Spatial inequality is defined as inequality in economic and social indicators of wellbeing across geographical units within a country.
How do spatial inequalities persist through time? How does history reproduce divisions in space in Europe?
Natalia Zdanowska is a Research Associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research. She focuses on cities, system of cities, economic and social geography. Her current research interest is on spatial inequalities in the city of Luxembourg.
Tapping into both geography and economics to understand spatial inequalities
As both a geographer and an economist, Natalia Zdanowska focuses on interactions between and within cities in a multi-scalar approach. The researcher is looking at spatial inequalities at different scales of a city – that is, between cities within a country, within cities themselves, as a result of firm economic activity and its direct impact on society, such as the rise of populism. Natalia also draws attention to how these inequalities persist over time and how history reproduces spatial divisions in Europe.
Currently, she is working on spatial inequalities in the city of Luxembourg. The project is commissioned by the city of Luxembourg and gives Natalia the opportunity to regularly meet with public policy makers to discuss her findings.
“My current project has a strong impact on society as social inequalities in terms of the topics we are addressing, e.g. demography, economy, housing, were very rarely analysed and mapped in Luxembourg city at a very granular level as districts or build-up areas.”
Research, no matter what
Following a master’s degree in economics, she took an additional master’s degree and then a PhD in geography at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She completed her thesis at the Unité Mixte de Recherche Géographie-cités in 2018. Before joining the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, Natalia was a research associate at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London between 2018 and 2021.
More than a quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the radical nature of the political and economic changes, characterised by integration into the world economy and the European Union, as well as by the recent rise of nationalism, continues to raise questions about the future of the Central and Eastern European space. Her thesis contributed to show that integration into the world-economy has been accompanied by a strengthening of polarisation logics, dividing the European centre-east space between the North-West and the South-East.
Why Luxembourg as a research destination?
Natalia Zdanowska chose Luxembourg because of the institute she is working in. “I knew about LISER since my MSc and I was aware about the research conducted by several experts in the fields of geography, whom I have the chance to collaborate with now.”
“Luxembourg brings very comfortable conditions for developing a research career especially for young researchers. Offering 3 year post-doc schemes is a very rare opportunity in Europe.”
Luxembourg attracts people from all around the world
To Natalia, everything is very easy and reachable in Luxembourg. “Belval campus is 30 minutes away from the city centre and the public transport is free of charge. Paris is 2 hours by train. Luxembourg has very good flight connections as well and the airport is so close from the city centre.”
“I love the fact that more than a half of the residents are foreigners and that everybody speaks perfect French and English and many other languages. This place attracts people from all around the world because it offers great opportunities for working and living. It’s not uncommon to meet people with multiple nationalities. That’s is an environment where I feel the most at ease being myself a multi-national person. “
Priority areas for research digital technology and personalised medicine, financial technologies of the future, education and training, as well as climate and energy challenges.
Luxembourg is increasing research funding by nearly 300 million euros to a total of 1.7 billion euros for the 2022 – 2025 period, up 17.6% on the previous years.
The state allocates its funds to higher education and research on the basis of four-year contracts with the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).
Allocation in m euros
University of Luxembourg
Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology
Luxembourg Institute of Health
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research
Luxembourg National Research Fund
The bonus will be distributed among institutions based on performance in the context of the EU Research and Development Framework Programme.
Digitalisation and data
The University of Luxembourg will develop
a centre for the ethics of digitalisation that will address and anticipate the ethical, social, governmental and legal challenges of digitalisation;
new and strengthened activities in the field of high-performance computing, data science and quantum computing, as well as digital teaching and learning, in particular through digital education, the strengthening of its media centre and a new Master in Media Studies and Digital Culture.
The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) will
turn its data analysis platform into a platform for artificial intelligence, data analysis and IT visualisation by integrating developments in new technologies;
integrate digital twin in its digitalisation strategy;
develop an innovation platform for quantum computing and quantum computing technologies.
The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) will place the patient at the centre of its activities. The research institute will be fully in line with the current paradigm shift in biomedical research, driven by the widespread adoption of disruptive technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. and machine learning.
In partnership with the Luxembourg Institute of Health, the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and representatives of public authorities and civil society, the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) will develop a project around the concept of “One Health” applied in Luxembourg.
