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SPARTA PROJECT or how to get privileged access to groundbreaking Cybersecurity innovations and research?

15th Feb 2021

On December 10, 2020, SECURITYMADEIN.LU hold a virtual workshop session presenting the European based project, SPARTA and its consortium.

This event presented some key advancements, including the SPARTA Roadmap and Partnerships scheme, as well as demonstrated the breakthrough capabilities developed by its different Programs. The speakers also explained how companies could become associates in this program and get direct access to the latest research and innovation in Cybersecurity.

Bertrand Lathoud, Head of the Cybersecurity Competence Center Luxembourg, opened the discussion introducing the SPARTA project in general.

Why SPARTA?

The EU has now openly acknowledged the need to reinforce its cybersecurity ecosystem, as most of the global suppliers’ champions are not European companies and Cybersecurity is a critical piece of strategic autonomy. They took into account the fact that the Union also has strong assets in the matter, and in particular research and academia fields are already really active and generating a significant amount of value. Thus, in order to tackle the existing weaknesses and improve the link between research, innovation and industrialisation, the European Union decided to create a network of national cybersecurity competence and coordination centers under the umbrella of an EU headquarter.

Additionally, the Commission initiated in 2019 four cybersecurity pilot projects as part of the Horizon 2020 program – one of them being SPARTA, in which SECURITYMADEIN.LU is part of, along with 43 other partners from different countries.

With the intent to respond to EU’s objectives to create a vibrant ecosystem, uphold its interests, and contribute to its strategic autonomy, the SPARTA consortium assembles a rich and diverse set of actors at the intersection of scientific excellence, technological innovation, and societal sciences in cybersecurity.

The programs covered by SPARTA include a range of topics such as AI safety, IoT protection, and predictive threat intelligence.

A set of activities have been brought together towards communities with the organization of workshops at national levels in order to allow companies and institutions to get involved and understand better the objectives of such an initiative and how they could benefit from partnering with it.

What have been the achievements so far?

Florent Kirchner, SPARTA Strategic Director, took the stage to explain the different achievements of SPARTA.

He first pointed out that cybersecurity has emerged as a major topic for the next decade and other countries around the world have also made this conclusion.

Throughout the world, major commitments in research and innovation have been carried out, with a figure of 18 billion euro worldwide allocated to it.

As part of it, the piloting phase of Horizon 2020 projects with a budget of approx. 16 million euro and Phase 2 will be allocated a total of 300 million euro.

Serious competition has emerged around the world with the rise of the US and China in terms of leadership and patents. EU is still laying behind when it comes to Intellectual Property exploitation and protection.

The aim of SPARTA is to move towards a more unified and consolidated network of competence centers and partnerships in order to have an impact on publications, the use and impact of science and innovation. The role of the pilot since 2019 is to see how, as a community, this can become a reality.

SPARTA has made a strong choice to focus on key values driven by a mission of strategic autonomy. In order to achieve this, Sparta has decided to focus on risky and complex projects, the main goal being to produce concrete and transformative results that are applicable and change the way trust is thought about in the digital ecosystems.

The roadmaps have been created around these concrete expectations and a clear goal.

SPARTA is promoting open leadership as well as diversity and inclusion by involving national authorities, academia, grassroots movements, people coming from various areas beyond science and technology: economics, law, governance and policy.

The 4 programs of SPARTA

In order to build capacities, a strategic roadmap has been developed as well as 4 different programs:

  • T-SHARK: Full-spectrum cybersecurity awareness
  • CAPE: Continuous assessment in polymorphous environments
  • HAII-T: High-assurance intelligent infrastructure toolkit
  • SAFAIR: Secure and fair AI systems

These programs are ran following a high-risk high-reward model.

About the Roadmap

The roadmap was presented by Prof. Thomas Jensen from INRIA.

  • Mission-oriented:
    • Shape the cybersecurity technologies required to establish and maintain a European Strategic Digital Autonomy
    • Design-Process: agile and open
  • Expected outcome:
    • Roadmap provides a mid-to-long-term vision on cybersecurity challenges
    • Roadmap provides guidelines for decision-makers to develop strategies 
      • to strengthen the EU’s cybersecurity capacity,
      • to close cyber skill gaps and
      • to address emerging challenges appropriately
  • Cross-Pilots:
    • Harmonize the different roadmapping approaches of the 4 pilots

What is the role of the Joint Competence Centre Infrastructure?

In order to carry the needed activities, SPARTA has created a Joint Competence Centre Infrastructure (JCCI) in order to create a common working environment that enables the sharing and collaboration among partners, also remotely. Security by design was the main driver. This center embodies both the research and development aspects. So far, 35 platforms have been located and addressed by the JCCI website. It also includes a Virtual Learning Centre that facilitates on-line courses, in person courses and hands-on-labs. These tools are interconnected and have been provided by SPARTA partners.

What are the benefits of the Associate Program?

Fabio Martinelli, SPARTA Partnerships Director, pointed out the importance for Luxembourg companies to also take part in the partnership program in order to strengthen the European ecosystem.

Today, SPARTA gathers 14 European member states, 44 partners and more than 90 associates/friends.

The objective of the SPARTA Associates program is to establish unparalleled traction with European, national, and regional ecosystems, relaying concrete requirements, disruptive ideas, and novel results through multi-level and cross-network actions and events. To this purpose, the community will be offered the possibility to:

- provide input and feedback to the SPARTA Roadmap to ensure the needs and requirements from all stakeholders are represented;

- get preferential conditions for the SPARTA Infrastructure to benefit from world-leading frameworks and platforms;

- follow SPARTA Programs advances and get early-access information about their results;

- attend bi-yearly SPARTA Days and monthly SPARTA Workshops held across Europe;

- be part of the fast-paced evolving SPARTA Associates/friends community striving for strengthening European cybersecurity capacities.

- get privileged access to the know-how and competence also for participating at EU/nationally funded projects in cooperation with SPARTA

- request grants for travel purposes and active associates.

A partnership committee has been established to manage the partnership activities.

What is a SPARTA Friend?

SPARTA decided to create several layers of commitment based on the different needs, availability and resources of companies. Therefore, a Friendship status was introduced in order to allow everyone to be part of the community and get access to similar information.

How can you take part in SPARTA?

In order to participate, companies and organisations just need to send an intention of interest to contact@sparta_eu and the SPARTA team will follow up.

A number of events and workshops are organized for all on a regular basis in order to speed-up the growth of the ecosystem and disseminate broadly SPARTA outcomes Europe-wide.

The keynote speeches were followed by a roundtable moderated by Pascal Steichen, CEO of SECURITYMADEIN.LU with:

  • Géraud Guilloud, Advisor - European R&D and Innovation Support - LuxInnovation (Associate in Luxembourg)
  • Florent Kirchner, SPARTA Strategic Director
  • Bertrand Lathoud, Head of the Cybersecurity Competence Center Luxembourg
  • Fabio Martinelli, SPARTA Partnerships Director
  • Marius Momeu, Chair of IT Security, Technical University Munich

As through the 4 pilots the European Commission implemented its bottom-up approach to address the future harmonization of the cybersecurity competences in EU, the participants highlighted how critical the activities of the community are for strengthening research and innovation in cybersecurity. Furthermore, the European strategy autonomy was also discussed.