Innovative Research Call 2020 for Explosives and Weapons Detection

Key Features

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking innovative proposals to develop and improve explosives and weapons detection capability.

Programme:     DASA

Award:     Share of up to £2.8 million

Opens: 6th Aug 2020

Closes: 28th Sep 2020

! This scheme is now closed


The overarching aim of the IRC 2020 is to develop detection technologies and methods that provide good, reliable capability against a significant proportion of current explosives and weapons threats. Where possible, such solutions should have applicability to a range of operational contexts and also have the potential to tackle new threats as they emerge.


The IRC 2020 will be seeking proposals that address the screening of:

  • buildings and Areas
  • goods
  • people and / or their Possessions
  • vehicles

Proposals may focus on developing new detection capabilities to add to end-users’ existing suite of equipment. Projects can either develop original ideas or adapt successful technologies, techniques or processes from other fields. This could include using existing detection capabilities in a wider range of different applications for a broader range of purposes.

Proposals may relate to improving the effectiveness and/or the efficiency of detection.

Technologies could have a potential dual capability to detect other contraband or threats in addition to the core requirement of explosives and weapons, for example illicit drugs.

Proposals should look to provide tangible technical or operational benefits over the current commercially available state-of-the-art. Examples of benefit may include, but are not limited to:

  • improved detection accuracy
  • improved range of detectable threats
  • reduced detection or screening times, allowing greater throughput
  • reduction of cognitive and/or physical burden on the operator


  • Challenge One – Buildings and Areas: This challenge area refers to the detection of explosives, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and weapons, and their component parts, which have been hidden or left within a building or area.
  • Challenge Two – Goods: This challenge area refers to the detection of explosives, improvised explosive devices, and weapons that are located or concealed within goods.
  • Challenge Three – People and/or their possessions: This challenge refers to screening people and/or their possessions to detect explosives, improvised explosive devices, and weapons outside of aviation security applications.
  • Challenge Four – Vehicles: This challenge refers to operational security scenarios in which vehicles require screening for threat materials, such as explosives, improvised explosive devices and weapons.

Full criteria for each challenge can be found here.

Funding Costs

A total of £2.8 million will be split across two phases, with up to £1 million available in Phase 1 and up to £1.8 million available in Phase 2.

In Phase 1, you will show the proof of concept of your proposed innovation. Projects can be funded up to £70,000 and may last up to 6 months. Applications for Phase 1 projects that require no funding, or minimal funding, to achieve proof of concept will be welcome.

Phase 2 will only be open to applicants that have successfully completed a Phase 1 project. All suppliers participating in Phase 1 will be encouraged to apply for Phase 2. Bids for Phase 2 will be down-selected based upon their Phase 1 deliverables and proposals for Phase 2.

In Phase 2, you will develop and evaluate prototypes or demonstrators of your innovation. Phase 2 will have total funding of up to £1.8 million and projects should last up to 2 years.

All funded projects must be completed by September 2023, but may finish before that date.