In cooperation with
The European collaborative research in which TNO engages takes many forms. But one thing they all have in common is that they support and advance the European innovation strategy, the Dutch economy, TNO’s position and society at large. Below, a list of recent projects in which these objectives are clearly in focus.
SOCCRATES: Enhanced Cybersecurity through Automation
The game-changer we need to defend against the growing threat of cyberattacks is security automation. In this Horizon 2020 project, industry experts took a major step forward in security automation
Instability breeds innovation
Every day, as the number and complexity of cyber threats grow, IT teams and security specialists work tirelessly to defend against them. As part of an ambitious Horizon 2020 project, the SOCCRATES team of experts has developed the tools and platform to make this essential job more manageable, and to ensure well-informed, effective decision-making when it matters most.
In the three years since the SOCCRATES project began, the cyber threat landscape has intensified. Global instability and geopolitical conflicts have increased cyber criminality. And, as cybercriminals become more sophisticated, Security Operation Centers (SOCs) and Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTSs) must also grow stronger. And the best way to do that, is to develop automated solutions in collaboration with each other.
SOCCRATES brought together the most highly skilled experts in their respective fields – from universities to end users to service providers to technology providers – to collaborate on the development of a security automation and decision support platform. As an independent knowledge institute, TNO not only served as Technical and Overall Coordinator for the project, but also contributed key technology to the platform.
Automation for acceleration
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the SOCCRATES platform is its robustness. Instead of modules that support a single aspect of cybersecurity, SOCCRATES provides support for every step of the security process, from threat identification to analysis to mitigation or defence.
The comprehensive SOCCRATES platform, now available for demonstration, aims to automate as many elements of cybersecurity as possible, to enable swift and effective decisions about the best course of protective action. SOCCRATES does not replace human defenders, but rather offers tools and insights that make it easier and more straightforward for SOCs and CSIRTs to select the appropriate response.
While current Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) tools provide a playbook for managing known threats, SOCCRATES goes much further. The main benefits of the platform are that it enhances SOC or CSIRT’s situational awareness and option awareness. It can analyse the business impact of each threat, and offer insight into the benefits and drawbacks of each potential defence action.
In addition to a demo version of the entire SOCCRATES platform, the SOCCRATES consortium also made several modules open source on GitHub, so that SOCs and CSIRTs can test and use them as needed. First, the Adversary Emulation Planner automatically builds an ordered set of attack stages that show all possible techniques that an adversary might execute during an attack.
The Course of Action Generator helps SOCs and CSIRTs explore the various options available to respond to an attack. And the DGA Detective determines whether or not a given domain name was created by a Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA), one of the key challenges of botnet cybercriminality. Other SOCCRATES modules will be made open source before the project closes, and some modules will be implemented into the security software systems of participating partners.
Although the SOCCRATES project will soon end, the advancements made during this initiative will live on. In addition to making use of the open-source modules and demo version of the platform, SOC and CSIRT analysts, software developers and vendors will benefit from the integration of SOCCRATES results into the products developed by the project’s partners. The project experts hope to build further on the technology they created.
One project proposal involves the Operational Technology (OT) domain, which are the systems that manage public works, public transport, and more. The team aims to build on the foundations established within SOCCRATES to bring situational and option awareness to both the IT and OT infrastructures at the same time.
Want to learn more about SOCCRATES or request a demonstration? Contact TNO or visit the SOCCRATES website today.
Driving Innovation in Crisis Management with DRIVER+
Flash flooding. Earthquakes. Terrorist attacks. When the unthinkable happens, governments, practitioners and citizens must respond swiftly and effectively. But how can you prepare for a crisis that has not yet happened? In DRIVER+, 31 partners from 14 countries use the collective power of their insight and experience to help countries take full advantage of crisis management innovation, so that every nation can be ready to respond when needed.
Framework as a foundation
The European Commission-funded DRIVER+ (Driving Innovation in Crisis Management for European Resilience) project developed a multifaceted platform of tools and resources that can help governments and practitioners effectively prepare for the crucial hours, days and weeks following a crisis.
