Ireland ups its game in EU FP7 security research

11 Jul 2011

Partnerships involving businesses and academic groups from the Republic and Northern Ireland featured in five of the 11 successful projects in the EU Seventh Framework security research programme for 2010-2011.

According to figures from Enterprise Ireland, the indicative total European Community expenditure for security research in the period is €242,822,043. The aim of the research is to develop technologies and knowledge needed to ensure the security of EU citizens from threats such as terrorism and crime, natural disasters and industrial accidents.

One in four participations from the Republic of Ireland was successful. The Republic won 1.84pc or €4,472,292.

This is the fourth year in a row that the Republic has increased its funding level in FP7 Security. On a cash-per-capita basis, the Republic ranked fourth amongst the EC-27 countries, behind Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden.

Northern Ireland nod

Even better was the performance of Northern Ireland, which is estimated to have won 0.98pc or €2,240,367 of the EC’s total expenditure. The final figure may even be higher, since the calculations were done manually and some of the allocations may have been misattributed to mainland UK – in which case the North’s performance would have been even better.

If Northern Ireland were a country then on a cash-per-capita basis it would be third among the EC-27. A team from Queen’s University Belfast, led by Charles Gillan and David Linton, became the first Northern Ireland organisation to co-ordinate and win an FP7 security proposal, the HANDhold project.

QUB’s team also includes NI firm Capna DSP and four participants from the Republic: Scorpion Networks, Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork, NUI Galway and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. Other NI participants included the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the University of Ulster.

Appropriately in a year where cyber attacks have become centre stage, Dublin-based software firm Skytek landed part of the PRECYSE project (Prevention, protection and REaction to CYber attackS to critical infrastructures). Queen’s University is also taking part in this project.

Michael Murphy of Enterprise Ireland, the delegate and national contact point for FP7 Security in Ireland, said the past year has been good for FP7 security on the island of Ireland. “By drawing on points of innovation across a diverse community we continue to demonstrate an ability to compete in this sector,” he said in a briefing document.

However, he pointed out that some applications from strong organisations hadn’t made the cut. He sounded a word of caution that competition in the sector is increasing all the time. “Europe is not waiting for us. There were 300 proposals in last year’s call as opposed to 200 the year before. In the face of such increasing competition we could easily have lost out. We will need to raise our game dramatically for 2011-2012 just to stand still.”

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic