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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accelerator-competition-finding-explosives-hidden-in-electrical-items/competition-document-finding-explosives-hidden-in-electrical-items
This Defence and Security Accelerator (Accelerator) themed competition seeks to make a real difference in aviation security through innovative science and technology. The competition is looking for proposals to improve our ability to prevent explosives, hidden within electrical items in passenger baggage, from being taken on board an aircraft.
This Accelerator competition is part of the wider Department for Transport and Home Office Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme. The programme will invest £25.5 million over a 5 year period (2016-2021) to promote innovation and deliver a step change in aviation security.
Together with protection of people and assets, the aviation industry has to comply with current aviation security regulations. Additionally it has to balance keeping costs low and passenger throughput high. It‘s also important that customers experience a simple, non-intrusive journey through airport security.
Through this competition we want to make a positive impact on the government’s priority to create a safer, more secure and sustainable transport system for all.
The competition was briefed at an Accelerator Innovation Network event on 28 November 2017.
Your proposal must be received by the Accelerator by midday on Thursday 15 February 2018. Your proposal must be submitted to Accelerator online.
This competition seeks to help Government, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the aviation industry to continue improving aviation security processes by staying ahead of evolving threats and maintaining a high level of confidence in threat detection.
In March 2017, the UK introduced a ban on large electronic devices in the cabin of UK-bound aircraft from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa. Restrictions like these are of great concern to the aviation industry, and equally to passengers. Stopping passengers from travelling with electrical items can have a huge impact on personal and business activity.
As part of an effective, efficient and passenger-friendly screening system we’re seeking new solutions that could provide an alternative to imposing bans on electrical items or implementing additional laborious screening measures.
Through this competition we want to continue to improve our detection capability, reduce the risk of restrictive measures being imposed in the future and reduce the need for additional layers of security.
For airport security, cabin baggage can be difficult to screen for a number of reasons such as the complex mix of electrical items in a bag or threats being hidden within electrical items. Such electrical items are not just limited to laptops/tablets, but could also include items such as cameras, games consoles and homeware (for example kitchen equipment, hairdryers).
We’re confident in the ability of current processes used to detect threats but these processes can be invasive and time consuming for passengers and resource intensive for airlines and airports. In addition, we’re aware that we need to stay ahead of the changes to the threat. Technologies that offer the flexibility to adapt and stay ahead of threats would be an advantage.
There are 2 challenges for this competition which are described in more detail in the challenge section of this document. We want innovative proposals to enable enhanced, rapid and cost effective detection of a wide range of explosive devices/components that could be hidden in electrical items in a bag being screened at:
- challenge 1 - central security screening
- challenge 2 - portable screening
Current screening technology needs to meet a regulated standard but for this competition we’re open to innovative approaches which may not fall within current regulatory frameworks.
We’re running a 2 track approach in this competition to provide the user community with access to more developed solutions that can be rapidly brought into use as well as invest in the development of technologies that have the potential to provide future benefits.
Bidders should be clear that FASS won’t purchase any solutions as a result of the competition. Interested parties (such as airports, airlines and international partners) will be invited to collaboration events and demonstrations and will make their own investment decisions outside of this Accelerator competition.
There’s more information about both tracks in the competition process section of this document.
Challenge 1: central security screening
This challenge seeks innovative ideas that will prevent explosives (including component parts and materials that might be used to make an explosive device) concealed in electrical items from being taken on board an aircraft. Proposed solutions can provide support at any point during the central security screening process.
Current aviation security processes mean that passengers have to remove or separate a range of electrical items from their cabin baggage for effective screening to take place at airport central search. This is undesirable for many reasons; it causes inconvenience for passengers; risks expensive items being damaged or accidentally left and increases the average number of trays per passenger that need screening. This reduces passenger throughput and increases queue time. Your solutions should aim to reduce the inconvenience this places on passengers and staff and speed up the screening process.
Conventional x-ray is likely to remain in use in many airports around the world for many years. Your solution could complement existing x-ray technology to enhance a detection capability.
A number of airports have also recently begun trialing Explosive Detection Systems for Cabin Baggage (EDSCB) as an alternative to standard x-ray equipment. These systems provide automated explosive detection which will allow cabin baggage to be effectively screened for solid and liquid explosives in the presence of large electrical items.
As new technologies are developed to meet the highest EDSCB standards with the aim of reducing individual screening of electrical items and detecting the explosives in the presence of large electrical items in the bag, the means of concealing explosives in electrical items may become more complex. Your solution might be an additional capability that could integrate or complement these systems to enhance their development and help further improve detection capability.