DRIVER+ aims to make resources and insights available to all stakeholders, and provide the tools for effective trials that identify the strengths and weaknesses of various socio-technical solutions.
Flexibility as a starting point
No two countries – or crises – are alike. So DRIVER+ offers tools, lessons learned and information so that modular, flexible solutions can be developed that meet the individual needs of each crisis. Through effective trials, countries can develop capabilities and anticipate future needs, and stay one step ahead of the increasing magnitude of crisis situations.
Information about new and existing technological innovations can help them make cost-effective and objective decisions. And insights from those who have experienced similar crises help guide trial development.
Coordination as a key driver
TNO works continuously to develop new knowledge in the rapidly changing security and technology areas of crisis management. Together with our partners, we help increase societal resilience with science and technology.
As Technical Coordinator for DRIVER+, TNO safeguarded the day-to-day management and scientific output for the consortium, including coordinating the inputs from all 31 technology and stakeholder partners. We also developed the technical infrastructure for the open-source, online platform known as the pan-European DRIVER+ test-bed, which further contains the Trial Guidance Methodology, the Trial Guidance Tool and Training Modules.
To make the test-bed available to as many users as possible, TNO ensured that it easily connects to legacy IT systems, and also supports data collection during a trial. In this way, the test-bed supports testing the validity and efficacy of crisis management innovations in realistic situations.
Crisis management innovation that drives results
DRIVER+ also delivered a Portfolio of Solutions, which catalogues crisis management solutions at various Technical Readiness Levels, and categorises them by function and gaps. DRIVER+ users can continuously ‘feed’ this portfolio with experiences from their trials. The Lessons Learned Library, Crisis Management Innovation Network Europe and Centres of Expertise Network connect users with resources for additional support.
DRIVER+ resources for a safer Europe
After five large-scale, multi-stakeholder trials and validations, DRIVER+ concluded in 2020. Now fully operational, DRIVER+ is a single resource for governments and practitioners who aim to prepare for crises effectively, and with the benefit of other countries’ experience.
TNO and our partners have developed a significant contribution to a safer, more secure Europe. In fact, the European Research Executive Agency, which funded the project, named it one of the Breakthrough Projects of 2020, due to the size, scope and impact of the project.
CHE: Helping Europe achieve Paris Agreement goals
Achieving our Paris Climate Agreement objectives will require a way to independently and quantifiably measure CO2 emissions. TNO, and 22 partners from 8 European countries, proved it was possible in CHE.
Assessing the impact
In order to achieve the Paris Agreement climate goals, every country must act to reduce CO2 emissions. But without an independent, global observation and monitoring system, it will be difficult to measure progress and understand the true impact of these reduction efforts. The European Commission funded a consortium of experts from eight European countries to start developing this monitoring system, and TNO played an essential role.
In the CO2 Human Emissions (CHE) project, 22 partners from 8 European countries investigated the potential to monitor anthropogenic (human-made) CO2 emissions and their origin across the world. With a combination of observation, modelling and data assimilation, CHE explored the viability of a combined satellite- and ground-based system that could regularly monitor CO2 and track its dispersion in the atmosphere.
An important component of the project was to isolate these anthropogenic emissions, as opposed to the natural CO2 fluxes that are an essential component of the biosphere, like those that come from volcanos, forests and agriculture.
Addressing the complexities
The challenge of accurately monitoring CO2 is that anthropogenic CO2 can remain in the atmosphere for up to 100 years and can be carried great distances through wind and weather. Therefore, identifying their source and origin is complex, and measuring them can be difficult.
CHE aimed to combine a variety of techniques that have proven useful for monitoring atmospheric composition. In this way, the strengths of each technique can be amplified, and the weaknesses reduced, when focusing on CO2. With new models and new techniques, CHE defined and addressed the various uncertainties of CO2 monitoring, including the type of emission, atmospheric influence, transport, observation technique and more. In this way, this relatively small consortium has been able to make a major contribution to the effort to reduce climate change.
