Space to Innovate

Key Features

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Space Programme is seeking proposals that can aid UK Defence and Security to develop future space technologies.

Programme:     DASA

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 29th Jun 2021

Closes: 4th Aug 2021

! This scheme is now closed


The Dstl Space Programme is launching this Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) campaign to attract novel technological solutions from a broad range of innovators in order to alleviate some of the UK’s Defence and Security space challenges.

The space environment is becoming increasingly congested and contested. Satellites are becoming smaller and are being launched more frequently. This creates many challenges as well as opportunities for Defence and Security.


The objective of this campaign is to fund research into space technologies that may not otherwise be developed within the civil space industry. This will address a set of specific problems in the space domain, as outlined in the campaign challenges.

Funded projects are expected to achieve at least Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 (proof-of-concept) by the end of contract but can potentially reach up to TRL 6 (demonstration in a relevant environment) in later drops. Solutions currently at or above TRL 6 in a civilian environment may be eligible for funding where the technology requires development to operate in a Defence and Security environment (potentially lowering the TRL).

DASA welcome proposals from across the full range of innovators including academia, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies, from both the UK and overseas. DASA also welcome joint bids which bring together the strength of different industrial or academic partners.

The campaign is open to innovators from both the existing space sector and those who have not traditionally worked in this domain. Previous experience of Defence and Security work is not a requirement.


This competition has 2 challenge areas.

Challenge 1: Visualisation tools to enable space operators to exploit information gathered from multiple data sources.

Challenge 2: Novel methods for characterising objects in space and their intent.

For further information on these challenges click here


DASA want novel ideas to benefit users working in UK Defence and Security. Your proposal should include evidence of:

  • theoretical development, methodological advancement or proof of concept research which can demonstrate potential for translation to practical demonstration in later phases
  • an innovative or a creative approach
  • a clear demonstration of how the proposed work applies to any Defence and Security context


For this drop DASA are not interested in proposals that:

  • constitute consultancy or literature reviews which just summarise the existing literature without any view of future development
  • are an identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or MOD without modification
  • present more than one bid with the same technical idea amended for the different contract lengths
  • offer demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no experimental development (unless applied in a novel way to the challenge)
  • offer no real long-term prospect of integration into UK defence and security capabilities
  • offer no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions
  • do not fall clearly into one challenge as outlined above
  • need an extensive requirements development phase.

For space-specific aspects, DASA are not interested in:

  • technologies or systems relating to space launch
  • space technologies where the commercial market is already strongly invested (e.g. general satellite communications)
  • proposals relating to human spaceflight and exploration
  • proposals which could be considered an irresponsible use of space (e.g. generating unnecessary debris, or violating international treaties)
  • areas which constitute research into the specific areas of: inter-satellite links; Quantum Key Distribution (QKD); security and encryption of optical communications; general object tracking & reentry warning

Funding Costs

The amount available for this campaign up to 31 March 2023 is expected to be up to £2m. This “campaign” approach enables varied contract values and durations to be undertaken as part of the competition, which provides larger and longer contracts for more mature technologies, whilst also enabling less mature innovations to be explored. The enduring campaign approach demonstrates Dstl’s ongoing commitment to funding and supporting space technology innovators.

The value of these contracts shall vary from £125k to £400k, with durations of 6 months to 18 months, with the most appropriate category decided by those submitting proposals. This concept then enables a cycle of new innovative ideas to be contracted as well as maturing existing technologies to a higher level.