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National Contact Points (NCPs) in the field of security and cybersecurity

 

National Contact Points (NCPs) are support structures that have become an essential component in the implementation of successive Framework Programmes. They provide information and on-the ground advice to potential applicants and beneficiaries, through the project life cycle, in their own language, in a manner that would be impossible for the European Commission and its Agencies acting alone.

The NCPs are the main structure for providing practical information and assistance to potential participants. They are ambassadors for Horizon Europe, perceived as true and impartial partners of the European Commission Services and its Agencies. The system of NCPs will be established, operated and financed under the responsibility of the Member States and Associated Countries.

NCPs can also help to give visibility to different perspectives of all Security Research and Innovation (R&I) stakeholders and to break geographical silos by aggregating the knowledge existing in the EU Member States and regions and incorporate it to the European picture. This should reinforce the development and testing of new security solutions in European Regions, drawing on their local characteristics, strengths and specialisation and contribute to the push towards a “Place-based innovation and experimentation” brought by the New Industrial Strategy for Europe[[COM(2020) 102 final.]].

As highly professional support services, NCPs operating nationally will form an essential component of Horizon Europe implementation. They will have a key role in delivering the Programme’s objectives and impacts ensuring that it becomes known and readily accessible to all potential applicants, irrespective of sector or discipline.

A system of NCPs will be established for the Horizon Europe Cluster 3 “Civil Security for Society”, building on the experience of previous Framework Programmes.

The Horizon 2020 Secure Societies Work Programme comprehensively addressed the current security policy framework and key challenges. In specific, it aims at securing the society against disasters, fighting crime (including cybercrime) and terrorism, securing European borders, supporting the Union's external security policies in civilian tasks, and last but not least, increasing digital security.

In Horizon Europe, those challenges are to be addressed through various mechanisms tailored to the different actors, and by implementing actions at different levels, e.g. Research and Innovation Actions, Innovation Actions, Coordination and Support Actions and Pre-commercial Procurement Actions. Complementary actions include boosting communication, dissemination and exploitation; fostering the testing, validation and demonstration of innovative technologies; as well as strengthening the links between the R&I community actors.

NCPs will be called to support and enhance this approach by, inter alia, facilitating access of all relevant actors to funding opportunities; providing generic and sector specific information and advice, enabling contacts with strategic actors, organisations and initiatives and addressing the need to seek and provide consistent coordination among actors.

The activities of the NCP Network should be tailored according to the nature of the area, and the priorities of the NCPs concerned. Special attention should be given to enhancing the competence of NCPs, including helping less experienced NCPs rapidly acquire the know-how built up in other countries.

The successful proposal will contribute to delivering the Programme’s objectives and impacts and raise awareness of potential applicants for calls under Horizon Europe Cluster 3 – ""Civil Security for Society"". Irrespectively of their sector or discipline, project proposals should aim to facilitate trans-national co-operation between NCPs, with a view to identifying and sharing good practices and raising the general standard of support to Programme applicants. The project should also allow for a better flow of information relevant for the implementation of the Programme from the EU level to the national level and vice-versa, and also across Member States and Associated Countries. This includes fostering the participation of national players in EU security research and innovation fora.

The NCP network should explore the possibility to increase the visibility at EU level of the results and impact achieved by national players following their participation in R&I projects. Particular attention should be given to results that have led to the deployment of solutions in the field of operations, or that show a strong potential for uptake because of the interest expressed by national buyers.

Proposals should include a work package to implement matchmaking activities to link up potential participants from widening countries with emerging consortia in the domain of the Cluster “Civil Security for Society”. Matchmaking should take place by means of online tools, brokerage events, info days and bilateral meetings between project initiators and candidate participants from widening countries. Other matchmaking instruments may be used as appropriate. Where relevant, synergies should be sought with the Enterprise Europe Network to organise matchmaking activities in accordance with Annex IV of the NCP Minimum Standards and Guiding Principles.

The project proposal to be funded should cover a wide range of activities related to Horizon Europe, address issues specific to the Cluster ""Civil Security for Society"" and may follow up on the work of SEREN4.

The project consortium should have a good representation of experienced and less experienced NCPs.

The proposed Cybersecurity Competence Centre and Network Regulation[[COM(2018) 630 final.]] inter alia establishes a Network of National Coordination Centres. These National Coordination Centres will be tasked, amongst others, to facilitate the participation of industry and other actors at the Member State level in cross-border projects and to act as contact point at the national level for the Cybersecurity Competence Community and the Competence Centre. Therefore, proposals should also take into account support activities for coordination between the respective beneficiary (NCP) and the respective National Coordination Centre within the relevant Member States as applicable once the regulation mentioned above is in force.

The recommended duration of the project is 3 years.