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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Forrest

ISCF Digital Security by Design

Updated: Mar 10, 2022


Competition opens: Monday 1 March 2021

Competition closes: Wednesday 26 May 2021 11:00 am

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £6 million to collaborate on market demonstrator projects showcasing the use and adoption of digital security by design technologies. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Project Size: £1.5 million - £4 million.

Project Length: 24 - 36 months

Award: Share of up to £6 million

Programme: Innovate UK



ISCF will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest £6 million in innovation projects. The aim of this competition is to develop demonstrators of a product 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 objectives of the competition are to:

  • develop market demonstrators showcasing the new security capability in a vertical industry segment(s) or in applications that may cut across several vertical industry segments

  • enable innovators developing secure products or services to work alongside early technology providers

  • widen the pool of technology and research providers in order to expand the impact of capability enabled hardware

Your project must use the DSbD technology platform prototype and specify the quantity of prototype hardware boards that are needed in your demonstrator. This is phase 1 of a 2-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. Phase 2 will involve a portfolio approach for the selection of demonstrator projects. In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type Grant

Project size Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £1.5 million and £4 million.



Your project Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1.5 million and £4 million

  • start on or after 1 February 2022

  • end by 31 January 2025

  • last between 24 and 36 months

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request. Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs. You can include their additional costs and related activities in an appendix to question 4. Lead organisation To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size

  • collaborate with other UK registered 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

Research organisations cannot lead or work alone. 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 2 partners, including the lead organisation. To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, 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

  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

A typical consortium may be constructed with the involvement of:

  • one or more partners responsible for the new product or service

  • the partner responsible for the adoption or use of the product or service

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account in the Innovation Funding Service. Subcontractors Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process. You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in question 4 for why you could not use suppliers from the UK. Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Innovate UK will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor. Number of applications A UK registered business of any size can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in one further application. A named individual at any academic institution, RTO, public sector organisation or charity cannot collaborate on more than 2 applications. Any organisation taking part in 2 applications, as a lead and collaborator or as a collaborator, must show that they are working on different topics.

Previous applications You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project

  • an overdue independent accountant’s report

  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable) This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage. European Commission State aid You must apply under European Commission State aid rules if you are an applicant who is conducting activities that will affect trade of goods and/or electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU as envisaged by Article 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU Withdrawal Agreement. In certain limited circumstances, the European Commission State aid rules may also apply if you are an organisation located in England, Wales, or Scotland and conduct activities that affect the trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU. For further information, please see section 7 of the BEIS technical guidance. For further information see our general guidance on state aid and BEIS guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol. For applicants subject to the European Commission State aid rules, applicants will be required to prove that they were not an “Undertaking in Difficulty” on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. Innovate UK will ask for evidence of this. Further Information If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, please take independent legal advice. You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom. This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries. If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, Innovate UK will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding Innovate UK have allocated up to £6 million to fund 2-3 demonstrator projects at the end of this two-phase competition. There is no funding available for this EOI phase. If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically. For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your 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

Innovate UK may be in a position to offer higher intervention rates at phase 2. The research organisations in your consortium undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% 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. The consortium must be appropriately balanced to justify that the objectives and eligibility conditions of the competition are fully met and do not breach subsidy control rules.



Your proposal 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. The aim of this competition is to develop demonstrators of a product or service in which DSbD technologies will be used to provide a more secure solution. These demonstrators must showcase DSbD’s new security approach in a vertical industry segment(s) or in applications that may cut across several vertical industry segments. This approach is expected to increase the breadth of use-cases against which DSbD technologies can be proven and ultimately increase pathways to market adoption and to economic impact. Industry segments can include:

  • those that require secure system operation with safety and resiliency business requirements

  • those that include high-value data assets the compromise of which may cause serious economic or personal harm

Your proposal must describe:

  • the use case or use cases and why and how it will benefit from the proposed demonstrator

  • how you will justify the social and economic benefits realised by the demonstrator

  • how you will assess potential productivity increase using the demonstrator

  • how you expect the results of the demonstrator to affect future products or services

You should explain how the consortium will engage with the DSbD’s ‘Discribe’ Social Science Hub+ activities, including a bi-annual event

Research categories Innovate UK will fund industrial research projects as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects Innovate UK will not fund Innovate UK are not funding:

  • projects that do not construct a physical demonstrator using the technology platform prototype

  • project deliverables 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

  • subsidies dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country

  • subsidies dependent on domestic inputs usage- for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product


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