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Defence and security funding round-up

Posted on 13/03/2020

Upcoming funding opportunities and events in the defence and security sectors, including crime detection and prevention. Updated 13th March 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.

DASA seeks novel technology to counter homemade bombs

Invisible Shield: Countering IEDs by novel technology and techniques seeks innovative proposals to thwart adversaries, terrorists and criminals from using everyday communications items such as radios or mobile phones and networks to trigger homemade bombs and explosives.

The competition, run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Strategic Command, is particularly looking at:

  • Novel spectrum survey techniques to capture and analyse Radio Frequency signals
  • Techniques to quickly and effectively neutralise target devices
  • New and novel hardware and system components

The competition is expected to have at least £1.5m available in funding for Phase 1 with funding anticipated for further development in Phase 2.

DASA expects to fund up to 10 proposals during Phase 1.

A summary of the competition and requirements can be found here.

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

DASA and Dstl will be hosting a launch event in London on 29th April 2020, 9.30am-3.30pm, where potential bidders can hear more about the competition, have 1-to-1 sessions with the project team and meet with other potential bidders with the view of partnering.

You can register to attend the launch event on Eventbrite here.

Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals that can provide future offshore windfarm mitigation for UK Air Defence surveillance; including alternative technologies that could fill or remove gaps in radar coverage. Funding p to £500k per project (inc. VAT).

DASA will be holding a dial in briefing session and 1-1 slots to enable potential suppliers to ask questions, both on 26th March.

Deadline 17th April.

For more details, click 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 several open calls: there is no specific deadline for most of these calls and they may be removed if the brief has been met. There is no specific budget limit for these calls.

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


Reduced-Burden Area Biosurveillance

Biosurveillance enables us to more rapidly detect Biological Warfare Agent (BWAs) incidents and helps to reduce the potential impact by enabling decision makers to develop the best course of action for deployment of medical countermeasures and other protective measures.

We are looking to identify technologies to provide static detection at sentry points or to be deployed as a networked system that could be analogous to the size and function of the Man-portable Chemical Agent Detector (MCAD) or GID3. Solutions should be capable of providing biosurveillance capability to fixed bases with good infrastructure, e.g. Main Operating Bases (MOB) and Sea Port of Disembarkation (SPOD), as well as forward locations with lesser infrastructure e.g. Forward Operating Bases (FOB).

Our end goal is to create an automated all-in-one detection system with integrated aerosol collection, sample processing and identification in as small a system as possible. We are therefore looking for projects which will either develop components (e.g. aerosol collection, sample processing or identification) which could be eventually integrated into a system, or integrate pre-existing components into an all-in-one system. Because the final system needs to provide high confidence outputs in order to support rapid decision making, we are not interested in options based on generic detection technologies (e.g. fluorescence, LIDAR etc). We need the solution to be able to provide specific detection of individual threat agents.


Detecting firearms and ammunition through scent

Do you have a novel idea that could smell firearms in bags or cargo containers? Do you have a novel idea that could detect ammunition based on the scent released?

Firearms and their ammunition are currently detected through very effective existing screening and detection technologies. However, we are seeking solutions to increase the throughput of items screened through the detection of headspace compounds, thereby reducing the burden on staff without reducing security.

Any solution developed for this challenge will need to be capable of integration with detection equipment currently used for aviation security.

To help you develop your idea, we are offering a representative data set detailing some of the compounds which may be present on firearms and spent ammunition (as a Government Furnished Asset (GFA)). This GFA will be made available to bidders funded in this competition who request it and demonstrate the value it would add to their proposals.

All work must be completed and delivered by 30 March 2021.


Next generation aviation security

We are looking for innovators that can help shape the next generation of aviation security, specifically the ability to detect illegal, illicit or contraband items, such as explosives, chemicals or drugs.

Do you have:

  • a novel idea that could completely change how aviation security is carried out?
  • an innovative concept that could be added to existing aviation security measures?
  • an innovation used within another sector that could be adapted for use in aviation security?

We are looking for innovations that could address any aspect of aviation security, from vehicle screening to in-flight supplies, from passenger and bag search to cargo. We are looking for ideas that help to ensure we continue to have one of the safest aviation security ecosystems in the world.

All work must be completed and delivered by 30 March 2021.



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.”


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.”

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 09.01.20 with a closing date of 22.04.20. Click here for details.

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 closing date is midday on 26th March 2020.

For more details, click here.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Current KTP period opens on 5th March, and closes on 29th May 2020 (after this the next round will be available immediately, so don’t rush your application unnecessarily).

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)  links your organisation with one of the UK’s world-class knowledge bases (a university or research organisation) to power strategic innovation projects, embed expertise and drive commercial growth. needed to develop it, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership may be the answer. It creates a dynamic three-way collaboration – between a business or not for profit organisation, a UK university or research organisation, and a suitably qualified graduate – to help realise a strategic innovation project, bring about transformative change and embed new capability.

Read more


Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Just like our highly effective KTP programme, Management KTPs (MKTPs) create a dynamic 3-way partnership between your company, a team of academic experts and a skilled graduate. The focus of a MKTP is specifically on increasing effectiveness and improving results through better management practices.

The first round of these has now closed – visit to be kept informed about future MKTPs.