The country of Luxembourg is known for its steel industry, financial services and more recently for its ICT expertise. To further allow the development of these industries among others, the Grand-Duchy has been favoring innovation and entrepreneurship through several initiatives for several years, one of which being the House of Entrepreneurship. Founded in October 2016, the House of Entrepreneurship was launched on the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of the Economy and aims at helping entrepreneurs in their entire journey. We met with its CEO and Director Entrepreneurship of the Chamber of Commerce, Tom Baumert, to discuss some of the main projects led by the House of Entrepreneurship and how it answers to the challenges currently faced by entrepreneurs in Luxembourg, and in the Greater Region.
The House of Entrepreneurship can be labelled as a platform, or « one-stop shop », bringing together all the parties involved in the creation of a new company. « We also benefit from the support of the Ministry of the Economy, and our main mission is to federate the actors and people involved in the process of creating and developing businesses. Back in the days, different entities were located all around the country. Now, the House of Entrepreneurship is a unique point of contact located in the capital of Luxembourg, » highlights Tom Baumert, explaining that all necessary information is now available at the House of Entrepreneurship. He continues: « it brings more coherence and also consistence to entrepreneurs: through our organization, they can also have an easy access to information and can easily figure out who their appropriate contact for specific tasks is ».
Since its creation, the House of Entrepreneurship has been a great success as it has been in contact with more than 80,000 clients, sharing information with them but also promoting Luxembourg as an entrepreneurship hub, with more and more players participating and allowing the enhancement of the program.
« A similar initiative called ‘Espace Entreprise’, existed back in 2015 at the Chamber of Commerce. Since launching in late 2016, we have seen a rise of 281% in the number of clients contacting us, showing how successful the House of Entrepreneurship is. Our goal is also to bring more partners on board, from administrations to private-public partners, etc., » underlines the CEO.
A one-stop shop to allow entrepreneurs to grow and develop
The House of Entrepreneurship first focused on the administrative procedures, which can sometimes be a burden, even if Luxembourg has been smoothing it over the years. As explained by Tom Baumert, « this section of the House of Entrepreneurship is still popular, with many questions being asked to – and answered by – our experts. Yet, our focus grew and we are now also helping companies that are already established on Luxembourgish soil. They often come up with interrogations and our job is to point them in the right direction and tell them which partner(s) will be able to accompany them, depending on the challenge they are facing ».
Moreover, in a context of digital transformation, the Chamber of Commerce and the House of Entrepreneurship have also launched an initiative called « Go Digital », which aims at helping SMEs tackle the current challenges and embrace today’s digital world. However, this is not the only initiative the Chamber of Commerce and the House of Entrepreneurship have launched to support already established entrepreneurs in Luxembourg: « Several other aspects are also being covered by our different initiatives, namely facilitating business transfers/successions, helping entrepreneurs who are facing difficulties, sharing best practices through a mentoring program, … In other words, we are bridging the gap between the different players of the innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem: we are creating synergies, » highlights the CEO.
Through a partnership with nyuko, the people visiting the House of Entrepreneurship can also benefit from additional expertise before creating the company and committing to all the upcoming entrepreneurial responsibilities, focusing on concepts, ideas and business models. « Through all the services that are now available, our main mission remains to facilitate the life of entrepreneurs in their entire journey, » comments Tom Baumert.
Promoting entrepreneurship in the Grand-Duchy
For almost three years, the House of Entrepreneurship and the Chamber of Commerce have also been promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and the creation of companies in high schools but also in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg: «we are seeing the development of multiple initiatives dedicated to students. For instance, we are involved in the ‘Entrepreneurial Schools’ project encouraging initiative and entrepreneurship, unveiling students’ talents and challenging their creativity and originality. As a matter of fact, four high schools have already added an entrepreneurship program in their curriculum. The House of Entrepreneurship also works hand in hand with the JEL, Jonk Entrepeneuren Luxembourg, » adds the CEO of the House of Entrepreneurship. The asbl, which organizes 11 different programs and inspired over 11.000 students in 2018, is Luxembourg’s main independent entrepreneurial education organization and is currently located at the Chamber of Commerce’s House of Entrepreneurship.
Finally, Tom Baumert adds that the House of Entrepreneurship and the Chamber of Commerce support entrepreneurial education itself through an initiative called « Relation Ecole-Entreprise » (school-company relationship) to promote entrepreneurship through different workshops and encourage youngsters from 15 to 19 years to consider the entrepreneurial pathway as an option in their upcoming professional life.
The House of Entrepreneurship is also one of the only players which organizes workshops and company visits for teachers in order to highlight the main economic business sectors in Luxembourg and to encourage students, through their teachers input, to work in these sectors which show great potential for the future sustainable development of the national economy.
« Moreover, I’d like to highlight the fact that the word ‘entrepreneur’, which does not even exist in Luxembourgish, really means ‘creating a company’. In this respect, it is crucial to explain it to the local population and tell them that they can pursue such a career. Promoting entrepreneurship is also one of the key messages we would like to spread! » explains Mr. Baumert.
When it comes to training, several workshops are organized by and in the House of Entrepreneurship, dealing with specific business topics but also with digital and its impact on companies. As explained by the CEO, « through the Go Digital sessions, we are notably explaining to SMEs how to leverage social media to promote their activities with practical cases and concrete examples. In the first 6 months of 2019, we have welcomed more than 2,200 professionals in more than 160 workshops in this program. Moreover, the House of Entrepreneurship organizes the Entrepreneurs’ Days, a series of workshops throughout the year. The spring session of the Entrepreneurs’ Days focusses on the culture of failure – how to deal with it, bounce back and use it to succeed in the future. Therefore, a “Fuckup Night” session has been organized in late May. It spreads the innovative startup mentality ».
According to the CEO of the House of Entrepreneurship, « Luxembourg is also very attractive for foreign companies, especially when the entrepreneurs are located in the Greater Region. They all know the main advantages of the country: a great testbed for the European market, a wealthy population, ease of administrative registration, good infrastructure, a safe political environment, etc. The country has a true great potential for companies, from SMEs to international groups, » explains Tom Baumert. To conclude, he lists the multicultural and multilingual workforce and the fact that entrepreneurs can approach authorities very quickly – from the Chamber of Commerce to the different Ministries – as some of the country’s main advantages when it comes to entrepreneurship.