The Cité des Sciences in Belval brings together most of Luxembourg’s research institutions, including the university’s main campus, List, Liser and the FNR Library photo: Nader Ghavami

The Cité des Sciences in Belval brings together most of Luxembourg’s research institutions, including the university’s main campus, List, Liser and the FNR Library photo: Nader Ghavami

The Luxembourg government has signed funding agreements worth €1.7bn with the University of Luxembourg and three further research centres as well as the National Research Fund (FNR).

The state allocates its higher education and research funding based on four-year contracts with the university and the FNR as well as the Luxembourg institutes of health (LIH), science and technology (List) and socio-economic research (Liser).

“It’s a substantial increase,” said education minister Claude Meisch (DP), who also oversees higher education and research as part of his portfolio. Funding is increasing 17.6% compared to the 2018-2021 contracts. “It’s an expression of the government’s ambitions to further develop research but also higher education.”

The University of Luxembourg under the plans stands to receive €908m over the coming four years, followed by List (€219m), the LIH (€182.54m) and Liser (€62.08m). The FNR will receive €294m, which will also benefit the research institutions as the organisation supplies funding for specific projects under a variety of grant programmes.

Another €35m will be available to research projects that have received significant external funding, providing a national boost to internationally recognised initiatives.

For the first time, the contracts signed between the state and the university, List, the LIH and Liser will feature a joint chapter, setting out four shared priorities between the entities: digitalisation and personalised medicine, fintech, education and training for the 21st century, and climate and energy challenges.

Research has become an indispensable part of Luxembourg today
Claude Meisch

Claude MeischMinister for research and higher education

These priorities are based on a 2019 national research and innovation strategy, which sets out how the scientific ecosystem should develop over the next decade. It also aims to foster synergies between the different players and enable them to develop specific but complementary expertise.

With the funds, the University of Luxembourg will set up an interdisciplinary research centre on sustainability. This, for example, will tie in with projects on hydrogen as a sustainable fuel source carried out at List, Meisch said.

“Research supports Luxembourg in important developments,” the minister said. “Research has become an indispensable part of Luxembourg today,” he said, adding that Luxembourg faces “decisive years” for its future development.

The increase in funds will help create around 500 jobs at the different institutions. Around 3,000 scientists and researchers are currently employed in Luxembourg, in addition to administrative and other staff.

Meisch highlighted the contribution by the grand duchy’s scientific community in combatting the pandemic, for example by helping develop the large-scale testing programme, carrying out permanent wastewater analyses for virus traces, predicting models on how the spread of the virus will develop depending on different government measures taken, studies on the virus prevalence in society in the early phases of the pandemic as well as research into long-covid and the severity of illness patients develop.