Regardless of the main screening technique, once a bag or tray has been identified as containing something of potential concern; it is escalated to manual search and Explosive Trace Detection (ETD). Visual inspection is used to complement ETD screening to search for evidence of tampering. Your solution might support the alarm resolution process to allow for confirmation of a threat. This means we’re also open to proposals that screen electrical items outside of a bag.
Alternatively, you could present a completely new concept, or approach to integrate into the existing central search, which you can demonstrate addresses this challenge.
We’re looking for proposals for proof of concept solutions that maximise one or more of:
- reliability and confidence - in the detection of concealed threats, particularly in complex and cluttered situations, for example hand baggage with several electrical items
- customer experience - reducing the intrusiveness and inconvenience during security screening for example allowing large electrical items to remain within a bag and reduce intrusive and time consuming bag searching
- cost benefits – reducing costs, both purchase and operation of security screening including power, training, maintenance, calibration, consumables, human resource
- throughput levels - improving the speed of baggage screening
In your proposal, you should consider the integration of any proposed solution into the working practises of potential users (for example security officers) and potential location, by explaining your proposed concept of use, any size implications, and any training requirements.
Challenge 2: portable screening
This challenge seeks original and innovative ideas that will prevent explosive devices/components hidden in electrical items being taken on an aircraft at security points other than central search and that are an alternative to current measures.
X-ray technology can’t always be deployed for ‘pop-up’ screening, due to its size, floor space and storage restrictions. Where portable screening is currently required, the process involves operators manually locating electrical items and screening via ETD. Visual inspection is also used to complement ETD screening to search for evidence of tampering.
In addition to maximising the reliability and confidence in detection, there are specific attributes that we’re looking for in alternative solutions under this challenge. Your proposal should describe how your solution addresses:
- speed: portable security screening is dependent on fast screening times because of the space limitations to hold and separate screened/unscreened passengers and the implications of delaying aircraft departure
- size and weight: any solution should be easy and quick to move between locations, making size and weight crucial factors
- power requirements: mains power may not always be readily available at all locations
- ease of maintenance: solutions should lend themselves to occasional use, without degradation in performance, significant maintenance, calibration or consumable burden
- ease of use: solutions should be simple to use with minimal training burden
- cost benefits - reducing cost (purchase and operation) of security screening
In your proposal, you need to consider the integration of any proposed solution into the working practises of potential users (for example security officers) and potential location, by explaining your proposed concept of use.
What we want
Through this Accelerator themed competition we’re looking for ambitious and innovative proposals to help prevent the widest possible range of explosives devices/components hidden in electrical items being taken on to an aircraft in passenger hand luggage.
For both challenges, we’re not just looking for solutions to detect concealed explosive devices/components. We’d also be interested in solutions to identify electrical items that may have been tampered with, or which appear to be out of the ordinary. This could allow us to focus the more resource intensive detection techniques on a smaller number of items.
We’re interested in projects that consider a systems approach, including the potential to integrate with other existing technologies. However, we don’t expect you to be able to provide a whole solution at phase 1. Your proposed technology could offer part of, or an important step towards, a solution to the challenge. Where possible you should use open systems architecture to maximise the potential for integration with current or other new systems.
We’ll also consider proposals for research into novel applications of existing technologies.
What we don’t want
For this competition we’re not interested in proposals for:
- paper-based studies or literature reviews
- solutions that don’t offer significant benefit to security
- projects that only offer a written report
- projects that can’t demonstrate feasibility within the phase 1 timescale
Work is being conducted in a number of related areas under other Government programmes/competitions; the following are therefore out of scope for this competition:
- demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no experimental development
- mitigation of cyber-attacks
- projects which only focus on preventing the import or export of banned or controlled substances
- mitigation of attacks in crowded places
- projects that only consider safety requirements rather than security, for example safety of carrying lithium batteries
- proposals solely applicable to hold baggage and cargo screening
We’re seeking solutions across a range of technology readiness levels (TRLs), offering bidders the choice of 2 tracks of funding for each challenge.
The total funding available for all tracks and phases will be £3 million.
We anticipate the funding will be split like this:
- track 1, phase 1 £1 million
- track 1, phase 2 £1.5 million
- track 2 £500,000
However, this may change, depending on the quality and distribution of the proposals received under the competition.
