Space to Innovate

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £2.25 million to fund research into space technologies to alleviate some of the UK’s Defence and Security space challenges.

Programme:     DASA

Award:     Share of up to £2.25 million

Opens: 10th May 2019

Closes: 26th Jun 2019

! This scheme is now closed


The Dstl Space Programme is launching this DASA competition to attract novel technological solutions from a broad range of suppliers 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 the Dstl Space Programme, in launching this DASA call, is to fund research into space technologies that may not otherwise be developed in the civil space industry. This will address a set of specific problems in the space domain, as outlined in the competition challenges.

DASA are looking for 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

Funded projects are expected to achieve at least Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 (proof-of-concept) by the end of phase 1 but can potentially reach up to TRL 6 (demonstration in a relevant environment) in later phases. 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).


This competition has 4 challenge areas. Your proposal should be aimed at one specific challenge:

Challenge 1 – Defending future UK space assets

Challenge 2 – Novel sensing and Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) enablers

Challenge 3 – Characterisation of objects in space and their intent

Challenge 4 – Overcoming the technical issues of ‘Space to Sea Level’ optical communications

For further details on the challenges, please click here.


DASA welcome proposals from across the full range of suppliers including academia, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies, from both the UK and overseas.

Successful applicants are expected to come from both the existing space sector and suppliers who have not traditionally worked in this domain. Previous experience of defence and security work is not a requirement.

Funding Costs

At least £2.25 million is expected to fund multiple proposals over 2 phases. Proposals in phase 1 will be capped at £200k of DASA funding each. If successful at phase 1, contracts will be awarded for up to 12 months duration.

Proposals for phase 1 with costs exceeding the upper cap of £200k will be rejected.

Additional funding for further phases to increase maturity beyond phase 1 may be available. Any further phases will be open to applications from all suppliers and not just those that submitted phase 1 successful bids.


For this competition DASA are not interested in proposals which, in general:

  • constitute consultancy or literature reviews which just summarise the existing literature without any view of future development (which therefore cannot be extended into phase 2)
  • do not offer significant benefit to defence and security capabilities
  • are an identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or MOD without modification
  • 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 (or more) challenge as outlined above

DASA will not fund projects that are:

  • 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 space flight 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