The Space Resources Week 2021, organized in Luxembourg, is a 4-day online conference connecting thought leaders from the terrestrial resources sector, aerospace industry, financial institutions, research institutes and academia.
It aims at understanding the technical and economic challenges facing in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and elaborating recommendations for the future development of this high technology sector.
To facilitate the emergence of projects and support the process of preparing joint projects, a new dedicated digital platformhas been set up. It is being tested with this first pilot joint call in the field of health technologies.
A new dedicated digital platform, www.research-collaboration.lu, has been set up by Luxinnovation, and the three stakeholders have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in order to formalise their collaboration. The objective of the call for projects is to stimulate collaborative R&D projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
This is the first time in Luxembourg that such a joint call for projects is launched within the research, development and innovation ecosystem. Common objectives have been defined by the National Research Fund (FNR) and the Ministry of the Economy to meet the sector’s development needs, while Luxinnovation plays a facilitating role by providing a digital platform to encourage networking.
A coordinated process
The objective is to facilitate the emergence of collaborative research projects aimed at demonstrating the performance and safety of digital health tools. The development of such new products and services for the benefit of patients requires the combined skills of public research, hospitals and companies. Collaborative projects will be evaluated in a coordinated process. Funding decisions will also be taken jointly by the partners.
“The development of digital tools in health technologies is of crucial importance for the Luxembourg economy. It is part of the implementation of our strategy for data-driven innovation that contributes to the evolution of personalised medicine in Luxembourg.
Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy
“We want to bring together public research institutions, companies and health sector actors around research and innovation projects designed to accelerate the digital transformation in the health sector”
Marc Schiltz, Secretary General of the FNR
To facilitate the emergence of projects and support the process of preparing joint projects, Luxinnovation, the national innovation agency, has initiated the setting up of the www.research-collaboration.lu platform. Companies, public research organisations, hospitals and healthcare providers are invited to submit project ideas. Luxinnovation’s role will be to follow up on the ideas, in particular by bringing together public and private partners interested in participating.
The call for projects is planned in two stages, with feedback provided to the consortia at the end of the first stage. Only projects relevant to the objectives of the call will be invited to prepare a full application. Finally, the approved consortia can use the platform for preparing the technical documentation required to submit individual applications to the Ministry of the Economy and the FNR.
“Thanks to this platform, we will help researchers and clinicians gain better knowledge of all the innovations in digital health developed by private companies. It will also provide them with new financial opportunities for getting involved in personalised medicine with a real economic impact for the country.
Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation
The platform is being tested with this first pilot joint call in the field of health technologies. It is already open for the “ideation” stage (the creative process of generating, developing and communicating new ideas). It will then open up for the proposal submission period, which will last from 4 May to 30 June. For projects whose ideation component has been validated by the Ministry of the Economy and the FNR, a more complete proposal must be submitted by 15 October, which will then be examined by a panel of external experts. The results will be communicated in January 2022 and projects can start in February 2022.
A webinar presenting the functionalities of the platform will be organised by Luxinnovation on 4 May.
The INITIATE programme supports the initiation and development of strategic research and innovation project ideas that will help make Luxembourg internationally competitive in priority domains. Five INITIATE projects have been granted so far.
Through INITIATE, the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) wishes to back and guide the early-stage development of high-risk/high-reward strategic project ideas, up to the point where a solid project proposal is formulated that can potentially be submitted to other strategic programmes, a dedicated one-time call, or a bespoke “package” of funding instruments.
Five projects have been granted so far: round-up.
NATIONTWIN (Responsible AI for a NATION-wide and privacy preserving Digital TWIN)
The objective of this proposed project is to investigate the feasibility at the Luxembourg scale of a future strategic programme associated with the research and the implementation of a testbed and a living lab related to a “Nation-wide and privacy preservation digital twin” enabled by “responsible AI”.
Education plays a central role in our lives. It shapes our future and lays the foundations of cultural and technical innovations. Education also makes us resilient to crises and allows us to thrive in an uncertain, rapidly changing world. It is now urgent to update Education for the 21st century, to empower people in lifelong learning and offer equality of educational opportunities in a multilingual and diverse society.
To meet this national research priority, the project will unite specialists from Education, Psychology, Sociology and Computer Science and design an innovative, interdisciplinary research initiative that aims to establish Luxembourg as a frontrunner in 21st Century Educational Research.
