Funding competition 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.

This competition has not yet opened.

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Competition sections

Description

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

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

We expect to fund a range of projects requesting grant from £200,000 to £1.4 million.

Who can apply

Text update 16 September 2021: we have changed the guidance for letters of support to make it clearer and guidance on the number of applications that organisations can submit.

Your project

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 support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 15 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your request has not been approved by us you will be made ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

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

Lead organisation

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


Project team

If a research organisation is the lead on a project any partners who are non-research organisations cannot receive funding directly from the grant. Research organisation led applications must include letters of support from all collaborative partners.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK registered:

Each partner organisation claiming grant 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 and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

Your project can include other partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Partners not claiming grant do not need to be invited into the Innovation Funding Service. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs. You must include letters of support from the partners.

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 your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

Any eligible organisation can lead on one application and can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications. For research organisations, this applies to the level of a named individual Principal Investigator (PI) leading the application. Research organisations are able to submit multiple applications, provided they are led by different named individuals.

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.

Previous applications

You cannot use any application previously submitted to UKRI to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Applications to this opportunity are exempt from EPSRC's repeatedly unsuccessful applicant policy.

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. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.


Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

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 we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding

We have allocated up to £8 million to fund research and development projects in this competition.

For research organisation led projects, 100% of project costs can be claimed at 80% FEC.

If the majority of 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 industry led projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 80% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 80% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Please note that the research participation section below only applies to industry-led research projects.

Research participation

The research organisations 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.

Of that 50% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-s registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your eligible project costs if you are a Research Technology Organisation, charity, non-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Your proposal

Digital Security by Design (DSbD) technologies have the capability to safeguard systems from a range of vulnerabilities that are typically exposed through various parts of the software stack. The technologies can also be used to enable new fine-grained memory protection and scalable fine-grained software compartmentalisation mechanisms. These can further isolate data and protect a system’s functionality, starting for the first time from the architectural centre of a memory-managed processor.

The aim of this competition is to fund a range of projects that work to enrich and expand the 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 an Operating System (OS) or a developer toolchain used by a digital system.

Your application 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

All projects are required to evaluate the performance impact of using DSbD technologies based on specified performance requirements and objectives while taking into account the expected maturity of the specified software stack or OS or developer toolchain. Projects are therefore expected to take a flexible approach in their workplans as appropriate.

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 want to fund a portfolio of projects, that will balance contributions including across:

  • businesses and research organisations
  • software stacks and components
  • enriching the evolving Morello Stacks and expanding overall support

Specific themes

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

Research categories

We will fund industrial research projects as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that are:

  • developments which do not deliver benefit to a software developer
  • not making use of, enable software targeting or benefitting from capability enabled hardware as made available by the Morello board
  • requiring enhancement of additional hardware capabilities, for example, accelerators
  • developments that do not clearly require a platform level processor, for example, it supports a memory management unit
  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

4 October 2021
Competition opens
5 October 2021
Online briefing event: register to attend
8 December 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
4 February 2022
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Subsidy Basis

Will the project, including any related activities, you want Innovate UK to fund, affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU?

All participants must complete this section.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

All participants must complete this EDI survey and the lead applicant must then select yes in the application question. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project. We have the right to amend the description before publication if necessary, but will consult you about any changes.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Text update 16 September 2021: we have changed the guidance for letters of support in question 4.
The assessors will score your answers to questions 2 to 7, question 1 is not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question. There is no opportunity for a response to the feedback received from assessors prior to the funding decision. Find out more about our assessment process.

You must answer all questions. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.

If you are working in collaboration, you must also state the name and full registered address of all your partners. We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Question 2. Why and what?

Your answer can be up to 800 words long. Why does the ecosystem need what you are proposing?

Describe or explain:

  • a clear description of what you are proposing and its security challenge
  • the motivation for playing your part in the DSbD software ecosystem’s enablement
  • the benefits of addressing the security challenge within a clearly specified software stack
  • how your proposal innovates beyond how it is being addressed today and the limitations of the current approach·


Question 3. Technical approach and innovation

Your answer can be up to 800 words long.

