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Call: Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation

Acronym HE-CL3-SSRI
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 6: Strengthened Security Research and Innovation"

The EU-funded security research and innovation framework was launched with the Preparatory Action for Security Research[[COM(2004) 72]]. Since then, the programme has contributed substantially to knowledge and value creation in the field of internal security and to the consolidation of an ecosystem better equipped to capitalise on research and innovation to support the EU security priorities.

While the success of the programme has materialised in relevant scientific findings, maturation of promising technology areas, operational validation of innovative concepts or support to policy implementation, a key challenge remains in improving the uptake of innovation.

The extent to which innovative technologies developed thanks to EU R&I investment are industrialised and commercialised by EU industry, and later acquired and deployed by end-users, thus contributing to the development of security capabilities[[For the purpose of this work programme, the terms “Capability” should be understood as "the ability to pursue a particular policy priority or achieve a desired operational effect”. The term “capability” is often interchanged with the term “capacity”, but this should be avoided. “Capacity” could refer to an amount or volume of which one organisation could have enough or not. On the other hand, “capability” refers to an ability, an aptitude or a process that can be developed or improved in consonance with the ultimate objective of the organisation.]], could give a valuable measure of the impact achieved with the programme. However, there are factors inherent to the EU security ecosystem (often attributed to the market) that hinder the full achievement of this impact. These include market fragmentation, cultural barriers, analytical weaknesses, programming weaknesses, ethical, legal and societal considerations or lack of synergies between funding instruments, among others.

It is worth noting that such factors affect all the security domains addressed in Cluster 3; that there is not one predominant factor with sufficient leverage by itself to change the overall innovation uptake dynamics; and that they exhibit complex relationships among them which are difficult to disentangle. It should also be noted that the innovation uptake process starts before the R&I cycle is triggered, and it is not finalised with the successful termination of a research project. Therefore, the uptake challenge extends beyond the realm of R&I. However, from within R&I it is possible, if not to materialise the uptake in every case, at least to pave the way towards its materialisation.

To that aim, there is a need to create a favourable environment that is designed with the main purpose of increasing the impact of security R&I, that is visible and recognisable to those interested in contributing to this aim, and which provides bespoke tools that serve to tackle the factors that hinder innovation uptake.

The SSRI Destination has therefore been designed with this purpose to serve equally to all the expected impacts of Cluster 3. Research applied in this domain will contribute to increasing the impact of the work carried out in the EU security Research and Innovation ecosystem as a whole and to contribute to its core values, namely: i) Ensuring that security R&I maintains the focus on the potential final use of its outcomes; ii) Contributing to a forward-looking planning of EU security capabilities; iii) Ensuring the development of security technologies that are socially acceptable; iv) Paving the way to the industrialisation, commercialisation, acquisition and deployment of successful R&I outcomes; and v) Safeguarding the open strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty of the EU in critical security areas by contributing to a more competitive and resilient EU security technology and industrial base.

While the other Destinations of this Horizon Europe Cluster 3 Work Programme offer research and innovation activities to develop solutions to address specific security threats or capability needs, the SSRI Destination will contribute with instruments that will help bringing these and other developments closer to the market. Such instruments will help developers (including industry, research organisations and academia) to improve the valorisation of their research investment. They will also support buyers and users in materialising the uptake of innovation and further develop their security capabilities.

In addition, the SSRI Destination will offer an open environment to create knowledge and value through research in matters (including technology, but also social sciences and humanities) that are not exclusive of only one security area, but cross-cutting to the whole Cluster. This will contribute to reducing thematic fragmentation, bringing closer together the actors from different security domains, and expanding the market beyond traditional thematic silos.

Finally, SSRI will allow the allocation of resources to the development of tools and methods to reinforce the innovation cycle itself from a process standpoint, thus increasing its effectiveness, efficiency and impact. This Destination will contribute to the development of an analytical capacity tailored to the specific needs of security stakeholders for the materialisation of a structured long-term capability based planning of research and innovation for security.

In order to accomplish the objectives of this Destination, additional eligibility conditions have been defined with regard to the active involvement of relevant security practitioners or end-users.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following impacts:

  • A more effective and efficient evidence-based development of EU civil security capabilities built on a stronger, more systematic and analysis-intensive security research and innovation cycle;
  • Increased industrialisation, commercialisation, adoption and deployment of successful outcomes of security research reinforces the competitiveness and resilience of EU security technology and industrial base and safeguards the security of supply of EU-products in critical security areas;
  • R&I-enabled knowledge and value in cross-cutting matters reduces sector specific bias and breaks thematic silos that impede the proliferation of common security solutions.
Link Link to Programme
Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation
Description of call
"Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation"

Expected Outcome:

Projects are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Enhanced analytical capacity to support the programming of EU-funded security research and capacity building funds through a periodic and timely evidence-based policy feedback ;
  • Periodically aggregated and consolidated view of the capability needs and gaps in the thematic areas under consideration;
  • Periodically aggregated and consolidated view of the state-of-the-art technologies, techniques, methods and tools that can contribute to fill the identified capability gaps;
  • Periodically aggregated and consolidated view of outcomes (including on technological, industrial, legal and ethical issues), future trends, lessons learnt and best practices derived from past and current security research effort incurred in the thematic areas under consideration.
  • More systematic assessment and validation of the outcomes of EU-funded security research projects with respect to identified capability gaps through harmonised support mechanisms;
  • Common and updated map of opportunities and constraints for the exploitation of EU security research and innovation projects, with special focus on industrialisation, commercialisation, adoption and deployment of innovative solutions in response to common capability gaps;
  • Common and updated map of areas requiring standardised solutions and/or certification schemes to foster innovation uptake and market creation, as well as trainings and options for the implementation of such schemes.
  • Enhanced cooperation between research institutions, smaller private research agencies, security practitioners, SMEs and community representatives to support integrated participation in requirements determination and analysis, research and validation and evaluation of results.


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.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Justice, Safety & Security, Administration & Governance, Competitiveness, SME, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Demographic Change, Migration, Mobility & Transport/Traffic
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, International Organization, Public Services, University, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, National Government, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), NGO / NPO, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Education and Training Centres
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 30 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 2.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 4.00 million.
Typ of ActionCoordination and Support Actions (CSA)
Funding rate100%

The following additional eligibility conditions apply:
  1. Each consortium must commit and propose a plan to contribute, every 6 or fewer months, to working groups chaired by the European Commission and/or EU Agencies supporting the identification of security research needs referred to in the topic text;
  2. Each proposal must include a work package to disseminate their findings, including an annual workshop or conference;
  3. Participation as beneficiaries of end-user authorities with a recognised mandate in the areas addressed by the network from at least 3 different EU Member States or Associated Countries is mandatory. For these participants, applicants must fill in the table “Eligibility information about practitioners” in the application form with all the requested information, following the template provided in the submission IT tool.
Some activities, resulting from this topic, may involve using classified background and/or producing of security sensitive results (EUCI and SEN). Please refer to the related provisions in section B Security — EU classified and sensitive information of the General Annexes.
To ensure a balanced portfolio covering the different Destinations of this WP part, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to one project that is the highest ranked within each of the two options (Option A "Border Security", Option B "Resilient Infrastructure"), provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
Beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of prizes. The maximum amount to be granted to each third party is EUR 60 000.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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