Expertise for direct action
Each partner in CHE offered unique expertise, and provided an essential component to make CHE a success. TNO’s Space Industry and Climate Air & Sustainability teams contributed their expertise in simulation techniques and emission inventories to develop a library of simulations and models that mimic the actual movement of CO2 plumes, and therefore provide the foundations for monitoring and observation in satellite systems and ground stations. TNOs contributions ensure that monitoring anthropogenic CO2 is accurate and effective.
Signs of success
Not only was CHE able to provide conclusive evidence that this innovative system can be capable of monitoring European and global anthropogenic CO2, but the consortium also received praise from the EC’s Research Executive Agency (REA), which named CHE one of its 10 Breakthrough Projects of 2020. After the project’s successful conclusion, REA provided funding for its follow-up: CoCO2, which will further develop the CHE concepts and deliver a prototype anthropogenic CO2 emission estimation system.
Once the system is in operation, it will provide an accurate and independent view of the greatest sources of anthropogenic CO2, allowing for targeted mitigation activities and support for countries as they address their Paris Agreement commitments. These observations will ensure that the Paris Agreement goals remain on track, and together, Europe lives up to its commitment for change.
By partnering in consortia like CHE, TNO reaffirms its commitment to working with other European countries to address some of the biggest challenges of our time.
Envisioning a European Platform Economy
Studies show that digitisation is the key to growth in European industry. But digitisation comes with many challenges. And the complications of a global pandemic and trade wars between the US and China make an even stronger case for a secure, stable European industry.
Advice for the future
Recently, TNO (the Netherlands), Joanneum Research (Austria), Tecnalia (Spain), and VTT Technical Research Centre (Finland) published 'Policy Solutions for an Effective Platform Economy: The Battle that Europe Cannot Afford to Lose (pdf)'. The paper outlines the current and future challenges that European industry is facing. It indicates that Digital Industrial B2B platforms are a critical infrastructure that enable competitiveness of the European Industry, since they connect ecosystems of buyers and suppliers. They can therefore create strong network effects and enable European businesses to become stronger business players.
Sign of the times
Geopolitical and societal disruptions bring the underlying challenges and opportunities of digitisation into clear view. Some geopolitical experts indicate that Europe must become self-supporting in critical supply chains and strive for production sovereignty. That includes re-shoring production capacity and employment for vital sectors, like medicine. Other experts indicate that a global spreading of production and risks is a better solution than re-shoring.
Addressing the challenges
Many SMEs and European sectors, especially traditional ones like construction, struggle with digitisation. And the EU’s high value-add industry is facing strong competition from the US, China, and other countries. Disruptions, such as trade wars or the current pandemic, seem only to sharpen the need to address the challenges and capitalise on global growth potential.
TNO and and the other RTOs involved indicate that digital industrial B2B platforms will be key to achieving flexible, adaptive and more cost-effective European industries to embrace that growth potential.
The B2B connection
The US and China already dominate both the B2C and social media digital domains. However, the paper shows that Europe is well positioned to capitalise on the B2B platform market, and lays out a structure for embracing business opportunities that digital industrial B2B platforms offer. It is a way for Europe to shape the digital industrial B2B platform landscape, while also adopting and respecting European values in this domain.
Suggestions for solutions
TNO and the other RTOs involved developed a list of suggested courses of action to secure Europe’s position as a B2B platform leader. These include:
- investment in development of underlying key enabling technologies, such as AI, nanotechnology and the quantum internet;
- development of a European cloud platform (e.g. Gaia-X) to maintain European digital sovereignty;
- stimulation of data agglomeration into big data via decentralised governance of platform ownership;
- establishment of a Policy Support Facility to monitor digital industrial B2B platforms and experimentation with underlying technologies;
- utilisation of digital B2B platforms to enable supply chain robustness; and
- provision of digital skills development.
The paper outlines the benefits of each of these recommendations, and the actions necessary to realise them.
ViruScan: Revolutionary Advancement in Virus Diagnostics
Long before COVID-19, when Ebola and Zika virus were major challenges, the European Commission went in search of a novel and rapid technology to better identify viruses in humans. As part of its Horizon 2020 project, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC) in Madrid asked TNO to contribute to this Future & Emerging Technology. And today, TNO is helping to bring the project closer to a game-changing advancement in viral identification.
