Public-private partnerships are actively encouraged by the Luxembourg bodies that facilitate and provide public R&D funding. “When we discuss R&D projects with companies, the possible need for public research partners is always on the agenda,” says Barbara Grau, Head of Corporate R&D and Innovation Support at national innovation agency Luxinnovation. Her team advises companies that are preparing applications for R&D and innovation subsidies provided by the Ministry of the Economy. “When we see that cooperation with a public research institute could be beneficial, we make the introductions and contribute with our expertise on how to best structure their cooperation projects in order to be eligible for national funding.”
A comprehensive approach
National R&D funding in EU member states is subject to common regulations, but Luxembourg stands out for its bottom-up approach that allows companies to apply for subsidies at any time of the year, regardless of their sector of activity. “If needed, the yearly budget can be adapted to number and size of eligible applications,” Ms Grau points out. She also highlights that funding is provided as non-refundable subsidies. Companies that carry out R&D projects in partnership with public research centres that fulfil all criteria can obtain an additional 15% grant. Luxinnovation can also guide companies and research institutes to suitable European funding, provided by the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, for example.
If needed, the yearly budget can be adapted to number and size of eligible applications.
In order to complement this company-driven support by Luxinnovation, the Ministry of the Economy and the National Research Fund (FNR) work together to provide comprehensive funding for public and private organisations through joint, thematic calls for projects targeting priority sectors with great potential for development. The first one, launched in 2021, focused on digital health technologies. “Over the past 20 years, we have funded excellent research in the biomedical field,” says Andreea Monnat, Deputy CEO at the FNR. “This call provided a great opportunity to connect outstanding researchers with innovative companies and hospitals to work on projects that can have a real societal impact.”
Luxembourg: testbed for innovative products
For the Ministry of the Economy, a key objective was to further strengthen the country’s growing healthtech ecosystem and its innovation culture. “As Luxembourg healthtech companies mature, they need to do clinical research to prepare their products for market launch. We want to make sure that they can do it here,” says Carole Brückler, Head of Digital Health Technologies at the ministry. “At the same time, we can see a real willingness of clinicians to be part of innovation and make sure that new, innovative products are fit for purpose. The joint call provided funding adapted for bringing companies, hospitals and public research together in common projects.”
We can see a real willingness of clinicians to be part of innovation and make sure that new, innovative products are fit for purpose.
In order to facilitate the preparation of projects, Luxinnovation met the evolving national needs for innovation by setting up an online platform where companies, public research organisations, hospitals and healthcare providers could submit project ideas. The agency supported over 100 matches between potential project partners. In the end, 17 pre-proposals were submitted, and 8 of them were invited to follow up with full proposals. “We are delighted with the response from the ecosystem, not least from the hospitals,” says Dr Brückler.
The successful pilot will be followed by further thematic calls in fields such as defence and high performance computing. A new healthtech call is also in the pipeline. “We will also analyse how we can tweak future calls to include even more stakeholders,” Dr Monnat concludes.
Photos: © Luxinnovation/Marion Dessard), © Ministry of the Economy/Marion Dessard