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                       Speech of

       Mister. François BILTGEN,
   Minister of Labour and Employment,
       Minister of Communication

                 on the occasion of the
       Conference, Exhibition and Brokerage Event


jointly organized by SES GLOBAL and LUXINNOVATION


                      July 3rd, 2002

                          at the

              SES ASTRA Premises, Betzdorf

Dear Mr. KAYSER.


Distinguished Guest Speakers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first hand over the best wishes for success for
this event from my college Henri Grethen, Minister of
the Economy, who excuses himself for not being able
to be with us, as urgent decisions require his
presence today in Parliament.

But as Minister for Communication and the
Information Society, I feel very comfortable today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through the absorption of GE Americom, a former
subsidiary of General Electric Capital, Société
Européenne des Satellites, renamed in SES Global,
became in November 2001 the world leading operator
of satellite communication services.

Since the latest launch of Astra 3A in March 2002, SES
Global maintains the exclusive property of 29
satellites and holds participations in 13
supplementary satellites. According to the magazine
“Via Satellite”, the global player exploits 13% of the
225 commercial geostationary satellites of western
production. And the group has ordered 11 new

Due to this venture and other participations in the
American and Asian-pacific area, some 95% of the
world’s population lives today, directly or indirectly,
within the footprints of the satellites of the SES

For this achievement, Romain BAUSCH, President and
CEO, was awarded the “Satellite Executive of the year
2001”prize by Via Satellite.

But the major market is still Europe, where the
subsidiary SES ASTRA reaches 91 million
households, representing 43 % of the market of TV
equipped households. For direct reception through
parabolic dishes its market share even represents

In April of this year, SES Global announced a further
joint venture with Alcatel Space/Skybridge and Gilat
Satellite Networks, the European subsidiary of an
Israeli company, with the aim to jointly offer
interactive broadband communication services to the
estimated 8.6 million households and SMEs that will
stay in future – according to McKinsey - without any

access to terrestrial broadband infrastructures, such
as cable or DSL.

Another major player in the European audiovisual
sector is also present at this event throughout its
subsidiary Broadcasting Center Europe, I mean the
RTL Group. The Luxembourg based broadcaster is the
European leader with 23 television and 14 radio
stations spread over nine European countries. The
audiovisual products of BCE are delivered to some 30
countries in the world, among which the United States
of America, Australia and South Africa.

By joining their expertise, these two groups of
companies could today or in near future represent
both, a major IT technology cluster and a center of
excellence for the generation, processing, packaging
and broadband diffusion of a major set of one-way
and bi-directional or interactive communication

Both, the IC technologies and the multimedia
applications are part of the fastest growing markets of
the moment.

By building on some of the other typical advantages
of a small scale country, like the multi-lingual working
force, the central and, from a commercial point of
view, “neutral” location with respect to foreign
markets or the easy access to public policy makers
concerned with industry, education, innovation and
research, this cluster of excellence could also

investigate the potential of niche markets like for
example e-learning or tele-medecine and –surgery.

It is the responsibility of corporate executives and
their Boards to decide on the technical feasibility and
the economical viability of such new activities.

But it is the role of the politicians to help to identify
opportunities or good practices, to create an
environment, which is favourable to entrepreneurship,
and, sometimes to develop … visions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There may be no more appropriate place and time to
honour here and now the clear-sightedness of honory
Prime minister and honory Chairman of the Board of
SES, Pierre Werner.

Believing that the small Luxembourg, with nearly no
other asset at the start than the political will to do so,
could in less than a twenty years’ period host the
most prominent satellite communication company,
must have sounded to many observers of that time as
illusionary than believing that in almost the same
timeframe the whole of Europe would have joint a
common monetary order and share the same
currency. In both cases, Pierre Werner was as much
the visionary than one of the decision takers that
contributed decidedly to make it both happen.

In great recognition for his achievements, he will stay
for us all an example to follow.

But even with the best intentions and the greatest
determination, you can’t be that lucky all the time and
in the last twenty years competition between the
countries has grown and, thanks to the European
integration process, competitive advantages between
Member states which are mostly based on sovereign
decisions of their Governments have a general
tendency to disappear.

But in the case of Luxembourg we can at least built on
the growing and diversified competences we achieved
to develop through expert management decisions and
hard work of our labour force, which were flanked by
appropriate investment programmes of the

And there are some speaking examples that, even
within such a small economy and at the same time a
so small number of, at least in appearance, so
different players in terms of products and their
markets, some common interests and complementary
competences could be identified.

