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Security Research FAQs


What is the EU’s Security Research (SR) programme?

The primary goal of Security Research is to protect Europe’s citizens and society from organised crime, terrorism, man-made and natural disasters, enabling its economy to recover quickly from them. The programme’s support for technology and innovation projects will also strengthen job-creation and help consolidate Europe’s security sector.

Who oversees the programme?

The SR programme is run by the G-3 unit of DG Enterprise and Industry in close cooperation with the Commission’s Research Executive Agency (REA).

Who may participate in the projects?

Any company, university, research centre, organisation or individual legally established in an EU member state may participate in a research consortium and apply for SR funding. Security research stakeholders from non-EU “Association Agreement” states can also propose and participate in projects.

For the full list of eligible associate and international cooperation countries, see the FP7 participation portal. It is also recommended that potential non-EU applicants consult their national authorities to confirm their eligibility

What are the main mission areas of Security Research?

These mirror the EU’s four broad security missions:

  • security of citizens
  • security of infrastructures and utilities
  • intelligent surveillance and border security
  • restoring security and safety in case of crisis
Are there any other security-related research areas?

Yes. The EU’s four main security missions are supported by so-called “cross-cutting” research efforts in the following areas:

  • security & society
  • systems integration, interconnectivity & interoperability
  • security research coordination & structuring
What is the budget allocated to Security Research within the EU’s FP7 programme?

FP7’s Security theme has an overall budgetary allocation of €1.4 billion for 2007-2013.

What kind of funding is made available to partners?

Large companies receive 50 percent funding from the EU for their share of a project’s research work.  Universities, other public bodies and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) can receive funding of up to 75 percent.

What are the wider rules that apply?

Generally, SR consortia must comprise at least three legal entities established in different EU member states or associated countries. These must be independent of each other.

In most cases the participation of least one end-user and an SME in the consortium is highly encouraged.

What is an end-user?

This refers to any public-sector entity that needs or uses civil security technologies, capabilities or expertise.  A typical end-user would be a border guard, law enforcement authority or customs official, for example. An end-user can be a local, regional, national or European authority.

Why do end-users have to be involved in a research consortium?

Because they are the ultimate beneficiaries of the EU’s Security Research programme.  Their participation is fundamental to help shape the technology, capability or knowledge that will emerge from a project.

How do research partners find each other -- and end-users?

By a number of ways.  For example, FP7 has long supported the creation of R&D networks across many fields. Security Research, though a young field, can increasingly turn to the same.  Also, each member state has a National Contact Point – a designated government or private-sector official – whose job is to put potential research consortium members in contact with one another. Moreover, the European Commission promotes networking via the workshops, conferences and stakeholder consultations which it sponsors each year.

How can I apply for EU-funded Security Research?

For current calls for proposals and related documentation (including application forms), see the FP7 participant portal.

What about details on current and past security research projects?

A detailed overview of current and past security research projects can be found here.

And information about forthcoming calls for security research topics?

For updates on forthcoming security research calls, please check the FP7 participant portal forthcoming calls.

What is the typical size of a Security Research project?

There is no “typical” size.  Projects generally fall into three categories, depending on their R&D scope and budget. The smallest tend to be Coordination and Support Actions (studies), followed by the mid-sized Capability projects and the Integrated Projects. The largest are known as Demonstration Projects.

What are Capability projects?

‘Capability Projects’ aim at building up and/or strengthening security capabilities required by one or more of the four security missions. This usually involve the development of single technology or capability. In many cases these projects also have cross-cutting relevance. They typically have a budget ranging from EUR 1-5 million, and a time frame of 2-3 years. An example would be SUBITO (Surveillance of Unattended Baggage and the Identification and Tracking of the Owner).

What are Integration projects?

