LIST Launches FITS Centre for Financial Innovation

Luxembourg’s Institute for Science and Technology (LIST) has launched the Financial Innovation Technology and Systems (FITS) centre in order to meet the gap in applied research and innovation for the sector in Luxembourg. .

The Finance Sector is the biggest source of GDP for Luxembourg, yet there are still important and largely untapped areas where financial innovation will help consolidate and grow the industry in the country, while also helping to transform the corresponding segment of ICT providers to the finance sector.

To this day, the industry has demonstrated that purely technological discoveries have not been enough to transform its services, reduce continuously rising costs or avoid the collapses experienced in the cyclical crises of the industry. Opportunities from digitisation still remain mostly untapped.

The measure of success for FITS will be its impact and its ability to bridge a gap between research and industry actors.

Its working approach is based on the business principles of systemic interdiciplinarity — i.e. a holistic approach that considers people, practices and processes — and industry segment focus, that will direct research towards generating tangible economic value for the local finance industry.

Consequently, the new Centre has identified four domains as its main focus areas where capacity for growth exists, namely investment management and funds, private banking and wealth management, risk and finance & accounting competences, and regulatory compliance and legal technologies.

The integrative and multidisciplinary scope of FITS will take root in the bridges necessary between managerial systems and the use of information, done through a close integration of data with people, practices and processes inside and across organisations. To sum this up with a concept, “Business Analytics research” will be a fundamental pillar for the Centre’s ambitions, closing the gaps left unaddressed by conventional and monolithic research on data analytics, artificial intelligence and other computer sciences topics existing for decades.

Large data and computing infrastructure for both innovation and proof-of-concepts will also be essential. The aspiration and goal of the FITS centre will be to move the frontier of commercial high- performance and data-intensive computing by searching new vehicles to democratise the access to these capabilities through new economies built around communities and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Families of new applications will be co-created with keystone leaders in the critical segments of the local industry and deployed on computing clouds hosted in Luxembourg.

FITS will focus on digital technologies as an accelerator in the deep interplay between people, practices and processes. The research challenges will be approached with world-class expertise in Business Analytics, made possible thanks to recent recruitments at LIST.

FITS will not work on “generic technology” topics such as blockchain and other security, software engineering or reliability issues. It will focus only on practical and value-driven solutions with all financial industry parties and the related ICT companies.

FITS proposes to work in close collaboration with all the instrumental government actors including the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the National Research Fund, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance.

With the exception of a few new portfolio managers and business partners, FITS is fully operational without dedicating resources further to those already existing at LIST. The Centre is regrouping a portfolio of new and existing LIST projects, mobilising resources coming from different units within the parent organisation. LIST has made some initial investments by recruiting key experts in business analytics and regulatory technologies from different places in the world as a seed effort.

The FITS Centre will be led by Prof Dr. Jorge Sanz as its Scientific Director. Prof Sanz was invited to come to Luxembourg as a new landmark in the international expert’s long academic and private industry career, which was first consolidated in Sillicon Valley, U.S.A. and recently also in Singapore, Asia. The motivation for the relocation was due to a strong interest from Luxembourg to create a new avenue for applied research and innovation for local industries, and the need to apply the said professional and academic expertise for the growth of the country, specifically in Financial Services.