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Accelerating uptake through open proposals for advanced SME innovation
Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 6: Strengthened Security Research and Innovation
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
In this topic, projects should address the EU security policy priorities in the areas addressed by the Cluster 3 work programme. Projects should address the one of the following areas of Fighting Crime and Terrorism, Disaster-Resilient Society, Resilient Infrastructure, Border Management.
Europe’s 25 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU economy. SMEs can bring innovation to societal challenges, including the security of EU citizens. Innovative SMEs and high-tech start-ups can transform and modernise EU security capabilities.
However, despite the innovation capacity of EU SMEs, these often experience difficulties in finding their way to the public markets. These include red tape in public contracts, access to new customers, access to finance, industrial competition and IP valorisation. These difficulties are exacerbated in markets that show restrictions of different kind, as it is the case of security.
Knowing that SMEs require additional support to reach the security buyers and that the collaboration opportunities offered by the projects of the Pillar II of Horizon Europe can be a catalyst for uptake, this topic aims to offer a collaborative environment for small and medium innovators to tailor their innovations to the specific needs of civil security end-users.
Applicants are invited to submit proposals for technology development along with the following principles:
- Focus on mature technological solutions addressing EU security policy priorities in the areas addressed by the Cluster 3 work programme.
- Not overlapping with the scope of the topics included in the other destinations of this work programme.
- Fostering collaboration between SMEs from different Member States and Associated Countries.
- Involving security end-users in the role of validator and potential first-adopter of the proposed innovations.
- Fostering collaboration schemes between small companies and research and technology organisations and/or big industrial players aimed at fostering innovative technology transfer or creating innovative business models that facilitate access to market and strengthen the innovation capacity of EU SMEs and start-ups in the domain of civil security.
The involvement of big industries in the projects should not focus on technology development but on supporting the SMEs in bringing their innovations to the market. Examples of activities include but are not limited to, acting as first buyer/integrator of the developed technologies, assimilating market requirements, facilitating access to additional funding, approaching potential public buyers, assess competitive landscape, supporting in innovation management (methodological and process innovation, business model innovation, market innovation), assist in IP management and exploitation, provide guidance for expansion to future markets, etc. In the same fashion, the participation of research and technology organisations should not focus on technology development but on supporting the small industrial players in accelerating the technology transfer of innovative security solutions for their further development and production.
It is encouraged that one SME takes the coordinator role. Exceptions to this requirement should be duly justified.
The projects should have a maximum estimated duration of 2 years.
Under this topic, projects should address the one of the following areas of Fighting Crime and Terrorism (FCT, Option A), Disaster-Resilient Society (DRS, Option B), Resilient Infrastructure (INFRA, Option C) Border Management (BM, Option D). Some examples of domains that could be addressed:.
Option A: Some examples of domains that could be addressed under the FCT area are: (indicative and non-exhaustive): mobile forensics; deepfake detection; detection of counterfeiting (fake items, fake currency bills) or of falsified/forged documents (passports, ID cards); detection and countering of advanced forms of malware, as well as non-cash payment frauds and other cyber-scams.
Option B: Some examples of domains that could be addressed under the DRS area are (indicative and non-exhaustive): data and satellite/remote sensing information exploitation, positioning and localisation tracking and tracing, monitoring and surveillance for disaster prevention.
Option C: some examples of domains that could be addressed under the INFRA area are: (indicative and non-exhaustive): physical access control, autonomous systems used for infrastructure protection, positioning and localisation tracking and tracing, monitoring and surveillance of environments and activities.
Option D: under the BM area are (indicative and non-exhaustive): facilitated border checks; secure documents and identity management for border crossings; border surveillance; detection of drugs, explosives, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN), weapons and/or other dangerous materials in customs environment; detection of stolen, smuggled, illicit or illegal goods (cigarettes, art, cultural goods, wildlife) in a customs environment
In this topic, projects should address the EU security policy priorities in the areas addressed by the Cluster 3 work programme.
In this topic, the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content should be addressed only if relevant in relation to the objectives of the research effort.
Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- Development of a mature technological solution addressing EU security policy priorities in the areas addressed by the Cluster 3 work programme.
- Facilitated access to civil security market for small and medium innovators and enhanced links between suppliers and public buyers;
- Improved cooperation between public buyers and small supply market actors for a swifter uptake of innovation in response to short to mid-term needs;
- Stronger partnerships between small and medium EU security industry and technology actors to ensure the sustainability of the EU innovation capacity in the civil security domain and increase technological sovereignty of the EU in critical security areas.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- 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.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
Consortia must include, as beneficiaries:
- A minimum of three (3) to a maximum of seven (7) partners.
- At least 2 SMEs from 2 different Member States.
- At least 1 end-user organisation in the areas addressed by the proposal, namely one of the following options:
- Option A "Fighting Organised Crime and Terrorism’’
- Option B ‘"Disaster-Resilient Society’’
- Option C "Resilient Infrastructure’’ and
- Option D ‘"Border Management’’, provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
- At least 2 Member States must be represented in the consortium.
Participation of non-SME industries and Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) is not excluded, but it must be limited to 15% of the budget.
At least 50% of the budget must be allocated to SMEs.
Eligible costs will take the form of a lump sum.
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-8 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
max. 2 years
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 50 pages.