You must decide which of the tracks is appropriate for your proposed technology or solution depending on the technology readiness level (TRL) of the solution you’re proposing. For more information about TRLs please see our guidance on the Accelerator website.
Each track is a separate competition on the Accelerator Submission Service.
Proposals can’t be split across tracks and successful proposals won’t be considered for transfer between tracks. You can submit more than one proposal to the competition but each proposal must be separate in its own right.
Track 1 – low TRL entry (up to TRL 4)
This track is a 2-phase competition. Phase 1 will be for proof of concept research (for example TRL 2-4), where we expect to fund 6 month research projects in the region of £40,000-£80,000 per proposal.
Phase 1 winners will be expected to demonstrate at the Demonstration Event 1 in October 2018. This is to gain support from important stakeholders, and describe their approach to transition the concept to a mature operational solution.
We’ll encourage you to collaborate (where appropriate) in any follow-on phase-2 projects. A collaboration event will be held early in the phase 1 project in May 2018.
Up to an additional £1.5 million will be available to fund phase 2 proposals. Only organisations funded in phase 1 will be able to enter phase 2 of the competition where we expect to offer in the region of £200,000 to £250,000 per proposal to develop solutions further over 12 months of research.
Successful phase 2 competition winners will be expected to demonstrate their outputs at a demonstration event in January 2020. Outputs of phase 2 are expected to be at least TRL 6.
Track 2 – higher TRL entry (TRL 6 or higher)
Track 2 will offer a single phase of funding. This will be for 4 months of experimental development to participate in a demonstration test in a representative environment in September 2018. Outputs are expected to be higher than TRL 6.
During the demonstration testing, a variety of electrical items, some with explosive devices/components concealed within them, will be placed both in and out of bags and presented to your solution in a screening scenario representative of the challenge you have chosen.
This is likely to take place at a UK Government research facility, but we’re also exploring opportunities to test and trial in other representative environments. The test won’t just assess the detection capability but the full range of attributes set out in each of the challenges above.
We anticipate the trial will run for approximately 2 weeks. You’ll need to deliver, set-up and provide training and maintenance for your solution for the duration of the test. This should be costed in your proposal.
The funding made available under track 2 of this this competition is specifically for the development work necessary to prepare your solution for the test. Your proposed solution may be currently deployed in other markets with potential to transfer technology and processes to the aviation security sector. You’ll need to provide evidence of experimental development being undertaken to be considered for this competition.
Due to the expected maturity of the solutions, proposals for this track are expected to in the region of £50,000-£100,000. However, the value of funding you request must be reflected in the development you undertake to get your solution ready for the demonstration in September 2018.
If your application includes any co-investment/Private Venture (PV) funding to support full (or near to market) solution development, please include details of this in your proposal.
Participation in the demonstration testing will allow suppliers to gain support from important stakeholders. After the demonstration testing, there could be further testing and trialling opportunities in live representative and airport operational environments. These will be at the discretion of FASS or other stakeholders.
Proposals for demonstrations of existing technologies which require no further experimental development to meet the needs of this competition won’t be funded.
This is just one of the Accelerator themed competitions to be held by the FASS programme. There will be other funding opportunities that span the TRL scale.
This competition will take advantage of the Accelerator Innovation Partner and FASS programme to stimulate contact between bidders and other parties to aid the exploitation of the successful outputs of the projects funded. Any such discussions between will be entirely at your own commercial judgement.
Beyond this themed competition the FASS programme has ambitions to support the most capable technologies further and to continue testing and trialing in live representative and airport operational environments. This will be through a separate funding mechanism.
These opportunities will be open to all UK-based and international bidders. If you have a proposal that doesn’t fit into the scope of this competition, please consider the Accelerator Open Call for Innovation as a potential route for funding. The Open Call for Innovation provides a route through which we can consider and fund proposals that are in the wider scope of the FASS programme.
Whether your proposal integrates with existing technology, or develops a technology that leads to completely new systems, it’s important that you clearly describe your exploitation path and provide evidence to demonstrate how your technology will deliver a step-change in aviation security. Successful technologies might also be exploited in other areas of detection and the screening process (such as the identification of concealed Chemical, Biological or Radiological (CBR) threat material and/or screening of electrical items within hold baggage and cargo).
Track 1 – low TRL 2 phase competition
As detailed above, winners in Track 1 of this competition will be expected to take part in a number of events. These events will provide an invaluable opportunity to meet other participants and discuss potential collaboration, with the intention of enabling viable system demonstrations at the end of the phase-2 activity. You should cost attendance at these events into your proposal.
