Frontex Announces Winners in Contest on Detection of Low-Flying Objects


Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is pleased to announce the winners of its innovative Prize Award Contest on the Detection of Low-Flying Objects (LFOs). This ground-breaking contest demonstrates Frontex’s commitment to fostering technological innovation in border security, addressing challenges such as the increasing use of drones at EU borders to support criminal activities.

“The increasing use of drones and other low-flying objects at our borders is not just a challenge; it’s a call to action. And at Frontex, we’re not just observing this trend; we’re actively responding with advanced and innovative solutions. The Prize Award Contest is a clear demonstration of our commitment to safeguarding Europe's borders. Our proactive approach today is vital in shaping a safer and more secure Europe of tomorrow," said Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens.

“The innovations we recognise today are not just technical solutions. They embody our ethos of combining efficiency with responsibility, ensuring that our border management strategies are as humane as they are effective,” he added.

Following a rigorous series of operational trials, the top prize of EUR 250 000 has been awarded to DAT-CON, with the second prize of EUR 200 000 going to Teledyne FLIR, and the third prize of EUR 150 000 to Marduk Technologies. Each winner has showcased exceptional ingenuity in developing technologies that meet the critical need for enhanced surveillance and detection of LFOs.

Conducted at Ridali Airfield in Estonia from 16 September to 6 October 2023, the operational trial represented the contest's final and decisive phase. The three finalists, previously selected in Phase 2, were tasked with deploying and operating their technologies in dynamic, real-world simulations. These rigorous tests, encompassing a variety of LFO threats and tactics, challenged the finalists to push the boundaries of innovation in low-level airspace surveillance.

Innovation Awards ceremony

The winners of the Prize Award Contest for Low-Flying Objects were announced at the Frontex Innovation Awards ceremony. This ceremony, held as part of Frontex's broader efforts to foster innovation, was not just a moment of recognition for the ground-breaking work of the winners but also a sign of the agency's proactive role in shaping the future of border management.

The Ceremony also included the announcement of the final selection of four projects to receive the grants under the Research Grants Programme. The grants are part of a new financing scheme known as the Frontex Research Grants Programme, which provides a total of EUR 240 000 in funding to support technological research that aligns with Frontex’s strategic and technology development priorities.

About the Prize Award Contest

Launched a year ago, the Frontex Prize Award Contest reflects the agency’s proactive approach in encouraging state-of-the-art technological solutions. The aim was to incentivise the development of cost-effective, scalable, and integrated capabilities for detecting, tracking, and identifying LFOs, crucial for safeguarding the EU’s borders.

This contest is part of Frontex’s wider strategy to combat emerging threats at EU borders, including the malicious use of drones. By promoting cutting-edge solutions, Frontex not only addresses current challenges but also prepares for the future of border security, ensuring the safety and integrity of EU borders.

Through initiatives like the Prize Award Contest, Frontex establishes itself as a leader in the field of border security technologies. The agency remains dedicated to advancing solutions that are not only effective in addressing today's challenges but also adaptable to the evolving demands of border security.