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Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation

Innovation uptake is not a linear process, and even less a single-step process that happens only at the end of a research project and it is not automatically enabled by a successful research result. The innovation uptake process begins with the identification of a need and ends with an innovative solution deployed on the field of operations, being R&I only one of the many contributors to the overall process, but not the first and not the last. In other words, successful results of research projects are a necessary but not sufficient condition to guarantee the uptake of innovation.

Investment in security research needs to be designed taking into consideration how and when it can deliver outcomes that contribute to the development of security capabilities. Therefore, research will be undertaken, from its very early stages, in a way that addresses real needs while guaranteeing the impact in the final solutions. It will also ensure to identify and underpin the factors that could help in the implementation of its results. However, the programming of research is highly conditioned by the quality, reliability and timeliness of the evidence that supports its decision making process. This includes the identification and understanding of the contextual elements that can or will influence or be influenced by the research (process), the research team and the research projects themselves.

The European Commission and the EU Member States carry out this programming exercise periodically, taking into account a wide variety of inputs. The complexity of the challenge is notable, considering that the EU security landscape is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous in what regards the security threats, the capabilities required to face them, the evolution of modern technologies, and the skillset needed to deploy those. In order to carry out a sound programming exercise, the European Commission and the EU Member States strive to consult and involve all actors. With that aim, experts are gathered in different configurations and their inputs are coordinated at EU and national levels to be factored in by the decision-making bodies of EU-funded security research.

These experts require high quality, reliable and timely evidence to support their assessments, but information is often scattered, hardly visible and requires bespoke processing for the detection of patterns and for the generation of actionable intelligence. In other cases, it is simply not presented in the right format to unveil its value.

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for the establishment of Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation. The role of these networks is to collect, aggregate, process, disseminate and exploit the existing knowledge to directly contribute to the expected outcomes of this topic.

Networks should engage with the main sources of information in order to have a sound and updated picture of the aspects mentioned above. This includes interaction with security experts (beyond the members of the project consortium), organisations, projects or initiatives, but also an extensive review of available databases, studies, reports or literature (notably all information generated under the EU-funded security research programmes, and possibly under other EU or MS funding programmes).

The networks must ensure the dissemination and exploitation of their findings to the different communities of the security research ecosystem, including policy makers, security authorities, industry, researchers and citizens. Special emphasis needs to be made on the contribution of these networks to the work of entities and initiatives established by the European Commission (e.g. Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network) and the EU Agencies to contribute to the security research programming effort In this regard, the networks should contribute timely and intensively to the work of the Thematic Working Groups of the Community of Users for Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies (future CERIS –Community of European Research and Innovation for Security) and of other equivalent innovation labs/groups set-up by EU Agencies (e.g. Frontex). The networks have to contribute to these working groups with the quantitative and qualitative evidence required to carry out their activities in support to a more impactful EU-funded Security R&I and to a more frequent and systematic innovation uptake.

Each proposal should include a plan, and a budget amounting at least 25% of the total cost of the action to carry out activities involving industry, academia and other providers of innovative solutions outside the consortium, for example with the aim to assessing the soundness of their findings, give support in validation processes, promote competitive development (e.g. via prizes) or dissemination of results, among other options.

The networks must be in a position to deliver findings on the abovementioned challenges starting from the month 6 of the project and periodically every 6 months or less, in accordance with the information needs of the entities and initiatives they are contributing to.

Proposals should clearly describe the process and timing for the collection of inputs and the generation of outcomes. This plan has to go beyond the description of project deliverables and milestones, and describe in detail how and when the findings will be disseminated and exploited during the project and in collaboration with the communities described above.

The applicants submitting the proposals have to ensure sufficient representativeness of the communities of interest (including, but not only, geographical representativeness) and a balanced coverage in terms of knowledge and skills of the different knowledge domains required to face the challenge, including security operations, technologies, research & innovation, industry, market, etc. The applying consortia need to demonstrate that the project beneficiaries guarantee the expertise required to steer the project activities in all the knowledge domains to ensure the success of the action. The work of the partners has to be supported by solid and recognised tools and methods, also accompanied by the required expertise to put them in practice.

The networks should build to the extent possible on the work initiated by the Networks of Practitioners funded under H2020 Secure Societies work programmes. Should such networks be still ongoing, maximum cooperation and minimum overlapping should be ensured and demonstrated.

Under this call, the applicants are invited to propose networks on the thematic areas of:

Option A: Border Security;

Option B: Resilient Infrastructure.

Only one network in each area can be funded.

The project should have a maximum estimated duration of 3 years.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.