Skip to main content

SEcurity REsearch Ncp network - phase 1

Final Report Summary - SEREN (Security research NCP network - phase 1)

Executive summary:

The research theme 'Security' presents several specificities as compared to other 'Cooperation' thematic priorities of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7):

- Security is intimately linked with many ongoing policy developments at both national and European Union (EU) level.
- As a new research theme as such and more specifically as a recent thematic priority within FP7, the security research community has only a limited experience of EU collaborative projects.
- Security market is still fresh and is characterised by an extremely high fragmentation of the buyer side.
- The offer side of the security market presents two very distinct types of actors: on the one hand, a few highly integrated European-wide companies with often a defence background and on the other a multiplicity of national- or regional-wide highly innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Those characteristics have translated in a few specificities at FP7 project level:

- Projects need to be mission oriented, and therefore, they must involve very heterogeneous kind of end users which are not usual FP7 participants.
- It is the only theme dealing with sensitivity and classification issues.

In consequence, perhaps more than in the other thematic priorities, there was a strong necessity to inform and support the European security research community in its participation to FP7. We believed that one way to foster the implication of this community was through an enhanced national contact point (NCP) network.

Therefore, SEREN focused on strengthening the security research NCP network by raising the knowledge level of its individual members, initiate coordination and, as a matter of fact, the ability of its members and of the network as a whole to deliver a higher level of service to participants.

Aside from the actions targeted more specifically to NCP, SEREN undertook various initiatives:

- Organisation in the framework of SRC '08 of a brokerage session dedicated to all SEC-2009-1 potential participants who offered the opportunity to 16 companies and research institutions to present their competencies or project ideas to around 200 participants.
- Set-up of a partner search system that translated in the exchange of 37 competencies or project ideas fiches for the SEC-2009-1 call for proposals.
- Publication of a first map of European security research national programmes.
- Identification of clusters and associations active in the security field and willing to promote and disseminate the participation of SME to FP7. In addition, a first database of potential participants to security research calls for proposals has been set up on the project website.
- Publication of various information notes on the security research related programmes at EU and international level in Europe and on the demonstration programmes.

Project context and objectives:

The aim of the SEREN-phase I coordination action was first and foremost to link all security research NCPs, to identify fields of improvement for the structuring of the network, to initiate coordination, to start promoting joint activities and to improve the quality of the network and, as a matter of fact, the ability of its members to deliver a high level of service to the community.

Security research NCP network being relatively young with partners relatively new in the field of security research or / and with a relatively limited experience of the framework programme, the objective of SEREN was therefore limited and consisted mainly of preparatory tasks. Therefore, as mentioned in Annex 1 to the grant agreement, the SEREN objectives were to:

(1) Identify network needs and initiation coordination among its members: In order to deliver good and relevant services, a prerequisite is first and foremost to know the 'client' needs and demand. Therefore, a first step was to identify needs of both stakeholders and NCPs. Building on this preliminary step, SEREN then developed guidelines that one hand reminded NCPs what services are demanded within the security research community, and on the other hand enable the NCP to benchmark its own service with those offered in other countries. The second objective of this work package (WP) was to initiate some coordination and polling of knowledge by setting up processes for the exchange of good practices, for fostering networking amongst NCPs and finally for sharing experience and knowledge. The final objective of this WP was to specify and set up a website serving as tool for the exchange of information and for the communication on SEREN actions was set up online.

(2) Increase NCP knowledge and awareness of the European security landscape: In order to deliver advices in their respective country, NCPs must have a minimum understanding of the European landscape. However, the security research is a relatively young theme at European level, and at national level as well. In the past, research programmes related to security were often mixed within defence- or police-related programmes. Also, a lot of national research initiatives have strong links with Security (e.g. Information and communication technology (ICT), Health, transport). Though improvements have been made recently with the recent launch of dedicated national security programmes in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and United Kingdom, this depicted situation is still broadly true. In consequence, few are the stakeholders across Europe presenting a clear vision of the security research programmes and actors in the different Member States and associated countries.

Therefore, the main objective of this WP was to draw a mapping of the security research programme and system across SEREN partners.

Additionally, in order to foster cooperation amongst stakeholders (and not only on FP7 topics) and support the consolidation of a real European security research landscape, there is a need to have a broad vision of the security competencies across Europe. Such essential exercise is however inherently hard and complicate. Therefore, in order to prepare such competencies mapping, SEREN initiate the mapping of said 'support structures', structures such as associations or cluster that have a direct contact with security providers and end users and that could act as relay for a real and exhaustive competencies mapping.

