Disruptive Science and Technology Impacting the Future of Defence: Competition Document – GOV.UK

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Published 31 August 2022

© Crown copyright 2022
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disruptive-science-and-technology-impacting-the-future-of-defence/disruptive-science-and-technology-impacting-the-future-of-defence-competition-document
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. 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 DSTF Programme.
Midday on Wednesday 12th October 2022
Via the DASA Online Submission Service for which you will require an account. Only proposals submitted through the DASA Online Submission Service will be accepted.
You must not submit any information classified above OFFICIAL. If you wish to add supporting information that may be above OFFICIAL you must contact DASA in advance and we will discuss solutions with you.
The total funding available for this competition is approximately £750k (ex VAT).
The value of each submission must be for a fixed amount of £50k. 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 up to 4 months from 3rd January 2023 and must complete with an executive summary delivered by 31st March, a 5000-7000 word report delivered by 24th April 2023, followed by a 20-minute presentation to a MOD Board on either the 3rd or 4th May 2023 in London. Dstl would prefer that the presentation is given in person. However, an option to present virtually will be made available if attendance in person is not possible. A confirmed date and time will be provided to you in April 2023.
Friday 16th September 2022 – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page . To get the most out of this session, we strongly advise that you attend with a good knowledge of the competition document.
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. We 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 requirement. Geo-politics, environmental issues, economics and many other factors will shape future scenarios and Defence 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. This DASA competition has been launched to support this need.
The aim of this competition is to identify new ideas and ways of doing things that are potentially disruptive to Defence and then to further develop the understanding of the ideas and their future impact. It is likely that further research will be required to develop the understanding of the ideas. 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. The outcome of the work should be an exciting flavour of what might be possible and what the affects might be, rather than a detailed study developing the understanding of the science.
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 innovating and have the potential to lead to radical change[footnote 1]. Proposals may derive from horizon scanning or technology watching, the bidders own internal research activities or via any other mechanism. Ideas need to have theoretical basis, supported by reasoned explanation.
DASA provides fixed funding of £50k per project to advance these ideas and to assess how they might impact on the future of Defence.
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, we 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.
This competition has 1 requirement.
This DASA competition will award each successful bidder £50k to:
take one or more novel very low TRL idea, as identified in the proposal, and further develop them to better understand the science behind them and their potential to form a disruptive technology in the future – this might be through laboratory research, modelling, or other approaches
develop concepts of how the idea might be deployed in the future – for example, could it only be used in particular circumstances or could it have impact across Defence?
describe the circumstances in which the idea might be disruptive and the potential impact on the future of Defence
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 landscape, and the technological landscape of the world in general, rather than the confines of contemporary technologies and capabilities.
Please note, the awarded amount, contract length, deliverables and milestone payments have all been set as part of this requirement.
Ideas that might help solve this requirement include:
your own very early stage science and technology that you did not initially see as having a Defence application
ideas identified through your own horizon scanning or technology watch, that you believe could be disruptive and should be investigated further
ideas that you have developed through brainstorming or other workshopping approaches that you believe have the potential to disrupt the future Defence landscape but are at a very low TRL level (TRL 1-2)
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. The proposal should describe how the project funding of £50k would be used to expand upon the idea(s) and further develop an understanding of their:
fundamental scientific or theoretical basis
future viability and the potential development paths
potentially disruptive impacts and use cases (both positive and negative, opportunity and threat) within future Defence
The following deliverables are required:
a 2 page ‘executive summary’ to present the findings of your research to date. This must be submitted by 31st March 2023
a short report describing the low TRL S&T, the further development work you have undertaken and how this has improved the understanding of the potential impact of the idea on Defence in the future. If more in-depth research is required to further develop Defence’s understanding of the disruptive potential of the S&T, this should be described. The report should comprise 5000-7000 words excluding the title page, contents list and reference list. It should be written in plain English and the use of specialist terminology should be minimised. The extensive use of images and figures is encouraged where they will aid in readability of the document. This mandatory report must be delivered before the 24th April 2023.
a 20 minute briefing to an MOD Board, describing the outputs of the research and highlighting what you believe the MOD could do to further understand the potential of the low TRL ideas or concepts. It is the intention that this Board will identify the topics of most interest to be taken forward for further investigation by the MOD research programme[footnote 2]. Dstl would prefer that the presentation is given in person. However, an option to present virtually will be made available if attendance in person is not possible. The event will be held in London on 3rd or 4th May 2023. A confirmed date and time will be provided to you in April 2023. Note, the costs of attending the presentation should be included in the £50k budget for funded ideas; no further funding with be provided for travel and subsistence.
