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Increased foresight capacity for security

 

Anticipating the future, both in terms of threats and of opportunities offered by new emerging technologies is a real challenge. Having the capacity to depict plausible futures, to identify upcoming threats and to propose early responses can be of invaluable help to decision makers.

The sound programming of EU-funded security research can also be notably improved if the analytical capacity required to identify mid to long-term trends in the EU security context is in place and its outcomes are made available to decision makers through the right channels on a timely manner. This includes not only the identification of academic research, technology, innovation and industrial trends, but also of how these can be translated into early warning of threats and anticipated response. A common EU approach for civil security to address this need, properly covering the full range of security policy dimensions and acknowledging their particularities and distinctive features, is therefore needed.

Many organisations, including the European Commission, have developed instruments that provide timely assessment of technology trends on a regular basis. The broad technology landscape does not show frequent fluctuations, and a plethora of tools and ready-made information products unveiling trends in different time horizons are widely available. However, pure technology watch-based approaches are not helpful for civil security decision makers unless they are embedded in a qualitative assessment of threats and capabilities. Such assessment shifts the focus from a purely technological standpoint to the way in which these technologies are and will be used in a given policy, operational, industrial and societal context.

Therefore, building on existing technology and research landscaping mechanisms (and possibly tailoring them to the specificities of the civil security domain), applicants are invited to submit proposals for the development and operationalisation of a foresight framework for security including advanced tools, methods, techniques and processes. Such framework should be accompanied by a solid scientific model that connects future technologies with their future use. This should allow to identify how future civil security technology, research, innovation and industrial trends impact, influence and shape future threats and security capabilities, taking into account contextual aspects. These may include ethical, legal, societal, economic, geopolitical, environmental or industrial aspects, with particular emphasis on the capacity of the EU security technology and industrial base to achieve the desired technology development objectives, thus safeguarding the EU security technology sovereignty, if and when this is required. The proposed approach should combine qualitative and quantitative methods, maximise their automation and allow for qualified inputs through distributed and collaborative environment/schemes in order to make the most efficient and effective use of the human and technical resources available.

The proposals should take into account existing foresight approaches implemented by other EU and international organisations (e.g. JRC, EDA, INTERPOL, UNIDO, etc.). Should these be used as a reference, the newly proposed approaches should not just replicate the existing ones, but reference the source accordingly and adapt them to the context of EU civil security. Proposals should also take into account previous EU-funded research projects addressing foresight and build strong synergies with ongoing projects, in particular with the Networks of Practitioners funded under H2020 Secure Societies work programmes and the new Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation funded under Horizon Europe Cluster 3.

The proposed foresight framework must be operationalised since the early stages of the project and deliver information products until its finalisation and beyond. When operationalising the proposed approach, applicants have to consider that they should deliver tangible value to the European Commission Strategic Foresight Agenda[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/new-push-european-democracy/strategic-foresight/2020-strategic-foresight-report_en#strategic-foresight-agenda]], supporting political priorities in the field of civil security, including the programming of the Union´s investment for the development of security capabilities through research and capacity building funds. Therefore, the results are expected to be made available at least to all stakeholders involved in this task, both at EU and national level. In order to allow that the developed foresight framework works with and for this purpose, the applicants should demonstrate that the working cycles proposed and the exchanges of information required are duly coordinated with the work of the Thematic Working Groups of the Community of Users for Secure, Safe and Resilient societies set-up by the European Commission (future CERIS –Community of European Research and Innovation for Security) and/or with equivalent innovation labs set-up by EU Agencies in the different thematic areas addressed (e.g. Frontex). Therefore, the thematic working groups should not only be a source of information, but also a validator of the foresight approach proposed and a beneficiary of the information products delivered.

Applicants must show a good understanding of the context where security research and capacity building programming takes place (mostly at EU level), of who are the main actors involved and of what are their needs in terms of foresight. The proposal should pay special attention to the type and format of the outcomes to be delivered, their timeliness and to what audience these are addressed. In this sense, outcomes must be delivered periodically every 6 months or less throughout the whole project starting from month 6.

The project has to identify and describe options for the exploitation of the foresight model proposed beyond the project lifetime, including the setting up of a permanent technology foresight capacity in support to EU-funded security research and innovation programming, i.e. under the Research-as-a-service approach.

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