Digital technologies and large-scale data hold the potential to dramatically improve Education; but they also comprise serious risks of dehumanization and data privacy breaches. The goal is to develop and scientifically validate human-centric, digitally enhanced learning solutions. Putting people at the centre of the efforts, these solutions will be directly usable by the learners and advance the understanding on how humans of all ages and backgrounds learn best. More specifically, the project will develop four flagship projects that revolve around personalized education: a digital learning assistant, a digital teacher assistant, a lifelong learner pass and a skills market dashboard.
Henriette and André Losch Centre for Childhood Disorders
The aim of the proposed “Henriette and André Losch Centre for Childhood Disorders” (hereinafter “Losch Centre”) is to carry out fundamental, translational and clinical research to understand the underlying mechanisms of childhood diseases and to develop new methods for their prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Losch Centre’s research will focus on rare childhood disorders of the brain, metabolism and the immune system and the interaction thereof.
Automation and personalisation in complex financial systems – a concept for a national Centre of Excellence in Research in Financial Technologies
Investigating the feasibility of creating a national Centre of Excellence in Financial Technologies. Focus, from a business perspective, on automation and personalisation in complex financial systems. Hub of excellence in financial technology research and innovation, education and training, business development and thought leadership, and strengthening of Luxembourg’s position as an international financial centre. The idea of the centre is driven by the government’s objective to establish Luxembourg as the most trusted “data economy” in the European Union by 2023.
Clinnova: Unlocking the potential of data science and artificial intelligence in health care
Health data and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are at the heart of an accelerating digital health revolution. It promises direct benefits for people with or without disease and is expected to become a key driver of the digital economy. Hence, digital health is one of the national priorities of the Luxembourgish government. Clinnova aims at putting Luxembourg into the centre of this emerging arena. To develop integrated, AI-driven healthcare solutions Clinnova will create a data-enabling environment by establishing a data integration centre as well as by developing shared approaches for data integration and data interoperability. Initially, the creation of data-driven health solutions will be supported by three defined medical use cases in chronic inflammatory diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid diseases and multiple sclerosis). Expanding further into additional patient data, the established infrastructure and workflows have the potential to transform the healthcare system towards personalisation, sustainability and prevention and will be an important resource for further public and private partnerships.
Further, Clinnova’s ability to tie in leading clinicians across University hospitals and private clinics in France, Germany and Luxembourg around shared patient stratification approaches is at the core of the effort and will be a blueprint for developing integrated, cross-border digital health solutions.
An agreement aiming to promote research collaboration and exchange of researchers, as well as cooperation in the field of higher education between the institutions of Luxembourg and Quebec.
On Tuesday 30 March 2021, Luxembourg’s Minister of Higher Education and Research, Claude Meisch, and Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration and Minister responsible des Laurentides, Nadine Girault, signed an agreement in the fields of higher education, research and innovation.
With this agreement, the ministers are hoping to promote research collaboration and exchange of researchers, as well as cooperation in the field of higher education between the institutions of Luxembourg and Quebec. Both see investment in research and development as an important engine for increasing collective wealth.
As part of the signed agreement, Luxembourg and Quebec have agreed to prioritise, among others, the following areas: health (including digital and personalised medicine), information technologies, artificial intelligence, economics, law, urban development and mobility, as well as education. The agreement provides for the creation of a joint Luxembourg-Quebec working group responsible for coordinating and monitoring cooperation activities in areas of common interest.
“I am delighted with the signing of this agreement, which makes Quebec one of our privileged partners in the field of higher education and research and constitutes a framework in which collaborations between Luxembourg and Quebec research institutions can continue to develop and intensify”, underlined Minister Meisch.
“Cooperation between Quebec and Luxembourg in the field of higher education and research and innovation has intensified significantly in recent years. I am happy to sign this agreement which will strengthen this movement from which our two countries benefit. I would also like to underline the excellent work of the General Delegation in Brussels, which has greatly contributed to the development of our relations with Luxembourg”, declared Minister Girault.
The signed agreement is aimed at students and professionals as well as university teachers and researchers and research institutions.
By joining the European federated data infrastructure’s project, Luxembourg will facilitate the participation of all relevant players in the country: companies, public sector bodies and research organisations.
If data from multiple sources can be made available and combined in a secure and trusted environment, companies, research organisations and public bodies can gain new knowledge, create innovative and sustainable products and offer better services to citizens. The objective of GAIA-X is to develop the foundations of a European federated, open data infrastructure based on European values by gathering the requirements from business, research and the public sector.
