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Project Alpha is one of the largest research programs globally focused on the issues of non-proliferation and trade control. It works across nine research themes.

A unique feature of Project Alpha is that it takes a data-centric and academically rigorous approach to its work. For any given problem or question, the team will generally attempt to find or build a comprehensive dataset of all relevant examples – be these related to Iranian illicit procurement, maritime tracking systems disablement, or North Korean overseas companies. The team then utilise systematic analytical techniques such as link analysis statistical analysis or geographical (map) analysis to derive patterns and trends.

In addition to being subject matter experts in non-proliferation and trade, Project Alpha staff are also open source intelligence practitioners trained to systematically mine all available data for relevant insights. The team’s reliance on systematic gathering and processing of data led to Project Alpha’s interest in, and eventually mastery of, big data analysis. Project Alpha has developed numerous unique big data and machine learning capabilities to assist with its analysis. 

The ultimate goal of Project Alpha is to understand and counter illicit trade. To achieve this goal, the team disseminates its research in a variety of ways. As a research program based in academia, the team regularly publishes academic articles. As a program interested in real-word impact, the team also publishes shorter form articles, case studies, white papers, and other policy-relevant materials. As a knowledge transfer program, Project Alpha also regularly holds seminars and events to share insights with practitioners in government and the private sector. 

Project Alpha’s work is possible because of its strong links with external organisations. Project Alpha maintains strong connections with all relevant governments and international organisations so that its insights can reach practitioners. Project Alpha also enjoys research partnerships with other organisations in the field including perhaps most notably the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies (CNS). Project Alpha also benefits from tools and information provided by companies in the UK and beyond.