A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START strengthens ties to private industry with strategic partnership, publications, events


START strengthens ties to private industry with strategic partnership, publications, events

February 19, 2021

Earlier this month, START Director William Braniff was featured in a Business Executive for National Security (BENS) virtual discussion, regarding START’s increasing connectivity with the private sector. The BENS event was the latest in an ongoing effort to engage with private sector organizations grappling with asymmetric threats ranging from targeted violence and terrorism to intellectual property (IP) theft and influence operations.

Working through UM Ventures-College Park and the Office of Research Administration, START has created a strategic partnership with CHC Global, an insurance intermediary and advisor dedicated to special risks, in part to help foster this engagement with the private sector.

“Given their work in the insurance industry, where data on the frequency and severity of perils helps to price risk, CHC recognizes the value of START’s empirical approach to terrorism studies,” Braniff said. “Having a commercial partner that can help us navigate the private sector is very helpful. But beyond that, our research demonstrates that the government will not stop every asymmetric threat, and therefore that resilience is critical for national security purposes, both in the private and public sector. Who better to learn from than the insurance sector when it comes to resilience?”

CHC is licensing the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to organizational end-users, and START serves as a research reach-back capability for CHC’s consulting projects.

“The benefits of critical thinking and reliable data are apparent to anyone involved in the management of terrorism risks for any length of time,” CHC Global CEO Chris Holt said.  

“There’s also wide acceptance in the risk management sector that collaboration between the public, private and third sector can deliver tangible benefits to societal resilience,” Holt said. “Since entering our partnership with START in 2019, it’s been hugely encouraging to see the broad range of benefits, to multiple stakeholders, which have evolved from this collaboration. CHC has a strong client base in the insurance sector, but we also work directly with commercial clients and public sector organizations, internationally. Bringing reliable data and credible research to these organizations is already allowing more informed decisions to be made. We and our partners at START have ambitious plans for 2021 and beyond, and feel confident that we will deliver a better understanding of these challenging perils.”

Through CHC Global, START was introduced to leaders from the International Forum of Terrorism Risk (Re) Insurance Pools (IFTRIP), and Braniff spoke during their annual conference in April 2019. In October 2020, Braniff and Global Terrorism Database (GTD) Program Manager Erin Miller provided two substantive presentations on modeling and risk during IFTRIP 2020 virtual conference.

Holt and CHC Global’s Head of Advisory, Jerry Smith, also presented on what cyber product innovation is possible to provide clients with effective risk transfer options, and potential CBRN threats that should be considered for the future at the IFTRIP 2020 virtual conference.

More than 750 delegates from more than 350 organizations and 42 countries tuned in to the IFTRIP Livestream. The annual conference is the insurance industry’s largest and most prestigious conference on terrorism.

START and CHC Global are also engaged with the Security Industry Association (SIA), “a not-for-profit trade organization driven by volunteers” that “provides education, certification, standards, advocacy and influential events which connect the industry.” START and CHC have presented at multiple SIA events to date, including their June 2020 Government Summit and a September 2020 half-day webinar  on evolving threats. START and CHC are contributing to a new initiative to create industry standards on vulnerability, threat and risk assessments to help build resilience across the private sector.

Given the impact of Covid-19 on both public and private sector institutions, START and CHC produced a short publication in May 2020,  “100 Days Later: COVID-19: Implications for Managing Terrorism and Asymmetric Threats,” which received wide readership across the insurance, risk and policy making communities. In October, the two organizations produced a second short publication, “In the Eye of the Storm: An Update: Managing Terrorism and Asymmetric Threats during Covid-19,” which considered the potential impacts of Covid-19 on terrorism and asymmetric threats between the first global wave of COVID-19 and an expected second wave crest.

These publications resulted in an invitation for Braniff, Holt and Smith to present on the strategic implications of COVID-19 for risk assessment and resilience to a Department of Defense (DOD) and UK Ministry of Defense audience, hosted by the DOD Strategic Multilayer Assessment Office of the Joint Staff in October 2020.

“While we understood the value that START research could bring to the private and third sectors, and the value of having a private sector partner to educate us on the time-tested risk mitigation strategies of the insurance sector, we have since realized the value of bringing the insurance context to the public sector organizations that too often get caught in a ‘win-lose’ paradigm instead of investing in risk management strategies,” Braniff said.

“Instead of this partnership being a pivot to the private sector, we now recognize that this partnership helps us serve as a nexus entity, bridging four communities that need to be in dialogue with one another – academia, the private sector, the third sector and government.”