Over 400 participants attended the hybrid Tech Day that showcased flagship LIST technologies and featured national and international speakers including Minister of Higher Education and Research Claude Meisch, LIST CEO Thomas Kallstenius and Luxembourg Space Agency CEO Marc Serres. Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation, was also among the keynote speakers and reflected on the evolution of the Luxembourg research and innovation landscape and its achievements.
Cooperation and agility
“Thirty years ago, it was difficult to imagine that we would succeed in building a research ecosystem with scientific institutions addressing the societal, economic and environmental challenges we are facing, the work of which would be recognised worldwide,” Ms Baillie said. “It is quite remarkable how this was achieved within such a short time span.”
This capacity to connect, combine different factors and dimensions and move beyond one’s comfort zone is a key enabler of innovation.
While this would not have been possible without a political vision and tremendous investments in research infrastructure and programmes, she highlighted the proximity and simplicity of interaction between people and organisations from different fields as an important success factor. “This is a key enabler to identify opportunities, exchange ideas, come up with solutions and turn them into reality, in a time span quite unimaginable elsewhere in the world,” she said, using as an example the design and implementation of the large-scale COVID-19 testing that was put in place at record speed by the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 task force.
“This capacity to connect, combine different factors and dimensions and move beyond one’s comfort zone is a key enabler of innovation,” the CEO of the national innovation agency pointed out.
Connecting the dots
Although technology has an incredible capacity to make complex connections between vast amounts of information and develop astounding solutions, it lacks something that only human beings have: instinct, values, energy and inspiration. “Technology addresses the ‘how’, but the human mind addresses the ‘why’,” said Ms Baillie. “As human beings, we need a sense of purpose that comes from interaction that stimulates us and give us a sense of contributing to something greater. Connecting the dots between us all gives greater meaning to what we do – and it is a driving force of innovation.”
As human beings, we need a sense of purpose that comes from interaction that stimulate us and give us a sense of contributing to something greater.
Luxinnovation acts as a facilitator and a bridge between the private sector and research. The innovation agency is an enabler of innovation within all types of companies and helps them get access to the relevant expertise, funding and connections that can help them tackle the challenges of the future. “We work with the research community in Luxembourg to set up platforms that enable joint calls for projects such as the one recently launched in the field of health technologies. The objective here is to stimulate collaborative public-private R&D projects that bring forth innovative digital health solutions that meet the needs of public health and are market-proof at the same time.”
The human dimension
To fulfil this mission of connecting stakeholders, Ms Baillie underlined the importance of fully appreciating the human dimension. “Making the digital connections is not sufficient,” she said. “The driving force will always be the human being.”
The driving force will always be the human being.
In her opinion, Luxembourg’s small, human-scale size is an advantage. “Let’s be fully aware of that and nurture that quality and particularity of ours, as we move forward and our opportunities expand with the brilliant digital and scientific technologies that we develop and embrace.”
Photo credit: Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology