This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition, run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Futures (DSTF) Programme, aims to identify and develop novel, early stage research ideas that may have a significant and disruptive impact on the future of Defence or Security.
Award: Share of up to £750,000
Opens: 31st Oct 2023
Closes: 5th Dec 2023
This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition, run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Futures (DSTF) Programme, aims to identify and develop novel, early stage research ideas that may have a significant and disruptive impact on the future of Defence or Security. A disruptive impact is something that radically alters how we do things – this can be positive (e.g. a new capability becomes available) or negative (e.g. a new type of threat arises).
This competition is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
The outcome of this competition is anticipated to be a pool of novel Science and Technology (S&T) ideas / concepts that may be disruptive. These ideas / concepts may then be used as the basis for further research within the MOD.
Unlike last year’s competition on early stage research ideas, in 2023 we will run the competition over two phases. Phase 1 will be run in a similar way to last year, with up to 15 proposals awarded £50,000 each. Phase 2 will allow some of the most promising projects funded through Phase 1 to receive further funding.
Background: Defence Science and Technology Futures
The Defence Science and Technology Futures (DSTF) Programme identifies novel early stage research which may have a significant game-changing or disruptive impact on future military capability, concepts of operation, threats or other areas of relevance to Defence or Security. DASA are looking for ideas that may underpin generation-after-next technology, concepts or approaches and could disrupt traditional technologies or ways of thinking. The intention of this competition is to maximise the opportunities for exploiting innovation and reduce the likelihood of technological surprises caused by changes to the science and technology landscape. The programme is not about identifying incremental changes.
The ideas sought for this competition may not fulfil any current Defence or Security requirement. Geopolitics, environmental issues, economics and many other factors will shape future scenarios and Defence or Security requirements. The DSTF Programme has to consider what various futures might look like and speculate on how current novel Science and Technology (S&T) might develop and impact on what Defence needs to do in those various futures. This will enable Defence to better understand and plan for the future, helping to combat threats and take advantage of opportunities.
The DSTF Programme recognises the need to look beyond the current, developed science and technology landscape and beyond the traditional defence enterprise to explore emerging ideas and evaluate their future value. DASA are continually seeking innovative ideas due to the rate of technological progress and the development of potential threats. This DASA competition has been launched to support this need.
Scope: Novel Disruption Science Impacting Future Defence and Security
The aim of this two phase competition is to identify new ideas and ways of doing things that are potentially disruptive to Defence or Security and then to further develop the understanding of the ideas and their future impact. It may be necessary to consider multiple capability areas and multiple future scenarios to assess where the developed idea could have the most impact in future Defence or Security. The outcome of the Phase 1 work should be an exciting flavour of what might be possible and what the effects might be, rather than a detailed study fully developing the understanding of the science.
It is likely that further research will be required to develop the understanding of the ideas; opportunities may be available for the most promising ideas in Phase 2.
We are interested in low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) ideas (TRL 1-2) from any discipline that you believe may, in the future, disrupt the current ways of thinking and have the potential to lead to radical change. Proposals may derive from horizon scanning or technology watching, the bidders’ own internal research activities or via any other mechanism. Ideas need to have a theoretical basis, supported by reasoned explanation.
DASA provides fixed funding of £50,000 per project for Phase 1 to advance these ideas and to assess how they might impact on the future of Defence or Security.
The DSTF Programme recognises that investigation of low TRL S&T has a high risk of failure. This is accepted. Should it be discovered during the work that the original concept is not likely to be valid or an alternative low TRL idea / concept / technology would likely be more important, this would be considered to be a valid outcome of the work. However, DASA would still expect the work that led to this conclusion to be comprehensive, described in detail in the report and the findings to be presented, as described below.
Novel Disruptive Science Impacting Future Defence and Security. This DASA competition will award each successful bidder £50,000 (ex VAT) to:
The intention of this requirement is to develop an understanding of ideas to help determine their potential to be disruptive. Bidders should think about how the idea / concept / technology may fit within the future Defence or Security landscape, and the future technological landscape of the world in general (rather than focussing on solving current issues).
Please note, the awarded amount (£50,000 ex (VAT), contract length (5 months), mandatory deliverables (final report and presentation) have all been set as part of this requirement. If your proposal deviates from these requirements it will not be considered for funding.
Ideas that might help solve this requirement include:
Any ideas submitted to this requirement must have a theoretical basis supported by reasoned explanation.
Your proposal should provide an outline description of the idea or ideas and their potential significance to Defence or Security. The proposal should describe how the project funding of £50,000 would be used to expand upon the idea(s) and further develop an understanding of their:
The following deliverables are required for Phase 1:
As detailed in section 3.2, upon completion of Phase 1 the innovators will have given a presentation on the outcome of their Phase 1 work to the MOD Board. During this event the outputs of all innovators will be scored by members of the MOD Board.
The Board will request Phase 2 bids from all those who scored above a threshold on the quality and importance of their Phase 1 work.
Phase 2 bids will describe how the innovators would take the work forward to demonstrate most value to Defence and Security in the future. Phase 2 research would be for a fixed value of £150,000 and duration of 1 year. Bids for Phase 2 funding must be submitted before a deadline which will be confirmed after the MOD Board has reviewed all outputs from Phase 1. Sufficient time will be given for feedback to be considered and a direction of continued development to be thought through.
Assessment of Phase 2 will comprise of a combination of two scores – 40% on the quality of the Phase 1 work and deliverables and the importance of this for Defence or Security, and 60% on the quality of the Phase 2 proposal.
The number of Phase 2 bids to receive funding will be contingent on the nature of responses from suppliers in Phase 1 and 2. Dstl reserves the right to fund any number of Phase 2 tasks.
The deliverables for Phase 2 will not be predefined at this stage. If you are successful in Phase 1 and are requested to submit a bid for Phase 2 funding then the nature of your Phase 2 deliverables will be determined at that time in discussion with Dstl.
Suppliers are recommended to take into account feedback from the MOD Board and lessons learned in Phase 1 before submitting a bid for Phase 2 funding to continue their research.
DASA are interested in novel, very low TRL S&T ideas which could either benefit Defence or Security in the future, or form the basis of a threat. DASA would like you to provide us with an exciting flavour of what might be possible and be disruptive. Your proposal should include evidence of:
DASA are not interested in proposals that:
The total funding available for Phase 1 of this competition is £750,000 (ex VAT).
The value of each submission must be for a fixed amount of £50,000. Failure to submit a proposal for this amount will result in the proposal being sifted out as non-compliant.
Contracts will be awarded for a duration of 5 months from April 2024 and must complete with a 5000-7000 word report, followed by a 20-minute presentation to a MOD Board in September 2024. The exact date and location will be confirmed to innovators if they are chosen for funding. Dstl would prefer that the presentation be given in person. However, an option to present virtually will be made available if attendance in person is not possible.
A further budget £750,000 (ex VAT) has been made available in Phase 2. Only those who are successful in Phase 1, and deliver their report and a presentation to the MOD Board, may be eligible to apply for Phase 2 funding. Suppliers who the Board consider to have progressed their idea well in Phase 1, in a topic area that could be important to Defence or Security, will be invited to submit Phase 2 bids.
The invited suppliers who wish to continue developing their ideas / concepts will be able to submit bids for further development work. Each Phase 2 project will be for a fixed price of £150,000 (ex VAT). The Phase 2 bids will be evaluated based on the quality and importance of the completed Phase 1 work and the quality of the Phase 2 proposal.
Dstl reserves the right to fund any number of Phase 2 proposals.
Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.