Holding The Cards For Successful Innovation

Dr Carlo Duprel, pictured, is head of the technology transfer office at the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust, SnT (Photo © University of Luxembourg)

Technology innovation is one of the biggest, most important gambles any company undertakes. SnT can help ensure that gamble pays off for Luxembourgish businesses.

“Good research needs to have impact – not just be interesting,” Dr. Carlo Duprel explains. Duprel, who became the head of the Technology Transfer Office at the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security Reliability and Trust (SnT) in 2019, began his career as a physicist before spending four years as a consultant with Deloitte. As a scientist and industry veteran, he has a deep understanding of the balance that both companies and universities need to strike when setting out to maximise their research efforts. “Innovation is an inherently risky undertaking, and companies often do not have the resources they need to stay current with the pace of today’s research and technology. Researchers, on the other hand, usually lack access to the real-world data or the contextual information they need to formulate really poignant research questions,” says Duprel. “My focus at SnT has been to bring industry and researchers together in partnerships that bridge these gaps, to produce research with real results.” The unique resources these partnerships yield have put SnT’s research into a special class globally and have given Luxembourg’s businesses a notable leg up.

“We have lots of partners who come back to work with us year after year,” says Duprel. “But a new partnership that we’re very excited about is our collaboration with LUXHUB,” one of Luxembourg’s leading FinTech innovators. “Industry partnerships like these give SnT researchers the opportunity to pursue work that will have a clear mid-term impact in the market” explains Duprel.

For LUXHUB, whose work focuses on enabling new open-banking business models and supporting compliance with digital banking regulations, the partnership with SnT will lead to the development (and ultimately the instrumentation) of an advanced federated-learning system. “With LUXHUB acting as a coordinating hub, and by leveraging the knowledge of SnT researchers, the federated machine learning system has the potential to improve current efforts to tackle key sector challenges, notably to identify illicit financial activity, by enabling shared learning without sharing data,” adds Claude Meurisse, COO, LUXHUB.

Federated learning will give LUXHUB’s customers the opportunity to benefit from AI-driven insights without compromising the privacy of a client or proprietary data. The technique, however, is still relatively new and an ongoing research field, so finding a team with the right skill set is extremely challenging, which is where SnT comes in. The technology could help LUXHUB be the first to fill a market niche, and secure their position as an innovation leader. 

“This is where our research partnerships excel. We can help businesses who come to us to explore a technology they are already interested in, or to sift through the massive amount of current research to choose the best candidate technology to meet their needs,” says Duprel. “Together, we can explore the best ways to implement these cutting-edge technologies in our partners’ actual context.” Over the course of the LUXHUB partnership, SnT researchers will investigate the best approaches for applying federated learning techniques to LUXHUB’s special FinTech and RegTech context, publishing research papers and presenting their results at conferences along the way. By the time the partnership draws to a close, LUXHUB will have developed the insights, experience, and competence they need to continue pursuing federated learning technology independently.

“Partners come away ready for the future. Sometimes that means they gain new in-house know-how for working with a specific technology. Or it might mean hiring a Ph.D. student straight off the research project as an expert for their own technology team. Other times, partners come away from projects with an experimental prototype in hand that they can use in their next independent steps,” explains Duprel.

In every case, success comes down to SnT’s diverse mix of research professionals. “Innovation is inherently risky, but working with SnT can increase the chance of success,” says Duprel. “Because at SnT, our teams are very diverse and there is a lot of exchange between scientists from different niches, including computer science, engineering, finance, legal informatics, and business model innovation. No matter what challenge arises on a research project, there is almost always someone in-house with relevant expertise we can turn to for help.” And on the occasion when there isn’t, says Duprel, “we can call upon our global network of research peers for input and advice. We have the brainpower and the resources to solve unforeseen problems or even to pivot to a new approach where necessary. This means our researchers can guide the interdisciplinary development and adaptation of truly comprehensive technologies.”

To find out how SnT’s Partnership Programme could help your business become an industry leader, reach out to: [email protected]

Editor’s note: This article is brought to you by SnT and only reflects the opinion of the author.

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