CYEL: innovation triumphs

CYEL: innovation triumphs


Roger Assaker, the CEO and co-founder of e-Xstream engineering, wins the "Creative Young Entrepreneur Award Luxembourg 2007".

Entrepreneurial skill is a rare gift in our country and needs to be rewarded. This was the idea of the award ceremony that was organised by the Young Economic Chamber of Luxembourg on June 25 at the headquarters of ArcelorMittal. And, according to the jury, Roger Assaker fits the profile.

After a short spell at Goodyear Luxembourg, Dr. Assaker, age 38, co-founded e-Xstream in 2004 with Prof. Issam Doghri from the Université Catholique de Louvain. Based in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) and in Foetz (Luxembourg), the company specialises in the development and marketing of DIGIMAT software for the multi-scale modelling of composite materials and structures, which seems to have hit a market gap in this sector. E-Xstream so far counts twelve employees, but as Dr. Assaker assures, the company will expand further at the beginning of August.

Receiving the winning cheque of 1,500 euros was however not the only motivation for entering the competition, which, after all, fielded a highly competitive cast of 16 participants. "The award pays tribute to the work that we have done so far and will help to increase the visibility of our company", affirms Dr. Assaker.

Deserved to win

According to one member of the jury, Dr. Assaker rightly deserved to win the award, as the scope of his projects and the chances of expanding his company's potential made him stick out of the crowd.

The two other finalists, Yves de Pril, age 39, from Conostix, which specialises in computer security and software, and Pascal Dine, age 35, managing director of CPI, a firm providing services for companies using CNC (computer numeric control) machining in the aeronautics sector, did however not leave empty-handed as both received a cheque of 1,000 euros for sharing the second place.

As the finalists of the competition, Roger Assaker, Yves de Pril, and Pascal Dine were selected by the Young Economic Chamber of Luxembourg to participate at the next Creative Young Entrepreneur Award (CYEA), which is organised by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) in Antalaya (Turkey) in November.

The jury, which worked in partnership with the Young Economic Chamber of Luxembourg, was composed of Yves Kemp (KPMG), Isabelle Schlesser (LuxInnovation), Diego de Biasio (Technoport), Aloyse Schoos (IEE), Sylvie Schmit-Verbrugghen (AmCham & European Relocation Services), and Rachel Gaessler (Chambre de Commerce & 1,2,3 Go).

"A culture of innovation"

But the award ceremony was not only meant to promote rising stars on the Luxembourgish business skyline. Guest speaker Rolf Tarrach, Director of the University of Luxembourg, made it clear that even a rich country like the Grand Duchy needs entrepreneurial skills to keep a competitive edge. "We need a culture of innovation," he argued and cited barriers that entrepreneurs face such as red tape, missing flexibility, and, oddly enough, entrepreneurial "doctorphobia".

Indeed, many employers see a high risk involved when they employ personnel that is often negatively deemed to be overqualified. But, as Pierre Gramegna, Director of the Chamber of Commerce, argued at the ceremony: "Bridges need to be built between science and the economy." Looking at the winning company e-Xstream, which lists a number of Ph.Ds, one can say that Dr. Assaker has moved his business in the right direction.