Showcasing Luxembourg Innovation To The World

Ebba Lund, CEO of IASP, during the 39th IASP World Conference hosted by Cartuja Science and Technology Park in Seville (Photo © IASP)

The International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) will hold their annual World Conference in Luxembourg in 2023. This major event, co-organised by Technoport (Luxembourg’s technology business incubator), will attract innovation experts and representatives from around the world, helping to put the country on the global innovation map.

The IASP made the announcement to hold their World Conference in Luxembourg earlier this year, choosing the country out of seven possible venues. This will be their second main in-person event post-COVID, following this year’s event in Seville, Spain, and is expected to welcome over 600 attendees. 

Belval: An area of innovation in Luxembourg

Whilst Luxembourg doesn’t have a science park in the traditional sense, the development of Belval in recent years as an area of science and technology innovation is being recognised by IASP. As Diego De Biasio, CEO of Technoport explained, “in addition to science park, IASP was an early mover in observing and defining the rise of areas of innovation, because they understood that the traditional model has evolved over time…it’s more about the service offering the park can bring – be it a city, community or region – more than just the physical space.”

But De Biasio also emphasises that this event will be hosted by Luxembourg, not just by Technoport. “For us, it’s important to showcase that there is a lot going on in Luxembourg, not just around Technoport.” And that is why the event is taking place in Luxembourg City, with just one of the four days happening in Belval.

“Luxembourg has a reputation as a place that’s long been open to the world and innovative in areas where it could develop a competitive advantage. First through the industrial steel manufacturing revolution of the early 20th century, and now in space, logistics, finance, digital, and new verticals like automotive/mobility and life sciences,” explains IASP CEO Ebba Lund. “With a national commitment to its knowledge economy, the country has a diverse startup ecosystem, and promises to be a vibrant destination for an IASP World Conference!”

The theme for the 2023 event, which will take place from the 12th to 15th September, is “Mega trends in Innovation Ecosystems – What are the impacts for Science and Technology Parks and Areas of Innovation.” Megatrends have by definition four main characteristics : they are stable over at least two decades; they affect all areas of life; they are global (even if their intensity may vary) and finally they are robust and survive specific drawbacks (such as pandemics and wars). For example, an ageing world or the network economy.

“It’s also about exploring possible futures ,” explains De Biasio. “Pushing us to imagine how society will evolve in the next 10-15 years, what type of trends might emerge, so that we can be ready to take future-oriented decisions today in an increasingly complex world.”

“Science parks and areas of innovation around the world each operate in their own local context and within their own regional innovation ecosystem, but they are all facing the same global megatrends,” adds Lund. “Using the notion of megatrends and possible futures is key to future-proofing and ensuring our industry remains at the cutting edge, and plays an active role in designing new models that contribute to shaping the future.” 

To complete the programme, there will be an official call for papers on this theme that will be open to anyone in the coming months. The final presentations will be selected by a steering committee made up of international experts and key representatives from Luxembourg.

Benefits to Luxembourg

And hosting such an international event will bring benefits to Luxembourg. Firstly, according to De Biasio, it will bring visibility to Luxembourg and highlight the credibility of the innovation ecosystem in the country. “It’s an opportunity to showcase what Luxembourg is doing in innovation, how we approach it and plan to develop it in future.” It also enables IASP to highlight the level of innovation that is happening in such a small country. “A lot of members of IASP might not know what’s happening in Luxembourg. Normally such congresses happen in larger countries, so being able to welcome our global peers to our small but innovative and multicultural country is something we all look forward to.” 

Secondly, the country will be able to benefit from having knowledge and expertise of people from across the globe who know about building and managing science parks and areas of innovation. The Luxembourg government is currently looking at such concepts to understand how they can structure it in future as the country’s campuses – such as those for space, automotive and Healthtech – grow across multiple locations. And finally the event will have a knock-on, economic effect, as it will attract hundreds of delegates who will likely prolong their stay as tourists, but also as seekers of new opportunities to find partnerships within the Luxembourg innovation ecosystem.

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