(3) Coordinate and ease transnational cooperation and training: The EU Community potentially interested in security research faces a high level of fragmentation. Therefore, SMEs, universities and research centres are confronted to difficulties far superior than in the other part of FP7 to find other potential partners with whom they might collaborate. Hence, it is extremely important that the NCP network delivers a high level service for the partner searches. We therefore proposed with SEREN to initiate coordination in this field by agreeing on standardised partner search templates. Moreover, many NCPs being new comers SEREN aimed to improve the average level of knowledge of its members and, therefore, of the average level of support services offered by NCP to demanding consortia. In this respect, a successful training was organised on the evaluation of proposals.

(4) Policy monitoring: Security research is closely linked to many EU policies spanning throughout the three EU pillars and many agencies. In this respect, security research policy context is highly complex. Mere is the number of small research centres or SMES that can afford to follow attentively the development of the Security Research Area (SEC). Moreover, many NCPs are not be fully dedicated to security as they have in charge also other areas of the FP7. Those NCPs cannot therefore dedicate much time to the monitoring of the security research actuality. Therefore, it is of utmost important that SEREN addresses this weakness and monitors the main evolution of potential interest to the European security research programme (ESRP). Therefore, SEREN had for objective to monitor the ESRP main evolution and disseminate the information across the network throughout European stakeholders.

Project results:

Launching from scratch a 28 partner large network and obtaining results within an 18-month timeframe was a challenging enterprise. However, the great majority of the objectives have been achieved though some time with some delays compare to the original work plan. Those delays result mainly from an initial lack of experience in the security field and NCP activities that translated in an optimistic initial work plan and a prerequisite build-up of security research landscape knowledge for most partners.

Those achievements are the following:

(1) Working together for almost three years (from the proposal preparation up to the final report) has naturally brought security research NCPs to better know each other. SEREN has therefore fostered the emergence of a strong core network that is essential for initiating collaboration and cooperation.
As a 'by-product' SEREN was also successful in getting NCPs to better grasp FP7 specific administrative rules. Indeed, though NCPs have by their very own nature a good knowledge of FP7 rules for participation many have not a practical experience of those rules and such network is in this respect a good hand-on experience.

(2) A better understanding of stakeholders needs as well as a benchmarking of security research NCP national activities through the publication of the NCP guidelines. Indeed, both documents are of great use for NCPs as it enables them to tailor their services to the real needs of the stakeholders. Moreover, the guidelines appear to be a good document enabling each NCP to benchmark its services with those offered across the SEC. It is therefore hoped that this deliverable will be used both by NCPs to develop and implement new tools, methods and services fitting the needs of his / her own national community and by stakeholders so that they know the support they can expect from their respective NCP. Moreover, NCPs networks present as a general feature a high turnover. In the case of SEREN, only 50 % of participants of the initial participants at the beginning of the project were still in position 18 months later. Therefore, such guidelines are of utmost importance in order to smooth the transition process in each individual country.

(3) Set-up of cooperation processes for the exchange of knowledge through regular network focus-group meetings, a web base knowledge pool and the partner search system. Each SEREN partners present an own set of expertise or as set up a particular organisation relevant to his / her own country specificities. Much can be gain by the network and its members from such expertise and experiences and therefore processes have been developed in order to foster the exchange of good practices. Additionally, those processes enable members not in the core of the network to get better known by their peers.

(4) SEREN successfully identified relevant entities that will be able to support an exhaustive mapping of security research competencies. This initial mapping in itself cannot be disseminated but will be an essential part of a more complete exercise that will be proposed in the second phase of SEREN.

(5) As the different editions of the security research conference showed, many Member States have quite reluctant to communicate on their national security research initiatives. As a result few are the persons having a good overview of the national security research activities across Europe. Yet, SEREN successfully conducted a first mapping of national security research programmes. At the exception of Finland that was not a partner of SEREN, all the other countries having ongoing or planning to launch national security programme have been addressed in the survey carried on during the project.

(6) As the always high attendance to the various brokerage events reveals, one of the main difficulties encountered by smaller participants is to be known and / or get to know consortia that are preparing proposals. In this respect, the NCP network can be of great support to participants. Therefore, SEREN formalised and setup a process for supporting participants in their quest for partnerships through the exchange of project ideas and of competencies portfolio. This has unable the exchange of more than 50 files (and counting) since the launch of the project. Because Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) is currently developing a system offering much of the IDEALIST functions, SEREN decided not to develop its own information technology (IT) system but to wait for CORDIS to implement its system in which SEREN is to play a central role for the partner search related to security research calls for proposals.

(7) SEREN successfully organised a brokerage event during the SRC '08 conference organised by the French Presidency in September 2008. The turnout was very satisfactory. Although no formal listing has been made by the organisers, a rough evaluation based on the visual percentage of occupied seats versus free seats bring an estimation of around 200 the number of persons that attended this session. This brokerage session gave the opportunity to 15 companies and research centres to present their knowledge and know-how or their project idea.