We are interested in novel, very low TRL S&T ideas which could either benefit Defence in the future or form the basis of a threat. We would like you to provide us with an exciting flavour of what might be possible and be disruptive. Your proposal should include evidence of:
creative ideas / concepts / technology that have the potential to cause a significant game-changing or disruptive impact on Defence
ideas which are at an early stage of development (equivalent to TRL 1-2)
ideas that have a theoretical basis supported by reasoned explanation
the development of those ideas through research to understand their potential to be disruptive in the future
development of concepts of how the ideas might be deployed in the future to become either an opportunity or threat to Defence
clear demonstration of how the proposed work applies to Defence
We are not interested in proposals that:
include innovation that is TRL 3 and above. Any proposed ideas that are judged to be TRL 3 and above will be viewed as non-compliant and sifted out. Please refer to the TRL guide or contact a DASA Innovation Partner for guidance here
suggest ideas that are not likely to be disruptive, are likely to only lead to incremental change and/or offer no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions
suggest ideas that cannot apply to Defence
include ideas that have no form of theoretical basis which can be described by reasoned explanation
constitute consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews which just summarise the existing literature without further development
an unsolicited resubmission of a previous DASA proposal
do not include an evaluation of how the ideas could be disruptive in the future and impact on Defence
Your proposal would not be expected to deliver a proof of concept capable of validation in a laboratory-style environment.
The deliverables of this competition should indicate if more research should enable Defence to gain the greatest benefit.
It is the intention that the MOD Board, discussed above, will identify the topics of most interest to be taken forward for further investigation by the MOD research programme. However, it is not guaranteed that any idea will be picked up and developed further. Any decisions on research programme content, structure and funding at that stage would be independent of this DASA call. Further research at that stage may be placed through competition.
Midday on Wednesday 12th October 2022
You must submit your proposal via the DASA Online Submission Service for which you will be required to register.
Only proposals submitted through the DASA Online Submission Service will be accepted.
This Themed Competition uses a different application form compared to previous DASA Themed Competitions. The application is shorter. For those proposals that meet the mandatory criteria, 30 minutes will be allocated for assessment. Please ensure your proposal can be read, in its entirety, within this time.
You must not submit any information classified above OFFICIAL. If you wish to add supporting information that may be above OFFICIAL you must contact DASA in advance and we will discuss solutions with you.
The total possible funding available for this competition is approximately £750k (ex VAT).
The value of each submission must be for a fixed amount of £50k. Failure to submit a proposal for this amount will result in the proposal being sifted out as non-compliant.
We anticipate that we will fund around 15 proposals all of which will be £50k in value.
Click here for more information on our competition process. This competition is using specific assessment criteria, so, click here, for more information on how your proposal is assessed. Please be advised that the time allocated for assessment will be 30 minutes and not the traditional 90 minutes.
Queries should be sent to the DASA Help Centre – accelerator@dstl.gov.uk
the proposal should focus on the competition requirements – it should include recommendations for further research, if necessary, to better understand the potential of the S&T idea(s)
when submitting a proposal, you must complete all sections of the online form, including an appropriate level of technical information to allow assessment of the proposal and a completed finances section
completed proposals must comply with the financial rules set for this competition. The fixed amount for each proposal is £50k (ex VAT). Proposals will be rejected as non-compliant if the financial cost is not for this fixed amount
you must include a list of other current or recent government funding you may have received in this area if appropriate, making it clear how this proposal differs from this work
a project plan that clearly includes only the 3 deliverables must be provided. These deliverables have been defined in the competition document and are designed to provide evidence of progress against the project plan and the end-point for this competition; they must only include; an executive summary, a final report and final presentation. Proposals with any deliverables less than or more than the 3 required for this competition will be rejected as non-compliant
a maximum of 2 payment milestones. The final payment milestone must be at least 20% of the overall project cost, as outlined in the terms and conditions
you should also plan for attendance at a kick-off meeting at the start of the project, and a presentation to the MOD Board as your final deliverable. Please also plan for regular reviews with the appointed Technical Partner and Project Manager at the end of month 1 and month 2; all meetings will be in the UK. Meetings may also take place virtually
your proposal must demonstrate how you will complete all activities / services and provide all deliverables within the competition timescales (4 months). Proposals with the final report deliverable outside the competition timeline will be rejected as non-compliant
Your resourcing plan must identify, where possible, the nationalities of proposed employees that you intend to work on the project.
In the event of a proposal being recommended for funding, the DASA reserves the right to undertake due diligence checks including the clearance of proposed employees. Please note that this process will take as long as necessary and could take up to 6 weeks in some cases for non-UK nationals. This will take place during November and December to allow for contracts to start on 03 January.
