New Grants

Australia’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) and the United Kingdom’s Defence and Security  Accelerator (DASA) are inviting proposals fromfrom small businesses and universities to help Defence devise novel ways of integrating advanced materials onto military platforms.

Up to $900k of funding is available as part of a joint initiative between Australia’s Defence Science and Technology and the United Kingdom’s Defence and Security Accelerator to uncover innovative joining technologies that address the challenging demands of the defence environment.

Examples of new technologies may include:

  • new adhesives to improve longevity in body armour,
  • new methods for producing graded materials,
  • advanced processes for integrating new joining techniques into existing structures.

Innovative joining solutions will provide enhanced capability through improved performance and increased durability.

Initial funding of up to $900,000 is available under the Next Generation Technologies Fund through the Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD) program.


Applications open on 28 November 2018 and close on 1 February 2019.

How to Apply

Both Australian and UK proposals must be submitted through DASA.

Call for Proposals – detail: 

1.    Introduction

Australian and United Kingdom Government are looking for innovative joining technologies that enable the use of advanced materials and/or designs on military platforms in land, sea and air environments.

The UK government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) will manage the call on behalf of both nations. We seek proposals from both industry and academia on the topic of novel methods for the integration of advanced materials onto military platforms.

This document outlines the requirements for all applicants in the UK and the rest of the world outside of Australia. All Australian-led bids should refer to the Australian document. At this stage there is not a requirement to directly collaborate with establishments in Australia. Joint bids between Australians and other nations should contact DASA to determine the best route to apply.

This campaign seeks innovative technologies that will help to expedite the insertion of advanced materials into platforms, through innovations in joining technologies. DASA and the SBIRD are seeking proposals that will deliver innovations in joining technologies to enable the use of advanced materials on military platforms. Innovations should address the challenging demands of the defence environment and must therefore address one of the following:

  • improve the durability of structures and joints to reduce failure and maintainability issues;
  • enable new design choices to be made for future military platforms to maintain a capability advantage;
  • provide new routes to create and manage joints across the life-cycle of a military platform.

There is funding of up to £500k available for the DASA-managed Phase 1 competition. In parallel, there will also be a separate competition for Australian bidders with funding of A$900k for Phase 1.

It is anticipated that additional funding will be available for further phases from both countries.

The competition closes at 1200 (midday) GMT on Friday 1 February 2019.

2. Competition Scope

2.1 Background

Advanced materials offer significant benefits to military capability, for example through increased functionality, improved survivability, enhanced maintainability and reduced through-life cost. Military platforms across all operating domains (land, sea and air) need to incorporate an increasingly diverse range of materials to meet the complex and demanding requirements of the Armed Forces.

In order to exploit these benefits, advanced materials often need to be accommodated within existing designs or retro-fitted onto existing platforms, leading to a combination of materials and sub-systems on a single platform. Consequently joints and interfaces will often have challenging characteristics such as sharp changes in mechanical and physical properties, stress raisers, reduced structural integrity or susceptibility to environmental degradation.

These issues are exacerbated by the diverse and intense operating environments that a military platform will be exposed to during a typical operational lifetime, including environments that were not considered during manufacture. Therefore joining techniques must be robust, reliable and ideally tailorable to a range of operating scenarios.

We are interested in creating and maintaining joints and interfaces not just during manufacture, but throughout the platform life-cycle. Repair processes, whether emergency repairs on the front line or part of planned maintenance, must also keep up with advances in the manufacturing techniques used for the original structure. Innovations could either reduce the complexity or cost of repair processes or allow greater flexibility in the materials/components being repaired.

2.2 Scope

This competition is seeking innovations and new approaches that will accelerate the integration of advanced materials onto military platforms. These materials may be monolithic, composite or functionally graded depending on the application. They may have been manufactured by conventional or advanced manufacture techniques, including additive manufacture.

Developments of particular interest for this competition include:

  • enabling new material combinations
  • novel approaches to the integration of advanced or novel materials
  • increasing durability of joints in military operating conditions
  • joints that allow easier modification/replacement of components or sub-systems on a platform
  • health and usage monitoring of joints


3. Competition Challenges

Phase 1 intends to fund different proof-of-concepts that addresses one or more of the challenges outlined below. Key requirements that apply across all the challenges for creating and managing joints on military platforms are:

  • creating effective joints in real-world conditions (for example with surface contamination or repairing damaged material)
  • developing techniques that are cost effective (whether this is by reducing manufacturing costs or via through-life savings)
  • considering the fire, smoke and toxicity performance of materials and interfaces
  • developing joining approaches that are light weight compared to current methods


3.1 Challenge 1 – Integration of Composites

Composites offer significant benefits including being lightweight, wear resistant and corrosion resistant. Composites have already been utilised on some military platforms in areas where they were sought for specific performance requirements, however there remain significant blockers to composites being considered to other materials with equal weighting.

