SAFE Foundation’s Contribution to the EMERITUS Project: fostering innovation and collaborative synergies


The EMERITUS project is implemented by a heterogeneous consortium composed of 20 partners and 3 affiliated entities including top-level research institutions, industrial players, security-specialised small and medium enterprises (SME), non-governmental organisations (NGO), Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and Border Guards (BGs) from 9 countries (Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Romania, and Moldova). Among these is SAFE, the Security and Freedom for Europe Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation, distinguished for its expertise in the design and implementation of EU-funded projects.

Specialising in sectors like security, defence, peace & stability, and fundamental rights, SAFE engages in building strategic partnerships and leading projects that aim for significant societal impact, operating both locally and internationally. Since 2019, the SAFE Foundation has worked on the implementation of fifty projects, amounting to a total value of nearly 80 million euros, supporting over fifty public and private institutions, including civilian and military entities responsible for emergency management, LEAs, research institutions, private companies and international organisations.


The added value of a non-profit foundation in a Horizon Europe project

The involvement of SAFE in the EMERITUS project is pivotal for numerous reasons. As a dynamic, private but non-profit foundation, SAFE can facilitate interactions with public bodies, most frequently representing end-users and stakeholders of the Horizon Europe-funded projects. Notable examples include several Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) and agreements SAFE signed with relevant EU entities active in the Security, Emergency Management, and Defense sectors including, for instance, a Framework Contract with the Italian Ministry of Defense.

Such collaborations, formed on the grounds of shared goals in training, exercising, R&I, allow the SAFE Foundation to engage in joint activities like educational events, workshops, and testing of novel technologies and operational procedures. These partnerships also extend to EU projects in areas of mutual interest, covering complex topics like Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) risk mitigation, technological development, as well as innovative educational approaches like the use of Virtual and Extended Reality.


SAFE’s role within the EMERITUS project

SAFE’s main objective within the project is to ensure the development and implementation of increasingly advanced, innovative solutions in support of LEAs and BGs involved in the fight against the illicit trafficking of waste. This objective-driven approach allows SAFE to focus solely on the efficacy and advancement of the project, free from any influence of profit motives or external agendas.

Leading Work Package 4, SAFE focuses on implementing innovative training and testing activities dedicated to novel technologies aimed at boosting European LEAs and BGs’ capabilities both in detecting and prosecuting environmental crimes.

SAFE’s contributions allow to simulate real-world scenarios in a unique environment such as the space of the former NATO base sited on top of the Calvarina mountain. This is restricted area, in which it is possible to recreate a realistic environment in relevant settings (semi-controlled environment), equipping personnel to tackle complex environmental crimes like illegal dumping and trafficking. SAFE’s commitment to integrating emerging technologies, like drone and satellite imagery, novel sensors, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big Data analysis into law enforcement investigative operations is a testament to their forward-thinking approach.


SAFE’s contribution in tracing synergies with other projects and initiatives

A key goal of EMERITUS is to forge synergies with analogous projects and initiatives, facilitating an exchange of best practices to enhance the efficiency and outcomes of the work. In line with this objective, at the CERIS FCT/INFRA annual event held in Brussels in December 2023, SAFE’s representative, Federico Benolli, had the opportunity to highlight the EMERITUS project and connection with the sister project PERIVALLON, thereby giving them increased visibility and recognition. Both projects, funded under the EU’s Horizon Europe framework, aim to tackle organised environmental crimes through innovative technological tools and platforms. SAFE’s role in both projects, underscored by its capabilities and the Calvarina facility, is instrumental in advancing these objectives.

As a result, SAFE’s ongoing activities within EMERITUS and PERIVALLON envisage expanding the projects’ training programs and evolving methodologies to address the changing landscape of environmental crimes.


Calvarina: A Unique Training and Testing Environment

The Calvarina Base that SAFE has been managing since February 2021 is a former NATO military base repurposed into a state-of-the-art training and testing facility. This facility offers an unparalleled environment for realistic testing and training scenarios. Here, LEAs, first responders, defense institutions, research centres and private entities can test their procedures and innovative technologies. The uniqueness of Calvarina lies in its ability to facilitate immersive and large-scale simulations, making it an ideal location for developing and refining cutting-edge tools and technologies in the security and defence sectors. This video shows Calvarina Base in detail.


The multi-faceted contribution of SAFE

The SAFE Foundation’s role in the EMERITUS project is multi-faceted and very important. As a non-profit organisation managing the Calvarina training facility, SAFE brings a relevant level of expertise and resources to the project. SAFE’s involvement is expected not only to drive innovation in tackling environmental crimes but also to strengthen cooperation and synergies within the broader scope of European security-related initiatives.