These bring together several technologies and/or sources of knowledge for a mission-specific combination of capabilities. IP efforts tend to have larger budgets in the order of EUR 5-10 million and more project partners.  An example would be CAPER (Collaborative information, Acquisition, Processing, Exploitation and Reporting for the prevention of organised crime). For more info on this project, see:

And Demonstration projects?

As their name suggests, these large-scale projects will integrate, validate and demonstrate “system-of-systems” capabilities, based on high levels of technical interoperability – and the prior results of Integration and Capability projects.

Demonstration projects imply a strong involvement of end users, and must take into account relevant legal and societal-related issues such as privacy and data protection since their potential wide-area capabilities may veer into these areas. Technical standardization and interoperability are also key requisites for these projects.

Demonstration projects are split into two phases (not necessarily with the same research consortium), one for a pre-launch feasibility study and the second one covering the work’s actual launch. Two examples are:

  • Phase 1 feasibility project: < EUR 1 million

e.g. DEMASST (Security of critical infrastructures related to mass transportation)

  • Phase 2 full demonstration project: EUR 10-30 million

e.g. PERSEUS (Protection of European BoRders and Seas through the IntElligent Use of Surveillance)

What about the ethical side to Security Research?

This is addressed in two ways.

First, every SR proposal is evaluated by a panel of independent ethical-review specialists drawn from Europe’s scientific community, government circles, academia and societal groups. This ensures that no inappropriate research slips into the programme and that proper control and review mechanisms govern each project during its lifetime.

Moreover, the review also includes mandatory reports by project consortia to their respective national data protection authorities on the data privacy rules applicable to the information they handle.

Second, a number of the SR projects each year are themselves engaged in the very study of ethics to determine the impact on security research on society, where the risks to personal freedom and privacy may lie, the regulatory and legal implication and so on.

Are all SR projects treated the same? What about those with sensitive or confidential information?

SR projects are divided into “sensitive” and “non-sensitive” ones. Those that use or have access to classified information coming from the EU or its 27 member states – or which will produce technologies or knowledge that could be mis-used by criminal or terrorist parties – will categorized as “sensitive” by proposal evaluators. This entails additional oversight.

What does that mean?

It means that sensitive SR projects are placed directly under G-3’s oversight for regular monitoring and liaison with a project’s consortium. There may also be additional confidentiality restrictions that can apply to their research processes and findings.

What about the non-sensitive projects?

Once approved for funding, these are transferred to the Research Executive Agency for administration and project review.

Who retains intellectual property rights (IPR) following the completion of an EU-funded Security R&D project?

All results – including information, materials and knowledge – generated from a given FP7 project are owned by its research consortium and depend on the specific agreement struck by its members.

When intellectual property is generated jointly (i.e. where results of research cannot be attributed to different participants), it will be jointly owned – unless the participants agree on a different solution.

Who retains ownership of any resulting technologies?

The technologies are owned by the participants who generate it.

What about future policy concerning the EU’s Security Research programme?

On the 30 of July 2012, DG Enterprise and Industry released a communication on an industrial policy for Europe’s security sector. Read more about the security industrial policy.

For what reason?

Europe’s security sector is a growing market but fragmented. The communication provides actions on how the EU’s industrial policy instruments would be applied in support of the defragmentation of the sector.

Why does the sector need such support?

Because it is scattered across a large number of industrial players whose supply chain links are weak, by its fragmentation into national markets and lack of technical standards and, finally, by its fractured demand side. Unlike defence sector, which has long benefited from a coherent customer dialogue, the voice of Europe’s security sector on the demand side awaits its organization in order to steer the supply side.

What about the development of “dual-use” technologies – i.e. technology with both military and civilian applications. Can SR funding support this?

FP7 recognises the potential dual-use applications of technologies developed in many areas such as crisis management communications, border surveillance or CBRN detection technologies. However, FP7 does not invest in or support the development of defence capabilities.

Where can I find more information on proposal preparation & submission, legal & financial aspects (grant management), etc.?

See FP7’s Participants Portal.

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