In May 2019, the Government of Luxembourg published its national AI strategy, entitled Artificial intelligence: a strategic vision for Luxembourg (Luxembourg, 2019). The strategy is part of a broader policy programme called Digital Luxembourg aiming at coordinating and strengthening Luxembourg’s efforts in the digital transformation towards the development of a solid digital society.
The strategy acts as a vision paper outlining the ambitions of Luxembourg in the field of AI and presenting strategic policy recommendations in key areas to achieve them. The policy vision of Luxembourg’s strategy is to support the development of a human-centric AI based on an efficient and sustainable data-driven ecosystem. It aims at positioning Luxembourg as a leading digital society in the world. To achieve these objectives, the strategy advances a range of policy recommendations in the following key areas:
- Enhancing the skills and competencies in the field of AI and providing opportunities for lifelong learning;
- Supporting research and development of AI, transforming Luxembourg in a living lab for applied AI;
- Increasing public and private investments in AI and related technologies;
- Fostering the adoption and use of AI in the public sector;
- Strengthening opportunities for national and international networks and collaborations with strategic partners in AI;
- Developing an ethical and regulatory framework, with particular attention for privacy regulation and security to ensure transparent and trustworthy AI development;
- Unleashing the potential of the data economy, as a cornerstone of AI development.
The national AI strategy of Luxembourg does not disclose financial provisions or estimations for its implementation.
With respect to formal education, the Government of Luxembourg recommends reforming the secondary and higher education systems and vocational training programmes to include AI-related courses in their curricula. The strategy also emphasises the importance to increase the digital literacy and basic AI knowledge of citizens to prepare them for the digital transformation. To optimise lifelong learning opportunities for the workforce, it is advised to develop tailor-made learning experiences. This could be done in collaboration with leading AI companies to make sure that newly acquired skills and competencies fit the needs of the labour market.
As outlined in the Digital Luxembourg's progress report 2020, several initiatives to support advanced digital skills are currently ongoing in these directions. At the earliest education levels, initiatives such as Kids life skills and Kniwwelino aim to prepare pre-school and primary school children for computational thinking and coding. In 2020, the government presented Einfach Digital, a new national approach to digitalisation in the classroom that centres on critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration & coding. In addition, the Luxembourg Tech School (LTS) has expanded its course offer in AI. Such initiatives are complemented with learning opportunities in AI for the labour force as offered by AI academy Luxembourg (training modules for decision makers, technical professionals, data scientists & engineers), Lifelong-learning.lu (platform with trainings in IT and telecommunication), and the Elements of AI course, among others.
To fully grasp whether the needs for AI-related skills for the public and private sector are met, the government is also planning to map the current education offer and to integrate AI courses in those disciplines that are subject to benefit most from AI. This mapping information could feed into existing policy programmes such as Digital Skills Bridge and the recently launched Talent Attraction Strategy to further improve the fit between workforce’s skills and the needs of the labour market.
From the lab to the market
To foster the creation of marketable products and services in AI, the Government of Luxembourg has the ambition to transform the country into a living lab for applied AI. This will be done by encouraging a research culture in AI through the establishment of world-class testing facilities and regulatory sandboxes and through the development of research centres such as the Luxembourg Digital Innovation Hub hosted and managed by Luxinnovation. To further increase innovations in AI with a particular focus to SMEs and start-ups, the strategy advocates the use and expansion of existing financial funds such as The Future Fund, the Digital Tech Fund and the Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI) bank. With the aim to improve the quality and efficiency of public services, the Government of Luxembourg is also setting up policy recommendations to foster AI innovations and use in the public sector. This is done among others by identifying potential projects that could provide human-centric AI solutions for citizens and by sharing good practices with the (international) AI community. A call for projects was launched for ministries to submit ideas for AI-based initiatives that would help them optimise or expand their services in November 2019. The call drew a total of 14 projects from seven different administrations: six winning teams received funds to kickstart its project along with guidance on procurement, design and service provider selection. After 6 to 9 months of development, a completed proof of concept and mock-up will help determine if the project should move forward. Also, a team of legal experts on data and technology evaluated and assisted the finalists. This learning experience brings lasting value to Luxembourg’s public administration. A second call was launched in the beginning of 2021.
Other instruments at hand to reinforce customer-oriented services are the creation of a centralised data ecosystem for public data and the Digital by Default initiative that aims support the digitalisation and simplification of the public administration.
