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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/competition-novel-chemistry-to-reduce-the-risk-from-household-products/competition-document-novel-chemistry-to-reduce-the-risk-from-household-products
This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals that can reduce the risk of common chemicals used in household and personal care products being used as explosives precursors or precursors for the production of chemical or biological agents. We welcome approaches that will offer substitutes for these compounds or additives that will reduce the risk of their misuse.
£1 million is available to fund multiple bids to this competition over 7 months.
This competition closes on Wednesday 3 July 2019 at midday.
2. Competition Scope
Most chemical compounds have multiple uses which enhance quality of life and/or support wider UK prosperity. However, as with many areas of legitimate commerce, there is potential for non-legitimate activities relating to chemical compounds, whether through bypassing legal processes such as patents, licencing and taxation, or through the production of illegal or harmful substances such as drugs, explosives or chemical or biological agents. The challenge for UK Government is to reduce the opportunities for those with nefarious intent to access these precursors whilst maintaining the genuine product functionality, acceptable cost, and product safety.
The focus for this competition is on substances that are precursors to explosives, chemical or biological agents. Explosive, chemical and biological agents, produced for legitimate purposes, are well regulated and controlled, but there are a range of commercially available products containing precursors which can be used to make homemade versions. Many of these precursors are available on the high street such as in household cleaning or personal care products. Precursors which are easy to extract and concentrate, and that are available in large volumes, are of particular concern. Simply banning them is not practicable due to their legitimate uses and therefore substitutes are sought. Alternatively it may be more appropriate to use additives, which would make concentration or extraction of the precursor more difficult, rather than to actually replace it in a legitimate product.
3. Competition Challenges
Proposals demonstrating novel approaches are invited against one or two of the following challenges:
3.1 Challenge 1: Substitutes
Develop credible alternative compounds, that are not susceptible (or less susceptible) to malicious use but that are effective in legitimate applications, to replace or reduce the levels of current precursors in relevant commercial formulations.
We will also consider multi-compound substitutes for precursors, or those which require a catalytic agent to utilise the product (e.g. products that require mixing and a multi-step application processes).
3.2 Challenge 2: Additives
Develop feasible modifications or additives that can be added to relevant commercial formulations making precursors less susceptible to malicious use but without impacting the legitimate application of the product. Examples might include: additives which make extraction, concentration and purification harder to achieve or additives which if not removed have the potential to reduce the final dangerous effects.
For both challenges bidders need to demonstrate that by the end of the contract that they can:
- synthesise or procure the proposed substitute or additive;
- demonstrate the effectiveness of the substitute or additive in representative commercial formulations;
- demonstrate that the outputs reduce the risk of misuse relating to explosive, chemical or biological agents
Applicants only need to be able to demonstrate proof-of-concept and will not be required to demonstrate scale up to manufacture by the end of the contract. However feasibility and cost of changes to formulations from the point of view of the manufacturer, retailer and regulator will be a consideration for assessment of proposals.
We will work with successful bidders to agree potential industry plans for bringing new formulations to market and replacing products vulnerable to misuse in a way that complies with competition law. This competition is supported by an industry advisory group which will help in this regard.
Bidders will not need to undertake full formulation safety assessments during the contract lifetime, but we will consider the safety data associated with any replacement or additive compound proposed as part of the assessment process. Bidders should show some understanding of the development and/or testing required to make new product formulations safe and commercially viable in the UK in their proposal.
3.3 Priority Precursors
A priority list of precursors of interest, developed specifically for this competition, is included here: Priority list. It is anticipated that proposals will address one of these target compounds. However we are willing to consider bids which address a broader list of compounds of concern if sufficient justification can be made: Lower priority list.
Given the levels of funding allocated, we anticipate that proposals will focus on one precursor; we do not expect bids to address multiple precursors or multiple formulations. However, proposals can focus on a class of compounds if desired.
In addition, we do not expect proposals to focus on all use-cases for the precursor. As proof-of-concept you may wish to consider a single use-case for a single product, though you should provide justification around why you have selected this use-case (e.g. because the legitimate product is cheap, available in volume and precursors are easy to extract).
3.4 Clarification of what we want
We want novel ideas that will enhance UK national security. Your proposal should include evidence of:
- innovation or a novel approach
- clear demonstration of how the proposed work applies to the security context
- the choice of precursor, use-case and the potential impacts of any substitute/additive on both the manufacturing process and final product viability
3.5 Clarification of what we don’t want
We are not interested in proposals that:
- constitute consultancy or literature reviews which just summarise the existing literature without any view of future innovation
- do not offer significant benefit to UK national security e.g. proposals that are primarily aimed at Commercial advantage
- are an identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or wider Government without modification e.g. DNA barcoding or radioactive tracers
- offer demonstrations of off-the-shelf formulations requiring no experimental development (unless applied in a novel way to the challenge)
- offer a way to trace precursors more easily
- offer no real long-term prospect of integration into manufacturing processes e.g. cannot be scaled up or prohibitively expensive
- are unlikely to meet product safety testing requirements, especially if intended for personal care products
It is important that over the lifetime of DASA competitions, ideas are matured and 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 end-users during the competition and subsequent phases are essential.
