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Winners Announced for EDA Research, Technology, and Innovation Papers Award 2024

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The European Defence Agency (EDA) is delighted to announce the three winners of its Research, Technology, and Innovation Papers Award 2024. This year, the competition focused on innovative technologies, processes, and applications for enhanced future defence capabilities. The three winners were presented with their awards at Eurosatory in Paris by EDA Research, Technology and Innovation Director, Nathalie Guichard. 

EDA’s award seeks to increase the visibility and impact of tomorrows innovators and aims to promote and support the work of early career researchers by introducing their work to the defence community, stimulate engagement of innovators to widen their access to emerging and potentially disruptive research, and identify areas in which additional investment is needed to address future defence capability needs. Each of the three prize presented their papers at a dedicated EDA event hosted at the Eurosatory Innovation Lab, which is the dedicated area of the exhibition dedicated to start-ups and young innovators. 

“With this initiative EDA supports young talents with the aim to retain unique skills in the defence and security sectors”, said Nathalie Guichard at the event. “This is the second edition of this award, set up in the context of the Hub for European Defence Innovation (HEDI), and we have seen an increasing interest from academia in competing at European level which is a sign of the thriving R&T ecosystem in Europe.

And the winners are:

- Michele MAESTRINI from the POLITECNICO DI MILANO for a paper titled “SPACEGUARD: How space law enforcement can enhance space security through comprehensive monitoring and response to threats” - award collected by co-author Niccolo’ FARACO. 

- Isabel CARNOTO AMAT, from the University Carlos III of Madrid for a paper titled “Towards small object detection in space: photonic integrated quantum illumination”.

- Giulio MEUCCI from the National Inter-University Consortium for Telecommunications for a paper titled “AI-generated threats to maritime navigation using deceptive ISAR images”. 


SpaceGuard: How Space Law Enforcement can Enhance Space Security through Comprehensive Monitoring and Response to Threats

"SpaceGuard: How Space Law Enforcement can Enhance Space Security through Comprehensive Monitoring and Response to Threats" by Michele Maestrini and colleagues proposes an innovative solution for space law enforcement. 

The paper addresses the need for robust monitoring and response capabilities to manage the growing threats from unknown and potentially hostile space objects. SpaceGuard integrates guidance, navigation, and capabilities identification modules to inspect and characterize these objects autonomously. 

The approach leverages existing technologies from Active Debris Removal (ADR) and On-Orbit Servicing (OOS), aiming to enhance space security and resilience. The dual-use nature of the technology also opens commercial opportunities, potentially positioning the EU as a leader in space security and commercial space services   

AI-Generated Threats to Maritime Navigation using Deceptive ISAR Images
The paper "AI-Generated Threats to Maritime Navigation using Deceptive ISAR Images" by Giulio Meucci, Francesco Mancuso, and Alessandro Cantelli-Forti explores the vulnerabilities of ship radar systems to cyber-attacks. Specifically, it examines how Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) can be used to create fake Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) images that closely resemble real targets. 

This technique can manipulate radar data, causing navigational problems such as collisions or delays by presenting false images of ships or objects. The study highlights the significant risks posed by such cyber threats, especially by Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which are sophisticated, long-term attacks often backed by state actors. 

The research underscores the need for robust cybersecurity measures in maritime operations to counter these potential threats.
Towards Small Object Detection in Space: Photonic Integrated Quantum Illumination
In "Towards Small Object Detection in Space: Photonic Integrated Quantum Illumination," Isabel Carnoto Amat and her colleagues present a novel approach for detecting faint space debris and small satellites using quantum illumination. 

The proposed system leverages a Photonic Integrated whispering gallery mode resonator utilising thin film lithium niobate technology. This resonator serves as an entanglement source and frequency upconversion stage, designed for space applications due to its reduced size, weight, and power consumption. 

The paper discusses the potential of quantum technologies to enhance detection capabilities by improving sensitivity and reducing noise levels. Although the technology is not yet mature for immediate deployment, the authors emphasize its promising future in providing comprehensive coverage and increased reliability for space debris detection.
About HEDI 
The EDA Research, Technology, and Innovation Papers Award is done under the ‘’umbrella’’ of HEDI (Hub for EU Defence Innovation), which is the new platform for innovation, led by EDA, that was established in March 2022 as an action derived from "Strategic Compass for EU Defence and Security’’.

HEDI has the objective of fostering innovative technological solutions following a systemic approach towards cutting-edge military capabilities. Furthermore, HEDI serves as a platform to stimulate and facilitate cooperation on defence innovation while ensuring synergies with related European Commission activities, notably the EU defence innovation scheme, coherence of output with NATO innovation and other EU Defence Innovation organizations.