Sustainable development and energy
The University of Luxembourg will develop its activities on social, societal, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development. The creation of a new interdisciplinary centre focusing on environmental systems will be a major initiative in the next four years.
The field of environmental and bioresourced technologies will be one of the cornerstones of the activities of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology over the next four years. The research institute plans to develop an innovation centre around hydrogen. In the new strategy, the objective “sustainable by design” is included for the first time.
The Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) will continue to develop research to identify effective policies to reduce exposures to air pollution, to stimulate sustainable and smart mobility, to develop strategies for households to produce renewable energy, to reduce energy consumption in housing, to reduce the risks of energy poverty and mobility, to produce new jobs in the circular economy and to stimulate green finance.
Medicine and health
The University of Luxembourg will continue to develop its medical education provision, launch academic nursing programmes and pursue its commitment to excellence in biomedical and translational research, including psychosocial research.
Future research at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) will focus specifically on the areas of cancer immunology and the tumour microenvironment, immunity and the exposome, which will provide an understanding of how exposures from personal and external sources interact with unique human characteristics and affect human health.
Setting out four shared priorities
The agreements signed between Luxembourg and the University of Luxembourg, and the three public research institutes include a common chapter, setting four priorities shared by the entities: digitalisation and personalised medicine, fintech, education and training for the 21st century, and climate and energy challenges.
These four missions will be co-financed by instruments of the Luxembourg National Research Fund.
“These missions are above all a collective commitment by public research to fuel and strengthen the country’s economic and social development. The concept of the missions is based on the triple helix model, i.e. strengthened collaboration between public research, higher education and the economic world as well as society at large.”
Claude Meisch, Minister for Higher Education and Research
In addition to the missions, the University and the public research institutes have identified the following topics for enhanced cooperation:
The National Research and Innovation Strategy aims to encourage companies to undertake research, development and innovation activities. In order to make research a driver for economic diversification and for innovation in industry, the government encourages the development of public-private partnership programmes. Recently, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre…
A multi-disciplinary team of over 30 scientists from all across Europe, including Research Luxembourg spokesman Paul Wilmes, have joined forces to issue a statement to address the wave of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The statement was published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ) on January 11, 2022. In their call to coordinated action,…
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Collaboration with industry is central to Research Luxembourg to articulate its vision. Through strong partnerships, research players seek to support existing and future industries.
The National Research and Innovation Strategy aims to encourage companies to undertake research, development and innovation activities. In order to make research a driver for economic diversification and for innovation in industry, the government encourages the development of public-private partnership programmes.
Recently, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) developed collaborations with industrial partners.
LIST and No-Nail Boxes launch an in-situ training solution
LIST in partnership with No-Nail Boxes, a manufacturer of plywood folding boxes, have launched an in-situ training solution aimed at supporting and developing user skills of computer numerical control machines known as CNC. The result will be an Industry 4.0 challenger with an in-situ learning assistant for CNC machines.
We develop an assistant on a software which provides tasks you must complete on the CNC machine. You finish these tasks, and the software provides feedback on whether they have been done correctly or not and guide you to using correct materials and procedures, so that you learn in-situ.
Marie Gallais, head of the project at LIST
The main advantages of this are that users gain confidence directly on the job and mistakes and hazards can be avoided thanks to the system’s feedback. The assistant could also prove useful for small CNC Machines such as 3D Printing machines used for example in schools.
LIST and No-Nail Boxes signed an experimental agreement in 2020.
The research institute was searching for real world conditions to develop a demonstrator. With their CNC wood milling machines, No-Nail Boxes was the ideal candidate.
SnT and Spacety partner to tackle space debris pollution
The University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) has partnered with Spacety Luxembourg S.A., a global new space company specialised in small satellites and satellite-based services to study small satellite solutions for space debris removal.
The aim of the partnership between SnT and Spacety will be to investigate the research and development of novel space debris removal concepts.
We are excited to be working with Spacety on this area of research, as it has a global significance to our future in space. Collaborating with Spacety will enable us access to real satellites, so that we may eventually be able to test our algorithms and mechatronics concepts designs in space
Split into three phases, the first phase of the project is set to focus on reviewing what current technologies exist for removing space trash. The phase will also involve assessing the feasibility and assessment of small satellite solutions for space debris removal.
The second phase will consist of developing concepts and simulations, which will be demonstrated in a simulator and in the Zero-G facility of SnT during phase three.
