In the early 1980s Luxembourg was ahead of the game when it took an educated gamble on the potential for the satellite industry. Now it plays host to SES, the world's leading company in the field.
This success has encouraged the growth of several local businesses working in the aerospace sector and successive governments have sought to boost these efforts over the last decade. Echternach-based firm Euro-Composites shows what is possible. Founded 25 years ago, it now employs nearly 700 people who research, develop and produce innovative materials for the aviation and rail sectors. Along with sites in Germany and the US, the firm has become a world leader in the production of strong but light materials. CTI Systems is another example. Located in Luxembourg for nearly 50 years following initial American investment, it has developed extensive production expertise in custom-designed, computer controlled equipment for industries ranging from aviation to automotives and from floor covering to painting. Products include crane systems, engine test cells, surface treatment and monorail systems.
Cooperation with the European Space Agency has gradually increased, with Luxembourg becoming a full member in 2005, allowing it to be included in the 2009-2013 schedules of transnational research projects. This move has been a central plank of the country's aerospace action plan which focuses on consolidating and increasing available skills, specifically in the areas of media and electronic communication. The LuxLaunch project is at the heart of this as it seeks to support the identification and realisation of innovative ideas. It helps businesses and researchers to understand the markets they are looking to enter and to increase visibility to business and researchers as to the needs of potential clients.