Knowledge security in research cooperation provides a comprehensive compilation of relevant topics in the context of knowledge security for European education, science, technology and innovation stakeholders.


Export Control and Dual-Use

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Knowledge security means preventing the unauthorized transfer of knowledge and technology. It also includes preventing covert influence by state actors on higher education and research, which can impair the freedom of scientific research either directly or via self-censorship.

Source: Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem (

The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Paper 130, 2022, “Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem” summarises much of the current discussion and the OECD STIP-Compass with the thematic subportal on research security gives an overview on existing documents in some OECD countries, which is however not complete.

Whereas knowledge security encompasses the target of a threat, the various forms of threats, the source of threat as well as threat mitigation measures, research security focuses on research work.

Safeguarding Science puts a stronger focus on the active protection of one’s own knowledge and technology.
In our view, the terms are not sharply separated and can be used with slightly different emphasis depending on the addressee.

In response to emerging global developments, various entities of the European Union have laid down basic principles and also concrete supporting documents and initiatives to value international cooperation in research and innovation and individual aspects of knowledge security.

European basic principles in the context of knowledge security (without claim to completeness)

EU Security Union Strategy (July 2020)

Document by the European Commission addressing a comprehensive range of security issues including issues relevant for research and innovations stakeholders like cybersecurity, hybrid threatds, foreign interference, security of public spaces. It also addresses the need for more research on security measures.
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Global approach to Research and Innovation (September 2021)

This basic document of the European Council sets out the European Union’s strategy for international cooperation. Accordingly, the orientation of cooperation should concentrate on the principle of openness while respecting reciprocity and European fundamental values and interests.

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Principles and values for international cooperation in research and innovation (June 2022)

With this European Council conclusions the importance of risk management and security was highlighted and European Commission and the Member States were asked for specific action regarding foreign interference risks in international R&I cooperation.

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Defence of Democracy package (2022)

Based on the European Democracy Action Plan 2020 to protect democracy, in 2022 President von der Leyen announced the ‘Defence of Democracy’ initiative (lead is with DG HOME). This will bring legislative and non-legislative measures to strengthen resilience to covert foreign interference. There will be effects for the research landscape in Europe, like new transparency regulations enforcing the disclosure of foreign financial benefits.

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Strategic Compass for Security and Defence EU (March 2022)

The Strategic Compass is an European Council umbrella document for security and defence. Knowledge Security is addressed in various chapters of the compass and will be part of implementation measures.

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European supporting initiatives and working documents (without claim to completeness)

Tackling R&I foreign interference (January 2022)

This report, written as a working document of the EU Commission, provides concrete advice on safeguards to be taken by actors in the research sphere.

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Mutual learning exercise (MLE) on tackling foreign interference in R&I (initiated in spring 2023)

The MLE invites participating EU Member States to share knowledge and experiences in the area of research and innovation on awareness raising & stakeholder engagement, understanding and identifying foreign interference threats and measures to counter foreign interference threats. The work is carried out under the European Commission’s Policy Support Facility for Horizon Europe.

FIMI - Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Threats (February 2023)

This first report by the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) informs about FIMI activities, actors and threats. Knowledge security is not in the focus of the report, but indications can be adapted to the research and innovation landscape like the use of diplomatic channels (e.g. Foreign embassies force the cancellation of lectures), impersonation techniques (e.g. unauthorised use of University logos).

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Hybrid Threats: A Comprehensive Resilience Ecosystem (April 2023)

This report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) was prepared together with the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE). It is part of the series Facts4EUFuture, a stream of reports for the future of Europe. It aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process.

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Other countries and organisations approaches towards knowledge security (without claim to completeness)

The Netherlands, National knowledge security guidelines (2022)

The Netherlands has an all-stakeholder-approach involving different ministries and actors of the research and innovation system. In our view, the Netherlands has an exemplary holistic and practical approach.

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United Kingdom, Trusted research and innovation

The approach is mainly transported by United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI), an umbrella entity covering the main funding and innovation agencies. Campaigns to protect the research and innovation sector are carried out and various supporting materials, including FAQ, podcasts and videos, are publicly available.

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United States of America, Safeguarding Science initiative

The US approach is driven by security agencies and has a focus on emerging technologies. The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) and other federal agencies developed the outreach initiative “Safeguarding Science”. Various resources have been developed with the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and other federal agencies.

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Canada, Safeguarding Your Research

The multifaceted initiative is implemented by the Canadian government and provides information on how to safeguard research and innovation. It provides basic information’s as well as detailed tools to implement research security, like guidelines, risk assessment processes or research security trainings.

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Australia, Research Security and Integrity

The Australian approach is maintained by the Australian Government’s Research Council (ARC) and targets two key areas: Research Integrity and Countering Foreign Interference. Basic documentation as well as concrete applications for research institutions are made available. Australia emphasizess on research integrity e.g. by implementing an integrity committee, merging questions on knowledge security with questions of scientific standards.

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OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Paper 130, Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem (2022)

This Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report was written by an international Expert Group nominated by the Global Science Foundation and the OECD-GSF Secretariat. It summarises the current debate on integrity and security in the global research ecosystem and lays out seven over-arching recommendations including suggestions for action, each of which requires actions from a variety of actors.

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OECD, STIP Compass – Research Security

The thematic subportal on research security of the STIP-Compass gives an overview on existing documents in some OECD countries, which is however not complete.

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Group of Seven G7 Working Group on the Security and Integrity of the Global Research Ecosystem (SIGRE) (June 2021)

During the UK G7 Presidency in 2021, the G7 working group Security and Integrity of the Global Research Ecosystem (SIGRE) was established with the objective to protect the security and integrity of the global research ecosystem with a Sub Group on best practice and principles (led by CAN) and a Sub Group on toolkit & virtual academy (led by UK and ITA). SIGRE outcomes will be published on the European Commission’s E-platform SINAPSE.

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G7 Best Practices For Secure & Open Research - Security and Integrity of the Global Research Ecosystem (SIGRE) Working Group (May 2023)

The SIGRE Working Group as developed a paper that aims to support the implementation of the G7 principles of research security by listing best practices that contribute to secure and open research. The best practice examples are implemented by different G7 members will be released in detail in a later version of this paper.

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