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. Eligibility This competition is open to single applicants and collaborations. To lead a project your organisation must: be a UK registered business of any size or a UK research organisation carry out its project work in the UK intend to exploit the results from or in the UK Opening soon Opens: 4 October 2021 Closes: 8 December 2021

Programme: Innovate Uk


Opens: 4 October 2021

Closes: 8 December 2021


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


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 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 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.


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

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