Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy,What are Luxembourg’s main advantages as a location for international companies involved in data-driven innovation?

Étienne Schneider: Luxembourg’s openness has always been a key success factor for the economy. The positive development of our manufacturing industry and our major financial centre has been fuelled by attracting international entrepreneurs, investors and activities.

I’m convinced that the same is true for the ICT sector. Well-established companies as well as start-ups from all over the world come to Luxembourg to develop their activities and serve not only the national markets, but customers from all over Europe and beyond.

We offer a unique and secure environment for high-potential digital activities where innovative ideas can be transformed into successful business.

As mentioned before, the government recognised at an early stage that the future lies in the digitalisation of our economy and society. This is why we equipped ourselves with the necessary infrastructure to master the digital future. Our ICT infrastructure, capacities and competences are outstanding, and we have steadily maintained a high level of investment in the field. Data centres, connectivity, cyber-security and related skills are at the heart of our strategy to be a trusted hub for valuable data.

With the high-end digital infrastructure, we have prepared the national economy well for the challenges we will face in a digital interconnected future. Luxembourg also has a modern and reactive legal and regulatory framework designed to foster business development. We can thus offer a unique and secure environment for high-potential digital activities where innovative ideas can be transformed into successful business.

How can Luxembourg attract, train and retain talents with the skills needed for the data economy?

Luxembourg owes a large amount of its economic success to its foreign labour force, consisting of both expats and cross-border commuters. Diversity is an important driver of innovation, and Luxembourg is an expert in embracing all its facets. The country is a welcoming place where it is easy to settle and find work, and where administrative procedures run smoothly with support from responsive multilingual government officials.

This makes me very optimistic about the talent and skills that we are able to build. However, attracting talents from abroad will not be sufficient, and we also need to focus on developing and retaining native skilled professionals.

With dedicated educational programmes, we can foster the interest of children in science and technology, and an extended offer of  higher education degrees such as the Interdisciplinary Space Master at the University of Luxembourg will ensure the availability of skilled staff in the future.

Lifelong learning also plays a key role. Our aim is to build a diverse, resilient and flexible talent pool and to facilitate the successful deployment of knowledge and skills.

Looking ten years or so into the future, what results would you like to see in order to consider the strategy as a success?

The overall goal of the data-driven innovation strategy is to propose a vision and path forward for Luxembourg. We aim to put in place the digital innovation policies and assets needed to foster the emergence of a robust data economy and a start-up ecosystem centred on data-driven innovation. This will also accelerate the digital transformation of existing industry across key strategic economic sectors.

Luxembourg will strive to become the most trusted data economy within the European Union by 2023.

Luxembourg will strive to become the most trusted data economy within the European Union by 2023. I’m convinced that in ten years, Luxembourg will be at the forefront of data- driven innovation propelled by start-ups that collaborate closely with corporate open innovation hubs or deploy testbed activities.

A transversal strategy

ICT and the data economy are transversal topics with a broad impact on the economy and society in general. The strategy for data-driven innovation, developed by the Ministry of the Economy, is aimed at fostering the development and use of digital technologies by companies – large groups, SMEs and start-ups – in order to drive future growth. These technologies include artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, smart components, systems and networks, HPC and big data analytics, to name but a few. Their implementation will influence a broad range of aspects that go beyond the remit of the Ministry of the Economy.

“The data-driven innovation strategy includes measures that concern the whole government and will be implemented in coordination with all ministries concerned,” explains Minister Schneider. “For matters regarding energy efficiency, mobility and the sustainable use of resources, we work together with the ministries of Energy and Spatial Planning, Mobility and Public Works, and Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development. Within the ’Digital Luxembourg’ initiative, we collaborate with all the stakeholders for the development of digital skills. Finally, we discuss financial incentives and tax measures with the Ministry of Finance.”

In parallel with the government’s work on data-driven innovation, the Ministry for Digitalisation developed a new artificial intelligence strategic vision for Luxembourg, focusing on society and citizens. This strategy will further support Luxembourg’s ambition to be among the most advanced digital societies in the world. “We obviously work in close cooperation with the Ministry of State and the Ministry for Digitalisation as the topics they endorse are complementary to ours,” comments Minister Schneider.

Photo Étienne Schneider: Jan Hanrion / Maison Moderne Publishing SA