The requirement for reliable, cost-effective methods to joining composites to other materials is an important example. We are interested in developing a range of composite integration methods that address key performance criteria; specifically managing mismatches in properties (especially coefficient of thermal expansion) and having rapid methods to repair composite joints and interfaces. Currently the use of pre-impregnated composites for fast composite builds and repairs is common practice, however these materials require specific storage conditions which are burdensome during operations and so alternatives are sought.

As additive manufacture (AM) processes mature it is anticipated that they will be increasingly used to produce composite and metallic structures (including parts with graded surfaces and structures). We are interested in developing methods to attach a mixture of composite and metallic structures that will be manufactured by a combination of conventional and AM techniques. As it is anticipated that these joints and interfaces may be particularly susceptible to failure, we are also interested in developing techniques to understand the reliability of these joints.

3.2 Challenge 2 – Adhesives for Structural Joining

Adhesives are of increasing interest for military platforms due to benefits including weight savings, fatigue performance and the ability to join a range of materials. The rate of adoption has varied across the Armed Forces based on specific usage cases and design considerations, however, key developments must be made in order to accelerate their usage for defence applications.

Military platforms operate in a diverse range of challenging environments within their service lives, and require adhesives that perform beyond the requirements of many civil industries. We are interested in forming bonds which are effective in the environments commonly found during build, maintenance and operation. This will include the presence of contaminants and less than ideal surface preparation, varied exposure conditions (including UV, salt, humidity, operating temperatures), and dissimilar material combinations.

Reliability of platforms is critical for the Armed Forces; military users must be confident in the quality of adhesive bonds. This could be through the design of novel bonded joints which are not reliant on a fully bonded interface, or by developing robust methods for inspecting and monitoring adhesives bonds.

Disrupting adhesive bonds on demand without use of excessive force or harsh chemicals is also of interest regarding opportunities in inspection, modular designs and temporary repairs, and equipment attachment. Techniques should behave consistently and be practical within current manufacture and maintenance procedures.

3.3 Challenge 3 – Joining High Temperature Structures

High-speed weapons and future air-platforms place an increasing demand on materials and structures, in particular the temperatures at which they must operate. Refractory metals may be pushed to their thermal and structural limits for example, and may be joined to even hotter ceramic or ceramic-matrix-composite (CMC) components such as radomes or leading edges. Ceramics and CMCs are also of interest for major structural components or thermal protection system skins, potentially replacing metals.

Interfaces between parts within the airframe, within high-pressure duct structures, or between the airframe and thermal protection system (TPS), may be subjected to significant out of plane loading, generating 3-dimensional stress states, and this can be a challenge for both metallic and ceramic components. Parts within the propulsion system, such as combustion chambers, pipes and nozzles may be subjected to temperatures approaching that of the combusting gases (circa 2000°C), and may have complex geometry and joints. Other significant sources of loading include thermal expansion, shock, and vibration loading.

3.4 Challenge 4 – Improving Armour Systems

Armour systems (including body armour) use a range of different materials to provide protection against threats (including ballistic and blast events). The way that different components in armour systems are joined, and how the armour itself is mounted onto a platform, can have a significant impact on its effectiveness. Joining individual ceramic armour tiles to backing materials, which can be either metallic or polymeric, such that the armour system can withstand multi-hit ballistic impact is challenging. Multi-hit resilience has traditionally been provided either by:

  • using an array of discrete tiles to minimise damage to individual tiles on impact, or
  • using heavier armour systems of ceramic materials which are less ballistically efficient but more tolerant to local damage

The former approach has been difficult using adhesives applied to an untreated surface, with the adjacent ceramic armour de-bonding from the backing following an initial ballistic impact resulted in a large unprotected area. Improving the bonding could allow improved performance.

Advanced and novel approaches are being sought to improve the shear and tensile strength of the interfaces under high strain rate conditions, potentially increasing the ballistic and blast protection offered; such solutions should not add significant mass to the overall armour system. Solutions that integrate additional physical protection at joints and interfaces are also of interest, as are more complex layered or textured joining solutions, beyond normal bonding methods.

3.5 Clarification of what we want

Your proposal should include:

  • innovation and/or novel ideas for defence
  • a material science/engineering approach
  • clear evidence of how the proposed work builds on existing published or open knowledge
  • consideration of the operating environments experienced by in-service military equipment
  • a clear pathway to future exploitation, including identifying key partners
  • a clear description of the benefit and advantages of your approach
  • evidence that it will enhance or build defence capability


3.6 Clarification of what we do not want

For this competition we are not interested in proposals that:

  • are consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews
  • offer solutions that do not provide significant benefit to defence
  • cannot demonstrate proof-of-concept / feasibility within the Phase 1 timescale
  • only offer minor improvements in existing hightechnology readiness level (TRL) (TRL 6+) technologies
  • are demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no experimental development
  • are identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or MOD without modification
  • offer no real long-term prospect of integration into defence capabilities
  • offer no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions
  • are not compliant with extant legislation, e.g. health, safety and environmental



4. Exploitation

It is important that over the lifetime of this campaign, ideas are accelerated towards appropriate end-users, to enhance capability. How long this takes will be dependent on the nature and starting point of the innovation. Early identification and appropriate engagement with potential users during the competition and subsequent phases is essential.