SnT has entered into a partnership with Spacety Luxembourg S.A.
The project will involve a collaboration between researchers in SnT’s Space Robotics (SpaceR) research group and Spacety.
Did the traditional division of roles within households just carry over through the pandemic? Or, did it make it worse for women? Did the COVID-19 crisis help break those codes? In a new paper, researchers of the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) examined the gender dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, they focused…
How should Europe act, what strategies should it adopt, and what specific risks should it consider moving forward? Prof. Rudi Balling, director of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), and Assistant Prof. Enrico Glab, head of the Biomedical Data Science group at the LCSB contributed to a detailed situation analysis for the coming months…
The first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in strict pandemic control measures in Luxembourg and other countries. While these measures expectedly had an impact on the mental health of Luxembourg residents, little data is available on the longitudinal evolution of population mental health measures during lockdown and during the gradual relaxation of the lockdown…
The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in Europe, even in countries with high levels of vaccination, including those that have moved quickly with booster vaccinations. European countries must act together quickly to confront it, state scientists from all over Europe
A multi-disciplinary team of over 30 scientists from all across Europe, including Research Luxembourg spokesman Paul Wilmes, have joined forces to issue a statement to address the wave of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The statement was published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ) on January 11, 2022.
In their call to coordinated action, they warn that Omicron remains concerning even when headlines are suggesting that Omicron causes a milder form of COVID-19. Hence the experts call for immediate action, namely taking measures to reduce the number of infections, while protecting children and proceeding the vaccination efforts.
There is no excuse for delay or inaction
The need for urgent action stems from knowledge gained from laboratory and epidemiological studies that antibodies resulting from vaccination or prior infection with earlier variants have reduced ability to neutralise omicron, leading to frequent reinfections.
While infections with Omicron appear to be inducing less severe disease and to result in fewer deaths in these highly vaccinated populations, it is still causing high levels of hospitalisations in many countries, with pressure on health services exacerbated by infections among health and other essential workers. There are also worrying reports of its impact on children, who in most countries have been at most only partially vaccinated, as well as concerns about its longer term consequences, including long COVID. While early reports from South Africa, amplified by media organisations, suggested that omicron is causing “mild” disease, the Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO) has argued that it should not be categorised in this way.
We write as health professionals and researchers from across Europe to call for concerted European action to address the immediate threat and to move rapidly to develop joint plans to tackle future variants of concern effectively.
EU Member States have accepted the principle of a European Health Union and have put in place measures to create a Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority.
They now need to show that they can work together in ways that they have not always done before.
Two years into the pandemic, the dangers of delayed, ineffective, or uncoordinated mitigation measures should be clear. We also know which strategies are most effective. These are a combination of minimising mixing with others in indoor spaces, and where this cannot be avoided, making these settings safer with good ventilation, air filtration, and mask wearing, supported by appropriate use of testing. There is no excuse for delay or inaction.
Why the urgency?
Sera of vaccinated individuals exhibit a substantial reduction in ability to neutralise Omicron, with most currently available monoclonal antibodies incapable of neutralising it. Vaccination with only two doses offers little protection against infection but protection does increase markedly following a third dose. There is also reassuring evidence that vaccination induces a T cell response against omicron, although the duration of protection conferred by a third dose remains to be determined.
However, despite the success of vaccination programmes in many countries, the majority have yet to receive booster doses and there are still many people with little or no immunity, including those with reduced immune function, for example due to age or comorbidity, and children who, in most countries, have yet to be vaccinated, who have no history of prior infection.
For now, here are at least two critical questions:
How well vaccination protects against infections and severe disease over time, noting that, so far, omicron has not yet spread extensively into older age groups in many countries, and
How much pressure the increased transmissibility and/or immune evasion of omicron puts on health systems, both through increased numbers of patients and staff absences. Even under the most optimistic assumptions, letting omicron run unfettered risks potentially devastating consequences.
