iX Challenge: Secure and Discreet International Communications

The focus of this Challenge is to collaboratively work with the UK government, to develop a concept demonstrator showing the technical feasibility of a solution capable of easily, securely and discreetly communicating internationally between UK-based government representatives and their colleagues abroad, particularly in environments that are poorly serviced, remote, or in areas with little or no infrastructure.

Opportunity Details


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The value of this particular challenge is up to a maximum of £50k for the 12-week period. A successful demonstration will likely lead to a follow-on project.

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The National Security and Defence community has numerous representatives globally who are required to communicate with UK-based counterparts whilst they are abroad.

Their work often takes them into poorly serviced or remote areas with little or no infrastructure. This may also include countries where local governments can be corrupt, hostile or uncooperative with UK representatives and their local support teams. In some cases, oppressive states or jurisdictions may also have technological surveillance capabilities. To this end, it is imperative that international communications between UK representatives are secure and discreet.

Some existing COTS solutions rely heavily on known cellular or satellite communications systems, which could highlight the UK representatives and result in scrutiny from local authorities. However, these solutions may not always be available nor is there a guarantee of high-speed cellular or internet connectivity (i.e. there may be bandwidth constraints). In addition, travel restrictions often limit the chances of face-to-face meetings and the ability for staff to return to base is reduced or not viable.

There is a requirement for some communication systems carried by the UK representatives, to be discreet and in keeping with equipment available in the host countries in which they are based.

Rewards & Benefits

Challenge winners will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Op-Tech Co-Creation Centre over a 12-week period to develop a concept demonstrator. Successful demonstration is likely to lead to a follow-up project.

Functional Requirements

Physical Size and Appearance: Solutions must be person-portable, e.g. capable of being carried in a small backpack if / where hardware forms part of the capability. Solutions should not look out of place, for example, the need to use local infrastructure rules out solutions that may resemble a ‘traditional’ satellite phone.
Ease of use: Solutions should be easy to set up (e.g. <10 mins) and use by non-technical users.

Technical Requirements

Technology: Hardware and/or software solutions will be considered. Local infrastructure (for example, local hardware models and associated operating systems/software) must be used.
Content Types: Solutions must be capable of transferring text and images. Transferring other data files such as video or audio files is desirable. Similarly, the capability for two-way live speech for sessions of up to 30 minutes would also be desirable.

Op-Tech Co-Creation are open to receiving proposals for: 

  • Holistic ‘end-to-end’ solutions (i.e. a packaged capability comprising all necessary hardware and software elements for it to operate) and also to;
  • Proposals providing ‘components’ (for example, the ‘Transport Layer’) that may be integrated with other elements to deliver a solution.

Submissions to this challenge are welcomed from both industry and academia with either full or partial solutions.

Parties are invited to submit clarification questions to cocreation@hmgcc.gov.uk by 14th October 2022. Responses to all enquiries will be collated, and sent to all parties in an FAQ document by close of business on 21st October 2022. The deadline for proposals to be submitted is close of business on 28th October 2022.

Further details, an example use case, and commercialisation information are at the iX Challenge page below.

Hazel Biggs

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Hazel Biggs

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