These events will be attended by DfT, Home Office - Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (HO-OSCT) and the Defence Science and technology Laboratory (Dstl) as well as potential phase 2 collaborators. These could be from industry and academia and will be identified by the FASS programme as having the potential to increase the likelihood of achieving successful outcomes of the phase 2 projects.
The first one-day event will take place in May 2018 in London where phase 1 winners will have the opportunity to meet each other and start to develop a collaborative community. At the collaboration event you’ll be expected to give a short presentation (just a few slides) describing your project, what you hope to achieve during phase 1 and outline what you think your phase 2 work will look like. We’re really keen to promote collaborative bids for phase 2, so you should consider how your technology needs to integrate with other solutions to deliver a final system and therefore increase the exploitation potential of your solution.
At the end of phase 1, in October 2018, track 1 projects will be asked to demonstrate their proof of concept solutions at a one-day stakeholder event in London (venue to be confirmed). This is to allow wider exploitation through DfT, HO-OSCT, Dstl and other government departments. At this event there will be additional opportunities to gain support from important industry stakeholders including airport operators and airlines, as well as selected international partners (for example US and other international governments). This will maximise awareness of the projects in a wider market and increase the potential for exploitation.
As a deliverable of the phase 1 project, successful bidders will also be expected to submit a phase 2 proposal by the end of November 2018 (date TBC), submitted via a closed competition on the Accelerator online submission service.
We aim to take forward a number of the most successful phase 1 outputs from track 1 for phase 2 funding. Only bidders funded at phase 1 qualify for entry into phase 2 of this competition where additional funding will be made available. Phase 2 funding will be awarded on a per-project basis in January 2018. Phase 2 projects can last up to 12 months but must be complete by February 2020.
At the end of phase 2, successfully funded track 1 projects will be asked to provide a demonstration of a technology model or prototype in a relevant environment (TRL 6). An indication of these tests will be set out in the guidance given to phase 2 bidders well before the phase 2 competition opens.
Track 2 – higher TRL competition
Winners in track 2 will be asked to demonstrate the feasibility of their technology to government and industry stakeholders during the testing phase in September 2018. The tests will assess not just the detection capability but the full range of characteristics set out in the challenge description.
Funding made available under track 2 of this this competition is specifically for the development work necessary to prepare your solution to take part in such a test. We anticipate the testing will run for approximately 2 weeks.
You’ll be expected to deliver, set-up and provide training and maintenance for your solution at the test site. This should be costed in your proposal. This competition will take advantage of the Accelerator Innovation Partners and FASS programme to stimulate contact between bidders and other parties to aid the exploitation of the successful outputs of the projects funded.
This competition was supported by presentations given at the Innovation Network event on 28 November 2017.
Your proposal must be received by the Accelerator before midday on Thursday 15 February 2018. Proposals must be submitted to the Accelerator online.
For track 1
Phase 1 proposals must focus on a short, sharp, proof of concept phase with research lasting up to 6 months in duration for delivery by the end of October 2018. Final reports and phase 2 proposals must be submitted by November 2018 (date TBC).
Phase 1 proposals should include a descriptive scoping for a longer programme (phase 2 onwards) of any duration, but the proposal should be clearly partitioned with a costed proof-of-concept stage, which is the focus of this Accelerator themed competition.
For track 2
We will offer 1 phase of funding for experimental development of higher TRL solutions. Solutions will be validated through testing undertaken with government technical experts assigned to support technological development in aviation security. Winners will be expected to demonstrate their outputs in September 2018. Outputs of the demonstration event are expected to be higher than TRL 6.
Full-rights outputs of funded work may be exposed to international government partners. This is to promote international collaboration and to give projects the best chance of exploitation through exposure to a larger scope of international aviation requirements. This will only be done under the protection of existing intergovernmental memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The FASS team will be available to provide advice and/or guidance via an appointed technical partner (TP) throughout the project and provide the interface with HO, DfT, Dstl and the wider government stakeholder community. There is an aspiration for airports to be part of the decision making process and for them to provide exploitation partners (EPs) who will work alongside the appointed TPs. Appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) will be put in place. The Accelerator reserves the right to disclose on a confidential basis any information it receives from bidders during the procurement process (including information identified by the bidder as Commercially Sensitive Information in accordance with the provisions of this competition) to any third party engaged by the Accelerator for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting the Accelerator in the evaluation of the bidder’s proposal. In providing such information the bidder consents to such disclosure.
