DASA Download: Flexibility in innovation funding

The Defence and Security Accelerator’s Gabriella Cox recently confirmed a number of changes to the Open Call for Innovation.

“What works well is the pace at which we work, our understanding of the market place and our ability to take our innovators on a journey; establishing a path to development, seeking opportunities and introducing our innovators to wider potential customers. What perhaps is not working quite so well, are the inconsistencies in the funding levels and flexibility within the process to adapt proposals between sectors. Some ideas are not submitted due to the funding levels being too low and the anticipated funding success rate.

The ‘Open’ competition call was set up to encourage anyone with a good idea that has potential to solve defence and/or security challenges to apply for funding – the following changes will hopefully bring clarity, consistency and new opportunities to stimulate further innovation.

Increasing funding limit

With immediate effect, in the Emerging Innovations category, there will be a new guidance band of between £50,000 and £100,000. In the Rapid Impact category, there will be a new guidance band of between £100,000 – £350,000. The crucial word here is ‘guidance’, we need to work to a limit, but that limit will not stop us from developing a great idea if the cost of funding goes over that number.

Deadlines – de-conflicting with holidays

Finally, we are implementing alternative deadlines for calls – which will no longer be based around the end of the holiday season or school holidays. This will be easier for suppliers to ensure they have the time to get quality proposals in before assessment deadlines and can get hold of our DASA innovation partners should they have any issues. However, it will not necessarily be as easy for our assessors who may similarly not have availability during the holidays. We are keen to make it easier for the innovator, even if it means we have to adapt the way we work internally.

Removing barriers to innovation

The pace of technology change is progressing at an alarming rate so if we don’t move quickly, we can’t keep up with current innovation, so we need to make it as easy as possible for innovators to apply for funding. We don’t want our processes to put potential innovators off from applying through us.

I believe these changes will remove uncertainty and encourage more, new innovators to approach DASA. To be absolutely clear, if government needs the innovation, we will fund it.”