model of the Canadarm, the mechanical manipulator arm designed by the CSA to be attached to space shuttles, in particular to the International Space Station (ISS), as well as the training centre for handling the Canadarm and the control centre of the robotics from where the Canadian ground crew plans, monitors and directs part of the operations carried out with the Canadarm on the ISS.

At the end of this visit, Minister Fayot and his delegation returned to Montreal to participate in a luncheon organised by the Council on International Relations of Montreal, CORIM. On the occasion of this event, Minister Fayot was able to have an exchange with the Minister of Higher Education of Quebec, Danielle McCann.

During this luncheon, Minister Fayot focused on the subject of the digital and sustainable economy and the strengthening of ties between Quebec and Luxembourg. He said: “To build a sustainable ecosystem around the health sector and health technologies for the long term, it is essential to develop collaborative tools, such as calls for joint projects or the creation of campuses such as the Campus HE:AL of health technologies which will soon be launched in Luxembourg. The innovation zones of Quebec are based on the same reflection, to promote exchange and collaboration". A panel discussion dedicated to the challenges and opportunities of innovation and computerisation in the health sector with the participation from the Luxembourg side of Carole Brückler, director of health technologies at the Ministry of Economy and Thomas Dentzer, Director of Strategies at the Ministry of Health. On the Quebec side, the Director of Technological Integration at the Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal participated in the discussion.

Then, Minister Fayot went to NortStar Ciel&Terre to discover the company's premises and learn more about the activities of this company, which is the first to offer a commercial space surveillance service which is not carried out not from the ground, but from space itself, by means of a constellation of satellites equipped with optical sensors. This service will provide real-time, accurate and relevant data on space traffic, collision avoidance and the location of space debris. NorthStar Ciel&Terre is a company in which both the Canadian government and the Luxembourg government have invested, through the Luxembourg Future Fund. NorthStar Ciel&Terre recently established its European headquarters in Luxembourg and plans to recruit around twenty employees there.

Finally, the economic mission to Canada ended with a visit to the premises of the Montreal PHI Centre where Minister Fayot and the members of the delegation were able to experience an immersive virtual reality experience of the International Space Station (ISS). Produced by the Félix & Paul studios on the basis of images from the ISS, this installation of interactive and collective virtuality is the largest in the world and allows users to be transported on board the ISS.

Earlier on Tuesday 21 June 2022, during the second day of the economic mission to Canada chaired by His Royal Highness the Hereditary Grand Duke, and led by Minister Fayot, the Luxembourg economic delegation went to the “Collision” lounge. This is one of the largest start-up events in North America, taking place from 21 to 23 June 2022 in Toronto. Luxembourg is present there for the first time with a national pavilion. Organised by the Ministry of the Economy and the Chamber of Commerce, under the colors of StartupLuxembourg.com, the Luxembourg stand welcomes, in addition to the presence of Luxinnovation, the House of Startups, the Luxembourg City Incubator and the LHoFT (Luxembourg House of Financial Technology), a total of five Luxembourg startups (in Fintech: Modus 3, A352 and Investset; in ICT: NoBigDeal; and in Cybersecurity: Passbolt) presented their services and products to the international public of the show.

After visiting the stand, the Hereditary Grand Duke and Minister Fayot had a meeting with Irish entrepreneur Paddy Crosgrove, the co-creator of the Web-Summit fair and founder of the “Collision” fair. The discussions notably focused on the potential of the Luxembourg startup ecosystem and possible collaborations.

The delegation then visited other exhibitors and notably went to the stand of the Quebec region for a networking event between Luxembourg and Quebec companies organised by the Chamber of Commerce. At the stand dedicated to the city of Toronto and its ecosystem of innovative businesses, the Hereditary Grand Duke and Minister Fayot had a meeting with the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory.

Minister Fayot then participated in a discussion on the stage dedicated to societies of the future with the Canadian Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne. Discussions focused on the support that governments can provide to foster innovation. Minister Fayot said: “Luxembourg has played a fundamental role in stimulating innovation. Luxembourg, as a country that has always known how to reinvent itself and launch new innovative activities, embodies this perfectly. Government aid and support for innovation and research are essential, because they make it possible to steer our economy towards a digital and more sustainable economy”.

The Hereditary Grand Duke began his return trip to Luxembourg at the end of the day.

On Wednesday 22 June 2022, the third day of the economic mission to Canada, the Luxembourg delegation visited the premises of Husky in Bolton, in Ontarion, where they were greeted by Robert Domodossala, President of Husky's Packaging Division and John Hafferty, Chief Financial Officer of Husky Technology. As part of a meeting, the parallel development prospects of Husky in Bolton and the Husky site in Dudelange in Luxembourg were discussed as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption of supply chains on the business market.

The delegation then visited the production, research and digital management premises of the company. The Husky site in Bolton is banking on the digitisation of all production information and monitoring of the customer and their requests. Husky thus fully transposes the principles of Industry 4.0, which allows it to better manage its production and the maintenance of the machines, to consume less raw materials and energy as well as to ensure a longer life of the machines delivered to customers through real-time monitoring of all machine data.

Present in Luxembourg since 1984, Husky Injection Molding specialises in the design and manufacture of injection molding machines and integrated industrial production systems. On its production site in Dudelange, the company carried out a project to digitalise and implement Industry 4.0 technologies, generating impressive amounts of data. In this context, Luxembourg's participation in the European cloud project as well as the national data platform project was highlighted.

The delegation then returned to Montreal to attend a networking reception, during which the members of the Luxembourg delegation were able to interact with the Quebec guests.

Minister Fayot said: “I welcome the immense interest from all parts of the Luxembourg economy to strengthen ties with Canada and forge new relationships. I am honored to have so many Canadian guests among us – proof that we have a mutual interest and that stronger economic ties are of interest to us all". Mr Thelen added: "We are convinced that cooperation, openness and the development of strong partnerships between countries and between companies are essential to the success of national economies. This is especially true today, in a post-Covid period and in a world where markets are increasingly interconnected and competitive".

Minister Fayot also attended the signing of a contract between the Luxembourg start-up iNUI Studio, represented by Olivier Raulot, which has the ambition to become the world leader in contactless screens, and the Quebec fast food chain Saint Hubert, represented by its president Richard Scofield, a franchise which has around 3,000 restaurants and will gradually equip several of its sites with contactless screens so that customers can place their orders.