Innovative Luxembourg: From Iron Mining to Science, Tech, Space, and Beyond

7th Aug, 2020

One of the most impressive cases of transformation in modern Europe is the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Long-known for iron mining and steelmaking, in the 1980s the country emerged as a global financial centre. In the last couple of decades, it has reinvented itself as a hub of innovation, with top research institutions and thriving science, technology, and manufacturing sectors. With the recent formation of a space sector and a plan to create by 2030 a society that is knowledge-driven and totally sustainable, Luxembourg’s eyes are fixed on the future.

The heart of its innovation is the University of Luxembourg, ranked by Times Higher Education as number 17 among young universities of the world. It’s home to the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), which focuses on autonomous vehicles, space systems, and the internet of things. Another renowned institution is the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), which conducts neurodegenerative disease research, particularly for Parkinson’s disease. Other excellent public research centres are the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), which has a dedicated unit for environmental and industrial biotechnologies, and the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) that conducts important cancer research.

Private industry played a key role in innovation in the Grand Duchy, going back the creation in 1911 of the steel company Arbed, now ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel manufacturer and a driver of important technological advancement. Another boost came in 1949, when Goodyear created a plant in Colmar Berg, soon followed by the creation of an R&D facility, the only one outside the U.S. The company’s Innovation Center is still very active today, developing and testing high-tech tyres for the future. And in 1985, the Luxembourgish company SES was founded. It has grown into the largest satellite operator in the world and a force behind telecommunications innovation. 

Plenty of smaller but just as innovative companies operate in Luxembourg. The injection moulding company Husky has converted to full digitisation as part of an €11 million ‘factory of the future’ project. Automotive sensor leader IEE, which holds over 300 patents, spends tens of millions of euros per year in R&D activities. Global automotive parts manufacturer Delphi also invests heavily in R&D in Luxembourg to develop next-generation technology for fuel injection, turbocharger boost management, and exhaust gas recirculation. 

What might have once sounded like science fiction is becoming a reality in Luxembourg: a space sector. Space Resources, which creates a unique legal, regulatory, and commercial environment, was set up in 2016. This was soon followed by the creation of the Luxembourg Space Agency. The country is now working with partners to develop commercial space exploration and take the first steps toward asteroid mining – an exciting return to the country’s early days of iron. 

Interested in organising your event in one of Europe’s most innovative countries? Get in touch with the Luxembourg Convention Bureau and we’ll help get you started.

Business Events Luxembourg |

Other Articles

About Us

Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.