GAIA-X aims at connecting centralised and decentralised infrastructures in order to turn them into a homogeneous, user-friendly system where data can be accessed and shared securely and confidently. Regional hubs in participating countries will coordinate the initiative on the national level and facilitate the participation of local players that want to be part of formulating the requirements for making data accessible and interoperable. Luxinnovation will act as coordinator of the Luxembourg GAIA-X Regional Hub.
“Our objective is to include all relevant players in the Luxembourg GAIA-X hub: businesses, ministries and research organisations,” states Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot.
GAIA-X comprises two main layers: connecting and harmonising necessary infrastructure – cloud systems, connectivity, computing power and so on – and setting up thematic data spaces where use cases in areas such as energy, mobility, finance, health, etc. can be explored taking into account the user and demand perspective.
A European secure and federated data infrastructure
“Joining GAIA-X offers Luxembourg’s cloud services providers, network providers and data infrastructure entities the opportunity to provide input to defining data infrastructure requirements,” explains Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation.
“It is a way to ensure that their services and infrastructures will be interconnected and interoperable within a future European secure and federated data infrastructure. Participating in the data domain working groups is relevant to any company, research organisation or public sector body that sees the opportunities and benefits that secure access to, as well as sharing and combining of, data across many sectors can offer. They will be able to identify and prioritise use cases, align on common data standards required, possibly build consortia to benefit from future opportunities as well as leverage national and European funding.”
A special advisor for digitalisation and data economy at Luxinnovation, Peter Sodermans, has been entrusted with the coordination of the Luxembourg GAIA-X regional hub. He will act as a central contact point for all partners involved and any interested parties.
Paul Wurth S.A., a company of SMS group, and the University of Luxembourg have entered into an agreement to create and finance the Paul Wurth Chair in Energy Process Engineering. The partnership supports Luxembourg’s ambition to develop a centre of excellence in fields surrounding the emerging hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen: A key to future energy systems
The Paul Wurth headquarters in Luxembourg is home to SMS group’s global hydrogen competence centre. Hydrogen is considered a crucial factor in future energy systems and energy transformation and in the transition to greener energy sources. One game-changing solution lies in Power-to-Liquid applications for the production of synthetic fuels and downstream products. Hydrogen also promises to become an alternative to coal – both as a reducing agent in steelmaking and as a driver of the large-scale transformation of the steel industry, which today is a large emitter of CO2.
“We are working on the decarbonisation solutions of tomorrow, with the clear goal of enabling CO2-free steel production.”
Professor Hans Ferkel, CTO of SMS group
he agreement between Paul Wurth and the University of Luxembourg to create and finance the Paul Wurth Chair in Energy Process Engineering ties in closely with this ambition. This cooperation will be instrumental for Paul Wurth to become a global innovation centre for metallurgy and hydrogen within the SMS group and to continue the technology-driven initiatives already started by dedicated taskforces. For the university, the initiative is part of its strategy to develop research and an educational offer with a focus on sustainability.
“We look forward to working closely with the University of Luxembourg and are committed to staying in the lead in the global challenge of making green steel,” comments Professor Ferkel.
The chair will be hosted at the university’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine (FSTM) in the Department of Engineering. It aims to conduct cutting-edge research in the field of hydrogen processing and related aspects of carbon-neutral industrial processes. The team attached to the chair will also engage in teaching at Bachelor, Master and doctoral level. In addition, the chair will participate in outreach activities to stimulate interest in key challenges in the field of engineering.
“The creation of the new chair is well aligned with the university’s research strategy and will contribute to the development of the university’s Department of Engineering, in particular in the area of process engineering and hydrogen processing,” says Professor Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg. “It will enhance our international visibility, contribute to academic excellence and make a lasting impact on the academic and industrial landscape of Luxembourg,”
“The new chair builds on an existing long-term cooperation between Paul Wurth and the University, in particular in Bachelor and Master teaching as well as the Hydrogen Think-tank initiated within the Department of Engineering. It will be a catalyst for new research activities related to the future hydrogen economy which is important to industry and to the economy in Luxembourg and beyond,” states Professor Jean-Marc Schlenker, Dean of the FSTM.
About Paul Wurth: With more than 1 700 employees and entities in around 20 countries, Paul Wurth is a leading market player for the design and construction of complete blast furnace and coke oven plants. Developing and implementing environmental technologies is a priority for the company.
Starting September 2021, the University of Luxembourg will offer a new Master of Data Science. Based on a multidisciplinary approach, the Master’s programme will train students in data analysis, modelling and management, and prepare them to work in areas as artificial intelligence (A.I), cloud computing, machine and statistical learning or big data.
