Research in Luxembourg


Luxembourg has a very young research history when
compared with other European countries. Before the
creation of the University of Luxembourg, founded in
August 2003, the four main payers on the research
stage were CRP Henri Tudor, CRP Gabriel Lippmann
and CRP Santé, all established in 1987, and
CEPS/INSTEAD established in 1989.


Throughout their formative years all four of these institutes
oriented primarily towards applied research in areas important
for product and service development in Luxembourg’s industry and
which gave them a competitive edge with other countries. Research and
development in high-tec areas such as IT and biotechnology, considered
essential in other European countries, were only prioritised at a much later stage.


However, much has changed since then. Most noticeably with the creation of the University of Luxembourg in 2003. A study by the OCDE on the national innovation system in 2005, which led consequently to the implementation of performance contracts between the Ministry of Research and the major research institutes, the National Research Fund and Luxinnovation (Luxembourg’s national agency for innovation and research) in 2007.


Significant steps in 2008 to structure the role of R&D in Luxembourg has seen the creation of a “Higher Committee for Research and Innovation” who will contribute to and advise the Government on the development of R&D policy; and the transfer of PhD and postdoc grant management (Aides à la Formation Recherche – AFR) from the Ministry of Research to the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), created in 1999 to manage R&D funding and promote research and technological development in the public sector at national level.


Further changes are being implemented within the next few years with the establishment of a vast research complex in Belvaux “La Cité des Sciences” in 2012, which will become the flagship of R&D in Luxembourg, hosting all the major public R&D institutes of Luxembourg, as well as private and start-up companies, a new technical school, university campus, the National Archives and cultural centres. As of 1st January 2015, the Luxembourg public research centres (PRC) Gabriel Lippmann and Henri Tudor have merged and formed a new research centre, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), key player in research and innovation in the areas of materials, environment, agro-technologies and IT. CEPS/INSTEAD is today known as the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and the CRP Santé as the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).


Structure of research system in Luxembourg


The structure of the research system is divided into two main bodies; political/operational and researchers.


Political and operational level

At political level, R&D is coordinated by two ministries, the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade (Ministère de l’Economie et du Commerce extérieur) who are in charge of research in the private sector (€20.4 million budget in 2007 - STATEC) and The Ministry of Culture, Higher Education and Research (Ministère de la Culture, de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche) who take responsibility for research in the public sector (€111.2 million budget in 2007 – STATEC).

Furthermore the Inter-ministerial co-ordination committee under the coordination of the Ministry of Research has the mission to submit proposals on R&D budget allocations in the public sector. The newly formed Higher research and innovation committee contributes to the development of national R&D policy by advising the government on its implantation.

The National Research Fund (FNR) who allocates funds in the public sector through calls for proposals.

Three major financial intermediaries support the private sector: the SNCI, a banking institution that grants innovation loans; CD-PME who seeks to increase the financial strength and equity base of Luxembourg-based SMEs who set up innovative job-creating projects; and EUREFI, the cross-border Development Fund, who support SMEs set up business in the border regions of Luxembourg, Belgium and France and develop cross-border activities.

Luxinnovation, the National Agency for Innovation and Research, also give information and support to private and public organisations.


Researcher level

Public research organisations include the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER).

Higher Education Institutes are the University of Luxembourg, which is divided into the Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication, the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Educational Science and the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance; LIASIS, Luxembourg’s doctoral programme in IT; and the Institut Universitaire International Luxembourg, which is linked to the Ministry of Culture, Higher Education and Research and which develops training course and research programmes adapted towards the business world.

Private companies also contribute to a large part of research in Luxembourg.