Between collaboration and innovation: Meet Valentin Plugaru, CTO of LuxProvide

Nastassia Haux I 11:25 am, 20th June

In an exclusive interview series featuring key figures from LuxProvide, a pioneering force in the realm of HPC and technological innovation, we have the privilege of conversing with Valentin Plugaru, Chief Technology Officer of LuxProvide. With his unique background and nearly 15 years of experience in High Performance Computing, Valentin plays a pivotal role in shaping the company’s strategic trajectory. Delve into his journey, the groundbreaking initiatives of LuxProvide and the challenging developments of MeluXina’s exploitation. 

Diverse expertise and leadership at LuxProvide 

“I have a diverse background with degrees in both economics and computer science, and I have been working in the HPC field for nearly 15 years, currently serving as a LuxProvide’s Chief Technology Officer, position where I wear many hats. My responsibilities include representing our organization at national, European and international level, particularly within the European ecosystem of supercomputing centers governed by the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking – EuroHPC JU. 

I am recognized as expert in supercomputing, providing strategic advice and contributing to the European supercomputing ecosystem development. Within LuxProvide, I drive the company's technology strategy and lead the Operations department, which consists of four teams. These teams manage the daily operations of LuxProvide's platforms, assist users, and work on various European and national projects with high impact.” 

From concept to reality: My journey with LuxProvide 

"My journey with LuxProvide began around three years before the company was officially established. At that time, I supported the national initiative which stood at the foundation of LuxProvide, particularly by advising on the requirements needed for establishing a new national supercomputing centre and its flagship platform – which became the national supercomputer MeluXina. 

In early 2019, I was part of an expert group that defended Luxembourg's application to the European Commission for hosting a new supercomputing facility. LuxProvide was then formally established, and in April 2020, I joined as one of the first two employees, taking on the role of Chief Technology Officer. From the start, my responsibilities included hiring the core teams and managing the procurement for MeluXina. 

In 2021, we delivered on the national target of having a 10 Petaflop/s world-class supercomputer implemented in Luxembourg, elevating capabilities at national and European level, and launching the pilot program for early users which came from Luxembourg's national research ecosystem and industry. By 2022, we piloted the first 100 projects on MeluXina, spanning startups to large industries, and participated in national programmes supporting supercomputing adoption, such as Fit4Start. Our growth continued in 2023, expanding our user base across Europe. We received the “Made in Luxembourg” label and the “Tech Firm of the Year” awards, and hosted fantastic projects – for example from a Nobel Prize-winning team and flagship European initiatives such as Destination Earth and eTranslation. 

In 2024, we support over 400 projects with thousands of users on the MeluXina platform and are involved in multiple European projects. We provide high-level user support, work with students through the EU Master in HPC program, and participate in strategic AI initiatives. As CTO, my role has evolved from establishing the platform and team to enhancing our services and capabilities, while still growing our teams to support new directions and ambitions.” 

Leveraging MeluXina for advanced prototyping and innovation 

“My teams and I are responsible for implementing and facilitating the use of MeluXina. Beyond its normal use by national and European projects, we are internally using it for prototyping future tools and services for our users. For example, with the global trend towards generative AI, tools like ChatGPT have become incredibly popular. The interest and adoption of AI across public administration bodies, research, and industry has been significant and rapid. Thanks to MeluXina, we can prototype workflows using large-scale AI models such as LLama from Meta, Mistral, and Falcon, which are essential for current real-world AI workloads. This would not be feasible without MeluXina's supercomputing capabilities. 

Additionally, the ecosystem is abuzz with discussions on quantum computing, a technology with tremendous future potential. We are in an exploratory phase and MeluXina allows us to implement software tools and simulators to demonstrate quantum computing processes. This enables users to prepare algorithms and drive knowledge in the ecosystem, even though a physical quantum computing infrastructure isn't available in Luxembourg yet. In essence, MeluXina enables us to bring advanced, cutting-edge services to our users, paving the way for future innovations.” 

Collaborating with partners and talent for future growth 

“Our mission at LuxProvide is to help grow the ecosystem by democratizing access to HPC. Traditionally, HPC was limited to research organizations, but our goal is to extend its benefits to public administration and industry as well.  

For 2024, our key focus is on impact. We collaborate with various sectors – administration, research, and industry – not only providing access to our high-end facilities but also by offering expertise to maximize the use and benefit of MeluXina. Our teams work closely with academia and research institutions such as University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, and industry actors of all sizes. We also plan to cooperate with the sovereign cloud initiative, Clarence. 

Collaboration is mutually beneficial. For instance, in the life sciences sector, we combine our supercomputing expertise with other organization’s domain knowledge to achieve breakthroughs that neither could accomplish alone. These synergies help drive our evolution to meet national priorities in health, space, finance, sustainability, and Industry 4.0. 

When establishing new partnerships, we are inclusive and supportive of organizations at different stages of development, from startups to large enterprises. We engage in thorough discussions to understand potential partners' needs and how they might benefit from our services. This inclusive approach ensures growth opportunities even for partners whose technological approach does not already involve supercomputing capabilities. 

As LuxProvide continues to grow, we rely on partnerships and the expertise of talented individuals who join our organization. We actively seek motivated and skilled people to join our teams, and support the quick adoption of new tools and ideas, fostering internal innovation. We also engage with interns and students, encouraging new talent and exploring future opportunities together.” 

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