Proposals will be assessed by subject matter experts from the HO, DfT, Dstl, other government departments, international government partners and representatives from airlines and airports who will be under the appropriate confidentiality agreements.
Deliverables from contracts will be made available to the HO, DfT or Dstl technical partners assigned to each proposal and subject to review by relevant government departments.
Use of simulants
Benign materials which simulate the properties/characteristics of materials of concern may be considered for use in place of more difficult to handle materials. If you intend to use these for the project you must clearly state in the proposal the simulants against which you will demonstrate your solution’s benefits wherever they are required. Where simulants are proposed or used, you should explain clearly why the particular simulant has been chosen.
All work must be undertaken legally and safely.
All research involving human participation conducted or sponsored by any government department is subject to ethical review under procedures outlined in Joint Service Publication 536 ‘Ministry of Defence Policy for Research Involving Human Participants’, irrespective of any separate ethical procedures (e.g. from universities or other organisations). This ensures that acceptable ethical standards are met, upheld and recorded, adhering to nationally and internationally accepted principles and guidance.
The following definitions explain the areas of research that require approval:
Clinical: conducting research on a human participant, including (but not limited to) administering substances, taking blood or urine samples, removing biological tissue, radiological investigations, or obtaining responses to an imposed stress or experimental situation.
Non-clinical: conducting research to collect data on an identifiable individual’s behaviour, either directly or indirectly (such as by questionnaire or observation).
All proposals must declare if there are potential ethical issues.
Securing ethical approval through this process can take at least 3 months. In this Accelerator themed competition, projects must be completed by November 2018 and obtaining ethical approval could take your proposal beyond the timeline for completion of phase 1. We, therefore, recommend that you only include research in phase 1 that doesn’t require ethical approval. Work that might require ethical approval should be planned for future phases of work which are likely to have longer and more flexible timescales.
However, if you think that your phase 1 proposal may require ethical approval, please ensure that you adopt an approach in your submission as follows (noting that projects must still complete by November 2018):
- milestone 1: gaining ethics approval for the project, including delivery of the research protocols (the protocol will need to be detailed by completing the ethics application form).
- milestone 2: proposed research that will be carried out subject to gaining ethics approval (optional phases to be formally invoked, where appropriate).
- a contractual break point must be included after milestone 1.
Read more on the MOD Research Ethics Committees.
The requirement for ethical approval isn’t a barrier to funding; proposals are assessed on technical merit and potential for exploitation. Successful proposals will be supported through the ethical review process; however, an outline of your research methods must be included in your proposal to help this process.
Investigatory Power considerations
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and/or Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA) instruments are acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications.
This competition doesn’t invite approaches that involve surveillance of individuals, including use of social media cues. However, bidders are encouraged to identify if their proposal involves the collection and retention of raw radio frequency data outside screened areas in frequency bands that may include communications. This will allow for provision of legal enablers under RIPA/IPA should these prove necessary.
|28 November 2017||Competition briefing at Innovation Network event|
|15 February 2018||Competition closes at midday|
|Late- March 2018||Contract placement initiated and feedback provided|
|Mid-May 2018||Collaboration event (location TBC)|
|Mid-October 2018||Stakeholder demonstration event (location TBC)|
|End October 2018||Completion of phase 1 research|
|November 2018||Final report delivery and phase 2 proposal deadline (date TBC)|
|January 2019||Phase-2 funding decisions made|
|January 2020||Phase 2 demonstration event (location TBC)|
|28 November 2017||Competition briefing at Innovation Network event|
|15 February 2018||Competition closes at midday|
|Late- March 2018||Contract placement initiated and feedback provided|
|Mid-May 2018||Collaboration event (location TBC)|
|Mid-September 2018||Demonstration testing events|
Queries and help
While you’re preparing your proposals, you can contact us if you have any queries:
Capacity to answer these queries is limited in terms of volume and scope. Queries should be limited to a few simple questions or if provided with a short (few paragraphs) description of your proposal, the technical team will provide, without commitment or prejudice, broad yes/no answers. This query facility is not to be used for extensive technical discussions, detailed review of proposals or supporting the iterative development of ideas. While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, Accelerator and Dstl reserves the right to impose management controls when higher than average volumes of queries or resource demands restrict fair access to all potential proposal submitters.
General queries should be sent directly to the Accelerator at email@example.com