As contracts are of 4 months is duration, any ethical / legal / regulatory factors identified within your proposal will not be accepted.
MODREC approvals can take up to 5 months therefore any proposals identifying the need for MODREC approval will be sifted out as non-compliant. Please contact your Innovation Partner for further guidance.
Requirements for access to Government Furnished Assets (GFA), for example, information, equipment, materials and facilities, may not be included in your proposal. Given the timescales and nature of the competition, no GFA will be available.
All relevant export control regulations will apply if a company ultimately wants to sell a developed solution to a foreign entity. All innovators must ensure that they can obtain, if required, the necessary export licences for their proposals and developments, such that they can be supplied to the UK and other countries. If you cannot confirm that you can gain the requisite licences, your proposal will be sifted out of the competition.
Additionally, if we believe that you will not be able to obtain export clearance, additional checks may be conducted, which may also result in your proposal being sifted out of the competition.
On receipt of a ‘Fund’ decision, suppliers must submit a Supplier Assurance Questionnaire (SAQ). The SAQ allows suppliers to demonstrate compliance with the specified risk level and the corresponding profile in Def Stan 05-138, the levels of controls required will depend on this risk level.
Successful suppliers will be emailed a Risk Assessment Reference (RAR) number and corresponding risk level, and must use this to complete a SAQ here. The completed SAQ form and resulting email response from Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP) must be downloaded and returned to DASA. Further guidance can be found at: DCPP: Cyber Security Model industry buyer and supplier guide.
If the SAQ reveals deficiencies then a Cyber Implementation Plan (CIP) is needed and requires approval before a contract can be awarded.
If you have any questions please contact accelerator@dstl.gov.uk
When submitting your proposal, you will be required to include a title and a short abstract. The title and abstract you provide will be used by DASA, and other government departments, to describe your project and its intended outcomes and benefits. They may be included at DASA events in relation to this competition and in documentation such as brochures. The proposal title will be published in the DASA transparency data on GOV.UK, along with your organisation name, the amount of funding, and the start and end dates of your contract. As this information can be shared, it should not contain information that may compromise Intellectual property.
At Stage 1, all proposals will be checked for compliance with the competition document and may be rejected before full assessment if they do not comply. Only those proposals that demonstrate compliance against the competition scope and DASA mandatory criteria for this competition will be taken forward to full assessment.
Proposals that pass Stage 1 will then be assessed against this assessment criteria (Desirability, Feasibility and Viability) by subject matter experts from the MOD (including Dstl), other government departments and the front-line military commands. You will not have the opportunity to view or comment on assessors’ recommendations.
DASA reserves the right to disclose on a confidential basis any information it receives from innovators during the procurement process (including information identified by the innovator as Commercially Sensitive Information in accordance with the provisions of this competition) to any third party engaged by DASA for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting DASA in the evaluation of the innovator’s proposal. In providing such information the innovator consents to such disclosure. Appropriate confidentiality agreements will be put in place.
After assessment, proposals will be discussed internally at a Decision Conference where, based on the assessments, budget and wider strategic considerations, a decision will be made on the proposals that are recommended for funding.
Bidders are not permitted to attend the Decision Conference.
Proposals that are unsuccessful will receive brief feedback after the Decision Conference.
Please read the DASA terms and conditions which contain important information for innovators. For this competition we will be using the Innovation Standard Contract (ISC) Terms and Schedules. We will require unqualified acceptance of the terms and conditions; if applicable, please ensure your commercial department has provided their acceptance.
Funded projects will be allocated a Project Manager (to run the project) and a Technical Partner (as a technical point of contact).
We will use deliverables from DASA contracts in accordance with our rights detailed in the contract terms and conditions.
For this competition, £750k is currently available to fund proposals. There may be occasions when additional funding becomes available to allow us to revisit proposals deemed suitable for funding. Therefore, DASA reserves the right to keep such proposals in reserve. In the event that additional funding becomes available, DASA may ask whether you would still be prepared to undertake the work outlined in your proposal under the same terms.
Competition queries on process, proposal application, commercial, technical and intellectual property aspects should be sent to the DASA Help Centre at accelerator@dstl.gov.uk, quoting the competition title. If you wish receive future updates on this competition, please email the DASA Help Centre.
While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, DASA reserves the right to impose management controls if volumes of queries restrict fair access of information to all potential innovators.
Note – While we refer to Technology Readiness Levels – the outputs do not have to relate to technology and equipment. Any early stage research or idea of relevance to Defence is within scope. 
Note – this is not a guarantee of further funding for any particular organisation. Any decisions on funding at that stage would be independent of this DASA competition and may be through further competition. 
Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
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