Innovative and interdisciplinary programme
The Master of Data Science, which will be hosted at the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine (FSTM), will train carefully selected students in a multidisciplinary approach. The Master’s programme will build on existing synergies between the University’s disciplines and two of its research centres, the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine and the Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust. Teaching and research activities will be led by renowned academics and researchers from Luxembourg and abroad, who will guide students through the many techniques of data science. In parallel, invited industry experts will help students solve industry-related problems.
“The Master’s programme covers many aspects of data science, including data mining, data processing, data visualisation, statistical modelling and database management. Particular emphasis is placed on machine learning and deep learning techniques and their applications to life sciences, medicine and physics. The pedagogical approaches are varied and based on the practice of data science in each of these disciplines”, explains Prof. Yannick Baraud, course director of the Master.
Data scientist, a unique profile
Data scientists are trained as both mathematicians and computer scientists. This profile makes them the preferred choice for facing the new challenges of the digital transformation.
Data scientists support decision-making, business modelling and innovation, but are also instrumental to provide legally responsible data management, since improperly managed data can easily become a great liability.
“This new programme is an exciting development. It builds on the recent recruitment of excellent researchers in data science, including statistics and machine learning, and will allow the Faculty to better support the Luxembourg economy by attracting and training talented students in this dynamic field”, adds Prof. Jean-Marc Schlenker, dean of the FSTM.
Industrial and commercial data, key economic drivers
As the fourth industrial revolution unfolds, the global economy and the job market are undergoing fundamental changes. As companies embrace digital transformation, as data sets grow in size and complexity and the opportunities linked to smart connected objects evolve, economic players require skilled data scientists. For sectors such as telecommunications, finance, retail or marketing, data experts are a necessity while sectors as agronomy and transport increasingly seek skilled data experts.
The European Data Strategy predicts that in the next four years the European data economy will account for 6% of the EU’s GDP (830 million euros) and that the number of data professionals on its labour market will have risen from 6 million to 11 million.
On the national level, Luxembourg embraces the process of digital transformation, and the Master of Data Science aligns with the country’s strategy and ambition of a digital nation. “Helping to drive digital innovation and development is one of the strategic priorities of the University, both in its research and its teaching activities, states Prof. Stéphane Pallage, rector of the University. “This is in line with our willingness to explore and address the opportunities and challenges created by the digital revolution. The new Master’s programme is an important element in the implementation of our strategy to grow the pool of promising students and highly skilled researchers at the University and in the region.”
Data science is also one of intensive research. Graduates of the Master will be trained to go beyond the standard data analyses and model programming, to innovate and improve. For graduates entering the job market, the Master will provide a ticket to choose their future career path. For students wishing to continue an academic career, the Master’s training will prepare them to pursue a PhD in mathematics, computer science or computational sciences.
Six new interdisciplinary research projects have received multi-year funding in the context of the Audacity funding instrument of the University of Luxembourg’s Institute for Advanced Studies.
In addition to its disciplinary excellence, the University has the ambition to strengthen its interdisciplinary approach, which is instrumental to approach both important scientific questions and large societal challenges. The University’s Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) is a concrete instrument to support this ambition.
The six newly selected projects focus on forensic genomics, the microbiome of cancerous patients, the workplace paradigm under COVID-19, the EU monetary policy, robotics and automation, and mechanistic data integration for epilepsy treatment.
The common characteristic of the selected projects is their bold approach to solve complex challenges by taking full advantage of interdisciplinary approaches. Audacity aims at overcoming the barriers between scientific disciplines and sectors, and fostering increased collaboration at the forefront of science at the University of Luxembourg.
The following projects were retained in the 2020 funding round and will start throughout 2021.
CRIMTYP: Meet the Unknown – The future of criminal forensic genomics phenotyping
CAMEOS: Cancer Microbiome – Emergent Organisation and Stability across scales
W@W: Wellbeing @ Work
EMULEG: The Governance of Monetary Policy: The EMU’s Legitimacy Conundrum
TRANSCEND: Transforming autonomous navigation, swarm robotics and construction by encoding data into surfaces
The IAS was launched in 2020 with the aim to strengthen the University’s interdisciplinary research and further reinforces its international profile as an excellent research university. Currently, University researchers work on 10 Audacity projects spanning the fields of artificial intelligence, data science, material physics, robotics, law, finance, economics, medicine, microbiology, psychology, politics and history. The next call for Audacity projects will be announced in June 2021.
