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ISCF digital security by design: Technology-enabled business-led demonstrators


UK businesses can apply for up to £5.8million to collaborate on a digital security by design demonstrator project in which an additional technology ‘ingredient’ is required. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The objective of this competition is to develop a demonstration of a product and/or service in which capability enabled hardware will be used to provide a more secure solution

Capability enabled hardware’ includes security features or safeguards that are built in the processor architecture and hardware system so that it becomes more secure in the face of a range of security vulnerabilities.

The competition aims to:

  • Widen the pool of technology and research providers in order to expand the impact of capability enabled hardware
  • Develop a market demonstrator showcasing the new security capability in a vertical industry segment or in applications that may cut across several vertical industry segments
  • Enable innovators developing secure products or services to work alongside early technology providers

Your project must:

  • Use the technology platform prototype and specify the quantity of prototype hardware boards that are needed in the demonstrator
  • Extend the use of the technology platform prototype to a specific industry sector by developing and integrating an additional technology ‘ingredient’ or ingredients

This is phase 1 of a two-phase competition. Phase 1 is an expression of interest (EoI) for which no funding will be allocated.

The success of phase 1 applications will be subject to the outcome of a scope check, and an interview process involving a panel of experts. Successful applicants in phase 1 will be invited to proceed to phase 2 and apply for funding.

In phase 2, short-listed consortia will be invited to prepare and submit a full project proposal.

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Close Date:


The ISCF Digital Security by Design (DSbD) challenge aims to update the digital computing infrastructure by creating a new, more secure hardware and software ‘ecosystem’. These new security capabilities will underpin future digital products and services.

Your project should include something complementary which adds value to the demonstration of the technology platform prototype in order to make use of or further develop its capability hardware extensions.

These complementary technology components are known as ‘ingredients’.

The aim of this competition is to develop a demonstrator of a product and/or service in which capability enabled hardware will be used to provide a more secure solution.

The competition provides an opportunity to develop and integrate an additional technology ingredient or ingredients into a demonstrator, which must be based on the technology platform prototype hardware that is being developed by the DSbD programme.

This approach is expected to increase the breadth of use-cases to drive future DSbD demonstrators and ultimately increase pathways to market adoption and to economic impact.

Your application must describe:

  • The use case or use cases and why and how it will benefit from the proposed demonstrator
  • Why the demonstrator requires an additional technology ingredient or ingredients
  • How you will justify the social and economic benefits realised by the demonstrator
  • How you will assess potential productivity increase through the use of the demonstrator
  • How you expect the results of the demonstrator to affect future products or services
  • How the consortium will engage with the DSbD’s Social Science Hub+ activities, including a bi-annual event

You can claim up to £5.8million in grant for your project. Your project’s total eligible costs must be greater than £5million and no more than £25million.

Projects must start by 1 October 2020 and end by January 2024. Innovate UK expect projects to last a minimum of 24 months.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

The lead organisation must show one of the following:

  • That they operate in an industry sector requiring secure products or services
  • Evidence of a credible and recognisable influence that they have on the target market or markets
  • That they can lead on a new market or sector

Project team

The project team must consist of at least three partners, including the lead organisation.

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic institution, public sector organisation, charity or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Be invited to take part by the lead applicant

A typical consortium may be constructed around three areas:

  • One or more partners responsible for the new technology ‘ingredient’
  • One or more partners responsible for the new product or service
  • The partner responsible for the adoption or use of the product or service

Partners with no funding

Projects can include partners that do not claim grant funding from this competition (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total project costs and these partners will count as part of the project team.

Partners that do not receive any funding must provide a letter of support indicating their commitment to the project.

Multiple applications

Any eligible business can lead or participate only in one application.

A named individual at any academic institution, RTO, public sector organisation or charity cannot collaborate on more than two applications.

You can claim up to £5.8million in grant to fund a business-led demonstrator project in this competition. Innovate UK expect your project’s total eligible costs to be greater than £5million.

Projects in this competition will be industrial research.

Organisations that are primarily engaged in commercial or economic activity (known as selective advantage) as part of the project must ensure their request for funding does not exceed the limits defined below. This includes organisations that typically act non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

Your project could get funding for its eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • Up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • Up to 50% if you are a large organisation

The research organisations in your consortium undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can claim up to 100% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. However, the consortium must be appropriately balanced to justify that the objectives and eligibility conditions of the competition are fully met and do not breach state aid rules.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Innovate UK are not funding:

  • Projects that do not construct a physical demonstrator using the technology platform prototype
  • Technology ingredients that are not demonstrated in the context of capability enabled hardware as specified in the DSbD challenge
  • Projects that do not demonstrate the need for more secure products or services

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.