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Luxembourg towards a smart nation

Providing the keys to unlock our country’s potential

While the first and second industrial revolution started the transition from trade based economies to industrial societies, the often-cited “third industrial revolution”, based on digital technologies and new manufacturing methods, promises similar transformative changes to businesses and societies. Digitalization is all-pervading and is changing our way of working and living on a daily basis. Today, we pay our bills by bank transfer from our home computer, or we call a taxi via an app on our smartphone, but so far, the effect on our country and its governance has been limited. Despite many promising projects, the expected positive outcomes have not yet materialized.

This whitepaper highlights the current state of play in Luxembourg in relation to the six core building blocks of a smart nation.

Key messages

Luxembourg is facing a series of challenges through the globalized economy, increasing levels of international regulation leading to a reduced margin of manoeuvre, not to mention the technological and societal disruption through digitalization.

This whitepaper highlights the current state of play in Luxembourg in relation to the six core building blocks of a smart nation:

1. Technology and infrastructure
2. Data
3. Skills and competencies
4. Innovation culture
5. Attractiveness
6. Public-private ecosystem

While Luxembourg is well prepared in a majority of these areas, the coordination and connection of these building blocks are in need of strengthening to address key aspects designed to reinvent Luxembourg’s business model. A truly smart nation is first and foremost defined by a strong cooperation between all stakeholders and an alignment of interests from the government, the companies and society.

State of play

Advancements in computing, communication technologies, and data processing are generating disruptive breakthroughs in many industries. Data is at the core of a revolution that has vast implications for nearly all sectors of the economy. Not only private companies, but also entire nations are feeling the pressure to adapt to this changing environment. Technologies are challenging today’s social climate, while simultaneously offering many new opportunities to governments, businesses, and citizens. By developing innovative approaches designed to utilize technology for societal benefits, nations can meet the challenges of the future.

Luxembourg always faced a unique set of challenges that influenced its society and economy: its small size, its lack of certain natural resources, and its landlocked geographical location. Nevertheless, over the last century, Luxembourg was able to redesign its economic model twice. The steel industry took root in the second half of the 19th century. However, it was only due to the construction of large-scale integrated steelworks in the 20s and 30s that enabled the success of this particular economic sector as well as the country as a whole.

The building blocks of a smart nation

Technology and infrastructure

Technology, digitalization, and innovation are not only causing waves of change, but have also become some of the driving forces for a country’s economy.


Everyday 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created, with a staggering 90 percent of data in the world gathered in the last two years alone.

Skills and competencies

A smart nation requires smart citizens who are able to respond to the needs and challenges that come with the third industrial revolution.

Innovation culture

Building a smart nation requires the creation of an innovation culture that is open to new ideas, willing to experiment, and ready to take risks.


Building a smart nation means enabling attractive ecosystems that facilitate the constant renewal (i.e. technology, regulation, etc.) required for success in a digital world.

Public-private ecosystem

Co-creation is crucial to the success of a smart nation. Solutions to prepare for and adapt to changing environments, withstand, and recover from disruptions cannot be devised by individuals on their own.

Vision for Luxembourg's future

To be successful, a nation must provide its citizens with a stable and sustainable living environment, a strong economy, security, education and mobility, as well as show a strong commitment to its citizens.

A center for digital clinical trials

Today, there are more than 30,000 clinical studies recruiting patients in Europe alone, with some requiring the recruitment of thousands of participants, all of whom need to fulfil precise criteria to join. Most clinical trials currently rely on antiquated, paper-based data collection and require their registered participants to regularly visit trial sites in hospitals or research centers.70 From participant recruitment to data collection to adherence, the early stages of clinical trials is full of logistical challenges and inefficiencies causing delays in most of these trials and leading to billions of euros and countless hours of human effort spent each year validating new drugs, devices, and medical interventions.

Green finance

After signing the Paris Agreement on climate change (December 2015 – 195 countries71) and adhering to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many developed nations see the urgent need for investment to limit climate change. This shift in the global mind-set implies that many developing countries have to rethink their current economic development path. Decision makers (public and private) are forced to consider sustainability issues more deeply and frequently.


To meet the challenges of the future, it is necessary to apply a structured framework and a dedicated national strategy that unifies and connects individual projects where all stakeholders work together. 

To achieve its goals, meet its challenges, and become a smart nation, it requires a vision and an alignment of the building blocks.

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