Calling for an immediate, united, coordinated response across Europe
First, we urgently need to reduce infections to avoid overwhelming health systems and protect public life and the economy. Our concern is not only with the burden of severe disease; it is also with absences, through illness, even if mild, or quarantining of essential workers in all sectors, including education, transport, and infrastructure. Implementing effective measures such as working from home, mask mandates, and reducing indoor gatherings would bring rapid benefits, relieving pressure on these systems, and thus decreasing the likelihood of needing far-reaching stringent measures, such as closures, curfews, or lockdowns. These policies can certainly be adopted at national or regional levels but, from a European perspective, more can be done by coordinated action. Specifically, we need a coordinated communication strategy to support them, saying loudly and clearly that “covid is airborne,” with everything that follows from that. In particular, this points to a focus on measures that seek to ensure that the settings for common gatherings, for example in schools, factories, and entertainment venues, provide as safe environments as possible. This must be supported by coordinated guidance and, in due course, European legislation on how to make them safe, including ventilation standards.
Second, we need to protect children in ways that allow them to benefit from education safely. There are clear signals from South Africa and the United States of a steep rise in hospital admissions among children associated with high community transmission even if it is still unclear how this translates to Europe. However, if we wait for more evidence, the sheer number of hospitalised cases, even if not severely ill, could soon overwhelm limited paediatric care capacity. In this context we must note there are few anti-covid treatments currently approved for children and those approved for adults are also in short supply. European countries have, so far, varied greatly in how they have responded to covid in schools. For now, we call on all relevant actors, including European professional bodies (in health and education), the European Commission, and the European Region of WHO to engage in urgent discussions on how to share experience of good practice in both safe classrooms and remote learning.
Third, we need to buy time so that more individuals, including children, can be vaccinated, including scale up of supplies of paediatric doses. Rapid scale-up of vaccinations and boosters is essential, but will not be fast enough to defeat the omicron wave.
“This protection is still present against the Omicron variant.”
“Recent vaccination even protects partially against infection.”
Prof. Paul Wilmes, deputy spokesman of Research Luxembourg Taskforce, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine at the University of Luxembourg and coauthor of the statement
However, we can prepare for further variants. This requires concerted European (and indeed global) action to develop new polyvalent and new variant vaccines, coupled with a concerted campaign to reach those who have yet to be vaccinated.
Again, we call for sharing of best practice, including measures that overcome the remaining barriers that people face, as well as concerted Europe-wide measures for infodemic management, and especially targeting sources of disinformation. This will necessitate engaging with social media platforms in ways that individual countries may find difficult. However, Europe also needs to do more to make the world safe. This includes additional support for Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) and the COVID-19 Vaccine Access Facility (COVAX), as well as withdrawal of opposition to measures that would facilitate manufacturing in low and middle income countries.
The European response in the early stages of the pandemic was often fragmented and delayed. We cannot make the same mistakes again.
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Lifting some non-pharmaceutical interventions means living with a relatively high incidence of cases. Such a high incidence means hundreds of cases per week per 100,000 people.
The rate of fully vaccinated people is not sufficient to break infection chains and reduce infection rates in most European countries. What’s more, the emerging variants of concern show partial immune escape. What’s the cost of high incidence? What does a low incidence strategy imply?
In a recently published open access paper, a collective of international researchers including Luxembourg scientists Enrico Glaab, Alexander Skupin, and Paul Wilmes, examined the benefits, costs and feasibility of a low incidence COVID-19 strategy.
Reducing non-pharmaceutical interventions means accepting high COVID-19 incidence
In many countries, decision makers have felt compelled to abolish mask mandates as soon as the number of infections has decreased. In the summer of 2021, European governments lifted most non-pharmaceutical interventions aimed at containing the pandemic. Yet, the examples of Israel and Singapore suggest that even in countries with high vaccination rates, especially when faced with declining immunity, the removal of non-pharmaceutical interventions contributes to high incidence and associated adverse effects among other factors contributing to increased incidence during the winter months.
Non-pharmaceutical interventions are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses. Measures and policies range from regular disinfection of public spaces to movement restrictions.
In this context, removing most non-pharmaceutical interventions appears to be a risky strategy. At peak incidence levels, test-trace-isolate-support systems (TTIS) capacity is quickly exceeded. It becomes impossible to detect and break many chains of infection. A further rapid increase in incidence to the point of total loss of control of transmission can then potentially result.
Exempting vaccinated people from non-pharmaceutical interventions, e.g. mask wearing or testing, poses further containment problems. Indeed, these individuals may still become infected and transmit the virus; given the frequent exemption of vaccinated individuals from testing requirements on the basis of the EU Covid digital certificate, their role in transmission chains needs to be assessed in terms of their contribution to the spread of variants of concerns.
