What are the main questions and considerations of companies interested in launching business activities in Europe that you encounter?
Tania Berchem: Their main motivation is of course that they want to enlarge their business and find new markets, partners and customers. However, for many Taiwanese companies, Europe seems very far away and much more complex than the US, for example, with different countries, languages and regulations. We regularly participate in events where we can inform the Taiwanese business community about trade and investment opportunities as well as regulations in the EU and start building bridges to Europe in general and Luxembourg in particular.
Companies often ask us about European regulations such as data protection rules, taxes and licences. They also ask about available incentives and about procedures regarding company incorporation, visas and working permits.
Launching business activities in Europe is a big step. How do you advise companies to start?
We always recommend them to start by identifying market opportunities, and then to establish a specific business plan and conduct a feasibility study. A business plan that works perfectly in Asia does not always suit the European market, and some companies underestimate the administrative and regulatory procedures they have to go through. Thorough preparation of the launch phase can avoid many disappointments and setbacks later on.
A business plan that works perfectly in Asia does not always suit the European market.
As a next step, we always highly recommend companies to conduct a study tour to Luxembourg and to participate in fairs, exhibitions and conferences. This gives them the opportunity to collect first-hand information from the market and get a feel for the local business environment. We regularly invite Taiwanese companies to join the ICT Spring fair, for example, and introduce them to key partners such as the Ministry of the Economy, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and Luxinnovation that can provide precious support.
What are the success factors for kicking off business activities in Europe?
Getting quick answers from local authorities is crucial, and the reactivity and responsiveness of the Ministry of the Economy and other key Luxembourg players is invaluable. The support with legal procedures offered by the House of Entrepreneurship and the business development facilitation by Luxinnovation, really ease the way in for many companies.
The reactivity and responsiveness of the Ministry of the Economy and other key Luxembourg players is invaluable.
The Fit 4 Start acceleration programme is also an excellent starting point for start-ups: it gives them an opportunity to pitch their product as a first step into Europe. However, the most important factor for success is the motivation and dynamism of the companies themselves.
What should companies take into account when choosing their specific location in Europe?
First of all, they need to find out whether the location fits their expectations in terms of market and customers and whether their offering provides any real added value in the local ecosystem. Secondly, they should look at things like language, the availability of local support services and the responsiveness and efficiency of public institutions. If they offer products and services that are impacted by EU regulations, I would also advise them to choose a location such as Luxembourg that is strongly oriented towards the European market and where it is easy to obtain all the necessary information.
What made the Taiwanese companies that you have worked with choose Luxembourg?
Connectivity is key: they were attracted by Luxembourg’s top-notch IT infrastructure as well as the country’s central location in business activities in Europe. Another deciding factor was the fact that English is widely spoken in the business community, and that information and various business procedures are available in English. This makes their lives easier.
In the current context, companies want to know that they choose a location where their investments will still be safe in 2-3 years’ time.
Luxembourg’ supportive and collaborative ecosystem, the access to key decision makers and its political and social stability, are also important. In the current context, companies want to know that they choose a location where their investments will still be safe in 2-3 years’ time.
When speaking to your Asian friends and colleagues about Luxembourg, what do they find particularly interesting?
They are truly fascinated by the size of our country – Taiwan is 14 times bigger than Luxembourg – and by our multiculturalism and multilingualism. When I tell them that Luxembourg is home to over 180 nationalities and that we constantly switch from one language to another throughout the day, they are amazed! Young people in particular are also very positively surprised when they hear that public transport in the whole country is free of charge.