For this parallel DASA/SBIRD competition it is envisaged that proposals will start at around TRL 2 and increase. All proposals should articulate the development in TRL of the output over the lifetime of the contract and how this relates to improved operational capability. The deliverables in your proposal (especially the final demonstration) should be designed to provide evidence that you have reached the intended TRL by the end of the contract. The final demonstration should evidence that full development of the solution would indeed provide improved operational capability to the user.

Subsequent phases will focus on further development of technology. The evidence generated during Phase 1 should support the development of the business case for Phase 2, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for potential collaborators to identify the innovative elements of your proposal in order to consider routes for exploitation.

It is important right from the start that DASA, SBIRD and end users understand how your idea will deliver longer term improvements to defence and/or security capability and how it could be integrated with other relevant capabilities (DASA Innovation Partners are available to advise). Therefore, you may wish to include some of the following information, where known, to help the assessors understand your exploitation plans:

  • the intended defence and/or security users of your final product and whether you have engaged with this end-users or their procurement organisation
  • awareness of, and alignment to, any existing end user procurement programmes
  • the benefits (for example, in cost, time or improved capability) that your solution will provide to the user
  • whether it is likely to be a standalone product or integrated with other technologies or platforms
  • expected additional work required beyond the end of the contract to develop an operationally deployable commercial product (for example, ‘scaling up’ for manufacture, integration with existing technologies or environmental operating conditions)
  • additional future applications and markets for exploitation
  • requirements for access to external assets, including Government Furnished Assets, Equipment and Information (GFA) e.g. for information, equipment, resources and facilities.
  • how your product could be tested in a representative environment in later phases
  • any specific legal, commercial or regulatory considerations for exploitation

5. How to apply

All proposals for funding to meet these challenges must be submitted by 1200 GMT (midday) Friday 1 February 2019 via the DASA submission service for which you will be required to register.

The initial funding of £500k is expected to fund multiple proposals for the DASA-led competition. If successful, Phase 1 contracts will be awarded for a duration of up to 9 months.

Additional funding for follow-on phases to increase TRL further is anticipated to be available. Any further phases will be open to applications from all suppliers and not just those that submitted Phase 1 successful bids.

Further guidance on submitting a proposal can be found here.

5.1 What your proposal must include

The proposal should focus on this proof-of-concept phase but should also include a brief outline of the next stages of work required for exploitation.

When submitting a proposal, you must complete all sections of the online form, including an appropriate level of technical information to allow assessment of the bid and a completed finances section. A project plan with clear milestones and deliverables must also be provided. Deliverables must be well defined and designed to provide evidence of progress against the project plan towards the final deliverable for your contract.

A resourcing plan should also be provided that identifies, where possible, the nationalities of those proposed Research Workers that you intend working on this phase. In the event of proposals being recommended for funding, DASA reserves the right to undertake due diligence checks including the clearance of proposed Research Workers. Please note that this process will take as long as necessary and could take up to 6 weeks in some cases for non-UK nationals.

You should identify any ethical, legal, regulatory factors within your proposal and how the associated risks will be managed, including break points in the project if approvals are not received, must be included. Further details are available in the DASA guidance.

In addition, requirements for access to GFA should be included in your proposal. DASA cannot guarantee that GFA will be available.

Completed proposals must comply with the financial rules set for this competition. The upper-limit for this competition is £120k. We anticipate bids to be in the range of £30k to £100k and will be rejected if they exceed £120k.

Proposals must include costed participation at the following two DASA events: – a collaboration event – and a demonstration event. Both events will be held in the UK.

5.2 Export control

Contracts awarded as a result of this competition will fall under an extant memorandum of understanding between the UK MOD and Australian Department of Defence. This will facilitate the unimpeded exchange of proposals, prototypes and associated information between the UK and Australian governments. However, this effective exemption from export controls only applies to the UK and Australia, not to third countries, and all bidders must therefore abide by the export control requirements of their originator country. All relevant export control regulations will apply if a company ultimately wants to sell a developed solution to a foreign entity. All bidders must ensure that they can obtain, if required, the necessary export licences for their proposals and developments, such that they can be supplied to the UK and Australia. If you cannot confirm that you can gain the requisite licences, your proposal will be sifted out of the competition. Additionally, if we believe that you will not be able to obtain export clearance, additional checks may be conducted, which may also result in your proposal being sifted out of the competition.

5.3 Public facing information

A brief abstract will be requested if the proposal is funded. This will be used by DASA, SBIRD, and other government departments across both nations as appropriate, to describe the project and its intended outcomes and benefits. It will be used for inclusion at DASA events in relation to this competition and placed on the DASA website, along with your company information and generic contact details. DASA transparency data on will display title, abstract, company name and amount of funding.

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