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Luxembourg National Research Fund

National Research Priorities



On 20 December 2019, the Conseil de gouvernement approved the “National Research and Innovation Strategy for Luxembourg” as well as the annexed document of the “National Research Priorities for Luxembourg”. The inclusive process that led to these revised priorities took two years and involved multiple stakeholders: the national and international research community, public and private stakeholders as well as the various ministries. These research priorities directly apply to the majority of FNR funding programmes, for example the FNR’s main project funding programme CORE. 

The “National Research Priorities for Luxembourg in 2020 and Beyond” sets out four interdisciplinary research priority areas to prepare Luxembourg for the future: 

At the top-level, the national research and innovation strategy defines four research priority areas, which have emerged to be of particular importance for the societal, ecological and economic development of the country.  

These areas are not considered as being distinct and independent from each other, but as areas that mutually influence each other, so that the sub-themes that define each area can also have ramifications into other areas.  

The implementation of the research strategy will therefore put a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary projects, which take into account that each of the four broad research priority areas will benefit from results and projects situated in one or more of the other areas.  

The four chosen research priority areas should guarantee that beyond a development of its GDP, Luxembourg can warrant for a continuous and sustainable development in the well-being of its population, including notably health, environmental and educational factors. 

Industrial & Service Transformation

The upcoming digitalisation will imply fundamental changes for industry and service providers that are active in Luxembourg. The country has the ambition to become a knowledge-driven data economy actively seeking to diversify its economic activities taking up the latest technological developments and providing high value added.

The research carried out in this area should provide the scientific basis for such a development. It encompasses research in the industrial fields in which Luxembourg wants to consolidate and further develop its assets, for example in material science, space industry, or in the field of automation and robotics. Data modelling and simulation are seen as a key enabling technology in this area. It also includes new communication and computer systems and the associated challenges regarding cybersecurity needed for a trusted data driven economy in an ever more connected world.

Furthermore, this research seeks to bring new perspectives to Luxembourg’s most important economic sectors, like the financial industry, through the development of key technologies in the fintech/ regtech area or in the field of distributed ledger technologies.

  • – Integrative materials science and technology 

    • Multiscale modelling in materials science and physics; 
    • Materials discovery through machine reinforced learning; 
    • Fundamental phenomena defining materials function and devices; 
    • Interface-dominated materials; 
    • Advanced manufacturing: multifunctional, multiclass, and multiscale materials, and their implementation 
    • Physics of active and living matter 
    • Materials life cycle 
    • Scientific instrumentation and characterization 

    -Trusted data-driven economy and critical systems 

    • Security and cybersecurity, reliability and trust 
    • Cyber-physical systems 

    -Future computer and communication systems 

    -Autonomous and intelligent systems and robotics for earth and space 

    -Space telecommunications, earth observation and space resources 

    • Resources in space 
    • Remote sensing and combination with multiscale data 

    -Fintech/RegTech and transformative applications of distributed ledger technologies 

    -Fundamental tools and data-driven modelling and simulation 

Personalised Healthcare

Health is considered to be a key indicator of well-being and Luxembourg has the ambition to provide excellent healthcare to its population and to be a frontrunner in the implementation of the latest health technologies.

Especially in the field of personalised data-driven digital medicine, Luxembourg wants to be among the leading countries in the world. Luxembourg therefore needs biomedical research that will ultimately be beneficial to the patient. Following this logic, translational medicine will play an important role in the medical research carried out in Luxembourg. The perspective on health will nevertheless not be limited to a purely biological or medical perspective, but will include socio-economic and behavioural aspects considered in a longitudinal perspective throughout the lifespan, which should permit an emphasis on disease prevention and behavioural changes.

  • -Complex biomedical systems – data and models 

    • Effective collection and deconvolution of complex biomedical data 
    • Multi-scale and mechanistic models 

    -Precision medicine, including environmental, lifestyle and socio-economic factors 

    • Innovative molecular disease models 
    • Common mechanisms between diseases – mechanism-based stratification 
    • Environmental, lifestyle, and socio-economic impact on mechanisms of diseases 

    -Understanding, preventing, and treating the health-disease transition 

    • Longitudinal dynamics of diseases 
    • Multifactorial intervention strategies 
    • Innovative clinical trials 

    -Data-driven healthcare 

    • Trusted digital health systems 
    • Health informatics and implementation in the healthcare system 

Sustainable & Responsible Development

Luxembourg fully subscribes to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations and will contribute through its research activities to a sustainable development from an ecological, economic and societal perspective. In the ecological field, a focus will be on research in the context of a transition to sustainability and climate change.  

