CDE themed competition: synthetic biology applications in defence

Further information on this Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) competition for £1 million research funding.


Competition document: synthetic biology applications in defence

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


Feedback will be sent on 9 January 2015. Please note that feedback is sent by post by our Commercial department, so you can expect to receive your letter within 1 week of the send date. If feedback hasn’t arrived within 2 weeks of the send date, please contact us at

Total funding available under this competition is £1 million.

Competition closes on Thursday 6 November 2014 at 5pm.


Synthetic biology has the potential to address some difficult problems facing UK defence and security. It could provide new ways to protect both the armed forces and civilian populations.

The purpose of this CDE themed competition for short-term, proof-of-concept research proposals is to reach out to all sectors for highly innovative synthetic biology approaches relevant to defence and security. We think this will involve cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research through the application of existing synthetic biology tools and techniques, but using novel research approaches.

Areas where synthetic biology could contribute to defence and security include, but are not limited to:

  • protection of personnel or equipment

  • sensor technologies to detect chemicals, such as explosives, forces, such as gravity, or to indicate physical status, such as integrity

  • materials exhibiting unique properties or added functionality

  • decontamination approaches

  • camouflage solutions including noise and emission reduction

The scope of this competition is deliberately broad to encourage novel ideas applicable to land, air or maritime environments. We don’t wish to be prescriptive, and seek proposals where a short-term investment will allow the defence and security applications of synthetic biology to be explored.

View the presentation slidesthat were briefed at the event.

Technical team email:

Centre for Defence Enterprise

Building R103
Fermi Avenue
Harwell Oxford
OX11 0QX


Telephone +44 (0)30 67704236

Alternative number +44 (0)30 67704237

Please email for the quickest response.

Published 30 June 2014