Without effective TTIS systems, infections will go unreported and many chains of infection will not be detected and broken in time.
Reducing non-pharmaceutical interventions means accepting high COVID-19 incidence
High COVID-19 incidence has many impacts.
High incidence directly affects the health of a large proportion of the population.
The most vulnerable, including economically disadvantaged and/or socially marginalised populations, tend be less well served by vaccination programmes and campaigns. Many people cannot be vaccinated for health reasons or have a poor immune response to the vaccine, and therefore remain at risk.
High incidence has a negative impact on the workforce.
When people fall ill or need to isolate or quarantine, others need to do their work. This additional workload increases the likelihood of burnout, as has become evident especially among healthcare workers.
In education, infected children and their close contacts are excluded from school or day care.
In this way, a high incidence also harms children and their education, even if schools remain open. This is in addition to the harm that children have already suffered during the pandemic.
High incidence combined with only part of the population being vaccinated or naturally immune after the disease gives the virus more opportunity to mutate and increases the evolutionary pressure on it to escape that immunity.
This increases the likelihood that new variants will emerge and spread undetected in Europe, especially as vaccinated people are unlikely to maintain the same level of vigilance against possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2. A variant that renders existing vaccines less effective by gaining a foothold in Europe would lengthen the pandemic and could cost even more lives and livelihoods.
Additional burdens will be placed on health systems.
With C lifted and lowered risk perception, influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and pneumonia cases are likely to be more than last year. Due to postponement of surgeries and routine care during the pandemic there is a large backlog of patients in need of care.Indeed, if incidence increases before a sufficient proportion of people has been vaccinated (against COVID-19 and influenza), health systems may reach capacity limits.
The economic, social and health burdens associated with non-pharmaceutical interventions need attention.
Many of these burdens particularly affect vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Maintaining and achieving low incidence is likely to reduce the need for the most harmful types of restrictions. Yet, the unintended negative consequences of apparently laudable measures are well known in the history of public health. As such, the role of non-pharmaceutical interventions in producing harm must be closely and carefully monitored.
Going for a low incidence strategy to avoid illness, deaths, and lockdowns
Achieving and maintaining low incidence is an important avenue to explore. This can be reached through a combination of increasing population immunisation with moderate non-pharmaceutical interventions in the winter and progressive social and economic policy measures to improve public health.
The rationale for this recommendation rests on three pillars:
At low incidence, test-trace-isolate-support systems can function effectively.
As population vaccination coverage progresses , the effective reproduction number Reff is continuously reduced, necessitating only moderate non-pharmaceutical interventions to keep Reff below 1.
A key aim of low incidence is to avoid the more restrictive measures that would follow spikes in infection rates, consequently lessening the harms incurred by non-pharmaceutical interventions.
By and large, a strategy successfully maintaining a low incidence provides more stability and helps to protect from the manifold social, psychological, and economic harms of such more restrictive measures.
Why do we need a common European strategy?
Overall, a pan-European commitment is crucial. The essential pillars needed to achieve and maintain low incidence include a clear political commitment across Europe to rapidly achieve high vaccine coverage. It also means close and systematic surveillance of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants across regions and countries, as well as systematic and representative sampling of SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic and symptomatic carriers, while monitoring for new variants with an early warning system.
A common European strategy is also needed to share vaccines with countries that do not have sufficient supplies. Coordinated global cooperation will greatly facilitate the pursuit of a low incidence strategy for COVID-19, and thus indirectly suppress the emergence of new variants. This would control the pandemic and avoid the discussed risks of the high incidence scenario.
In sum, in the low incidence scenario, we could avoid further damage to health, the economy and society. In contrast to 2020, European countries now have the capacity to effectively implement moderate non-pharmaceutical interventions, e.g. indoor masks, lateral flow tests. We have a better understanding of the effectiveness of different non-pharmaceutical interventions than we did a year ago. This means that companies are now in a better position to choose the minimum and least invasive set of actions needed to achieve and maintain low incidence, alongside social and economic policy measures that will also play a key role in maintaining low cases.
The University of Luxembourg held its annual PhD graduation Ceremony on 17 December on Belval Campus. The celebration honoured the doctoral and award-winning graduates who received their diplomas and awards on stage.