In the afternoon session you will be demonstrated
how a small local developer of electronic control and
regulation systems, a mechanical constructor
specialized in trailers and SES joined forces in
developing a mobile monitoring and controlling
station for satellites and 9-meter uplink antennas. In
both projects, SES most responsibly contributed

through an appropriate technology transfer to develop
a new local competence in satellite ground

Based on these positive experiences and similar
examples of good practice from abroad, my colleague
Henri Grethen, Minister of the Economy decided in
November of last year to launch a pilot experience to
stimulate the generation of technology clusters within
private industry.

A technology cluster is a grouping of various sized
companies united by shared, complementary or
interdependent interests, that voluntarily develop
between them a cooperative relationship in one or
several technical domains. Technology clusters
transcend traditional market boundaries since
companies from different market sectors can
contribute to projects in one specific field of interest.

This model of cooperation could be of particular
interest for Luxembourg, since the examples of direct
competition are extremely rare in an economy
producing almost exclusively for the export.

The most significant advantages of such a grouping
could be the following:

   Quick and easy access to shared competencies;
   Rapid diffusion of technological expertise and

   Sharing of the risks associated with the
    development of new products, processes or
    services, through common R&D projects;
   Sharing of the project costs incurred and
    generation of economies of scale;
   Improved access to international markets;
   Negotiation of partnerships, joint ventures,
    commercial or license agreements;
   Benefiting from the improved visibility of the
    whole group of companies, which adhere to the

Luxinnovation, our national agency for innovation and
research has been put in charge of promoting this
pilot initiative, advising interested groupings of
companies, leading the debate among the members
and assuring the follow-up.

Starting already before the official pilot phase, which
should be evaluated in the beginning of the next year,
near to twenty manufacturing companies joined in the
“SUFRMAT technology cluster” centred upon the
exchange of knowledge, the sharing of common
resources and an active joint participation in R&D
relative to surface engineering and the new materials
technology area.

Up to now this exchange of experience has led to one
joint R&D project aiming at the development of a
“Hybrid Insulation Block” for significantly improved
thermal insulation of external walls, whilst maintaining
all mechanical performance requirements when
compared to standard construction materials of the
same thickness.

This project involves Chaux de Contern S.A., a
manufacturer of concrete products for the
construction business, and the DuPont Luxembourg

As this pilot initiative had been launched after intense
consultations with industry and as it benefits from the
explicit support from FEDIL, Minister Grethen expects
one or two more further cooperative R&D projects
from this domain before the end of the exploration
phase of the initiative, in order to agree for it’s
extension over a longer period.

On the occasion of the official launching he also
expressed his wish to see, at least, a second cluster
initiative in the IC sector, which is one of the fastest
growing service sectors in Luxembourg and is word-
wide considered to bear on of the greatest potential
for further development. He therefore recommended
promotion initiatives in this area.

As Minister of Communication I strongly support this

In parallel, SES was looking for partners for the
common exploitation of some intellectual property
rights they maintain in specific broadband
communication systems, infrastructure and strongly
related measurement methods.

Based on this background, SES and Luxinnovation
joined their forces in a synergistic approach to
organize a brokerage event dedicated to bring
together technology requests and offers in the areas
of broadband communication systems, infrastructures
and applications.

In order to generate the critical mass for such an
event and to make profit of their existing networks,
like the joint Innovation Relay Center of Luxembourg-
Trier-Sarrebrücken which is hosted by Luxinnovation,
the organisers decided to go for an interregional

This initiative makes also sense because of the
shared interests in IC technologies in all the
associated regions and the great diversity of expertise
we host together.

It could by the way serve as model for similar
experiences in different areas of technology, such as
new materials or process technologies.

In this context, I would like to remind the audience
that the EUREKA initiative, the coming 6th Framework
Programme of the Commission and ESA are most
appropriate frames for setting up collaborative trans-
national research projects.

Once again, I can only congratulate both parties for
this initiative and I would also like to specifically thank

SES for having agreed to host this event in this
magnificent environment.

Many thanks also to all the exponents and to ESA for
having joint them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Earlier in my intervention I stated that it is up to the
public authorities to create an environment, which is
fruitful to entrepreneurship and the innovation spirit. I
guess that this event is significantly contributing to
this positive environment. It is now up to you to make
the best possible profit out of this opportunity for
generating new business, which will hopefully create
new added value and generate new jobs for the

I thank you all for your attention.


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