(centre) Luxembourg's Hereditary Grand Duke; Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy; Credit: MECO

The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg chaired a working visit to Portugal, led by Luxembourg’s Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot.

This visit was mainly focused on the Web Summit, considered the largest conference on digital technologies in Europe, with more than 70,000 participants expected. Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy organised this visit in close collaboration with the Luxembourg embassy in Portugal.

Upon his arrival in Lisbon, Minister Fayot first met with Artur Jordão, Executive Director of the European Startup Nations Alliance (ESNA). A non-profit association founded jointly in 2021 by Portugal, Spain and Austria, ESNA, whose headquarters is in Lisbon, today has fifteen member countries, including Luxembourg since June 2023.

Its given mission is to accelerate the advancement of entrepreneurship in Europe through four key actions: implementing common standards, supporting and promoting national policies related to entrepreneurial ecosystems, identifying and sharing best practices and establishing a unified European digital platform. This interview addressed the various activities of ESNA, along with the association's future projects and main challenges.

In the evening, Franz Fayot attended the gala dinner offered by the Government of Portugal at the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda to officially celebrate the opening of the Web Summit.

The day of Tuesday 14 November began with a visit to the EDP and SolarCleano stand. A startup based in Luxembourg, Solarcleano has a software development unit in the Porto region. It recently signed a three-year service contract as part of a consortium with EDP for the largest floating solar power plant project in Europe, i.e. installed on the water, on the Alqueva Dam. During the visit, SolarCleano demonstrated its photovoltaic panel maintenance robot.

The delegation, composed of Prince Guillaume and the Minister of the Economy, accompanied by Martine Schommer, Ambassador of Luxembourg to Portugal as well as by the Director General of the Chamber of Commerce, Carlo Thelen, and the Director of International Affairs, Cindy Tereba, then visited the Cape Verde Digital stand. Present at the Web Summit with ten startups, Cape Verde aims to position itself as a hub for digital services in West Africa, in particular in order to diversify its economy, and is currently in the midst of a digital transformation. The Cape Verde Digital programme was launched in this context, supported by Luxembourg as part of its backing for the development and digital transition of Cape Verde.

The delegation then went to the Portuguese stand, where it was welcomed by Minister of the Economy and Maritime Affairs, António Costa Silva. On the pavilion, all the stakeholders of the Portuguese startup ecosystem were grouped together, namely Startup Portugal, Startup Lisboa, Unicorn Factory and AICEP (Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal), the Portuguese agency dedicated to investment and foreign trade.

Through the Ministry of the Economy, Luxinnovation and the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg is already collaborating with these different Portuguese entities. At the end of the visit to the stand, the delegation spoke with Filipe Santos Costa, president of AICEP Global Portugal since June 2023, about the future organisation of a forum bringing together Portuguese and Luxembourg companies in Luxembourg in 2024.

In the afternoon, the German ambassador to Portugal, Dr. Julia Monar, received the official delegation at the German pavilion, entitled “German Park – Creating tomorrow today”, where there were more than 60 startups present, as well as representatives of different “digital regional hubs.

Minister Fayot then participated in a panel discussion with the Minister of the Economy of Portugal, António Costa Silva, in relation to the topic “New blueprints for technological growth”. Together, they discussed the challenges linked to the emergence of artificial intelligence, particularly in terms of its impact on the job market and the need to remain innovative, to fully reap the benefits while regulating appropriate ways in which the disruptive elements of artificial intelligence can be limited. They then presented the respective strengths of their startup ecosystems.

During the discussion, Minister Fayot said: “Artificial intelligence is a complementary technology that helps fill talent gaps in certain areas. It will improve the efficiency of people in carrying out their work.

At the same time, Prince Guillaume, the Hereditary Grand Duke, was received by the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, for a courtesy visit. The Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce simultaneously organised a guided tour of the show for which around sixty participants, companies and institutions combined, were registered.

The trip ended with an official reception offered jointly by the Luxembourg Embassy in Portugal and the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, in the presence of the business delegation led by the Chamber of Commerce as well as Portuguese and foreign companies interested in Luxembourg and present at the Web Summit.