Building on its strong disciplinary roots, the University uses interdisciplinary research as a catalyst to generate new understanding and innovations to improve the quality of life and society of tomorrow. The Institute is inspired by existing university-based Institutes for Advanced Studies on the international scenery, which are recognised for combining scientific excellence, interdisciplinarity and internationality, and for sharing knowledge and experience with society. As the only IAS in a perimeter of 1000km, the IAS will act as a beacon for research in Luxembourg and the Greater Region.
11 February marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. How does public research in Luxembourg measure up in terms of gender balance? What is being done to support and inspire a new generation of women in science?
It is hard to get around the word ‘inequality’ when speaking about women in science. In Luxembourg, a general trend in academia is reflected: the gender balance is nearly there in the beginning of the career, then the scales shift dramatically, and the proportion of women decreases on each career level.
According to the latest SHE figures, [2018, published by European Commission], Luxembourg ranks below EU average in the number of female PhD graduates at 40.2% (EU average: 47.9%). As we move up the ranks, the female representation dwindles further: women make up just over 34% of Associate Professor-level academic staff. Cut this number in half to 17.7% and we have the proportion of women at Full Professor level (EU average: 23.7%). The SHE figures report highlights that it is more difficult for women in most countries to climb the academic ranks, and that significantly fewer women achieve Full Professor status during their career than their male peers. The reasons are manifold, and it is undeniable that many things need to change to even out these numbers.
In addition to being underrepresented in numbers – or because of this – it is common for female scientists to experience bias in their career: having to prove themselves more and to work harder to secure the same opportunities as their male peers, being disproportionately assigned teaching, feeling “left out” after becoming a parent. In fields where women are the clear minority – such as engineering, maths, ICT and material sciences, this tends to ring particularly true. On this topic, discover the FNR series “Science has no gender“.
What is being done: time to force a change
To tackle the inequality on a large level, the EU Commission has announced an equality plan for the Horizon Europe programme (successor to Horizon 2020): every public body, research center or higher education institution must have an equality plan in place to access the Framework Programme: no plan, no funding.
The European Research Council (ERC) has had a Gender Equality Plan in place since 2013, and Science Europe has a practical guide for its member organisations in addressing gender inequality.
Eye on Luxembourg: progress is coming
Luxembourg also wants to address gender inequality in research: fostering gender balance, diversity and inclusion is a long, multi-faceted process, but it has begun:
The National Gender Working Group (WG) in Public Research brings together representatives from all four Luxembourg public research institutions as well as the FNR. The four areas of focus: “Gender data monitoring”, “Gender diversity survey”, as well as “Best practices for the recruitment processes”, and “Best practices for internal promotion processes”.
The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) has launched an initiative focussing on diversity and inclusion. Sabina Quijano from LIST and member of the WG works on the project and explains the tasks ahead include the creation of a D&I roadmap, the development and implementation of a gender equality plan, the development of measures to be able to offer more inclusive jobs, and sensitisation and training of employees on special topics, such as unconscious bias, or intercultural communication.
The FNR has gender balance requirements in place for its funding programmes RESCOM (speaker balance) and ATTRACT (gender parity in the applications submitted per institution).
Luxembourg’s Ministry for Equality runs the “Actions Positives” programme, which together with employers and employees supports an inclusive economy and an equal society. The voluntary programme supports companies in having their good practices in the workplace certified.
Supporting girls in[to] science
The trend of female under-representation, especially in STEM subjects, starts many years before, in school. Luxembourg boasts a wide range of initiatives and outreach activities to make it possible for young people to follow their passion for science, as well as initiatives specifically encouraging girls to get into the traditionally male dominated subjects, such as ICT.
The Fondation Jeunes Scientifiques Luxembourg (FJSL) promotes natural and social sciences among young people in Luxembourg and provides a platform where they can exhibit their own scientific projects, participate in cultural exchanges and win prestigious awards.
Marking the 50th edition in 2021, the FJSL for example since 1971 (!) organises the annual “Jonk Fuerscher”, a competition for young scientists in Luxembourg.
Winners can subsequently take part in international competitions, such as the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS). Participants from Luxembourg have already won ten prizes at the EUCYS for the Grand Duchy.
