26 / 05 / 2020

EARTO Working Group Security & Defence Paper – Towards Horizon Europe: Bridging the Valley of Death in Security Research

The “valley of death” is a term frequently used also in the EU Research Framework Programmes, describing the missing bridge between the research and development of novel solutions and their market uptake. It is well known that going from table-lab proof of concept to fully developed commercial products is a complex nonlinear process. It fails often as it requires a set of prerequisites, such as structured gaps and needs assessment, fair market conditions, structural investments, involvement and commitment of end users and a feasible exploitation strategy, not always considered.   The EARTO Working Group Security & Defence Research acknowledges the efforts made by the European Commission in the relatively young field of Security Research, notably the strengthened involvement of practitioners in Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities. These efforts have already resulted in several success stories, with high TRLs commercially competitive products based on results of EC funded projects. New instruments under Horizon Europe such as the European Innovation Council (EIC) seem useful to foster innovation ambitions, especially if it will further leverage RTOs deep-tech start-ups. To further maximize this, it is of utmost importance to better understand and consider the particularities of the Security Research process at the European level, and to strive for implementing appropriate supportive elements.   Accordingly, and based on the experiences of the Secure Societies success stories, the EARTO WG Security & Defence has formulated the following six recommendations for bridging the “valley of death” in Security Research:
  1. Actively promote involvement of all Security RD&I stakeholders in every step of the way (including during design phases).
  2. Stimulate further participation and involvement of practitioners in Security RD&I projects in taking up and implementing results after (a series of) RD&I projects.
  3. Implement a structured capability development approach at Member States level feeding into the research programming at EC level to address validated and broadly accepted practitioners’ needs.
  4. Allow for a sufficient duration of Security RD&I projects.
  5. Actively promote a dedicated area within the publicly available EU Research Results Platform, containing all public Security Research projects’ key exploitable results.
  6. Lift the coordination of useful project interactions to DGs level rather than keeping it as agency level to allow further policymaking to draw from the learnings in the Security RD&I projects performed.
  Read full EARTO WG Security & Defence Paper