DASA competition: Engineering Biology for Defence and Security – Phase 2

Up to £500,000 (ex VAT) funding available for innovative engineering biology technologies, funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Opportunity Details


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The total funding available for the whole Phase 2 of this competition is £500k (excluding VAT). DASA are expecting to fund around 3-5 proposals in Phase 2.



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The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is pleased to launch an exciting new Themed Competition: Engineering Biology for Defence and Security Phase 2. Run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), this competition is seeking new proposals that solve a range of defence and security challenges and enhance capability by applying engineering biology approaches.

The competition will involve the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the US Department of Defense (DoD). Both the MOD and DoD will have access to proposals submitted under this competition in order to jointly assess which proposals to fund.

Key dates and funding

  • Up to £500,000 (ex VAT) funding is available. There is no upper limit per proposal, but as a guide, we are expecting to fund around 3 – 5 proposals.
  • The deadline to submit a proposal is midday (GMT) on Wednesday 17 January 2024
  • A Q&A webinar to discuss the competition requirements will take place on Monday 20 November 2023
  • A series of fifteen minute 1-2-1 webinar sessions will take place on Monday 27 November to ask specific questions

There are three challenge areas: power sources and energy storage, materials for defence, and bio-enabled sensing.

  • DASA submissions are welcome from the private sector, academia, individuals (i.e. sole traders) and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs). In most cases there are no nationality restrictions, however DASA individual competition documents will detail any necessary restrictions.

    The total funding available for the whole Phase 2 of this competition is £500k (excluding VAT). This funding will be awarded for a single phase of up to 12 months.  Proposals must include a clear plan to complete the work by no later than 31 March 2025.  There is no upper-limit per proposal for this competition.

  • Submitted proposals should choose to target one or all of the below challenge areas:

    • Challenge 1: Power and Energy – analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept

    We are seeking engineering biology concepts that can offer a step change in existing power source and energy storage solutions for military applications.

    • Challenge 2: Materials for Defence – technology component and/or basic technology subsystem validation in laboratory environment

    We are seeking materials for a range of uses in defence and security. These materials could be relevant to a range of challenges including protection against physical attack, survival in extreme environments and development of generation-after-next capability, but excludes exposure to chemical and biological agents. Any novel materials must involve engineering biology at some stage of their production, but chemical modification of biologically-derived precursors is acceptable.

    • Challenge 3: Sensing – analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept

    We are seeking bio-enabled sensing innovations that push the boundaries of what can be achieved.  Any sensing modality may be relevant, and any operational environment is pertinent to this call, e.g. land, sea, air or space.  In addition to sensing devices, integrated response functions are also desirable.

    It is envisaged that 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. Solutions do not have to be exclusively engineering biology, but must contain synthetic biology as a core component of any proposed solution.

    Further details on each challenge area can be found in the full competition document.

  • Launch Q&A Webinar: Monday 20 November 2023

    This webinar will provide more information on the challenge areas and how to submit a proposal. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions in the Q&A. Register now on the Eventbrite page.

    1-2-1 Sessions: Monday 27 November 2023

    A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. Register for a session now on the Eventbrite page.

    If you would like help to find a project partner, please contact Innovate UK KTN’s Security and Defence team or our Engineering Biology team.


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