Philippe Linster (HoST): acceleration and digitisation
CEO Philippe Linster presents the House of Startups, an innovation accelerator within the Luxembourg ecosystem, and the measures put in place to support its partners during the health crisis. Interview.
Could you describe the HoST in brief ?
The House of Startups (HoST) was created in 2018 by the Chamber of Commerce with the aim of becoming a driving force in Luxembourg’s innovation ecosystem, developing and consolidating links between start-ups and established companies. Located in the heart of Luxembourg City, HoST is home to a diverse community of more than 130 start-ups in four innovation clusters, including the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the Luxembourg-City Incubator (LCI), Hub@Luxembourg and the International Climate Finance Accelerator Luxembourg (ICFA Luxembourg). The HoST is a key innovation campus for Luxembourg and neighbouring countries and serves as a national showcase for the start-up ecosystem. Our role is to bring together incubators, start-ups, investors, state agencies and established companies to develop innovative projects. It is in everyone’s interest to engage in dialogue and to position ourselves in different growth areas which can strengthen and enhance the ecosystem.
“This health crisis will be a catalyst for digitisation.”
How is HoST helping its community to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic ?
Before the lockdown came into effect, we implemented new rules inside the building as quickly as possible to limit any possible contagion. Now, everything we do is focused on helping our HoST partners and the entire start-up ecosystem. The survival of start-ups and the future of the ecosystem are at stake; rapid and targeted measures to provide assistance are urgently needed. However, in a situation like this, there is no one-size-fits-all solution because each start-up is at a different stage of development, with different needs in terms of assistance. At the HoST, in April, we have decided to give a 50% rent reduction to the incubators we house and to their start-ups. Secondly, we are in constant communication with incubators and start-ups within Luxembourg’s ecosystem, providing them with information about aid from the government and the Chamber of Commerce. We also support the Chamber of Commerce’s initiatives, including the Mutualité de Cautionnement’s banking guarantee for companies with cash flow problems, the business helpline created by the House of Entrepreneurship and JobSwitch, a platform for connecting unemployed people with companies in need of personnel, launched by the House of Entrepreneurship, the clc, the ADEM and the Ministries for Work and the Economy. In addition, webinars which aim to help start-ups in this period of crisis are also being organised. As a venue which brings players within the start-up ecosystem together, the HoST is committed to supporting the Ministry for the Economy, a key partner, as it announces additional measures to help start-ups and the start-up ecosystem.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in terms of innovation in the next five years ?
I am certain that this crisis will be a catalyst for digitisation: we are already seeing the first signs of changes in consumer and business behaviour. Remote working is being encouraged both by technological and non-technological companies. We can also see changes in the education sector. This pandemic has highlighted the current status of our education system very clearly. Some schools are able to digitally share educational content with their students and are coping well during this difficult period. Others, which were working with blackboard and chalk, are currently experiencing problems, unfortunately. Some of these changes will continue, creating a long-term digital revolution which will shape businesses for decades to come. However, the positive side-effects of this crisis will not compensate for significant human suffering and economic damage. We will stand by start-ups in the post-crisis period, so that they can bounce back as quickly as possible.