Joe Huggard (L) speaking with the then Irish ambassador Diarmuid O’Leary and Irish deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore in 2012
Photo: Luc Deflorenne (archives)
Networking: The chair of the Irish Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce wants to continue innovating as the chamber enters its fourth year in the Grand Duchy.
The ILCC, founded under the auspices of the former Irish ambassador to Luxembourg, Diarmuid O’Leary, turned three in June. “At the time [of its creation], we were a bit sceptical because the Irish business community isn’t huge here in Luxembourg. But as we started talking to people, we realised there were really strong business connections,” Joe Huggard says.
The Irish community has, of course, changed over the years, particularly with the growing connections between the Irish and Luxembourg banking sectors. There have been 20 events run solely by the chamber, although the ILCC coordinates with other chambers on additional events. It also hosts what he calls “unusual, novel events”. For example, during one event the ILCC teamed up with the Red Cross to focus on the business of charity.
Another was the Dragons’ Den innovation event, which “started small but has turned out to be more significant each year. I think the fact that so many have approached us asking to participate is indicative of just how successful it has been.” The ILCC was even singled out by Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, for the initiative, and the next one, planned for October, will likely be even bigger.
Two similar economies
Since its founding, the ILCC has had three clear objectives: to provide networking opportunities; to invite key individuals to provide valuable insights to members, be they from Ireland or the local Irish-Luxembourg community; and to promote a bilateral recognition of similarities between Luxembourg and Ireland--namely the fact that these are two small, open economies.
For a relatively new and small chamber (less than 50 members), the organisation punches well above its weight. Huggard attributes this to several factors. “We try to get the most senior people on our board, and we have many Irish and Luxembourgish members... we have a number of stalwarts who are really supportive.”
So what does the future hold for the ILCC? Huggard says: “We hope to see more membership so we can get new ideas in. [The ILCC] shouldn’t just be a business chamber. We want to continue challenging ourselves to be innovative and creative with our events.”