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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 3rd Jan 2020.

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 area 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 eight 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.



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.”


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.”


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”


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.”


Regenerative medicine at the front line

“Recently a regenerative medicine research strategy was developed for Defence, based on the following scoping study. One of the research themes identified concerns understanding how the systemic response to severe traumatic injury affects later regenerative capacity, principally focusing on extremity soft tissue.

Regenerative responses are dependent on context. Regenerative medicine must not only be about providing injured tissues with a therapy but also with an environment conducive to regeneration.

The burden of tissue damage associated with severe traumatic injury can lead to a dysregulation of a variety of systems including immune, metabolic and haemostatic responses. A better understanding of this context and what happens to, for example, the viability, production, differentiation and migration of cells involved in repair and regeneration after severe trauma will be important for the development of novel early regenerative strategies.

We are seeking proposals that either: look to understand the effect of the systemic milieu on regenerative processes, either endogenous or therapeutic
or: investigate an approach to modulate the systemic environment after severe injury with subsequent assessment of an appropriate outcome variable associated with wound regeneration.

Proposals should take into account the context in which medical care is likely to be delivered in the future as therapeutic concepts should be appropriate for use early after injury in austere environments.”


Advancing less-lethal weapon capability

“We are seeking proposals that demonstrate ideas or concepts that could be developed into prototypes for viability assessment as less-lethal weapons. We seek novel ideas that could be used by law enforcement to do one or several of the below:

  • be employed to prevent or reduce a terrorist’s ability to take or maintain hostages
  • temporarily neutralise a potentially moving target at between 5m and 50m (with stretch target of 1m to 70m)
  • overwhelm the perpetrator whilst maintaining a reasonable level of protection burden on the operatives and/or working dogs

All proposals should demonstrate an understanding of the effects of the innovation/technology on humans to increase the effect it has on the offender whilst minimising the effect to individuals.”


Understanding the psychological effect on the public of chemical regulation change

“Everyday commercially available products are at risk of misuse or exploitation for illegitimate purposes, for example, to conduct an explosive attack. Banning such products is typically undesirable due to anticipated impacts on prosperity, consumer freedoms and lack of alternatives for legitimate use. We are therefore undertaking research into safer alternatives to common household products at highest risk of terrorist misuse…

The ultimate aim of any proposal would be, through either practical or literature assessment, to provide an understanding of customer psychology and behaviour, which might help to frame the need for regulation change and support the marketing of safer alternatives to products at high risk of misuse.”


Understanding the risk of chemical and explosives precursors found in household products and the opportunities to replace them

“Everyday household products serve a number of purposes, from cleaning and cooking to DIY and cosmetics, however while these products may be used for legitimate applications, a number of these common products are at significant risk of misuse by terrorist organisations. Products that contain chemical and explosives precursor substances can and have been used to create home-made explosives devices (HMEs) using alarmingly simple methods.

Market research, extensive industry engagement and supply chain studies tell us we could do more to prevent successful terrorist attacks by modifying the formulations of these products to make them much harder to misuse. We are seeking novel ideas to replace or reduce the potential harm of chemical and explosives precursors in household products.”


Innovative security features for bank notes

“The Bank of England is now looking ahead and inviting ideas to develop novel, overt, security features and print technologies for consideration for potential use in future generations of banknotes.

These technologies should be:

  • difficult to counterfeit or simulate
  • easy and intuitive to use for the public; or retailer, using a simple tool if necessary
  • easy to communicate
  • durable
  • compatible with high volume printing techniques; representing good value for money with a high production yield
  • suitable for integration into a banknote design

Security technologies in the family of holographic foils, lenticular lens features, optically variable inks or technologies that require a complex tool to authenticate or decode will not be considered.”


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).

Innovate UK Smart Grants

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £25 million in the best game-changing, innovative or disruptive ideas with a view to commercialisation.

All proposals must be business focused, rather than pure research. Applications can come from any area of technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries), science or engineering and be applied to any part of the economy.

The current round of Smart Grants opened on 17th October 2019 and will close on 8th January 2020. Read more here.

There will be a further round of Smart Grants following this one, opening 09.01.20 with a closing date of 22.04.20. Click here for details.

SBRI: DASA A Joint Effort, Phase 2

This competition from the Defence and Security Accelerator continues to seek innovations that will accelerate the integration of advanced materials onto military platforms. These materials may be monolithic, composite or functionally graded depending on the application. They may have been manufactured using conventional or advanced manufacture techniques, including additive manufacture.

Developments of particular interest for this competition include:

  • enabling new material combinations
  • novel approaches to the integration of advanced or novel materials
  • increasing durability of joints in military operating conditions
  • joints that allow easier modification/replacement of components or sub-systems on a platform
  • health and usage monitoring of joints

Competition Challenges

Like Phase 1, Phase 2 intends to fund proof-of-concepts that address one or more of the challenges outlined below but to a higher level of maturity. Key requirements that apply across all the challenges for creating and managing joints on military platforms are:

  • creating effective joints in real-world conditions (for example with surface contamination or repairing damaged material)
  • developing techniques that are cost effective (whether this is by reducing manufacturing costs or via through-life savings)
  • considering the fire, smoke and toxicity performance of materials and interfaces
  • developing joining approaches that are light weight compared to current methods

Read more here. Closing date 31st Jan 2020.

Map the Gap: autonomous gap crossing survey

DASA is launching a new competition to develop a semi-autonomous reconnaissance and survey system to help troops safely and stealthily advance into enemy territory over water.

The military need to be able to cross obstacles such as rivers, streams, bogs and other so-called ‘wet gaps’. Currently, the only way of identifying suitable crossing points is to send Royal Engineer reconnaissance troops to survey both banks of the river – exposing them to danger which also risks compromising the operation by signalling interest in that location to the enemy.

DASA, on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is seeking ideas from industry and academia to create a new remote system capable of surveying potential crossing sites by gathering data on both sides of the water.

The Map the Gap: Autonomous Gap Crossing Survey competition will have an initial £1.2m available in funding for Phase 1 with an additional £2.5m anticipated for further development in Phase 2.

DASA expects to fund three to four bids during Phase 1.

The competition will formally launch in February 2020 when full details and requirements will be released.

DASA and Dstl will be hosting a launch event in London on the 4th February 2020 where potential bidders can hear more about the competition, have 1-to-1 sessions with the project team, meet Army Engineers, and meet with other potential bidders with the view of partnering. For those who cannot attend the launch event, DASA and the project team will be holding a dial in event and 15 minute 1-to-1 sessions on 13 February 2020.

For more details and to register for the launch event and dial in or 1-to-1 sessions, click here.