February 10, 2022  /  News

If Innovate UK is the main British funding organism, other public bodies – e.g. the Arts Council or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – do provide funding opportunities for innovative companies. 

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is one of such public bodies: a cross-Government initiative, it is headed by a team from a wide range of backgrounds and put under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. Its goal is to “find and fund exploitable innovation to support UK defence and security quickly and effectively, and support UK prosperity”. 

In practice, DASA aims to connect with innovative companies and to support them in the development, exploitation and commercialisation of the best products and services for defence and security. To do so, DASA has put up four mechanisms, each addressing specific needs and providing funding for projects at various stages of development. These four instruments are 

  1. “Open Call for Innovation”
  2. “Themed Competitions”
  3. “Defence Innovation Loans”
  4.  “Market Explorations”
  5. Open call for innovations 

Running throughout the year with successive competition cycles, the Open Call is the main DASA instrument. Given the “open call” nature, DASA will consider any innovation which could be an improvement in the fields of defence and security; however, the accelerator has also defined fields of special interest to them: the Innovation Focus Areas. 

Innovation Focus Areas

  • Next Generation Wearable Technology

DASA wants to determine whether wearable technology could be a reliable tool to assess the wearer’s health in a defence situation; it seeks to understand what metrics are sufficiently robust in order to reliably and confidently inform effective and timely decision-making. This focus area zooms in on two challenges: development of new sensor technologies, innovative data analysis of existing sensors. 

  • Military Systems Information Assurance (MSIA)

DASA is looking for novel ways to assure information, whether at rest or in transit, and for innovative authentication methods. Funding for this IFA will depend on the TRL of the project.

  •  Autonomous Resilient Cyber Defence (ARCD) Intelligent Agents

 NB: this IFA is limited in time, the call will close on 02 March 2022.

The ARCD project aims to develop self-defending, self-recovering concepts for military platforms and technologies, reducing the time it takes to respond to incidents and ensuring freedom of action; to do so, autonomous agents need to be developed to perceive their environment and act to improve the global performance of the system. 

  • Simulating Future Battlespace Complexity

DASA wants to use simulation and synthetic environments to create training environments fit for preparing armed forces to complex battlefields, while staying within the constraints of budgets, training facilities and legislation. 

  • Defence People – Skills, Knowledge and Experience

DASA looks for ideas which would enable them to have “Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel”; these ideas could be in the fields of hiring, contracting, subcontracting or training. 

  • Operate and Deliver Effects in Contested Domains

The UK Armed Forces need to have control of information networks and the electromagnetic spectrum; DASA seeks solutions which would help protect UK systems and/or weaken adverse capabilities.  

  • Delivering Agile Command and Control

DASA is looking for means to shift traditional chains of command to more agile, dynamic networks with greater delegation of authority. The goal is to make military capabilities information centric. 

  • Integrate Information and Physical Activity Across all Domains

UK armed forces need to be integrated with each other, with other governmental bodies, with allies a.s.o. Communication is key in this integration, and DASA is looking for capabilities able to resist an attack but also to function in degraded conditions if necessary.  

NB: another Open Call, “Cycle 1 Security Rapid Impact and Defence Rapid Impact”, will open on 02 March 2022. 

  1. Themed competitions

Contrary to the Open Calls, themed competitions only run for a short time. The only currently opened competition is “Telexistence Phase 2”:  DASA is seeking proposals on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to develop a complete telexistence system integrating telepresence, robotic and haptic technologies on to a single platform. 

  1. Defence Innovation Loans

£10M have been made available – in collaboration with Innovate UK –  to fund Innovative Defence solutions. Single SMEs can apply for a Defence Innovation Loan of between £250,000 and £1.6 million (or up to 100% of eligible costs of the project), with a below market interest rate of 7.4% per annum, if they mean to develop a solution addressing a defence problem. These loans are available for up to two years, and are repayable over a maximum of five years; they are available for late stage R&D (experimental development) projects. 

  1. Market Exploration

This is not a funding operation per se, but rather a mean to draw DASA’s attention to your innovation: the accelerator is currently seeking to catalogue solutions that already exist and novel solutions in development in two fields: 

  • Hybridisation of the Naval Fleet (available hybrid powertrain technologies, for implementation into service by 2030)
  • Evidential Testing of Drug Drivers (technologies or concept of operations that have the potential for point of contact testing to identify specified drugs, at defined levels, in suspected drug drivers)

NB: Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria for all the instruments presented above are the following: 

  • desirability (the innovation has a real added value in the field of security and/or defence), 
  • feasibility (the proposal is scientifically, technically and practically feasible and compares favourably to potential alternatives), 
  • viability (the idea can be delivered within the project’s scope and timelines). 

If you are interested in one or more of those opportunities or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us (contact@driad.co) as we would be happy to advise and support you for any of the here presented funding instruments.