L-R: Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation; Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy; Gérard Zoller, Managing Director of Peintures Robin SA; Credit: © SIP / Emmanuel Claude, all rights reserved

At a press conference held earlier today, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, and the CEO of Luxinnovation, Sasha Baillie, launched "Fit 4 Resilience", a new programme to support the post-COVID-19 restart of companies in the Grand Duchy.

This announcement was made in the context of the presentation of Luxinnovation's annual report; the national innovation agency also had to adapt its activities in light of the coronavirus crisis in recent months. 

Fit 4 Resilience

Launched by the Ministry of the Economy and managed by Luxinnovation, Fit 4 Resilience is part of the national economic recovery policy "Neistart Lëtzebuerg". Fit 4 Resilience aims to support companies in analysing how they have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, in order to identify opportunities to reinvent themselves and relaunch their activities in a more resilient way. This could be achieved, for example, by integrating a more digital, circular and regional approach.

At today's press conference, Economy Minister Franz Fayot stated: “The Fit 4 Resilience programme is one more tool to support the way out of the crisis. We are preparing our businesses for the future, building on their resilience and reconciling the environmental and digital challenges that arise”.

The company Peintures Robin SA has already participated in the programme as a pilot project and its managing director, Gérard Zoller, was able to testify to his experience.

With the support of consulting firms specialising in strategy, approved by Luxinnovation, Fit 4 Resilience will help companies prepare a repositioning plan and develop an action plan covering the short and medium-term perspective. Depending on the companies’ size and complexity, the development work may last between 5 and 25 days. The Ministry of the Economy will cover 50% of the consultancy costs for eligible companies

Companies interested in the programme can apply on the www.fit4resilience.lu platform until 31 December 2020. An explanatory sheet on the programme is also available on guichet.lu/fit4-resilience. The programme is implemented with the support of the House of Entrepreneurship of the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Trades, the Federation of Craftsmen and FEDIL.

Luxinnovation's 2019 annual report

The press conference was also an opportunity for Luxinnovation to present its activity report for 2019, a year characterised by an increase in the number of companies supported through various programmes and services. The launch of a Digital Innovation Hub and the reform of Luxembourg Cluster Initiative were other key achievements aimed at further supporting companies’ innovation capacity and competitiveness

A total of 156 companies participated in performance programmes in 2019, including 110 in the “Fit 4 Digital” programme (double the number from last year) and 31 in the “Fit 4 Digital packages” while 135 carried out a “Digital Quick Check”.

In terms of internationalisation, among the 68 foreign companies received in Luxembourg in 2019 and whose activities are part of the country's economic diversification strategy, 19 have decided to set up in Luxembourg with the help of Luxinnovation. 512 entrepreneurs from 61 countries applied for the Fit 4 Start programme and ultimately 30 startups from the ICT, Health Technologies and Space sectors were selected while 75 startups were supported in their creation process.

In terms of support for research and development (R&D) and Innovation in Luxembourg, Luxinnovation also contributed to the development of 145 requests for financial aid which were approved by the Ministry of the Economy (an increase of 30% compared to to 2018) on behalf of 109 companies (including 34 companies and 75 SMEs).

Luxinnovation's response to the COVID-19 crisis

 In addition to the various actions and funding plans put in place by the government to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Luxinnovation, the national innovation agency, has been deploying its resources and skills to meet the needs and expectations of companies affected by the consequences of the crisis.

Already in April, Luxinnovation initiated the creation of the EPI-Covid19.lu platform in order to link the supply of and demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) produced by Luxembourg companies. Created with the support of federations and employers' associations, the site has attracted an average of 700 users per day since its launch. More than 1,500 accounts are active and nearly 200 offers are available online. 

The national innovation agency, together with the Ministry of the Economy, has also had the lead on the implementation of a specific action plan for start-ups. Webinars providing young Luxembourg companies with clear and relevant information on available support instruments were organised. The call for projects “StartupVsCovid19” was also launched, with 15 start-ups (out of more than 300 applicants) selected on 15 May. Selected companies will receive financial support of up to €150,000 from the Ministry of the Economy for the development of innovative technological products and services intended to limit or even overcome the economic, health or societal effects of the coronavirus crisis. 

In addition, in the context of the COVID-19 Task Force set up by the Research Luxembourg initiative, Luxinnovation was entrusted with the management of the working group in charge of interaction with the private section. In this role, the agency identified and invited companies to submit ideas and proposals for relevant and innovative products and services to scientific working groups.