The strategy of Luxembourg also includes several policy recommendations for increasing national and international partnerships in AI. The National Research Fund has dedicated funding for collaborative public-private research in fields as advanced robotics and digital manufacturing. Through the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) the government is also prioritising more multidisciplinary research. The government has for instance recently launched an AI Laboratory in Luxembourg in partnership with NVIDIA. In addition, the strategy mentions the active participation of Luxembourg into European-wide initiatives as CLAIRE and Copernicus.
A new regulatory framework will be put in place to remove barriers to AI development. To ensure ethical guidelines for a trustworthy, transparent and sustainable AI, the Government of Luxembourg is setting up a technology & ethics advisory committee. Collaborations among governmental bodies aims also to ensure the adoption of proper corporate governance in AI. The government will also engage with the National Data Protection Authority to develop regulations with respect to privacy and data protection. The regulatory environment will aim to enhance quality, accessibility and transparency of data. Finally, the Luxembourgish institute for standardisation (ILNAS) will be consulted to coordinate standardisation processes in AI.
The successful development of cutting-edge AI technologies requires a well-developed data and telecommunication infrastructure. To this purpose Luxembourg is heavily investing in data centres, computing infrastructure and ICT resources. The Luxembourg Commercial Internet eXchange (LU-CIX) for instance provides access to six data centres, with a fast and reliable network stability and high-volume data transfer speeds. Luxembourg is also participating in the European initiative on High-Performance Computing (EuroHPC) aiming to develop expensive computing resources. In this respect, the supercomputer MeluXina will be developed. It will be a petascale supercomputer, capable of executing more than 10 Petaflops, 10 million billion calculations per second and powered by green energy from a cogeneration plant powered by waste wood. This new supercomputing system is expected to be operational early 2021 and will rank in the world's top 30 supercomputers. MeluXina is funded via a joint investment of about EUR 30 million from the European Union and Luxembourg.
AI to address societal challenges
Climate and environment
Luxembourg has set up the first European national partnership on AI with NVIDIA. The Government of Luxembourg together with the country’s scientific community and NVIDIA will set up a joint research laboratory for AI. Focusing on using AI and high performance computing to search for solutions to major societal challenges including space resources research, which could include green energy, climate and the environment.
In January 2021, the Ministry of the Economy, among others, sponsored the event Cleantech Forum Europe that took place in Luxembourg. This forum deals with topics related to digitisation and data as the key to a cleaner future also investigating the potential of AI and data platforms as tools to collect and analyse data for a cleaner future. Furthermore, the Luxembourg CleanTech Cluster engages with transforming urban life globally by means of sustainability, quality of life and embedded intelligence.
The Luxembourg national innovation agency – Luxinnovation – plays a crucial role in countering the COVID-19 pandemic. First, it manages the Luxembourg HealthTech Cluster that brings together national players involved in innovative health technologies. Its aim is to promote the development of new and existing companies through innovation, thereby contributing to economic growth and job creation, notably in the area of digital health. Furthermore, Luxinnovation provides support to the Ministry of the Economy to launch a call for projects StartupVsCOVID19 which will offer 20 selected start-ups up to EUR 150,000 in public funding. Although this call is not directly geared towards AI, it may contain AI-related projects among the selected applications.
Luxembourg is also headquarter to the COVID-19 Smart Screening Tool presented within the context of the #EUvsVirus hackathon. This project is jointly developed by Luxembourg and Greece with the objective to roll-out a generalised, scalable, yet resource-optimised strategy for de-confinement with a combination of COVID-19 testing and surveying based on machine learning, blockchain, and AI techniques. The result would be a risk-based approach for targeted COVID-19 testing that could be used in any de-confinement situation.
Monitoring and future update
The inter-ministerial coordination group, under leadership of the Prime Minister, will set up a governance mechanism to continuously follow up on strategic initiatives that support Luxembourg’s AI development. It will regularly assess the strategic vision and set up a framework for upcoming actions in the future.
Luxembourg (2019). Artificial Intelligence: a strategic vision for Luxembourg. The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. https://gouvernement.lu/dam-assets/fr/publications/rapport-etude-analyse/minist-digitalisation/Artificial-Intelligence-a-strategic-vision-for-Luxembourg.pdf