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Security practice joins forces with innovative research

Answering the need for enhanced forms of security, an EU-funded project fosters interactions between law enforcement agencies and innovative research.

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Fostering more secure societies and protecting European citizens against new forms of criminality is one of the main goals of the EU. The EU-funded ILEAnet project aimed to respond to this objective by bridging the gap between law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and R&I. In addition to the creation of a professional network, the project designed tested and implemented tools and approaches to facilitate the uptake of project results and promote the involvement of security practitioners in R&I activities.

Forging a collaborative network to enhance security

As an H2020 Network of Practitioner-based research project, ILEAnet was concerned from its inception with creating and developing a sustainable network of LEA practitioners interested in innovative solutions. “However, the objective was not to initiate a practitioner network for the sake of it, running the risk to duplicate existing efforts in this domain especially in the context of the creation and launch of the Europol Innovation Lab, but to design such a network as to prompt and facilitate interactions at different stages of the innovation process between security practitioners and developers of relevant solutions for LEAs,” explains Thierry Hartmann, Senior Police Officer at the French Ministry of the Interior and project coordinator. The ILEAnet network was organised around 20 ILEAnet national contacts (INCs) with deputies nominated by each partner of the consortium. They were in charge of federating their respective organisations and networks of stakeholders, acting as a go-between and relaying ILEAnet information and requests to their networks, while contributing to the ILEAnet agenda through a bottom-up approach. “As part of ILEAnet’s sustainability strategy, an initiative was undertaken to see if and how the INC network could become, in whole or in part, a sustainable ‘veteran hub’ of clearly identified innovation contact points within LEAs after the end of the project” notes Hartmann. “Several INCs have already agreed on joining such a hub.”

Merging online and offline law enforcement tools

From a practical viewpoint, the ILEAnet network and community were supported by a bespoke online collaborative platform that was customised from an already existing tool for professional communities. ILEAnet provided therefore a secured structured environment for practitioners and experts to find information, exchange ideas and engage in professional social networking. The ILEAnet platform included a Knowledge Factory which offered a dynamic online repository of security-related intel that supported research activities addressing LEAs’ needs and identified potential solutions. It encompassed more than 700 entries when the project ended in May 2022 and since was taken over by the Europol Innovation Lab The ILEAnet project portfolio was developed dynamically through five public workshops and a webinar series, the main purpose of which was to invite projects that had been carefully selected because their solutions were of major interest to LEAs. Project holders were required to showcase these solutions in a practical way, allowing security practitioners to assess their usefulness and potential for deployment in their work. The ILEAnet research, development and innovation roadmap has several dimensions, covering a framework to facilitate the uptake of research outputs by LEAs (ILEAnet Project Uptake Process), good practices on how to foster the involvement of LEAs in research projects (ILEAnet Project Incubation Process), state-of-the-art subcontracted studies whose results are likely to inspire research topics and recommendations about security domains in need of standardisation.


ILEAnet, LEA, law enforcement, security practitioners, R&I, law enforcement agencies, practitioner network, criminality

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