Student Camilla Hurst, for example, submitted a project in 2017 on the role of surface materials in the transmission of germs in schools. In a project with LIST, she was able to show in her analyses that door handles are transmission sites for potentially dangerous germs and that raw pine wood has an antibacterial effect. After winning in Luxembourg – which Camilla Hurst has done no less than three times since 2015 – she presented her findings at the International Science and Engineering Fair 2017 in Los Angeles. She came fourth at this largest pre-university research competition in the world. Camilla has now graduated high school in Luxembourg and studies at the University of Oxford.
The Scienteens Lab – De Labo fir Jonker – is the first research lab for high-school students in Luxembourg. It is an extracurricular learning centre of the University of Luxembourg that offers workshops designed to spark their interest in science, show them the latest trends and technologies in research and supports them in their career choice.
Hands-on experiments, supervised by experienced scientists and teachers from various disciplines, provide the students an insight into scientific research and the day-to-day work in the lab. The workshops address relevant topics in biology, mathematics and physics. Find out more in our video from when Elisabeth John won an FNR Award for the Scienteens Lab in 2015.
The organisation Women in Digital Empowerment (WIDE) has received FNR support for initiatives such as Girls in ICT, which aims to empower and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs, ultimately enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector.
The FNR’s Chercheurs à l’école sees researchers visit high schools to talk about their research and life as a scientist. Going for around a decade, this activity gives female scientists the chance to interact directly with girls and normalises the concept of a female scientist – though fewer now than before, many kids still associate men more than women with the word ‘scientist’.
The events Science Festival and Researchers’ Days mainly serve to let children and teenagers experience science hands-on, instilling a sense of curiosity, a must for any scientist to be.
Celebrating women and girls in science
Despite the under-representation, there are women in all areas of research in Luxembourg whose contributions to science and whose efforts to push the boundaries of knowledge in their field have played a vital role in the significant development of research in Luxembourg. Discover some of these contributions and efforts in our video.
For several years, Luxembourg has made Materials Science a sector of excellence and is now internationally recognised for its expertise in this field. The University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) have decided to join forces to take full advantage of their complementary expertise by creating Luxembourg’s first interinstitutional research group (IRG): Multifunctional Ferroic Materials.
Advanced Materials are among the important Key Enabling Technologies (KET), which are critical drivers and accelerators to allow European industries to retain competitiveness. With fascinating chemical and physical properties, new advanced materials have the potential to introduce new functionalities and improved properties to new products. As an example, advanced materials are the basis of sensors, which are ubiquitous in our modern society, more broadly speaking, of the Internet of Things.
Both, the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), have an internationally recognised expertise in Materials Science, which is today one of the fields of excellence of Luxembourg’s research and technology. Based on this, these two main actors of public Research in Luxembourg have decided to join forces to take full advantage of their complementary expertise by creating Luxembourg’s first interinstitutional research group (IRG): Multifunctional Ferroic Materials. The IRG is one of the instruments of the recently signed bilateral agreement between the University and LIST to foster synergistic collaborations in research and education, namely doctoral education.
The mission of this IRG is to conduct cutting-edge research on multifunctional ferroic materials, which present multiple physical properties such as magnetism, ferroelectricity or ferroelasticity. Because of their many interesting properties, multifunctional ferroic materials are considered to be ‘smart’ materials. The IRG has a particular interest in understanding the interplay of such different physical properties in smart materials. As a matter of fact, the interactions – called coupling – between multiple properties are the very basis of modern transducers, devices that convert energy from one form into another.
The University of Luxembourg and the LIST share a common history and scientific interest in research on functionality of materials. The cornerstones were laid in the collaboration and joint project within the FNR PEARL project “Coupling in Multifunctional Ferroic Materials”. The IRG is based on a research program of common interests that focuses on lead-free ferroic materials, which are more environmental-friendly than the current industrial lead-based materials, and on the effect of light on such multifunctional materials.
“Our institutions have a common ambition in Materials Science: further developing Luxembourg into an internationally renowned centre of excellence in research and innovation, with benefit for the country. An interinstitutional research group is the ideal instrument to take full advantage of our synergies to make this ambition a reality. The future co-location of the group in a new building in Belval will provide further leverage.” says Prof. Jens Kreisel, Vice-Rector for Research of the University, himself a Materials Physicist.
“This bilateral agreement is a new element which will accelerate the speed and agility of Luxembourg’s innovation eco-system,” states Dr. Thomas Kallstenius, CEO of LIST. “Teaming the complementarity of the roles with the partnership models of the University and our research organisation, is without any doubt a major asset to serve our partners and the society in the best possible way.”