Standard testing for viral infection currently relies on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests to confirm diagnosis of a specific, suspected viral infection. But PCR testing does not identify multiple viruses in a sample, nor does it indicate viral load or infectivity. The European Commission offered CSIC the opportunity to develop a faster, more versatile method for identifying viruses more completely.
ViruScan aims to enable personalised treatment for those suffering from multiple infections. The technology can also potentially reduce the use of ineffective antibiotics and viral inhibitors, increase blood transfusion safety, and offer a reliable response to emergency outbreaks of viruses like Ebola, Zika, coronavirus and novel virus strains.
CSIC approached TNO based on our respectable technical expertise on nano optomechatronics and integrated nanophotonics. TNO is committed to contributing to European innovation in any way possible. So when CSIC called on TNO for assistance with ViruScan, our optomechatronics and optics teams got to work to identify and realise a solution.
Viruses have specific physical properties, such as mass and stiffness. In the ViruScan project, CSIC’s aim is to develop a device sensitive enough to identify individual viruses based on their physical properties. And for that, they needed the most sensitive scales ever developed.
Viruses are around 1/100 the size of a human cell, in the order of an attogram (10-21 kg). And until now, no technology was capable of detecting the mass and stiffness of individual nanoparticles. But TNO’s expertise in optomechatronics will make it possible to detect mass and stiffness of individual viruses. ViruScan is close to developing the technology to not only identify the viruses present in a sample, but also their infective potential and viral load.
With this information, medical professionals will be able to accurately identify viruses more rapidly, and account for variations in infectivity and viral load to adjust the right treatment for patients. Instead of confirming suspicions using PCR testing, ViruScan will allow precision diagnostics based on actual viral presence in a sample.
Collaboration that advances
By assisting CSIC in its ViruScan work, TNO also advances its own knowledge and understanding of the application of optomechatronics and integrated nanophotonics for medical diagnostics and other industry breakthroughs. By sharing knowledge and resources with other leading European innovators, TNO advances both its own innovation objectives, and the EU’s work on technologies that benefit society.
ViruScan and its related technologies have been recognised no fewer than six times on the European Commission’s Innovation Radar. Not only the development of the ViruScan device, but the team’s work on developing the most complete database of the biophysical properties of viruses and how they relate to infectivity have been recognised as Key Innovators. TNO has therefore contributed to Future & Emerging Technologies that can impact health for people around the world.
QLSI will Contribute to EC Quantum Computing Goals
The European Commission recognises that quantum computing is an essential step in technology development. From managing energy supply and demand to swiftly processing vast amounts of data, quantum computing is the key to achieving more than current supercomputers can manage. As part of the EC’s 10-year, €1 billion Quantum Flagship initiative, TNO is joining with 18 other innovative partners to contribute to the technology that will power our future.
Expanding for scalability
Initially, the Quantum Flagship initiative recognised Superconducting and Trapped Ion quantum computing as the key areas to explore. But upon further investigation, the initiative also recognised the power and value of silicon spin qubits. Together, the three different quantum technologies offer the best opportunity to take full advantage of quantum computing for data processing, hack-proof quantum internet and more.
Given that silicon-based qubits rely on standard semiconductor technology, the potential for silicon spin qubits to contribute to the scale-up of quantum computing became evident. Silicon offers smaller, high fidelity, swift read-out and manipulation chips that may accelerate quantum-computing development and enable scalability.
Expertise at work
That’s why the EU launched a new consortium to explore silicon technologies in quantum computing. Over the next four years, the Quantum Large-Scale Integration with Silicon (QLSI) consortium will investigate the scalability and fidelity of silicon nanostructures and spin qubits, with an aim to make a significant contribution to the future of computing technology.
Recently, TNO and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) – collaborating in QuTech – designed and built Quantum Inspire: an open-source platform that offers users access to technologies that perform quantum computations. The 2-qubit quantum chip that powers the platform is based on silicon spins. Now that the Quantum Flagship aims to scale up silicon spin qubit technology, QuTech was an ideal partner to join the consortium.