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation in the context of the DSbD software ecosystem be?

Describe or explain what your contribution is in terms of enriching the Morello Stacks or expanding overall support including:

  • how you plan to manage the dependencies of your approach with respect to the Morello Stacks existing and evolving functionality
  • why and how the targeted software stack and components will benefit the DSbD software ecosystem, if you aim to expand overall support

Describe or explain:

  • how the proposed work will align with the identified need and challenge
  • the project objectives and how you will evaluate those, including performance requirements

You can submit one appendix to support your answer to this question. It can include a diagram to the proposed technical approach or solution. It must be in sans serif font, PDF, maximum 2 A4 pages and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Team and resources

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Who is the project team, what are their roles and responsibilities?

Describe or explain:

  • the role and responsibility of all members of the project team (both named and to be hired) and how they contribute to delivery of the project
  • justify the use of any external parties, including sub-contractors
  • justification for the requested quantity of Morello prototype hardware boards both on premise or remotely accessed

You can submit one appendix to describe the capabilities and track record of the team. It must be in sans serif font, PDF, maximum 2 A4 pages and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

If your project contains non-grant claiming partners you must submit one appendix with a letter of support for each project partner that will not directly receive any of this competition’s funding. The letter must include details of any contributions being made.

It must be in sans serif font, PDF and a maximum of 1 A4 page for each project partner and saved as a single document no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.


Question 5. Impact

Your answer can be up to 800 words long.

What are your routes to impact of your contribution?

Describe or explain:

  • your project’s research and development outputs; how and where will your outputs be made available both prior to and on the availability of commercial hardware
  • how will these outputs impact the growth of the DSbD software ecosystem
  • how will you manage any dependencies, including any intellectual property (IP) constraints, related to achieving the impact of your outputs
  • how the consortium expects to interact with relevant groups developing DSbD technologies and engage with the DSbD networking workshops organised by the ‘Discribe’ Social Science Hub+ project

Question 6. Project and risk management

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

How will you manage and execute the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • an outline of each work package of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and allocation of budget and resources
  • your management structure and reporting

You must submit a project plan and risk register as an appendix to support your answer. This must include a Gantt chart with measurable milestones and technical deliverables, in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages and track associated tasks. It must be in sans serif font, PDF, maximum 4 A4 pages and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Justification of resources

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

In terms of the project goals, describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs and why they are required to meet the objectives of the proposal
  • the total grant you are requesting and how each partner will finance their contributions to the project
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • any sub-contractor grant costs and why they are critical to the project. A strong justification is required if the sub-contractor is non-UK based

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

The Digital Security by Design (DSbD) challenge is a government backed initiative to transform technology to create a secure and safer digital future. This will enable more secure products and services through changing the way a computer works within a digital system.

DSbD will enable a more trustworthy digital environment, in which only expected access to data and operations are permitted while limiting the impact of vulnerabilities. DSbD will promote a mindset change around cyber security, giving the freedom to learn, trade, play, automate and collaborate safely.

The DSbD challenge is being delivered through a £70 million programme funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund that is matched by industry funding of over £117 million.

Morello Stacks evolving functionality

The open-source software enablement work undertaken by current DSbD activities will be maturing various Morello Stacks. These will be growing in terms of functionality as the Morello Board becomes available in early 2022. This includes evolving support for Android, Linux and CheriBSD software stacks underpinned by LLVM and GNU toolchains at different levels of maturity. Projects are expected to take a flexible approach in their workplans as appropriate.

DSbD workshops – video recordings

We encourage you to familiarise with DSbD technologies by accessing a range of video recordings from previously held DSbD workshops. This may help your understanding of the competition and your chances of submitting a relevant and quality application.

Online match making tool

DSbD in collaboration with KTN provide an online networking tool that can be used to discuss project opportunities and facilitate introductions between organisations interested in this competition.

Find a project partner

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Need help with this service? Contact us