Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg
Sasha Baillie gives keynote speech at the AALE conference in Luxembourg

Strategic cross-border partnerships enhance digital transformation

Speakers at the 19th AALE conference, held in Luxembourg for the first-time, highlighted the role of automation technologies in accelerating digital transformation and the uptake of Industry 4.0.

Minister for Higher Education and Research, Claude Meisch, Minister of Energy and Spatial Planning, Claude Turmes, and CEO of Luxinnovation, Sasha Ballie, attended the official opening of the AALE conference, which stands for “applied automation technology in teaching and development”, organised by the German association Vfaale. The conference provides a platform for different stakeholders to discuss innovative automation technology techniques.

Several German polytechnic representatives, industry experts, students, and company representatives attended the three-day conference titled "fighting climate change with automation", which was hosted for the first time in Luxembourg by the Lycée des Arts et Métiers.

“Automation in industry and construction has been a hot topic for a long time. This is because technological advancements have opened a lot more opportunities in the fields of construction, industry, and logistics,” explained Minister Turmes. In line with these rapid changes, Minister Meisch also underscored the importance of the AALE conferences in driving the development of core technical skills aligned with the specific needs of companies active in these fields, through targeted and early engagement with future professionals.

Sustainability and digital transformation nexus

According to Minister Turmes “digitalization is a top priority for Luxembourg,” as demonstrated by significant achievements and envisaged targets in Luxembourg’s climate and energy roadmap, such as the 99% rollout of smart meters or the electro-mobility goal of having 49% electric cars by 2030.

Several countries, including Luxembourg, have since committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, making it critical for businesses to transition to cleaner, digital, and more sustainable production methods. The national innovation agency houses the Luxembourg Digital Innovation Hub (L-DIH), which supports the digital transformation of the manufacturing industry, accounting for approximately 17% of local emissions. A central task of the L-DIH team at Luxinnovation is therefore to help them find the right expertise to define their digital strategies, implement digital technologies and train their staff in digital management skills.

Sasha Baillie, CEO Luxinnovation“According to a recent study carried out under the remit of the Luxembourg Haut-Comité de l’industrie, 25 companies are responsible for 95% of the carbon emissions coming from fuels and the production process. For Luxinnovation, this is clearly our focus group as well as multinational companies, which all together also have a very large decarbonisation potential,” explained Ms Baillie.

Supporting a digital and sustainable transition is a central mission for Luxinnovation.

Luxinnovation’s Fit for Digital and Fit for Sustainability programmes also assist companies in identifying certified experts to map out their digital and sustainable transition pathways.

The upcoming Smart Manufacturing Week, taking place on 5-9 June this year, also provides a platform for companies to explore how the use digital solutions can become smarter and more sustainable.  “Sustainability will be difficult to achieve if we don’t unlock the full power of digital innovation,” stressed Joachim Clemens, Senior Advisor Digital Transformation at Luxinnovation.

Digitalization is a top priority for Luxembourg.

A 2022 survey with Luxembourg manufacturing companies by the L-DIH shows that while companies have a high level of maturity in IT infrastructure, they need to develop digital production systems, connectivity and data collection, and industry 4.0 technologies. “Innovation is the key, and this is why supporting a digital and sustainable transition is a central mission for Luxinnovation,” explained Ms Ballie during her keynote speech. She also highlighted the importance of digital transformation for the future of the manufacturing sector explaining that it is key to maintain international competitiveness, make industry more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint.

Polytechnics and research entities are a great resource

Not all companies have all necessary digital skills and solutions needed for digital transformation in-house. “The search for partners should by no means be limited to Luxembourg only. We have the privilege of having a great pool of manufacturing expertise in our neighbouring countries,” Ms Baillie said, citing the existing relationship between the L-DIH and their counterparts in the Greater Region as a way to facilitate cross-border cooperation and collaborative projects.

The Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy offers companies grants for R&D and innovation that can be used for digitalisation projects. Luxinnovation supports companies during the application process and guides them in identifying the costs that qualify for funding within the scope of national and European programmes.

We have the privilege of having a great pool of manufacturing expertise in our neighbouring countries.

A key example of company-polytechnic cooperation that has also benefited from national funding support is the ongoing collaboration between the Luxembourg-based manufacturer of diaphragm valves and Trier Polytechnic’s Birkenfeld campus, presented by R&D-Engineer at Sisto Armaturen, Andreas Schaal.

“When Luxembourg-based companies consider partnering with research entities across the borders, we also provide guidance on what European programmes exist, such as Eureka, that allow their partner to obtain funding from the competent national authority on the other side. Besides, collaborative projects that involve a company and a public research entity – from Luxembourg or abroad – can get an additional top-up of the funding,” explained Ms Baillie.

Photo credit: Luxinnovation

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