Frontex leads innovation to secure EU borders against low-flying threats

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is at the forefront of addressing the emerging challenge of low-flying object (LFO) detection at EU borders. The increasing prevalence of drones and other LFOs, used for illicit activities such as intelligence gathering and cross-border crime, necessitates advanced countermeasures to ensure the security of European borders. 

Innovation Prize Award Contest 

Frontex has initiated its inaugural Prize Award Contest, focusing on the detection, tracking, and identification of LFOs like drones, paragliders, and small planes attempting to infiltrate EU borders. This call to innovation aims to inspire industry leaders to develop inventive, cost-effective, and scalable tech solutions that can integrate seamlessly into operational capabilities and support the validation of a cutting-edge surveillance model. 

Competition Overview 

The total prize pool for the competition is EUR 950 000. It has attracted 21 proposals. At the current phase, three finalists are competing in the operational trial phase in Estonia. The remaining competitors are: 

  • DAT CON d. o. o. (Slovenia) 
  • FLIR Systems AB (Teledyne FLIR) (Sweden) and  
  • Marduk Technologies (Estonia). 

Chosen for its strong track record of collaboration between its national agencies and Frontex, Estonia is hosting the grand finale of this initiative, concluding on 6 October. The competition is organised in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences (EASS) and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA). 

The finalists are currently showcasing their technology in dynamic, real-life mimicking environments, tested by an independent team simulating various threats. This landmark event marks the first of its kind, executed in genuine situational conditions, aiming to assess the efficacy, resilience, and reliability of the proposed solutions in real-world settings. 

The trial phase taking place at the Ridali airfield in southern Estonia brings together the brightest minds from the private sector to governmental agency representatives, all unified towards the common goal of safeguarding the EU’s borders. On Wednesday, 27 September, representatives of EU Member States and EU agencies had a first-hand opportunity to observe the live trials. 

Charting the Future of Border Protection 

Frontex’s Prize Award Contest is more than a competition; it’s a catalyst for transformative solutions in EU border protection. The surge in LFOs, especially drones, is a call to action, and Frontex is leading the change in fostering an ecosystem of innovation and collaboration. The current geopolitical and technological landscape underscores the urgency to identify potent solutions for EU border protection and beyond. 

As we await the results of the operational trials in Estonia, one thing is certain: the future of EU’s border protection is on the cusp of a transformative era. 

For more information on the Frontex Prize Contest: