By using our website you accept our cookies policy.Find out more

Defence and security funding round-up

Posted on 17/05/2019

Upcoming funding opportunities and events in the defence and security sectors, including crime detection and prevention. Updated 31st May.

To help you navigate this frequently-complex landscape, KTN has compiled a list of open competitions and forthcoming events. Many of these calls will be of interest to companies who are not yet involved in the defence or forensics sectors (the latter title covers all aspects of crime detection and prevention).

If you would like to connect with KTN’s defence, security and forensics expert Hazel Biggs, you can contact her here.

Ongoing Innovation Focus calls

DASA’s Innovation Focus page provides information on particular and enduring innovation focus areas, which are specific topics where customers would be keen to see innovative solutions channelled via the Open Call. Proposals which address these areas of interest can be submitted into either of the 2 Open Call streams, the Emerging Innovations and Rapid Impact Innovations. They currently have six open calls: there is no specific deadline for these calls and they may be removed if the brief has been met. There is no specific budget limit for these calls.


1. Developing novel radar concepts and technologies

“We would like to fund initial assessment (to reach TRL1/2) of new and novel concepts and technologies that will transform the UK’s radar sensing capability (Land, Sea and Air domains) to meet the needs of a modern complex battlespace in the next 10-15 years. These concepts and technologies will support the future vision of a fully distributed, flexible, multi-function, networked, cognitive radar system, with an optimum information transfer that is resilient and robust.”


2. Finding suspected threats on passengers during airport screening

“Once a metal detector or security scanner alarm is activated on a passenger, the passenger is subjected to a further search in order to resolve the alarm and determine whether the alarm is genuine. Currently this is carried out by combining the use of hand searches, handheld metal detectors and explosive trace detectors. Hand searches, particularly when performed on certain areas of the body, can be intrusive for the passenger and uncomfortable for the security officer conducting the search.

We are interested in receiving proposals for the development of hand-held solutions that will help detect both metallic and non-metallic threats on the body while reducing the need for person-person contact, particularly in harder-to-search areas of the body. Any solutions must be safe to use on people and should complement, rather than duplicate, existing screening processes, such as metal and explosive detection.”


3. Matching passengers with their x-ray trays during airport screening

“Airport screening requires passengers to put their items into trays which are then passed through x-ray machines. Passengers may require multiple x-ray trays when they have a large number of personal effects. This can lead to trays becoming separated from one another and from the relevant passenger. Therefore, we are seeking a novel solution which is able to:

  • link each passenger to all of their x-ray trays, until all items have been screened and retrieved by the passenger record each tray’s outcome (clear or divert) for auditing purposes
  • integrate with the x-ray system for specific screening of each tray, as a further capability

The solution must:

  • produce an output which could be demonstrated and trialed, rather than just a theoretical model
  • be able to integrate within aviation security screening environments”


4. Improving aviation cargo screening speed

Aviation cargo screening can be a laborious process that takes a significant amount of time. Cargo can be either distributed on pallets or in large containers. Currently, aviation cargo is screened for threat items by a variety of methods including x-ray systems. Cargo often has regions of high density, and other complexities such as size and shape which require further investigation. Secondary screening involves manual screening and other detection methods such as metal detection, canine screening and explosive trace detection.

We are seeking novel, innovative ideas that would help increase the speed, accuracy and volume at which cargo is screened to improve the throughput of cargo as well as enhance security. We are interested in screening methods that can detect explosives and hidden weapons. In particular, we are interested in: large cargo and pallet-level screening solutions which are entirely novel or add on to existing screening methods; and the ability to screen dark, dense regions within consignments, such as dense materials or densely packed items.”


5. Assistive technology for rail staff

“In train stations, staff regularly check the public areas such as platforms, concourse and shops to detect threats to the public. This includes any unusual activity and items. Unusual activity is something that a normal train passenger or station user would not be doing, such as trying to avoid staff, staying at a station too long or collecting information about the station.

We are seeking innovative solutions to work in combination with existing railway security measures and the ‘See it, Say it, Sorted’ campaign to detect unusual behaviour. This could also be used to help identify and assist passengers who appear to be lost, those who are vulnerable or possibly considering self-harm. Assistance could be provided by a member of staff equipped with technology, a piece of technology itself, or a member of staff trained in a new procedure. For example, members of staff could be enabled with technology to readily answer questions or there may be a mobile artificial intelligence presence. Overall, this should help to facilitate good customer service and help staff feel confident and safe approaching members of the public. Any solution must be cost effective.

We are seeking:

  • innovative technologies or solutions that help staff identify unusual activity and interact with members of the public, along with an understanding of how these fit into the current market landscape
  • ideas to further encourage passengers to spot and report unusual behaviour
  • ways to identify passengers who need assistance, as well as a deployable solution
  • additional benefits in customer service for train station users, and confidence and security for station staff to understand the effectiveness of body-worn cameras at deterring unusual behaviour”


6. Screening train carriages

“Trains require checking to identify whether items have been left unattended in carriages, especially while the train is in use, so that staff can be alerted quickly. Screening is a difficult process due to the complexity of the areas within trains that would need to be checked. These will include areas such as the spaces under seats, overhead luggage racks, and the junctions between carriages. In order to make the process more efficient, we would like to augment or automate this process. There is a need for a device that is able to scan train carriages and determine if any foreign objects have been left behind.