More than 150 doctoral students graduated from the four doctoral schools of the University of Luxembourg.
Seventeen doctoral graduates received special recognition for their thesis work, considered to be of exceptional quality. One graduate was awarded with the Fondation Auguste Laval Prize.
Recognising the scientific excellence of PhD students
The University of Luxembourg grants Excellent Thesis Awards to honour doctoral graduates who have demonstrated excellence, originality and depth of knowledge in their thesis.
This year, 17 graduates have received this award:
Excellent Thesis Awardees from Doctoral School in Science and Engineering
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the global workforce. How has Luxembourg performed in attracting talents? How does it compare? According to the 2021 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, Luxembourg ranks 8th overall. The country stands out in particular for its ability to attract and to retain talent. Attracting talent thanks to world-beating external Openness Luxembourg…
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Digital technologies are critical in sustaining economic competitiveness in the future. According to UNESCO Science Report 2021, Luxembourg is one of the five EU members featured among the top ten countries globally for publications on cross-cutting tech per million inhabitants. With 245 publications in the field of cross-cutting strategic technologies, Luxembourg’s scientific output is among…
The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2021 provides a snapshot of how different territories perform and of their strengths and areas of improvement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the global workforce. How has Luxembourg performed in attracting talents? How does it compare?
According to the 2021 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, Luxembourg ranks 8th overall. The country stands out in particular for its ability to attract and to retain talent.
Attracting talent thanks to world-beating external Openness
Luxembourg is the best performing country in the world for attracting talent. This top spot is mainly due to its external openness (1st) and to its high degree of internal openness (7th).
The country also performs well when it comes to retaining its workforce (6th), where its world-class pension system, environmental performance and social protection contribute to its excellent sustainability (2nd).
The country has a high degree of entrepreneurship. As such, it contributes to an impressive performance in the Talent Impact sub-pillar (3rd) and, ultimately, a strong global knowledge skills pool (8th).
Luxembourg’s pool of professional and technical skills (21st) is its main weakness. Improving middle-level skills (34th) is a priority.
The GTCI report is published annually by INSEAD in partnership with Portulans Institute. The report is a comprehensive annual benchmarking report that measures how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent. It provides a unique resource for decision makers to understand the global talent competitiveness picture and develop strategies to boost their competitiveness. The 2021 report covers 134 countries and 155 cities from 75 economies around the world across all groups of income and levels of development.
Why researchers chose Luxembourg as a research destination?
Youri Nouchokgwe, LIST
“The priority put on research in Luxembourg increases motivation and brings experts in different fields from all over the world.”
Erica Grant, LIH
“One of the biggest advantages of pursuing research in Luxembourg is that you have access to resources that allow you to put in more—to try out new tools, to integrate different areas of expertise, and to aim for higher quality research than you might have produced otherwise.”
Camille Perchoux, LISER
“Luxembourg applies the highest international standards of research, while the rather small size of the country facilitates the discussion and collaboration between researchers from different disciplines but also between researchers, political actors and stakeholders.”
Rafieh Mosaheb, Uni.lu I SnT
“While the University of Luxembourg is still young, it’s famous.”
Daniele Proverbio, Uni.lu I LCSB
“Research-wise, I love Luxembourg for its short bureaucratic ladders: even as a young researcher, I could directly get in touch with directors and nation-wide associations.”
Fabiana Ribeiro, Uni.lu
“As researchers, we have access to modern infrastructures and equipment, as well as the technologies needed to perform our work on a daily basis.”
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unCoVer network and Miriam Herderman O’Brien Prize.
The unCoVer (Unravelling data for rapid evidence based response to COVID-19) network aims to provide a research platform for the expert use of data obtained from the real world.
The Miriam Hederman O’Brien prize is awarded by the Foundation for Fiscal Studies in association with The Irish Times to recognise outstanding work in the area of Irish fiscal policy. The aim of the prize is to promote the study and discussion of matters relating to fiscal, economic and social policy, particularly among new contributors to these fields, and to reward those who demonstrate exceptional research promise.
As a testimony to the excellence and openness to the world of Luxembourg research, two projects conducted by researchers in the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) have recently contributed to international Covid-19 research.
