2023 will be a jubilee year for Amazon in Luxembourg: the American multinational technology company established itself in the Grand-Duchy exactly 20 years ago. Operating from Luxembourg as its European headquarters, Amazon is today the fifth largest employer in the country, employing over 4,000 people. This is part of the more than 200,000 people Amazon employs across Europe, and the company has invested more than €142 billion into the region over the last decade.
What is less known to the general public is that Amazon in Luxembourg is not only dedicated to e-commerce and logistics, but also to on-demand cloud computing for businesses and individuals – the work of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
AWS offers over 200 fully featured cloud solutions and services for a broad range of technology use cases, such as analytics, app development, cloud operations, databases, Internet of Things, machine learning, security and compliance, resource planning, and many more. The AWS cloud infrastructure spans 99 availability zones within 31 geographic regions, serving 245 countries and territories. Whether on a subscription basis or pay per use, AWS’s customers are offered agile and secure solutions with regard to their IT infrastructure, so that they can dedicate the time saved to the actual running of their business.
LUXEMBOURG’S AWS PROTOTYPING LAB
Amongst this multitude of services and the potential to unlock growth in Europe through technology, FEDIL was particularly interested in visiting and understanding the concept of the AWS Prototyping Lab. While its team serves a global network of dedicated entities in Santa Clara, New York, Sao Paolo, Beijing, Tokyo and Melbourne, the first and only physical Lab is located in Luxembourg and opened in 2020.
AWS’s prototyping engagement is part of the company’s commitment to providing customer support for any solution. Besides advice given by dedicated account managers, consultancy services, and training and tutorials, AWS has set itself the objective of empowering its customers to be innovative.
A prototyping project consists of guided hands-on engineering that helps the customer to solve a technology-related problem. On a tailor-made basis, AWS offers to build a prototype for customers, provided that the project is innovative, unique or different, and qualifies on these criteria. On a timeline of six to eight weeks, AWS experts, together with the customer’s team, work on the co-development of a solution by integrating the most suitable features from AWS or even third-party services. Even if a piece of code development might be necessary, this approach results in a very fast solution, tackling a specific requirement and reaching the customer’s goal in an efficient way.
Over the last five years, hundreds of prototypes were built this way in the EMEA region, with a high level of adoption to production. A telling example is the recent co-development between Veolia Water and AWS of a water-treatment solution, using AI and machine learning for the predictive maintenance of membranes. The implementation of this project clearly illustrates that AWS is fostering innovation and a sustainable impact. (And on the topic of sustainability, Amazon is on a path to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025 –
five years ahead of its original target of 2030.)
Another example of a successful prototyping approach is the collaboration between AWS and the pharmaceutical manufacturer Novo Nordisk on how to utilize machine learning and advanced analytics to modernize life sciences manufacturing. There’s also Idemia, a specialist in identity technologies, that with AWS experts co-developed a production-ready prototype for optimising the bank card fabrication process; as well as the Dutch company 30 MHz, which innovates with a serverless smart solution for greenhouses and indoor farms.
The Luxembourg Lab premises include a showroom area, a workshop fitted with a soldering station, a 3D printer, circuit board printers, several tools to work on more complex electronic devices, conference rooms, and the server room. The showroom of the Prototyping Lab hosts a number of demonstrators to show how the real world can be connected to the cloud. For example, the demo “Quality Control at Scale” shows how machine learning can be integrated into various technologies to improve quality control in manufacturing. The “Water Tank” demonstrates how to create a Digital Twin of hydraulic industrial plants in the real-word system, allowing remote supervision and monitoring of flow rates, water, temperature, and leaks in real time. In the SmartCrops demo, the power of satellite imagery is leveraged to monitor farmland and optimize production. The Predictive Maintenance Demonstrator uses machine learning to monitor the lifecycle status of industrial equipment.
David Reischl, AWS’ Public Sector Lead for Luxembourg, further explained how interest about the Lab is growing also among the Luxembourg innovation agencies and a number of institutions and Ministries, which has notably resulted in several recent visits.
According to Italo di Lorenzo, Amazon’s Luxembourg Public Policy Lead, the Lab is a very useful tool for bringing the possibilities and advantages of cloud computing technologies closer, not only to potential customers, but also to young people who might discover their vocation. Recently, AWS welcomed school classes to their Luxembourg premises and introduced the features of the Lab to them through gaming applications. These awareness-raising initiatives are all the more important as they allow young talent to engage in ICT careers, which are so in demand as many sectors transition to digital.
As an international group which is very active in Luxembourg, the Amazon/AWS team concluded our visit by emphasising that they appreciate the country’s impetus for innovation, as well as its multicultural environment and central geographic position as a gateway to Europe.