NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

Leveraging industry’s & academia’s expertise and ACT’s experience for mutual benefit

NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is responsible for identifying and promoting the development of essential capabilities that are needed to meet future operational needs of the Alliance. To achieve this development of relevant future capabilities, ACT explores concepts, conducts experiments and supports research and acquisition processes of new technologies.

ACT realises that in complex topic areas where technology and knowledge advances fast, the staff from NATO and National Governments do not always possess all of the state-of-the-knowledge. Academia and Industry are obviously leaders in technology and knowledge. ACT has a key role in setting the requirements of NATO’s future capabilities. It is recognized that engaging Academia and Industry as early as possible will reduce risk and increase cost-effectiveness of capability development efforts.

In that perspective, ACT has developed the Framework For Collaborative Interaction (FFCI).

What is FFCI?

The primary aim of the Framework For Collaborative Interaction (FFCI) is to enable collaborative work to be carried out, in non-procurement manner between ACT and academia or ACT and industry. Collaborative interaction leverages the expertise each party brings to Alliance warfare and capability development efforts.

Benefits: For each of the collaborative activities, ACT and industry/academia should both contribute to and benefit from the collaboration. Actions that involve NATO procurement mechanisms lie outside FFCI. Click “Benefits” below to read more on the benefits of the FFCI framework.

Principles: NATO’s interaction with industry is subject to legal as well as contracting rules and principles that prevent the preferential allocation of public funds. Click “Principles” below to read more on the principals in place to protect all collaborative parties involved.

Methods: Collaboration between NATO and Academia & Industry can take place at different levels of commitment. Click “Methods” below to read more on the different methods of interacting through the FFCI framework.

FFCI Principles

Transparency. The FFCI procedures are openly advertised to prospective collaborative academia and industry in advance of, and during, the collaboration processes. ACT provides academia and industry with timely, accessible and accurate information and must also keep the Nations and other relevant actors informed of the nature and content of the information shared with industry and of the progress of the work being done.

Non-discrimination principle. Companies, universities and think tanks wishing to collaborate with ACT should be treated objectively and without discrimination. European and North-American companies and universities, large and small, should be given the same opportunities and are to be treated in the same way to collaborate with ACT. Also, it is NATO’s shared responsibility to ensure that industry’s IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) are protected throughout the collaboration. Non-discrimination refers to ACT’s consideration of opportunities to collaborate, not actual opportunities – that is, companies and universities have an equal chance to propose collaboration, but may not be selected to collaborate if the company’s outputs do not match ACT priorities.

Fairness and openness must be maintained for potential follow-on procurement competition. When collaborating with academia and industry on specific warfare or capability development issues, it is ACT’s responsibility to ensure potential future competition for procurement will not be biased toward a specific solution, product, manufacturer or service provider and that no company will be disadvantaged in terms of knowledge and information.  This advantage, actual or perceived, is called organizational conflict of interest (OCI). OCI’s can be mitigated with proper planning and involvement of the Office of the Legal Advisor and the Purchasing and Contracting (P&C) sections.

“Costs lie where they fall.” In this respect ACT funding is limited to requirements for appropriate FFCI-related contributions required for NATO entities participating in the specific FFCI activity.  Academia and industry needs to pay for its own costs of participating in FFCI activities, or have a customer (e.g. Nation or National entity) pay for its costs.

FFCI Methods

The FFCI framework enables ACT to select the most appropriate mechanism (or mechanisms) to engage with academia and industry for any specific warfare or capability development initiative. The choice of mechanism is determined by considering a number of factors such as the type of academic or industry contribution, selection of engagement enabler, or engagement level.

The FFCI framework continues to explore opportunities to collaborate at all levels. In this way, exchange of information with academia and industry is improved, enabling trust relationships to be built that are essential building blocks for collaboration to succeed. Forums continue to support exchange of information with companies, universities and workshops provide opportunities for discussions with single or groups of companies, to enable more extensive exchange of information.

FFCI Contact

A dedicated ACT team is responsible for supporting FFCI. This team consists of the Office for Collaboration with Academia and Industry (OCAI) and representatives from Legal Affairs, BUDFIN (primarily Purchasing and Contracting), ACT Office of Security (AOS) and ACT Chief Information Office (and if requested by other functional areas). The team facilitates the initiation of collaborative activities between ACT and Academia or ACT and industry.  FFCI should also be supported by a robust strategic communications/public affairs engagement approach that synthesizes FFCI interactions with ACT communications strategies.

Within HQ SACT, the OCAI (Office for Collaboration with Academia and Industry) is the main point of entry for all industry’s and academia’s requests.

For all collaboration proposals stemming either from ACT or from industrial and academic partners, OCAI will also be the coordination body, in charge of identifying the appropriate actors to investigate and potentially pursue collaborative activities.

You can contact the OCAI at [email protected]