ISCF digital security by design: software ecosystem development

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £8 million for projects to work on the development of the DSbD software ecosystem.

Opportunity Details


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This is expected to fund a range of projects requesting grant from £200,000 to £1.4 million. For businesses, the grant can cover up to 80% of costs, depending on business size. Research organisations can can claim 100% of costs at 80% FEC.

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The Digital Security by Design challenge will work with Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), both part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £8 million in research and development projects. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

The aim of this competition is to fund a range of projects that work to enrich and expand the Digital Security by Design (DSbD) software ecosystem prior to the availability of commercial hardware. Projects will leverage the DSbD Technology Hardware Prototype (also known as Morello Board) to work on a focused area within a selected and specified software stack or Operating System (OS) or developer toolchain used by a digital system.

Your project must focus on either of the following:

  • enriching the evolving Morello Stacks
  • expanding overall support and make available additional DSbD enabled software stacks, toolchains and components

Your project must:

  • request total grant from £200,000 to £1.4 million
  • start on or after 1 April 2022
  • end by 31 December 2024
  • last between 12 and 30 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If your project’s total eligible grant or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 15 working days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request.

You are expected to undertake your project using the Trusted Research guidance.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone, or to collaborate, your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size or a research organisation.

Any eligible organisation can lead on one application and can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications. An eligible organisation taking part as a collaborator in multiple applications must show and specify that they are working on different topics and ecosystem areas.


Projects will be working with the Morello board prototype that uses an Arm 64-bit Neoverse-based processor that supports the DSbD technologies and provides the concepts of the Capability Hardware Enhanced Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) Instructions (CHERI) protection model.

You must specify your use and need for the Morello boards within the project. You must include scenario analysis between the requirement for the availability of on-premise boards in a limited number, along with any requirement for cloud-based virtualised access to potentially a larger number of boards. Quantities and virtual access considerations for each respective scenario must be specified.

You must show how your project will deliver value and benefit to application developers and the growth of the DSbD software ecosystem. You must describe the availability of project outputs, along with how and whether you will be making them available to others using a Morello board, as software upstreaming would not be feasible. You must describe your route to impact on how project results can be exploited on the availability of commercial hardware.

During your project’s duration, you are expected to interact with relevant groups developing DSbD technologies, and to engage at the DSbD networking workshops organised by the ‘Discribe’ DSbD Social Science Hub+ project.

We will fund applications that will realise the benefits of DSbD technologies for software development within:

  • OS and developer toolchains, for example, compilers, linkers, debuggers, verifiers
  • shared libraries and dependent packages
  • language runtimes
  • developer frameworks or middleware
  • other platform services across Linux-based or other open-source operating systems

An online briefing event was held on 5 October 2021 to help potential companies find out more about scope and eligibility, as well as tips for applying and building collaborations. Click here to watch the recording.

For further enquiries, please contact Robin Kennedy, KTM Cybersecurity.


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