Security Research Conference 2011 highlights achievements

(EU) Security Research Conference 2011 highlights achievements so far of EU’s seven-year programme and lessons learned for the future.

The EU’s Security Research programme is beginning to exert a structuring effect in the marketplace though many challenges remain to overcome the sector’s fragmentation, government and industry officials told the EU’s sixth annual Security Research Conference 2011 (SRC11) here.

The European Commission’s Security Research programme “has done a lot to bring together industry, research institutes and local public [end-user] authorities but we still must do much more,” Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament, told the 19-21 September gathering.

Marco Malacarne, acting director for Space Security and head of the unit that oversees Security Research at DG Enterprise and Industry, agreed. “Going from fragmentation to a European market will not be easy. One of the main challenges we face is to move the programme from its research focus to a market perspective. This is complicated by the sector’s fragmentation because it is primarily an institutional [i.e., public sector] market which shapes the demand,” he said in opening remarks to the SRC11 on 20 September. “One reason is that industry is reluctant to invest in an area where there is no guarantee of a return on its investment. How to do away with this vicious circle is among the policy goals we must tackle.”

Nonetheless the programme has racked up considerable progress in other areas such as:

• developing civil security capabilities;

• establishing stronger dialogue with public and private sector stakeholders;

• realigning Europe’s academic community to work on civil security research;

With a budget of EUR 1.4 billion for 2007-2013, the EU’s Security Research programme has funded over 130 civil security R&D projects so far.

For President Buzek the EU’s next Security Research programme for 2014-2019 must embrace a number of new policy goals such as more financial support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and commercial “spin-offs” from research projects into the marketplace. “It is very important in research to develop a risk-sharing management structure to promote fair competition between SMEs and large companies,” observed Buzek.

“We also need to simplify the grant and access-to-funding procedures to broaden participation in the programme. The only way to come out of today’s financial crisis is to economically grow out of it. And this calls for investment not just in the ‘hard’ security infrastructure [of technology and capability development] but in the ‘soft’ one as well: our human capital.”

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