SnT more on the front line in 2020


Awarded twice himself in 2020, Professor Bjorn Ottersten, founding director of the SnT, is at the head of a cohort of 365 leading researchers on six axes essential for the future of the country. Photo: Simon Verjus/Maison Moderne 

2020 has accelerated digitalisation and strengthened the role of SnT, which welcomed over the year nine new partners, a fifth spinoff, 73 research projects, new funding and 365 motivated researchers. 

Can a global crisis boost excellence? Björn Ottersten, the director of the University's of Luxembourg's Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), in the institution's annual report published on Wednesday, says his team lived up to the challenge.

Researchers at SnT got involved in the covid-19 pandemic right from the start in the search for solutions, Ottersten said, with results including virus spread modelling software or social distance analysis technology. 

For example, the modelling tool developed by Salah Ghamizi's team will help guide politicians on policies to keep the number of new infections below a fixed upper limit. It's one of the best tools in the world, capable of having an impact in hundreds of countries around the world, Ghamizi said in an interview published last year.

“Seeing so many of our scientists mobilise and go far beyond their normal tasks has been reassuring in these unusual times,” Ottersten said about 2020, a year which still showcased the growing weight of SnT, which specialises in key sectors of tomorrow's economy.

Nine new partners (Civil Maps, Datathings, Databourg, Huawei, the House of Start-Ups, LMO, Rotarex, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Yoba) joined a large group of experts from the industrial world across the centre's six units (space, fintech, cybersecurity, internet of things, data management and autonomous vehicles).

Databourg this year became the fifth spinoff of SnT (after LuxAI, Black Swan, Motion-S and DataThings) and the first in the space sector, specialising in environmental monitoring using data from satellites.

The figures are staggering: 20 new partnership projects were signed last year, bringing the number of research projects up to 73. Researchers were awarded two new ERC/H2020 grants in addition to the first three, six new research groups were launched and seven faculty members have been appointed, and a record amount of €32.6m in competitive research funding was secured, enough to "recruit more talent for our growing center and continue to offer new innovations to local and global industries over the next few years,” the SnT director said.

Today, 365 researchers with 66 nationalities are involved in eight research laboratories. Their ambition is reflected in the 14 awards obtained and the 435 scientific publications in 2020 across 111 projects.

This article was originally published in French on Paperjam and has been translated and edited for Delano.