Luxembourg has the ambition to become a model country for the efficient use of a renewable energy mix through a smart energy management that includes energy-efficient smart buildings, which are connected to smart grids, also enabling a smart mobility. It will develop technologies to continuously monitor the effects of climate change on ecological systems and biodiversity and use this monitoring in order to model future scenarios allowing for the country’s best adaptation to a changing environment (e.g. in view of agricultural and forestry activities, but also in prevention of extreme events or water availability). 

Economically, Luxembourg will innovate through research on new sustainable economic instruments and models, especially in the areas of green finance and circular and sharing economy. 

A socially sustainable development is particularly important for a very diverse and multilingual country as Luxembourg, and there- fore research on different aspects of social cohesion, like the social consequences of migration and labour market developments, but also questions of cultural identities and nationhood will be included in this research area. 

Finally, the upcoming digitalisation raises the question how all these new developments and disruptive technologies can be implemented in a responsible way. In this context, questions about regulations for a responsible and privacy-respecting use of data, as well as ethical questions around data use and disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence will be in the focus of Luxembourg’s research efforts. They will make a major contribution to the provision of the regulatory/legal framework needed for a smart knowledge-driven economy and society.

  • -Climate change: energy efficiency and smart energy management; resilient eco- and agrosystems 

    • Resilient water systems 
    • Environmental monitoring 
    • Transition towards sustainability: energy efficiency 
    • Sustainable urban development and smart cities 
    • Smart energy systems 

    -Economic: green sustainable finance / circular and shared economy 

    • From waste to product 
    • Sustainable behaviours 

    -Social: migration and social cohesion / cultural identities, cultural heritage and nationhood 

    • Social cohesion and inequalities 
    • Societal transformation and labour market dynamics 
    • Household finance and risk management 
    • Migration and integration 
    • Cultural identities and nationhood 
    • Contemporary history, memories studies and public history 
    • Digital humanities 

    -Responsible development: regulations and ethics for a data-driven society 

    • Regulation and supervision of the data driven economy 
    • Ethics and sustainability 

21st Century Education

Education is another major cornerstone for the well-being of a society, as it forms the basis for employment, societal participation and ultimately for our democratic functioning. It is foreseeable that education will undergo major changes throughout the 21st century, for different reasons. 

Educational systems are currently educating for unknown professional environments, as the upcoming digitalisation will dramatically increase the speed of creation of new job profiles, while existing job profiles might disappear. The fast pace of technological developments therefore implies the need to better monitor the skills gap existing between need and supply and to train the population for new, but highly dynamic digital skills. 

Digital tools and technologies thus become on the one hand the content of new training programmes and they are at the same time used to deliver these new contents. In terms of key competencies, transversal skills such as problem solving and communication skills are more and more valued, as they form a skillset that is needed in order to cope with these fast-paced developments and changes. 

Lifelong Learning changes from a model that historically implied the update of existing skills to a model in which completely new skillsets have to be acquired in short periods of time, in order to cope with the more fundamental changes in career paths that we will see in the future. These new educational challenges are added to the already existing ones of providing a high-quality, inequality-avoiding initial training to a very heterogeneous and multilingual school population. 

Luxembourg will therefore invest in educational research, in order to develop innovative, digitally enhanced learning environments that will be beneficial to a diverse and multilingual school population and thus contribute to equal educational opportunities. Luxembourg also has the ambition to be among the frontrunners in the field of adult education and develop the needed research programmes in order to be well prepared for the upcoming major trends of upskilling and reskilling in the workforce.

  • -Innovative digitally enhanced learning and assessment environments 

    • Efficient learning environments 
    • Digital learning and human-machine interaction 

    -Learning in a multilingual and diverse society 

    -Equality of educational opportunity 

    -Adult education, up/re-skilling and lifelong learning