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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 8th July.

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.


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.”


7. Delivering an open data sharing solution

Defence needs to share data across its enterprise, (with other nations, other government departments, across the services and with its supply base). There is a vast amount of data originating from many sources (system sensors and data buses, operational activities, engineering, logistic and supply chain transactions, financial and commercial systems of record), all with different data owners. The sharing of data in accordance with the full range of business rules, dependent on who you are, what organisation you work in and the role you fulfil, is complicated, time consuming and inefficient.

The challenge is to demonstrate the ability to analyse and share structured and unstructured multi-source data, maintaining its classification and permission-based access rules at machine speed. Any user within the enterprise should be able to request information and dependent on individual permissions, role and organisation, the request should be serviced from a common dataset, but the information presented to the user should be based on their data access rights.

We are looking for solutions that:

  • deliver a working prototype to resolve data sharing challenges
  • will work with some or all MOD legacy systems
  • meet Defence security requirements
  • are evergreen and cyber resilient
  • can be delivered as a service rather than a system
  • enable interoperability through open architectures, standards and open data/document formats
  • can be easily accessed by multiple users through a common user interface simultaneously
  • have potential for MOD accreditation (although we do not want to constrain innovation at this stage)

Successful users will be granted access to datasets from the C130J Hercules platform provided by three different countries.


8. 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.


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).

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.

Innovate UK Smart Grants summer 2019

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.

Applications for the current round must be made by Wednesday 24th July. Read more here.

A further round of Smart Grants will be open from 24th July with a closing date of Wednesday 16th October. Read more here.

Predictive Cyber Analytics phase 2

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is interested in technologies that can provide a proactive cyber defence capability in MOD’s fixed and deployed military environments to help counter and defeat future cyber threats.

This second phase seeks to further develop and enhance novel predictive approaches within the military cyber security domain. The work will allow MOD to better prepare for, respond to and mitigate the impact of cyber-attack.

Total funding of up to £850k is available in Phase 2 of this competition. We anticipate funding up to 3 research projects of up to 12 months’ duration. Applicants do not have to have applied to Phase 1 to be eligible.

Closing date 12th August 2019. Read more here.

The Invisible Battlespace Phase 2

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) Phase 2 competition is seeking proposals for novel and innovative technologies and approaches to enable UK Defence to effectively conduct electromagnetic (EM) operations across the air, land (urban and rural), sea, space and cyber domains.

The following broad question is posed: ‘How can UK Defence take a radically different approach to conducting operations effectively across or within an EM environment that is increasingly congested and contested?’

Please note this is the second phase of funding for a multi-phase competition. It is not compulsory to have been involved in previous phases to apply. You should however make yourself aware of the previous competition Invisible Battlespace Phase 1 and the proposals we funded. Work for this phase will need to reach higher maturity than work funded in Phase 1.

This competition is divided into four challenges:

1 – Find me a channel: This challenge seeks innovative proposals to improve how UK Defence can sense, manage, visualise and utilise the EM spectrum (in real-time). This should include an understanding of the impact on our systems and operations, our adversaries’ actions, and non-combatants’ use of the EM spectrum.

2 – Stay in contact: This challenge seeks innovative proposals to address how UK Defence can survive and conduct effective EW operations within an environment of multiple target/threat signals, multiple jammers and multiple radio systems, enabling us to operate and maintain capability effectively within the EM environment.

3 – No use hiding from me: This challenge seeks innovative proposals to help UK Defence to conduct effective operations against modern Integrated Air Defence Systems (IADS) that may be employed by potential adversaries. This includes the ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance of enemy IADS in order to locate all potential targets and threats.

4 – Taxi!: We want to know how best to transport our effect delivery options into areas where there will be many EM ‘bad guy’ sensors looking at us, to deliver our effect on target. Novel delivery mechanisms are sought which are capable of supporting effects at long range (target is between 250 and 450 km from the launch site) and long endurance (application of effect for between 30 and 90 minutes). The speed at which the effect may be delivered is also a factor as militarily useful systems will need to be able to fit within standard planning cycles. They may also have to keep pace with other support assets such as tactical aircraft. In addition, delivery mechanisms may have to contend with adverse meteorological conditions, a contested EM environment and varying geographical and topographical factors.

Up to £1m of funding is available for phase 2. You do not need to have been a Phase 1 participant to apply for phase 2. Closing date: 9th September 2019.

Click here for more details.

Bioprocessing military waste into reusable products

This DASA competition seeks proposals to develop a Bioprocessing Prototype System to recycle military waste, oils, fuel and other liquid waste. The innovation should include the development of an energy powered bioprocessing system, the appropriate microbe mixes to break the waste down and the ability to capture the by-products for reuse. Bidders can address all three aspects or individual aspects, provided they can show a joined up capability with the other areas.

Closing date: 1st October 2019. Read more here.