ISCF digital security by design – software ecosystem development

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £8 million for projects to work on the development of the DSbD software ecosystem.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £8 million

Opens: 4th Oct 2021

Closes: 8th Dec 2021

! This scheme is now closed


The Digital Security by Design challenge will work with Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), both part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £8 million in research and development projects. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).


The aim of this competition is to fund a range of projects that work to enrich and expand the DSbD software ecosystem prior to the availability of commercial hardware. Projects will leverage the DSbD Technology Hardware Prototype, also known as Morello Board, to work on a focused area within a selected and specified software stack or an Operating System (OS) or a developer toolchain used by a digital system.

Your application must focus on either of the following:

  • enriching the evolving Morello Stacks
  • expanding overall support and make available additional DSbD enabled software stacks, toolchains and components

All projects are required to evaluate the performance impact of using DSbD technologies based on specified performance requirements and objectives while taking into account the expected maturity of the specified software stack or OS or developer toolchain. Projects are therefore expected to take a flexible approach in their workplans as appropriate.

Projects will be working with the Morello board prototype that uses an Arm 64-bit Neoverse-based processor that supports the DSbD technologies and provides the concepts of the Capability Hardware Enhanced Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) Instructions (CHERI) protection model.

You must specify your use and need for the Morello boards within the project. You must include scenario analysis between the requirement for the availability of on-premise boards in a limited number, along with any requirement for cloud-based virtualised access to potentially a larger number of boards. Quantities and virtual access considerations for each respective scenario must be specified.

You must show how your project will deliver value and benefit to application developers and the growth of the DSbD software ecosystem. You must describe the availability of project outputs, along with how and whether you will be making them available to others using a Morello board, as software upstreaming would not be feasible. You must describe your route to impact on how project results can be exploited on the availability of commercial hardware.

During your project’s duration, you are expected to interact with relevant groups developing DSbD technologies, and to engage at the DSbD networking workshops organised by the ‘Discribe’ DSbD Social Science Hub+ project.

Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of projects, that will balance contributions including across:

  • businesses and research organisations
  • software stacks and components
  • enriching the evolving Morello Stacks and expanding overall support

Specific Themes

We will fund applications that will realise the benefits of DSbD technologies for software development within:

  • OS and developer toolchains, for example, compilers, linkers, debuggers, verifiers
  • shared libraries and dependent packages
  • language runtimes
  • developer frameworks or middleware
  • other platform services across Linux-based or other open-source operating systems


Your project must:

  • request total grant from £200,000 to £1.4 million
  • start on or after 1 April 2022
  • end by 31 December 2024
  • last between 12 and 30 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size or a research organisation.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You cannot use any application previously submitted to UKRI to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • an overdue independent accountant’s report
  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
  • an open, outstanding ResearchFish sanction


Innovate UK have allocated up to £8 million to fund research and development projects in this competition.

For research organisation led projects, 100% of project costs can be claimed at 80% FEC.

If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For industry led projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 80% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 80% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • developments which do not deliver benefit to a software developer
  • not making use of, enable software targeting or benefitting from capability enabled hardware as made available by the Morello board
  • requiring enhancement of additional hardware capabilities, for example, accelerators
  • developments that do not clearly require a platform level processor, for example, it supports a memory management unit
  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product


Interested in applying for this competition?

Book a 30-minute consultation

Our team are available to discuss your innovative business, your project ideas and how we can help you to write a successful application for this Grant Funding opportunity.

Use the calendar to select and book a consultation with one of our experts, at a time that’s convenient for you.

Get in touch

How can we help?(Required)
Send Enquiry