(8) SEREN held a training seminar open to all security research NCPs. The topic of the seminar was selected in order to provide a better understanding of the evaluation procedure to the NCP colleagues giving them in this context the opportunity to provide better services to their clients. 30 NCPs attended this seminar and the feedback about the content and the implementation of the seminar was enthusiastic.

(9) SEREN issued a number of notes relevant to the SEC. Those notes and presentation draw a picture of the ESRPs - Directorate General for Justice and Crime Reduction (DG JLS), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and European Defence Agency (EDA) - and give clarifications on the demonstration programme phase 2.

Potential impact:

Launching from scratch a 28-partner large network and obtaining results within an 18-month timeframe was a challenging enterprise. However, the great majority of the objectives have been achieved though some time with some delays compare to the original work plan. Those delays result mainly from an initial lack of experience in the security field and NCP activities that translated in an optimistic initial work plan and a prerequisite build-up of security research landscape knowledge for most partners.

Those achievements are the following:

(1) Working together for almost three years (from the proposal preparation up to the final report) has naturally brought security research NCPs to better know each other. SEREN has therefore fostered the emergence of a strong core network that is essential for initiating collaboration and cooperation.
As a 'by-product', SEREN was also successful in getting NCPs to better grasp FP7 specific administrative rules. Indeed, though NCPs have by their very own nature a good knowledge of FP7 rules for participation many have not a practical experience of those rules and such network is in this respect a good hand-on experience.

(2) A better understanding of stakeholders needs as well as a benchmarking of security research NCP national activities through the publication of the NCP guidelines. Indeed, both documents are of great use for NCPs as it enables them to tailor their services to the real needs of the stakeholders. Moreover, the guidelines appear to be a good document enabling each NCP to benchmark its services with those offered across the SEC. It is therefore hoped that this deliverable will be used both by NCPs to develop and implement new tools, methods and services fitting the needs of his / her own national community and by stakeholders so that they know the support they can expect from their respective NCP. Moreover, NCPs networks present as a general feature a high turnover. In the case of SEREN, only 50 % of participants of the initial participants at the beginning of the project were still in position 18 months later. Therefore, such guidelines are of utmost importance in order to smooth the transition process in each individual country.

(3) Set-up of cooperation processes for the exchange of knowledge through regular network focus-group meetings, a web base knowledge pool and the partner search system. Each SEREN partner presents an own set of expertise or as set up a particular organisation relevant to his / her own country specificities. Much can be gain by the network and its members from such expertise and experiences, and therefore, processes have been developed in order to foster the exchange of good practices. Additionally, those processes enable members not in the core of the network to get better known by their peers.

(4) SEREN successfully identified relevant entities that will be able to support an exhaustive mapping of security research competencies. This initial mapping in itself cannot be disseminated but will be an essential part of a more complete exercise that will be proposed in the second phase of SEREN.

(5) As the different editions of the security research conference showed, many Member States have quite reluctant to communicate on their national security research initiatives. As a result few are the persons having a good overview of the national security research activities across Europe. Yet, SEREN successfully conducted a first mapping of national security research programmes. At the exception of Finland that was not a partner of SEREN, all the other countries having ongoing or planning to launch national security programme have been addressed in the survey carried on during the project.

(6) As the always high attendance to the various brokerage events reveals, one of the main difficulties encountered by smaller participants is to be known and / or get to know consortia that are preparing proposals. In this respect, NCPs network can be of great support to participants. Therefore, SEREN formalised and set up a process for supporting participants in their quest for partnerships through the exchange of project ideas and of competencies portfolio. This has unable the exchange of more than 50 files (and counting) since the launch of the project. Because CORDIS is currently developing a system offering much of the IDEALIST functions, SEREN decided not to develop its own IT system but to wait for CORDIS to implement its system in which SEREN is to play a central role for the partner search related to security research calls for proposals.

(7) SEREN successfully organised a brokerage event during the SRC '08 conference organised by the French Presidency in September 2008. The turnout was very satisfactory. Although no formal listing has been made by the organisers, a rough evaluation based on the visual percentage of occupied seats versus free seats bring an estimation of around 200 the number of persons that attended this session. This brokerage session gave the opportunity to 15 companies and research centres to present their knowledge and know-how or their project idea.

(8) SEREN held a training seminar open to all security research NCPs. The topic of the seminar was selected in order to provide a better understanding of the evaluation procedure to the NCP colleagues giving them in this context the opportunity to provide better services to their clients. 30 NCPs attended this seminar and the feedback about the content and the implementation of the seminar was enthusiastic.

(9) SEREN issued a number of notes relevant to the SEC. Those notes and presentation draw a picture of the ESRPs (DG JLS, NATO, EDA) and give clarifications on the demonstration programme phase 2.

List of websites: http://www.seren-project.eu