Funding competition SBRI: improve firefighters’ operations and safety with digital technology

Organisations can apply for a share of £1.25 million (including VAT) for an instantly deployable solution for real time tracking of firefighters at incidents.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition with funding provided by the GovTech Catalyst.

The aim of the competition is to instantly track firefighters inside a building in hostile and hazardous conditions. This will improve operational situation awareness and safety.

Each year UK fire and rescue service attend over 55,000 incidents inside buildings or structures. They are currently unable to accurately monitor and track a firefighting crew’s location in real-time.

The overall programme will be delivered over 2 phases. This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

Phase 1: research and development contracts, feasibility study

The first phase involves research and development contracts being awarded to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed solution.

We would welcome and encourage bids that bring together a consortium of sector specialists.

Phase 2: research and development contracts, prototype development and testing

The second phase involves up to 2 research and development (R&D) contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants.

Funding type


Project size

We expect projects to range in size up to total costs of £50,000, including VAT, for each organisation. Projects must start by 15 February 2019 and can last up to 3 months.

Who can apply

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, the research base or the third sector as subcontractors


A total of up to £250,000, including VAT, is allocated to phase 1.

We estimate the feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £50,000, including VAT, for each project for up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 5 projects. The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

For phase 2 up to £500,000, including VAT, will be allocated for each contract. This is to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 12 months.

Applications for phase 1 must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively for R&D services.

R&D can cover solution exploration and design. It can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Your proposal

The aim of the competition is to accurately monitor and track a firefighting crew’s location in real time. This is to improve situation awareness and safety.

The solution must:

  • be instantly deployable at unfamiliar locations
  • operate on a self-contained mobile secure local network
  • provide real-time, horizontal and vertical location (such as in a specific room on a specific floor) and tracking data
  • allow seamless location data sharing across multiple agencies, local and remote software platforms
  • present real-time data in 3D with augmented or holographic technology

The necessary technology mostly exists already, but a co-ordinated approach is needed to develop a holistic solution.

Phase 1 must be a feasibility study. This should result in a technical and commercial specification and detailed design package for a complete tracking solution.

Phase 2 must be a working prototype meeting the specifications of the challenge. This should present a clear route to market and sector affordability.

Specific themes

We are particularly encouraging applications that are open to innovation and re-imagining technology applications to work in hostile and challenging environments.

Project types

Phase 1: technical feasibility

Projects should last up to 3 months. They can range in size up to a total cost of £50,000 including VAT. The total funding available is up to £250,000, including VAT.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

Projects should last up to 12 months. They can range in size up to a total cost of £500,000, including VAT. The total funding available is up to £1 million, including VAT.

In phase 1 the supplier will work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution. The outcome of this project will be a prototype of the solution.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that include:

  • proprietary hardware or software
  • unaffordable yearly revenue licensing and maintenance costs
  • insecure data transfer or management
  • solutions that are not user-friendly or not easy to operate

15 October 2018
Competition opens
24 October 2018
Swansea briefing event slides
13 November 2018
Skype question and answer session.
21 November 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
28 November 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
18 January 2019
Applicants notified
15 February 2019
Phase 1 contracts awarded
15 February 2019
Feedback to applicants

Before you start

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending one of the briefing events listed in ‘Dates’
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

A selected panel of experts will assess the quality your application. You must use Microsoft Word for the application form or it will be ineligible.

You are invited to join a Slack group to download slides from the briefing event and work with the sponsor if you wish.

Background and further information

About SBRI competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. SBRI supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development (R&D). SBRI generates new business opportunities for companies and provides a route to market for their ideas. It also bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies.

Further help and information

You can find information on how to enter this competition in the invitation to tender document, which is available for download on our secure site after registration.

Questions related to the particular requirements of this competition should be addressed directly to Group Manager Steve McLinden by emailing

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

If you need more information, call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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