Safety Tech Challenge: link sharing of Child Sexual Abuse Material

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £700,000 for projects that help protect children by identifying and disrupting the sharing of links to child sexual abuse material online. This funding is from the UKST challenge fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £700k

Opens: 7th Feb 2023

Closes: 15th Mar 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Home Office and GCHQ to invest up to £700,000 in innovation projects that enhance UK capabilities in protecting children online. This funding is from the UK Safety Tech (UKST) challenge fund.


The aim of this competition is to enhance UK capabilities in protecting all users online, but in particular preventing harm of children online. The competition seeks to further develop a ‘safety by design’ culture in the UK in advance of upcoming regulatory changes.

Your project must develop new approaches, adapt existing technologies or scale up tools to prevent and block sharing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) links on the clear web. We particularly encourage projects that seek to scale solutions or address barriers to scaling up solutions.

Innovate UK also encourage applicants working in wider innovation areas and diverse sectors to apply, as well as multidisciplinary teams and approaches.

Your project must also be able to demonstrate transparency, data protection and protect user privacy.

Innovate UK expect you to include user-centred design approaches to help achieve solutions that are impactful and are usable.

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • identifying CSAM links shared in public spaces, particularly on social media, forums and gaming platforms
  • identifying CSAM links in private spaces, including those within an end-to-end encryption (E2EE) environment, particularly text-based chat or messaging platforms for 1 to 1 or group communications
  • detecting and disrupting CSAM link shortening or modification
  • onwards reporting and action to block access to CSAM links


All projects must develop new approaches, adapt existing technologies or scale up tools to identify and take further action on CSAM links.

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request between £70,000 and £120,000
  • start by 1 June 2023
  • end by 29 February 2024
  • last between 6 months and 9 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • demonstrate transparency, data protection and protect user privacy

Innovate UK encourage projects from diverse sectors including communications, advertising and finance.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a complete declaration as part of your application.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

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

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3 year rolling financial period.

In your application you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

(a) the elapsed part of the current financial year, and

(b) the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year.

You must include any funding which you have received during the applicable period under:

  • Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights)
  • De Minimis Regulation

You do not need to include aid or subsidies which have been granted on a different basis, for example, an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation.


Innovate UK will not fund projects which :

  • focus on direct sharing of child sexual abuse content or media
  • focus on sharing of offender tech advice or tradecraft
  • focus on sharing of links to child accounts
  • focus on dark web child sexual abuse activity
  • focus on hosting of child sexual abuse content
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £700,000 to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You can request 100% funding for your eligible project costs up to a maximum of £120,000.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under European Commission De minimis.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

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.