Amcham: Mr. Testa, please share with our readers the reasons why you decided to establish your business in Luxembourg?
Mr. Testa: In 2012, I was involved in a project to create a new satellite service company with a large satellite operator. We decided to establish the business in Luxembourg because it was seen as a neutral and safe place for the shareholders. After the sale of the company in 2015, I decided to stay in Luxembourg for my business because I fell in love with the country, and I had started to get into the space and entrepreneurial ecosystem of Luxembourg.
In what ways has Luxembourg exceeded your expectations, and in what ways has it come up short?
In Luxembourg, it’s very easy to get in touch with your industry’s key players quickly. The country is very innovative, international, and open-minded. Most of the country’s values fit with my values. I have seen many improvements to help and support entrepreneurs in those last ten years. I think the country is on the right track.
Based on your several years of experience living here now, please describe your experiences and explain the challenges you have faced in Luxembourg?
Luxembourg has offered me several opportunities, and I would probably not be where I’m today if I had been in another country. Yet, finding team members in Luxembourg can be challenging for technical or very specialized functions. Also, the real estate market is very challenging. Many employees must live in France or Belgium because they can’t afford rent in Luxembourg. And of course, for many of them, it’s impossible to buy a property.
What do you and your family most and least like about living and working in Luxembourg?
For several reasons, I’m still living in Belgium. However, I’m regularly in Luxembourg with my family, and we like to attend local events, walk in the numerous green areas, or go shopping in the city. We also appreciate the excellent restaurants in Luxembourg. The country is safe, clean, and very well organized. That’s an excellent place for families.
What have been the biggest challenges you have encountered from your global perspective, and how have you overcome them?
Some years ago, it was very long and tough to incorporate a company in Luxembourg to get the business permit… Now things have improved. Also, major progress has been made to create an attractive ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startups by the implementation of several financing schemes, the creation of incubators and accelerators, cooperation programs with universities or research centers, new education curriculum’s, while Luxembourg is the second-largest fund industry worldwide, there are not enough venture capital available for startups.
Based on your experience, please assess Luxembourg’s attractiveness (plusses and minuses) as an international business location?
Luxembourg is a good launchpad for establishing a European business. It’s a safe and stable country with high living standards. The population welcomes foreigners and speaks mostly English. There are numerous public support schemes and great innovation programs and initiatives.
What changes would you like to see implemented to enhance Luxembourg’s attractiveness as a business location?
There should be more venture capital funding available and a more entrepreneurial mindset within the banking sector, and offering more debt facilities for entrepreneurs.
What do you think of Luxembourg as a Space industry business location?
Luxembourg is a fantastic place for establishing a space business. The Ministry of Economy and the Luxembourg Space Agency are doing a remarkable job of making Luxembourg attractive and putting the country at the forefront of the space industry. In a few years, Luxembourg adopted a law for the utilization of space resources, created a space master, implemented several incubation programs and many financing support schemes, established a research center for space resources… It’s just exceptional for a tiny country like Luxembourg!
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about space activities in Luxembourg, and why?
I’m very optimistic because it’s just the beginning. First, we will see the growth of companies established here a few years ago, like my company Maana Electric. Those companies will hire more people, start commercializing their products and be the new space champions tomorrow. Then, we will see newcomers arriving. I think there is a new generation of space entrepreneurs with what I love to say, “crazy ideas,” and Luxembourg will become more and more one of the places to be for starting and developing a space business.
How would you change the content if you were writing your leadership book now?
I don’t think I would change much. My book tells stories of super-entrepreneurs and super-achievers who want to materialize their wildest dreams and impact the world. For many of them, this leads to creating a breakthrough business that changes our daily lives. We need more this kind of builders and game-changers if we want to shape a better future for our children and grandchildren. And I think that Luxembourg can be a great business place for those super-entrepreneurs!
Please identify the questions we should have asked but neglected to do so.
You could have asked me if I speak Luxembourgish, and unfortunately not. Despite all my goodwill, I have become probably too old to learn a new language!
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future, and why?
I’m an optimistic person. I strongly believe that each of us can achieve our full potential and build the world we love. Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” I encourage everyone to create the future, their future, our future.
Amcham would like to thank Mr Testa for this interview!