Predi-COVID study included in worldwide unCoVer network
Launched two years ago, the Predi-COVID study aimed to identify important risk factors and biomarkers associated with the severity of COVID-19 and the long-term health consequences of the disease in Luxembourg.
The study helped to shed light on why some patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop severe symptoms while others have only mild forms, which will eventually lead to more personalised care recommendations. The study also included household members of Covid-19 positive participants to investigate transmission of the virus in this high-risk population.
With the Predi-COVID study, LIH has joined the unCoVer network, contributing to creating an international, harmonised real-world data bank.
By bringing together complementary data and medical and scientific expertise to address the still urgent questions regarding the determinants of the COVID-19 progression, the project hopes to inform more effective medical and public health strategies.
The Horizon 2020-funded network includes 29 partners from 18 countries, who have been collecting COVID-19 patient information during the pandemic, including LIH researchers from the Department of Precision Health and the Translational Medicine Operations Hub.
The network will build ‘big data’ analysis tools, allowing clinicians, data scientists and epidemiologists, to collaboratively address questions including who is susceptible to serious disease. Whereas clinical trials often exclude the most vulnerable groups, unCoVer real-world data specifically includes these groups, therefore complementing and contrasting other studies.
“The unCoVer approach will address urgent questions related to COVID-19 health care provision and develop a secure cross-national database of anonymised hospital data. As the pandemic develops and with the emergence of new viral variants, this will improve patient care and provide the basis for public health initiatives.”
Michel Vaillant, Head of Competence Center for Methodology and Statistics of the LIH Translational Medicine Operations Hub, and contributor to the unCoVer project on behalf of the LIH
Denisa M. Sologon and Iryna Kyzyma recognised for their work on modelling the distributional impact of the COVID-19 crisis
Researchers Denisa M. Sologon and Iryna Kyzyma both from LISER have been awarded the Miriam Herderman O’Brien 2020 Prize.
Together with co-authors Cathal O’Donoghue (NUI Galway) and John McHale (NUI Galway), they were recognised for their outstanding contribution to understanding the distributional implications of the COVID-19 crisis and policy responses in Ireland.
The paper “Modelling the Distributional Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis”, published in Fiscal Studies, was innovative in developing a microsimulation-nowcasting approach using publicly available data to help understand and predict the distributional implications of the COVID-19 emergency in “near-real time”.
“The timely analysis of the likely effects across the income distribution at the early stages in the Covid-19 emergency demonstrates the value of the Microsimulation-Nowcasting framework in modelling the impact of the emergency in “near-real” time.”
Denisa M. Solognon, Senior Research Economist at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Blockchain as a distributed-decentralised computing platform enables users to share, manage and monitor digitally signed assets through the smart contract.
How can blockchain technology be used to improve trust in logistics and transport processes?
Adnan Imeri completed his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Paris-Saclay (UEVE) and the University of Luxembourg, focusing on blockchain technology and its applicability in real-world use cases. His current research interest is mainly associated with blockchain technology, its implementation as well as its integration with the Internet of Things.
Blockchain to improve trust in logistics and transport processes
The transport of dangerous goods is very complicated to manage because of the risks to the human, environment, properties and living organisms. Currently, it suffers from a lack of efficiency, trust, and transparency.
In his thesis, Adnan Imeri proposed a new method for specifying the workflow aspects of the transport of dangerous goods by considering all stages of the process throughout its life cycle. This method aims to facilitate the specification of the transport of dangerous goods workflow process and management system that is fully based on existing regulatory frameworks ensuring compliance, trust, and transparency of all underlying processes i.e., before, during and after transport of dangerous goods.
At the Science Communication level, Adnan Imeri summarises his thesis for the general audience as “a novel method and tools to improve the specification of workflow in the process of transport and management of dangerous goods.”
“The proposed method aims to facilitate the management of workflow process and the trustful and secure sharing of information between collaborating stakeholders taking benefit from advanced technologies such as Blockchain, Smart Contracts and the Internet of Things”
All the interactions in the real world between stakeholders are transformed into interactions in the digital world, while the interactions with the environment are achieved using IoT devices. The researcher’s approach allows interactions between system components, e.g. digital twins, IoT devices, only if it is in line with the regulatory framework.
Using the blockchain technology, the design approach allows for improved trust and transparency in the transport of dangerous goods process from the perspective of collaborations between stakeholders.
