ENTREPRISES & STRATÉGIES — Technologies

CARTE BLANCHE

“Digital innovation is the core, not a project”


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Driving the future of the market instead of being guided by market forces is a vision many companies aspire to. Innovation is the key to unlocking this path, but the road can be perilous; as far too many have experienced for themselves. Academic research centres, such as the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg, provide a unique support structure for companies looking to break the mould.

For Dr Carlo Duprel, Head of the Technology Transfer Office at SnT, the secret to success is the mindset of the company. “All elements need to come together to create a breeding ground for innovation on a consistent basis. It is about setting up a culture that prioritises tomorrow’s market needs and seeks to push boundaries in every aspect of their business.”

SnT was launched in 2009 to fuel innovation in the Luxembourg ecosystem by providing access to state-of-the-art ICT research and talent. This approach is formalised through their Partnership Programme, which attracts strategic partnerships to work with SnT researchers on collaborative demand-driven projects. These collaborations develop prototypes for business challenges and go beyond that by delivering an outlook of what is next in technology, keeping partners ahead of the curve.

Creating impact

Creating an impact in Luxembourg is at the core of SnT’s strategy, and the centre powers the country’s innovation system by focusing on six strategic research areas: Fintech, Secure and Compliant Data Management, Cybersecurity, Internet of Things, Autonomous Vehicles, and Space Systems. Today SnT has more than 45 research partners in Luxembourg and abroad.

“We want to do excellent research in our labs and in our teams, and then apply these results in industrial settings to make sure that our research has an impact on a real-life challenge of a company,” says Dr Duprel. “We are not like a traditional research centre where scientists sometime live in an ivory tower. Researchers here are working on the cutting-edge of their field and all our partnerships are true collaborations, with science informing business and vice versa. This loop is crucial to make sure research goes in the right direction, and for companies to truly benefit from the latest technologies,” says Dr Duprel.

We are not like a traditional research centre where scientists sometime live in an ivory tower.
Carlo Duprel

Carlo Duprel,  Head of the Technology Transfer Office,  SnT

The Partnership Programme approach is built on trust and a combined commitment to achieving the objectives. For that reason, long-term collaborations provide the most interesting results. “A team from SnT has been working with BGL BNP Paribas for years now. Their collaboration happens in a quick and agile mode that can help to address real-life challenges, from compliance, to cybersecurity aspects, to analytics using AI-based technologies. After understanding the business challenge, our researchers will define a working prototype, but the internal innovation processes of the company are still driven by their people. What we do is accelerate them by providing top quality research results and applying them to real life,” says Dr Duprel.

The relationships formed during projects last, and many researchers have gone over to a partner company to continue their career after their time at the centre comes to an end. SnT attracts some of the top minds from around the world, offering them a clear-cut career path, and companies a vibrant talent pool to draw from. “My office might be called Technology Transfer, but our mission to fuel the local economy is as much about people as it is about any specific technology. As certain skill sets rise in demand, our partnership structure opens doors for HR departments, not just R&D teams.”

Getting started

The collaborative research model means that SnT works with, not for, a company. “We share the costs, risks and benefits with our partner companies, and make use of the different types of funding to enlarge the project at various stages of development,” underlines Dr Duprel. For companies looking to access the wide variety of innovation-focused funding mechanisms in Luxembourg, SnT can be an advantage as it navigates those complex waters every day. From the National Research Fund (FNR), to the Ministry of Economy RDI programme, the research centre has extensive experience understanding the options available and how to create a funding path.

Technology is not just a tool; your company is centred on it. Digital innovation needs to become the essence of your company; not a side project.
Carlo Duprel

Carlo Duprel,  Head of the Technology Transfer Office,  SnT

“Beyond the results of our joint research and innovation, and funding, the significant benefit of working with our researchers is with the staff of the company having a different mindset. They become much more open about what technology can do,” expands Dr Duprel. The defining characteristic of the partners is that they are not looking for a short-term quick fix for a one-off challenge. They grasp the fact that we are living in a world driven by technology that is changing increasingly fast. “Technology is not just a tool; your company is centred on it. Digital innovation needs to become the essence of your company; not a side project,” concludes Dr Duprel. “It is easier said than done, but we are here to help.”