Leaders need to answer a simple question: What do I stand for?

On June 30th and July 1st, at LuxExpo, a new edition of the global tech conference ICT Spring Europe was held. The second afternoon inside the Main Stage was about impact investing, leadership, entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem. This article gives the best insights on this excellent afternoon, where Amrita Singh, Senior International Affairs Advisor, EU Services & Cooperations at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Invest with impact
After lunch, this second afternoon hit the ground running with Catherine Barba, a well-known Tech entrepreneur, Digital pioneer and retail and e-commerce industry futurist. She shared her experience of how to support entrepreneurs in building tech companies that rethink the way we live and work. For her, “shifting to a more responsible, impact-driven investing is no longer an option. It’s mandatory”. Her conclusion was the perfect link to the following round table dedicated to “What strategies have developed and what are VCs looking for?” with Lily Wang, Principal at Expon Capital; Max Mersch, Partner at Fabric Ventures; Pierre Festal, Partner at Promus Ventures; Joy Sioufi, Partner at GP Bullhound with the moderation of Victoria Döringer, Senior Communications & Brand Manager, Finologee. VCs are looking for what Lily Wang called “missionary founders”, i.e. founders who are passionate about what they do and understand their industry. In Luxembourg, the market is relatively small, but the financial sector has all the potential to be visionary, as explained by Max and Pierre. Luxembourg’s critical challenge is finding the right talents and matching them with the right investors, and that is why the community and the ecosystem are so important.


Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy
After this inspiring roundtable, ICT Spring welcomed another distinguished guest: Sophie Lacoste, President of Porosus Endowment Fund and Fusalp Co-Chairman. Through her experience and her work at Fusalp, Sophie Lacoste explained how entrepreneurship and philanthropy are linked: “As a leader of a company, you need to ask yourself “For what do I stand for”. That is why she has created “Fusalp s’engage” where she is creating impactful building projects aiming at fighting poverty, protecting the planet and supporting people with disabilities.”


Innovation and Talent
The second roundtable of the afternoon was moderated by a startup pioneer in Luxembourg, Diego De Biasio, CEO of Technoport & board member and vice-president at the European Business and Innovation Centers Network. He gathered around him Cesar Pascual García, Lead Research Associate at Luxembourg Insitute of Science and Technology; Matheus Guimaraes, Senior Developer Advocate, UK/IR, Amazon Web Services (AWS); Menachem Tabanpour, Managing Director at gener8tor Luxembourg, discussing how to use innovation at its best to address global challenges. It did not take long to link the fact you may have the best technology; to make it effective, you need the right people. Cesar stated, “technology is just an enabler; you need first people with the right ideas”. After the break, Esther Gons, Co-author of The Corporate Startup, winner of the 2019 Golden Axiom Business Book Award, answered quite a tricky question: “How to measure innovation?”. The world is changing rapidly, and companies need to innovate, or they will die. Innovation is not so much about magic but methodology. Esther presented some of the frameworks and tools she developed to help companies create new products for new markets while managing their businesses simultaneously. Directly linked to this topic, Dr Kim J. Zietlow, Director Trend & Innovation Scouting at Germany Trade and Invest and Cindy Tereba

Director International Affairs at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce moved to the final topic of the day, “How to export a business?” sharing their experiences and some practical tools.


Kickstarting Luxembourg

After a very intense day, the main stage of the ICT Spring welcomed the final pitch session of Catapult: Kickstarter, the Fintech acceleration programme for early-stage Fintechs designed by the LHoFT. This programme is aimed at helping early-stage, innovative, Fintech entrepreneurs develop their business models. After two intense weeks, the ten Fintechs pitched their projects to an elite group of judges. Five of them have been awarded €50.000 in subsidies. All the details are on the dedicated website: https://lhoft.com/en/catapult/kickstarter/