The technological capabilities of smart contracts are also a foundation of his solution. As such, the researcher’s work contributes to improving the semantic of smart contracts to capture supply chain management specifications as well as dangerous goods specificity in terms of transportation.
The transportation and supply chain of goods is heavily influenced by digital technologies, as are the logistics companies that provide them, due to their critical nature. Not only must these services be correct, but end-to-end traceability of the transport process must be ensured. The influence of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain is enabling a new level of transparency and real-time verification of the transport process.
A blockchain researcher
Adnan Imeri’s research journey started in 2015 when his interest in service compliance with the regulatory framework spiked. After that, he expanded his research activities in different areas, to find new ideas on distributed-decentralised technologies, which were the most prominent technologies at that time.
After completing his Bachelor in computer science at the University of Prishtina in Republic of Kosovo, followed by a Master of Science at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, Adnan joined the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) in 2017.
Why Luxembourg as a research destination?
According to Adnan Imeri, Luxembourg is one of the most developed countries in terms of research. It allows new researchers to develop their research activities, thanks to many resources such as funding or access to research libraries, and a well-connected research environment.
“The surrounded research environment in Luxembourg is very supportive and allowed me to exploit different collaborations at national and international level.”
“It is an excellent research environment that offers the possibility of conducting large-scale research projects.”
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Between 27 November and 5 December, 600 adults were interviewed about vaccination in a statistically representative survey.
How many vaccinated people want to get a booster jab?How many parents have had their children vaccinated?
A recent representative survey conducted by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)/science.lu in cooperation with researchers from Luxembourg gives answers to these questions and more generally on vaccination.
Luxembourg vaccinees willing to get a booster dose
Among vaccinees in Luxembourg, there is a very high willingness to get a booster dose. Indeed, 57% are very likely and 8% are likely to get a booster shot. Matching the official figures, 22% of vaccinees had already received a booster jab. Only, 6% of the respondents think it is unlikely that they will get a booster shot while 6% are still uncertain.
Worth noting is that the youngest age group (18-24 years) showed the highest level of reluctance. Case in point: a total of 13% of individuals surveyed were somewhat opposed to a booster shot, compared to only 4% in the over-50 age group.
Most participants are positive about vaccinating children aged 5-11 years
A solid majority of respondents claimed they support children vaccination whereas 22% disagree and 22% have no opinion.
Surprisingly, parents of young children are more ‘vaccine confident’ than the wider public. The surveyed parents, making up 13% of total respondents, appears to be more positive about vaccinating young children. Among them, 49% were very likely and 17% were likely to have their children vaccinated.
Vaccinated people show higher trust in Covid-19 public policies
The survey asked participants how much confidence they currently have in the state and institutions of the country to take the most appropriate measures to fight the pandemic and protect us from the coronavirus.
The respondents’ confidence in the actions of the state and institutions in the fight against Covid-19 stands at 68%.
Confidence is particularly low among the unvaccinated as 53% of them do not trust public decisions. Most of this group appear to be younger respondents and people with low levels of education.
of vaccinees are eager to get a booster jab or already got it.
of respondents are positive about vaccination for children ages 5-11.
of parents who have children between the ages of 5 and 11 want to have their children vaccinated.
of participants trust the actions of the state and institutions in the fight against Covid-19.
Why do people get vaccinated or not?
The main reason why people get vaccinated is to protect themselves (74%), to protect others (66%) and to show solidarity (53%).
The health aspect plays an important role for a total of 86%. Yet 58% of the respondents also have more pragmatic reasons for vaccination, as unvaccinated people face more obstacles in their daily lives and have fewer options. In addition, 12% also feel compelled to do so. And this view is disproportionately shared by the 18-34 age group, where almost a quarter of respondents cited social pressure as a reason for vaccination. In the 55+ age group, the rate only stands at 6%.
Among anti-vaxxers, health reasons play a role in the majority of cases. The fear of side and long-term effects (58%) is mentioned. In addition, half of the vaccination sceptics and opponents believes that the vaccine emerged too quickly and that there is insufficient evidence that the vaccinations were effective and necessary.
The study was conducted by FNR and science.lu, in collaboration with Joël Mossong, epidemiologist at the Luxembourg Health Directorate, and Anja Leist, social scientist at the University of Luxembourg.
Read the complete survey results on science.lu [in German].