Interview with Eric Busch – Head of Sector ICT & Digital Economy Development

Date: 15/12/2016

A serial entrepreneur, Eric Busch created his first enterprise, the web agency NetArchitect, in Sophia-Antipolis, France. Afterwards, he set up and ran several companies active in the IT recruitment, consulting and media sectors before joining Luxinnovation in November 2016.

Newly Head of Sector ICT & Digital Economy Development at Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Research and Innovation, Eric Busch is in charge of the promotion of Luxembourg as a preferred location to host and develop global digital businesses. One month in, we ask Eric about the challenges ahead and the wider future for the digital economy in Luxembourg, especially vis-à-vis disruptive technologies looming on the horizon.

Q – Eric, can you please tell us what made you join Luxinnovation? It’s an interesting choice because your career to date has followed more of an entrepreneurial trajectory.

A – The answer is in the question because Head of Digital Economy Development really is an entrepreneurial role. We are promoting Luxembourg on the global digital economy map with an entrepreneurial approach and developing the digital economy across sectors, especially fintech, biohealth, logistics, automotive, ecotechnologies, materials and production technologies and space as well as in the ICT sector itself.

Q – Is Luxembourg moving into a new phase following the rather extensive national ICT infrastructure construction that has gone on in the recent past?

A – Yes, absolutely. Over the last ten years, both public and private players have invested massively in ICT infrastructure in order to position Luxembourg at the forefront, starting with ultra-high-speed connectivity. The country is now linked to 28 countries by fibre route and is rated one of the 10 countries best prepared for the new digital economy. The second step was building state-of-the-art data centres. Luxembourg currently hosts 40% of all European Tier IV data centres.

So today we have the connectivity and we have the infrastructure.

The next step is building services on top of this foundation. Luxembourg is currently developing a competence centre in cyber security to serve all of the sectors. This will be followed by building sector-specific competence centres in fintech, automotive, cleantech, logistics, biohealth and space. This more sector-specific capacity will in turn allow us to develop into new areas such as Big Data with an HPC (High Performance Computing). It’s really a very ambitious strategy.

Q – What will your first tasks be?

A – The first three months of my job will involve listening to all of the stakeholders and major players. We will discuss the relevant issues together and devise a strategic plan for the digital economy in cooperation with the different ministries.  

Q – Is there one breakout new digital technology or concept that you think is going to have the most profound effect on the way we do things in the future?

A – One thing is certain – there will be disruptive technologies. Blockchain, Data analytics, Artificial intelligence and IOT (Internet of Things) are all disruptive and will have a huge impact on the economy and on how people will trade, exchange, work and communicate. They also have the potential to turn current competitive advantages completely upside down.

What will be very important and underlying all of this is the securing of these technologies. It is here that Luxembourg can really play a major role in becoming a trusted data centre.

On top of this, our government has decided to implement a very innovative plan for a sustainable economy based on Rifkin’s theory where digitalisation, the sharing economy and green energies are the key drivers. This is very forward thinking.

Q – Looking ahead, what do you see as the main challenges?

A – The way and the speed with which technology is changing entire business sectors is without any precedent in human history. Think of it this way: today, you have your office in your pocket. You can have a parcel delivered to your home by a remotely programmed drone. A patient in the US can even be operated on by a doctor in France. And tomorrow?

The biggest challenge in the short term will be bringing all of the players together and getting everyone to work in the same direction. I do believe it is possible, because Luxembourg is a pragmatic country and has a lot of common sense. The distances between decision makers and political drivers are very short; this makes my job much easier. A further point is that both Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (the Minister of the Economy) strongly support the digital economy strategy because they recognise this area as a huge opportunity for Luxembourg.

Working for many years in the private sector, I meet dozens and dozens of entrepreneurs. And when I speak with them, they are all looking for the same thing – a stable, business-friendly and digital focused environment – all of which can be found in Luxembourg.

The government here has created a sound legal framework and is now eager to engage in an ambitious strategic plan to attract corporate investors, existing companies and start-ups and offer all of them an outstanding environment to succeed in the new digital economy. 

All our archives