PARIS – Luxembourg reaches out to young minds for their third annual innovation competition. The Concours GENIAL, in partnership with research agency Luxinnovation, looks to inspire 5-20 year-olds to think outside the box.
Luxembourg, a highly diverse nation bordering France, was traditionally known as a steel-based industry. In the 1960s the development of financial and communications sectors has helped make Luxembourg the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world with an unemployment level hovering just around 5%.
Luxembourg has quickly moved to a high-tech and manufacturing economy, attracting companies like Amazon and Skype. Since 2009, the government has been sponsoring this competition to help prep younger generations find their place in this ever-evolving economy.
Carole Nuss, spokesperson for Luxinnovation, spoke with SmartPlanet about Concours GENIAL. With a successful economy and diverse population, Luxembourg is fertile ground for such a competition. “This intercultural, multilingual and diverse environment facilitates the uptake of creative and innovative ideas,” she said, citing that four languages are spoken in the country where nearly a third of inhabitants hold a foreign passport.
She said the idea stemmed from the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation, an EU initiative to stimulate education and debate on these issues. In Luxembourg, the Ministry of Education launched the Concours GENIAL with Luxinnovation and is now celebrating the third year.
Children and adolescents compete in five different age brackets to put forth lofty inventive ideas as well as more practical applications for everyday life. “In the competition Concours GENIAL we are not looking for huge inventions to be nominated for a Nobel Prize. We are looking for smart, creative ideas underlining the fact that innovation is possible at any time and in any domain,” Nuss said.
Previous winners include everything from urban personal transport systems and space hotels to solar-powered LED safety lights and shoes for guiding the blind. Prizes are awarded, but Nuss said that the main idea is to instill good practices early in life. “The important thing however is that young people start to realize that it is up to them to become proactive in order to kick-off the innovation process,” she said.
The Concours GENIAL ends in April, when Luxembourg finds out who could potentially be the next Luxembouger Steve Jobs. The contest partners with local sponsors involved in innovation and education, acting as support for especially brilliant idea-makers. “Young people with ‘genius’ ideas can count on further assistance after the competition,” Nuss said.
Photo: Revue Technique