We are interested in proposals that modify existing processes (e.g. CCTV) to meet the screening needs, or which screen the whole carriage, including under the seats, overhead racks and junction between carriages. Screening needs to be carried out rapidly, whilst the train is in use and with passengers present.”


For more details on the above calls, see DASA’s Innovation Focus page: applications should be made through the Defence and Security Accelerator proposal submission service (registration required).

Vehicle Checkpoint Screening Conference – 13 June, Bristol

The Vehicle Checkpoint Screening Conference will showcase projects that are looking at new ways to prevent explosives, weapons and other threats hidden in vehicles from accessing the airside of an airport. In addition, attendees will be provided with the opportunity to understand how existing technologies are being adapted to work within the VCP setting. Further details including how to register are here. You must register your interest for a place at the event by 5pm on Friday 7th June.

KTN is hiring: Head of Complex Systems (including Defence and Security)

We’re looking for a senior manager who will lead the Complex Systems team, which covers several interconnected areas including space, AI and robotics, defence and industrial maths / big data. Salary £52-72k. All applications must be received by Monday 10th June. Click here for more details.

Defence and Security Showcase – 26 June, Central London

This will be the first DASA security focused event and offers a real opportunity to bring together the security innovation community. We are inviting a range of HMG Departments and agencies, along with previously funded and new suppliers, and private sector operators responsible for embedding new innovation into their systems and supply chain. If you or colleagues are interested in attending, further information including how to register is available here. Registration closes at 6pm on 12th June 2019.

Competition: semi-autonomous reconnaissance vehicles for the Army

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals that can deliver semi-autonomous forward reconnaissance systems controlled from manned mobile assets – a concept known as Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) – for the British Army. They are interested in ground-to-ground, air-to-air and ground-to-air systems. The control system should be designed with a single operator in mind working inside an existing mobile platform (either ground or air). A demonstration must be provided at Army Warfighting Experiment which will take place in March 2020.

This is a single phase competition with a total funding of £1.8M over 8 months, to potentially support 3 to 5 bids. Each proposal will be capped at £600K. This competition closes on 18 June 2019 at midday.

For more details, see the DASA funding call page here. Queries should be sent to

Defence and Security Accelerator competition: Space To Innovate

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition seeks proposals for novel and innovative solutions that can develop the UK’s Defence and Security space capabilities; specifically those that are not being matured in the civil space industry. The 4 challenge areas are:

  • Defending future UK space assets
  • Novel sensing and Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) enablers
  • Characterisation of objects in space and their intent
  • Overcoming the technical issues of ‘Space to Sea Level’ optical communications

The total funding for all phases of this competition is expected to be at least £2.25 million. However, each phase 1 proposal will be capped at £200k. Proposals for funding to meet these challenges must be submitted by 26 June 2019 at midday. Click here for more details.

Future Screening for Aviation and Borders

This £4.5m competition seeks innovation which can provide step changes to the current capabilities of screening and detection of dangerous, illicit and/or contraband items. Comprising of multiple challenges, the competition addresses different aspects of aviation security and beyond, to explore technologies which can also be used to detect threats at non-aviation related borders. Further details, including how to submit your proposal are here. Closing date: 1st July 2019.

Novel Chemistry to reduce the risk from household products

This £1m competition is looking for proposals that can reduce the risk of common chemicals used in household and personal care products being used as explosives precursors or precursors for the production of chemical or biological agents. We welcome approaches that will offer substitutes for these compounds or additives that will reduce the risk of their misuse. Further details, including how to submit your proposal, are here. Closing date: 3rd July 2019.

Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition

The Emerging Technologies Competition is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s annual initiative for early stage companies and academic entrepreneurs who want to commercialise their technologies to make a global impact. The competition is free to apply, with applications open until 5th July, and welcomes applicants from UK and Europe whose tech have a strong component of chemistry and falls in one of the following categories:

  • Health
  • Energy & environment
  • Food & drink
  • Enabling technologies

The eight winners of the competition will receive:

£/€ 10,000 non-dilutive funds
Support from competition partners: Croda, Unilever, Johnson Matthey, RSSL and Pfizer
Intensive business and pitch training at Cambridge Judge Business school
Technology summary under the winners tab on the Emerging Technologies Competition website
Press release with local news

To find out more and apply, click here.

The Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge is a worldwide renowned science & technology startup competition designed specifically to address the needs of deep tech entrepreneurs across several different industries and technologies.

There are 14 categories for entry:
Advanced Computing & Ai
Cybersecurity & Communication
Digital Health & Medical Devices
Drug Discovery
Food & Agriculture
Industrial Biotech
Industry 4.0
Medical Biotech
New Space
Smart City

The best start-up in each category will receive €10,000,  with the overall winner receiving an additional €90,000.

Applications are open until September 13th 2019. To find out more and apply, click here.