Technical University of Denmark: DTU takes initiatives to strengthen research security

DTU is strengthening its measures to reduce ethical, financial, and security risks connected with international research and innovation collaborations. These measures will be anchored in a new interdisciplinary organization that will support DTU’s approach to managing the risks posed by international collaboration, while respecting freedom of research. The first step in the process is a pilot project conducted at DTU Space, DTU Wind and Energy Systems, and DTU Electro, which are already working with sensitive technology areas and are engaged in an ongoing dialogue on how to manage international collaboration.

The implementation of the new guidelines comes after the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science published the recommendations from the Committee on Guidelines for International Research and Innovation Collaboration (URIS) in May.

“The introduction of the URIS Committee’s guidelines strengthens DTU’s accountability and risk management in research and innovation collaborations. At the same time, we’re highly aware that DTU’s activities rest on a respect for freedom of research—both nationally and globally. DTU is continuously working to improve the value and content of our research, and it’s crucial that we protect freedom of research and participate in international collaborations for the benefit of society,” says Rasmus Larsen, Provost at DTU.

Close dialogue with research environments
To clarify how the URIS guidelines are adapted and implemented optimally throughout DTU, there is a need for close dialogue with the research environments. The aim of the pilot project with DTU Space, DTU Wind and Energy Systems, and DTU Electro is to provide specific knowledge about which resources and competences are needed and what it requires to make the guidelines operational for researchers and departments.

Main action areas of the pilot project:

Mapping sensitive technology areas and types of collaboration.
Development of a step-by-step collaborative process—where the increasing complexity of the collaboration results in more stringent requirements for risk management.
Clarification of the need for and process of background checks of international partners.
Specification of the division of responsibilities in international collaboration.
Increased focused on safety and security for students and staff, for example in connection with travelling and stays abroad, including handling of visiting researchers at DTU.
The initial mapping at the departments will be initiated in August 2022 as part of the preparation of a plan for full implementation of the URIS guidelines at DTU.

New interdisciplinary security organization
DTU’s Office for Research, Advice and Innovation will be responsible for the new interdisciplinary organization, which will ensure that international research and innovation collaboration is conducted within the framework of the new URIS guidelines. The work will be organized based on four principal elements:

Principles of good research practice
External compliance requirements
Risk assessment of DTU projects & partners
DTU on-site emergency response
The purpose of the interdisciplinary organization is to establish a clear framework for how to handle the complexity of international collaboration and to ensure the necessary coordination between the administrative units, so that any risks are managed in a timely and expedient manner.

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