Engineering Biology for Defence and Security

Key Features

Synthetic biology is the design and fabrication of biological components and systems that do not already exist in the natural world. The process of taking synthetic biology concepts and turning them into real world solutions is engineering biology.

Programme:     DASA

Award:     Share of up to £1.5 million

Opens: 5th Jul 2022

Closes: 26th Aug 2022

! This scheme is now closed


This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals that solve a range of defence and security challenges and enhance capability by applying engineering biology approaches.

This competition is funded by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This competition will also involve the US Department of Defense (DoD). The relationship will operate under, and be governed by, an extant memorandum of understanding between both nations. Both the MOD and DoD will have access to proposals submitted under this competition in order to jointly assess which proposals to fund.

This DASA Phase 1 competition is split in to Phase 1a and a costed optional Phase 1b. Phase 1a of this competition is seeking technologies starting at a low TRL (TRL 1-2) and rising to a higher TRL (minimum TRL 3) by the end of Phase 1a throughout a maximum 12 month contract. There is a total maximum of £750k of funding available for phase 1a.

For further information on the competition, please see here


DASA want novel ideas to benefit end-users working in UK Defence and Security. Your proposal should include evidence of:

  • consideration of eventual scalability and translation
  • a clear statement of the benefit posed by the proposed approach over existing technology
  • theoretical development, method of advancement or proof of concept research which can demonstrate potential for translation to practical demonstration in later phases
  • innovation or a creative approach
  • clear demonstration of how the proposed work applies to any defence and security context


DASA are not interested in proposals that:

  • do not include a significant engineering biology component
  • solutions requiring release of viable genetically modified organisms into the environment* offer no real long-term prospect of integration into defence and security capabilities
  • offer no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions
  • constitute consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews which just summarise the existing literature without any view of future innovation (which therefore cannot be extended into future phases)
  • focus on in silico studies without experimental validation
  • Focus on a Chemical, Biological or Radiological (CBR) or medical application exclusively
  • are an unsolicited resubmission of a previous DASA bid or a duplication of a bid submitted through other Dstl funding channels seeking engineering biology proposals, such as R Cloud
  • offer demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no experimental development (unless applied in a novel way to the challenge)

Funding Costs

The total funding available for the whole Phase 1 of the competition is £1.5m (ex VAT). This funding will be split across two 12 month phases, Phase 1a and a costed optional Phase 1b, with a maximum of £750k available per sub-phase. There is no upper-limit per proposal for this competition, but we are expecting to fund around 7-8 proposals in Phase 1a, approximately £100k for each phase of work (per proposal).

Additional funding for further phases to increase TRL may be available. If there is a future phase, it will be run as a separate future DASA competition and be open to applications from all innovators and not just those who submitted successful Phase 1 bids.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.