(L-R) Claude Meisch, Luxembourg's Minister for Higher Education and Research; François Bausch, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence; Credit: MAEE

On Thursday 20 July 2023, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, François Bausch, the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Claude Meisch, and the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, jointly presented the results of the first call for research and development (R&D) projects in the field of defence.

In order to ensure its technological advantage and to approach its objective of investing 2% of its defence effort in the field of R&D, the Luxembourg Government set up an interministerial cooperation in 2022 between the Directorate of Defence, the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, as well as the National Research Fund (FNR) and Luxinnovation.

This intra-state collaboration enabled Luxembourg Defence to launch, in June 2022, the first national call for R&D projects in the field of defence, particularly for dual-use capabilities. The aim of this initiative was to enable national players, in particular companies and research centres to gain experience in defence while trying to position themselves as precursors in certain technological niches. The call for projects also aimed to support Luxembourg's industry in integrating the European Union's defence value chain, through direct contact with EU defence ministries, but also to foster the creation of a defence industry community in Luxembourg's priority sectors and to promote the country's technological capabilities in the field of defence at the international level.

Given the specificities of the economic fabric and the specialties of public research in Luxembourg, this first call for projects was limited to the space and materials sectors and targeted both companies and research centres in Luxembourg. Following the launch of the call, national players proposed 60 projects, including sixteen in the field of materials and 44 in the field of space. In a second phase, a panel of experts evaluated 22 of the 60 proposals. Finally, thirteen projects were selected for funding, including five in the field of materials and eight in the field of space. These include projects by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), among others.

In total, Luxembourg Defence will invest €9.5 million in this first call for projects, with €4.5 million dedicated to the innovation fund of the Ministry of the Economy and €5 million to the FNR, which is supporting the various projects with an additional €200,000. Successful projects will be funded for a maximum of three years.

The call for projects represents around a quarter of the total budget dedicated to R&D from 2023.

A second call will be launched in the areas of smart mobility, resilient infrastructure and strategic foresight and climate change adaptation. The details of this call will be presented in 2024, with the funding period extending from 2025 to 2027 and the budget planned by Luxembourg Defence set at €13.8 million.

"I am delighted with the huge success of this first R&D call. The submitted projects impressively prove that Luxembourg industry and research can integrate the defence sector. Thanks to these two calls for projects, Luxembourg Defence supports the national economy and our research sector," stated Minister Bausch.

"The large number of responses to the first call as well as the quality of the projects submitted underline the excellent positioning in terms of research and the innovative potential of Luxembourg. Therefore, I am delighted with the second call which, by virtue of its 'dual use' aim, is a continuation of the first and which fully meets the objectives set by the national research and innovation strategy", noted Minister Meisch.

Economy Minister Fayot added: "The number of projects submitted as well as the quality of the projects selected testify to the know-how and technological maturity of existing companies in Luxembourg that fall within the space and materials sector. By participating in this call for projects, the companies involved gain significant visibility and support for the development of dual-use technologies and see opportunities to engage in the European defence value chain."