Frontex aims to assist the European Commission in the planning and implementation of the European Programmes for Research and Innovation, which relate to border security. Under this project, the agency provides a platform for a two-way exchange of information between the developers of border security technologies/initiators of research projects and their potential end-users. This helps to raise awareness of the different on-going developments within the border guard community, while at the same time offering the opportunity to provide guidance and direction to projects so that its needs are addressed.
Keeping up with industry’s and academia’s newest products, services, technologies and developments helps the border guard community to identify options and opportunities for developing future capacities. It also offers answers to specific questions and needs, helps everyone involved to understand what the trends are and – especially for researchers in this field – to see where they are in relation to what has already been done.
The project investigates new ways of setting up and managing research and innovation at EU level. Fresh perspectives and ideas are needed in order to take into account the end users’ needs and obtain research results faster – results that may quickly be used to serve border security stakeholders.
In the current economic climate, innovation alone is not enough. There is a need to explore new, smarter ways of purchasing border security equipment and services at lower cost. One source of savings could potentially be joint procurement. By pooling their purchasing power, Member States themselves or Member States and Frontex may achieve economies of scale and increased interoperability. Frontex is therefore also examining the feasibility of joint procurement between border guard authorities themselves as well as border guard authorities and Frontex (when Frontex could act as lead procurer/central purchasing body).
Frontex’s activities and products in the area of innovation include:
- Partial implementation of the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation related to border security;
- Facilitating workshops dedicated to EU-funded and independent research projects, innovative border security applications/products and performance assessment methodologies;
- Knowledge-sharing meetings between Frontex, border management authorities and industry;
- Outsourcing research studies so as to enrich, improve and obtain new knowledge and solutions in border security;
- Assisting Member States in the acquisition process by exploring and researching innovative joint procurement options.