SBRI: Detection and identification of illicit postal goods at UK borders

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of £250,000, including VAT, to develop innovative detection technologies for deployment in the UK postal border environment.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £250,000

Opens: 3rd Dec 2018

Closes: 23rd Jan 2019

! This scheme is now closed


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition with funding provided by the GovTech Catalyst.

The Home Office and Border Force continually promotes, invests in and deploys innovative detection technologies at the UK border. These counter the evolving threats of the modern world and protect revenue on imported goods. This is a strategic priority of the UK government.


This competition asks organisations to develop innovative ideas for challenges specific to the postal and fast parcel environment. Proposals must comply with both of our primary objectives:

  1. Improve our ability to detect illicit goods passing through postal and fast parcel facilities at the UK border.
  2. Have no effect on the flow of goods.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) will test the efficacy of your solution at phase 2. Solutions must also be adaptive and non-disruptive and must work in line with current postal systems.

Your solution must address one or more of these ‘specific challenge’ areas, to develop a detection solution that is:

  • more automated, to reduce physical intervention in the scanning process
  • able to handle larger volumes, to increase how much we can scan in a given period
  • flexible, so it is more dynamic and adaptable


To lead a project you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, the research base or the third sector as subcontractors

Funding Costs

Phase 1: There is up to £250,000 of funding available for phase 1. They expect to fund up to 5 projects. Your total eligible project costs can be up to £50,000 to research the technical feasibility of your product. This will be managed through a research and development (R&D) contract and will last no longer than 3 months.

Phase 2: There is up to £1 million of funding available for phase 2. They expect to fund up to 2 projects from phase 1. Your total eligible project costs can be up to £500,000 to produce and test your product for full commercial implementation.

A decision will be made to continue to phase 2 depending on the outcomes of phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to take part in phase 2.


They will not fund projects:

  • that do not offer innovative detection-focused solutions
  • that do not consider the impact their solution will have on the flow of goods through the border