Collaboration for acceleration
QLSI, led by CEA, brings TNO together with 18 other universities, RTOs, and technology developers to take a closer look at silicon spin qubit technology, address the current issues and enable scalability. TNO will contribute its knowledge of control hardware and integration and help develop a demonstrator that proves the technology’s efficacy.
In the next four years, QLSI aims to:
- Fabricate & operate a 16-qubit quantum processor based on industry-compatible semiconductor technology
- Demonstrate high-fidelity (>99%) single- and two-qubit gates, read-out and initialisation in a lab
- Develop an 8-qubit quantum computer prototype with online open access for the community
- Document the requirements to enable scalability to systems with >1,000 qubits.
Participation for recognition
The Quantum Flagship projects, including QLSI, will help establish the EU as a leader in quantum technology across a broad scale of applications. And QLSI specifically will help advance knowledge and understanding about silicon-based quantum computing systems.
By participating in the consortium, TNO not only makes its knowledge and expertise available on the European stage, but also gains essential knowledge about the key issues that impact the technology, as well as the solutions that are needed to overcome them. TNO will carry that knowledge forward as it continues to work towards the quantum technologies of the future.
EU Breakthrough Projects
In any given year, the European Commission’s (EC) provides funding and support for more than 5,600 research projects. All of them aimed at solutions to key societal issues and challenges. Among these, in 2020, the EC Research Executive Agency (REA) promoted ten projects that showed significant impact or accomplishment. TNO is proud to have participated in two of the ten projects. We spoke to Marc Tachelet, REA Director, to find out more.
A moment in the sun
There’s no question that 2020 was an extraordinary year, filled with unprecedented challenges. An ideal time, therefore, to bring more positive news to the forefront. So REA promoted ten projects that highlight the impact of European collaborative research to EU citizens and industries. With the Twitter campaign #BrightSideof2020, REA aimed to add some optimism to what was often a difficult year.
Making the selection
To identify the most impactful projects, REA asked the Project Officers who work directly with researchers in EU-funded projects to identify those projects that were especially remarkable, whether because of the level of innovation or the potential impact. ‘Our goal was not only to give these projects some extra recognition, but also to show how the projects we fund benefit society,’ Marc explains. ‘As the guardians of taxpayer money, we want to show that our focus remains on solutions that directly address critical needs in the EU.’
Achieving the Goals of the Paris Agreement
One of the promoted projects was CO2 Human Emissions (CHE) – a consortium of 22 organisations in 8 European countries that aimed to develop a system to monitor and track CO2 emissions caused by humans. The consortium designed a system that, by combining space, ground-based and aircraft data with models, could accurately, consistently and independently monitor these emissions at global, regional and local scales.
The developments within CHE will help ensure that EU countries are able to meet their commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement. TNO contributed its expertise in simulation techniques and emission inventories to develop a library of simulations and models that form the foundation for CO2 monitoring.
Making Europe safer, together
TNO was Technical Coordinator for a second promoted project: Driver+. The project aimed to improve crisis management throughout Europe by consolidating data, tools, experiences and information. Since the scale and pace of crises are continuously accelerating, Driver+ aimed to also accelerate the innovations and solutions to deal with them.
This broad-scale, open-source portfolio will help EU countries better manage crises by accessing validated tools, a portfolio of technological solutions, and a network of crisis management professionals throughout Europe that can help them address their most pressing challenges. The size, scope and impact of Driver+ means a safer European Union for all its citizens.
REA and TNO for a Better Tomorrow
The 10 projects promoted are merely a glimpse into the significant and impactful work that EU funding makes possible. They are a reminder that every EU-funded project aims to support excellence and impact – especially through innovations that can be implemented in society, and in line with the EC’s Greening and Securing Europe priorities. TNO is proud that two of the projects it participated in have been recognised in this way, which further reinforces our ambition to innovate for the good of national and European industry, and society as a whole.