PADR and EDIDP Wins for Zanasi & Partners

Zanasi & Partners is strengthening its position as one of the most successful SMEs leading the foundation of a “European Defence”. After being awarded the PYTHIA and SOLOMON projects by the European Defence Agency under the first and second Preparatory Action on Defence Research (2017-2018), the company has also been awarded the DECISMAR project (2020), funded by the European Commission under the newly established European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), with a total of around 11 million EUR of funding generated in the last three years. This remarkable track record – along with the around 30 EC-funded security projects awarded in the last few years only – makes Z&P at the forefront to penetrate the defence market, giving a strong positioning towards the upcoming European Defence Fund (EDF), which will allocate 8 billion EUR over the 2021-2027 period.

From Security to Defence

Over the past fifteen years, Z&P has participated in multiple research projects under the European Framework Programme (FP7 and FP8, also known as Horizon2020). The projects address a variety of disciplines related to security, from intelligence and crisis management to border control, transport security and critical infrastructure protection. The variegated team of the company, gathering experts with sociopolitical and technical background (e.g. engineers, cybersecurity, etc.), manages to successfully perform a wide range of activities, from formulation of guidelines or policy recommendations to software design. This flexibility makes Z&P a craved partner in a consortium, as it ensures outstanding performances in multiple fields. Furthermore, the multiannual experience in EU project management guarantees a comprehensive understanding of the procedures related to proposal submission, as well as those “winning elements” that make the difference in the proposal evaluation.  Given the cross-border nature of the EU funded initiatives, collaborating in numerous consortia has ensured Z&P an intense network of diverse entities (academia, industrial companies, LEAs, etc.) all across Europe.

In parallel, the winning of two grants under the PADR framework has paved the path to the defence sector. The Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) projects are, indeed, research projects to support innovation in the defence sector. Z&P has received funds for two projects, namely PYTHIA (PADR-STF-01-2017, recently concluded) and SOLOMON (PADR-STF-02-2018), acting in both cases as Technical-Scientific Coordinator. In particular, PYTHIA (Predictive methodologY for TecHnology Intelligence Analysis) was committed to developing an innovative methodology for performing strategic technology foresight in the defence context, whereas SOLOMON (Strategy-Oriented anaLysis Of the Market fOrces in EU defeNce) – benefiting of PYTHIA’s findings – will outline the roadmaps for tackling the supply risk of the EU armament systems in a world of changing strategies, emerging technologies and mutating extra-EU government restrictions. Since PADR and EDIDP have been prepared to pave the way for a substantial defence programme from 2021 onward (the already mentioned EDF), whose procedural mechanism will likely mirror the same process and rules, Z&P is in a strategic and enviable position in addressing the upcoming calls.

Entering the defence industry

Following the successful experience in the PADR framework, Z&P has recently embraced a new challenge within the EDIDP. Last year, the company has been awarded DECISMAR (development of a DECISion support toolbox for enhancing the feasibility study of the upgrade of MARitime surveillance through the integration of legacy assets with new innovative solutions), which aims to develop a decision support toolbox (DSTx), implemented as a cyber-secured and future-proofed integrated IT environment, to provide future technological scenarios.  The participation in EDIDP calls is a crucial achievement as it allows to consolidate relationships with relevant players and create new synergies within the EU defence industry. Indeed, if PADR projects were chiefly oriented towards research activities, EDIDP projects mainly target the capability development: hence, the considerable involvement of EU defence companies. By taking part in H2020, PADR and EDIDP projects, Z&P has shown its ability to act as a bridge between the world of research and the industrial one, thus fostering cooperation and synergy in light of a more solid “European Defence”.

Creating partnerships

Besides enhancing the R&D sector and fostering the EU industrial growth, these R&I projects are established to strengthen cooperation among the multiple and variegated actors involved in the defence sector. Moreover, they are meant to create synergies with activities promoted under other frameworks, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) or NATO-led initiatives. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that Z&P has recently participated in the NATO DTEx (Disruptive Technology Experiment), a wargaming exercise involving crisis scenarios to be addressed relying on new proposed technologies. Such projects and initiatives further allow Z&P to improve its understanding of current needs and gaps as well as to combine necessary expertise and knowledge (e.g. research and technical skills, market posture, etc.) in order to provide the EU with a strong and competitive environment where a “European Defence” could grow its roots and flourish.