The University of Luxembourg’s success in just 14 years can be attributed in part to its strategy of strongly investing in a limited number of research priorities. We recognised from the beginning that we could not compete with older, more established universities in Europe and that we must focus on being unique.
One priority identified early on was the area of information and communication technology (ICT). In 2009, the university established the Interdisciplinary Center for Security, Reliability, and Trust (SnT). Today SnT conducts internationally competitive research and engages in demand-driven collaborative projects with industry and the public sector. The centre collaborates with about 30 industry partners targeting strategic areas in ICT. These partnerships offer a competitive advantage for companies in Luxembourg and beyond.
In 2008, the Luxembourg government announced its Health Initiative, aimed at transforming the Grand Duchy into a centre of excellence in the area of personalised medicine by investing heavily in Luxembourg’s biotechnology sector.
As a result, the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) was founded as the University of Luxembourg’s first biomedical research centre. The main goal of LCSB is to accelerate biomedical research by closing the link between systems biology and medical research.
The research centre focuses on the study of neurodegenerative diseases, with an emphasis on Parkinson’s disease, and aims to accelerate the translation of fundamental research results into clinical applications.
In addition to the focuses of SnT and LCSB, the university has identified other key research areas including computational sciences, European law, multilingual education and finance.
In order to conduct internationally competitive research in such a short time, the university has recruited high-level researchers from around the world, and has strongly encouraged international cooperation.
Strategic research partnerships have been set up with leading institutions worldwide. For instance, the university has set up a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology involving education and research in the field of logistics, with the aim of setting up a new Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
One of our benefits as a young university is our flexibility. As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to quickly evolve our priorities in response to change.
For example, we have recently created our third interdisciplinary centre, the Luxembourg Center for Contemporary and Digital History, which focuses on high-quality research, analysis and public dissemination in the field of contemporary Luxembourg and European history, including the history of European integration.
Our researchers have also been vital to our success. They appreciate the opportunity to join a new organisation with a pioneering spirit, where they can help to shape the institution.
Luxembourg also offers an international, dynamic research environment (80 per cent of the 5,000 researchers in the public and private sector are foreigners) with substantial resources and opportunities for funding, and competitive salaries.
Moreover, Luxembourg is redefining itself from a former steel region and a current financial centre to a future research hub, and our university serves as the motor of the national vision of research and innovation.
Our students are another part of our success. Students choose the University of Luxembourg because of the multilingual teaching in our classrooms where they can develop their language skills; the high employability rate and the attractive job market of the Grand Duchy; the university’s close ties to companies and EU institutions; and very low tuition fees.
Moreover, as a small institution, we offer excellent student-to-staff ratios and our students are always close to our research.
Finally, the fact that Luxembourg is a wealthy, safe and attractive country with great connections to other capitals in Europe and high standards of living, healthcare and infrastructure will always be a factor in our success.
Rainer Klump is president of the University of Luxembourg