DASA Competition: Engineering Biology for Defence and Security

Dstl is seeking highly innovative approaches to understand the contribution that engineering biology can make to Defence Capability in materials, power, energy and sensing.

Opportunity Details


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Around 7-8 proposals will be funded in Phase 1a, approximately £100k per proposal, with a higher amount in an optional phase 1b for selected proposals.



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This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition seeks proposals for novel and innovative high risk-high reward projects finishing at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3/ 4. The technologies developed will be based on innovative engineering biology solutions that address defence challenges in one or more of the three topics:

  • Materials
  • Power and Energy
  • Sensing

This competition will involve cutting edge, multidisciplinary research through the application of engineering biology tools and techniques, using novel research approaches and the discovery of new knowledge to address defence challenges.

For the full scope, see the competition document (section 5).

What innovations are we looking for?

Synthetic biology is the design and fabrication of biological components and systems that do not already exist in the natural world. The process of taking synthetic biology concepts and turning them into real world solutions is engineering biology. In common with most emerging technologies, the potential applications of bio-based approaches are broad. Engineering biology has the potential to address some of the more intractable problems facing the defence and security of the UK, and opens new avenues in protecting the armed forces and civilian populations.

Proposals should address at least one of the challenges, could address more than one of the challenges, but do not have to address all the challenges.

The total funding available for the whole Phase 1 of the competition is £1.5m (ex VAT). This funding will be split across two 12 month phases, Phase 1a and a costed optional Phase 1b, with a maximum of £750k available per sub-phase. There is no upper-limit per proposal for this competition, but we are expecting to fund around 7-8 proposals in Phase 1a, approximately £100k for each phase of work (per proposal).

Additional funding for further phases to increase TRL may be available. If there is a future phase, it will be run as a separate future DASA competition and be open to applications from all innovators and not just those who submitted successful Phase 1 bids.

Supporting events

Tuesday 5th July 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.

Thursday 7th and Monday 11th July 2022 – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite pages: 7th July and 11th July. Booking is on a first come first served basis.


DASA encourages collaboration between organisations for this competition. To support this they have a short survey to collect details of those who wish to explore collaboration possibilities. If you are interested in a collaboration, please complete the survey and your details will be circulated among other potential suppliers who have completed the survey and are interested in collaborating.

If you choose to complete the supplier collaboration survey, please be aware all of the information you submit in the survey will be provided to other suppliers who also complete the survey. All industry collaboration for proposal submissions is on an industry-industry basis. Inclusion or absence of any individual supplier organisation will not affect assessment, which will be solely on technical evidence in the proposal.


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