All proposals to DASA should articulate the expected development in Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the potential solution over the lifetime of the contract and how this relates to improved operational capability against the current known (or presumed) baseline. For further information on TRLs, please see here. Your deliverables should be designed to evidence these aspects 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. DASA Innovation Partners are available to support you with defence and security context.
You may wish to include some of the following information, where known, to help the assessors understand your approach to further exploitation:
- the intended users (e.g. manufacturers or retailers) of the final product and whether you have previously engaged with them, their procurement arm or their research and development arm
- the anticipated benefits (e.g. reduced risk of malicious use) that your solution will provide to the user
- expected additional work required beyond the end of the contract to develop a deployable commercial product (e.g. scale-up for manufacture, testing)
- additional future applications and wider markets for exploitation
- wider collaborations and networks you have already developed or any additional relationships you see as a requirement to support exploitation
- any specific legal, ethical, commercial or regulatory considerations for exploitation
5. How to apply
Proposals for funding to meet these challenges must be submitted by Wednesday 3 July 2019 at midday via the DASA submission service for which you will be required to register.
Funding of £1 million is expected to be available to fund up to 10 proposals. Each proposal must be lower than £125k. If successful, contracts will be awarded for a duration of 7 months.
Further guidance on submitting a proposal is available on the DASA website.
5.1 What your proposal must include
The proposal should focus on the current requirements but must also include a brief (un-costed) 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.
Your proposal must demonstrate how you will complete all proposed activities/services and provide all deliverables within the competition timescales (for this competition - 7 months maximum duration). A project plan with clear milestones and deliverables must be provided. Deliverables must be well defined and designed to provide evidence of progress against the project plan and the end-point for this phase. They must include, as a minimum a final report and attendance at two events (a collaboration/start-up event and a demonstration event near the end of the contract; both to be held in the UK). Proposals with any deliverables (including final report) outside the contracted timeline will be rejected as non-compliant.
A resourcing plan must 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, the 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 must 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. Further details are available in the DASA guidance.
In addition, requirements for access to Government Furnished Assets (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 £125k per proposal. Proposals will be rejected if the financial cost exceeds this capped level. Failure to provide any of the above listed will automatically render your proposal non-compliant.
5.2 Public facing information
When submitting your proposal, you will be required to include a proposal title and a short abstract. If your proposal is funded, the title and abstract you provide will be used by DASA, and other government departments 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 included in documentation such as brochures for the event. This proposal title will also be published in the DASA transparency data on GOV.UK, along with your company name, organisation type e.g. SME and the amount of funding received.
5.3 How your proposal will be assessed
All proposals will be checked for compliance with the competition document and may be rejected before full assessment if they do not comply. Only proposals which demonstrate their compliance against the competition scope and DASA criteria will be taken forward to full assessment. Failure to achieve full compliance against stage 1 will render your proposal non-compliant and will not be considered any further:
|The proposal outlines how it meets the scope of the competition||Within scope (Pass) / Out of scope (Fail)|
|The proposal fully explains in all three sections of the DASA submission service how it meets the DASA criteria||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal clearly details a financial plan, a project plan and a resourcing plan to complete the work proposed within the contract duration (7 months)||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal identifies the need (or not) for MODREC approval||Pass / Fail|
|The proposal identifies any GFA required||Pass / Fail|
|Maximum value of proposal is £125k||Pass / Fail|
|The bidder provides unqualified acceptance of the Terms and Conditions of the Contract||Pass / Fail|
Proposals will then be assessed against the standard DASA assessment criteria by subject matter experts from government. You will not have the opportunity to comment on assessors comments.
DASA 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 DASA, for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting DASA in the evaluation of the bidder’s proposal. In providing such information the bidder consents to such disclosure. Appropriate confidentiality agreements will be put in place.
Further guidance on how your proposal is assessed is available on the DASA website.
After assessment, proposals will be discussed internally at a Decision Conference where, based on the assessments, budget and wider strategic considerations, a decision will be made on the proposals that are recommended for funding.
Proposals that are unsuccessful will receive brief feedback after the Decision Conference.
5.4 Things you should know about DASA contracts
Please read the DASA terms and conditions which contain important information for suppliers. For this competition we will be using the Standard Contracting (SC) Innovation Contract – Terms and Schedules. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not the Short Form Contract (SFC).
Funded projects will be allocated a Technical Partner as a technical point of contact. In addition, the DASA team will work with you to support delivery and exploitation.
We will use deliverables from DASA contracts in accordance with our rights detailed in the contract terms and conditions.
Whilst £1 million is currently available to fund proposals in this competition, there may be occasions where additional funding from other funding lines may subsequently become available, to allow us to revisit those proposals deemed suitable for funding but where limitations on funding at the time prevented DASA from awarding a subsequent Contract. In such situations, DASA reserves the right to keep such proposals in reserve. In the event that additional funding subsequently becomes available, DASA may ask whether you would still be prepared to undertake the work outlined in your proposal under the same terms. Your official DASA feedback will indicate if your proposal was fundable or not.
5.5 Phase 1 Dates
|Dial-in||4 June 2019 AM|
|Pre bookable 1-1 telecom sessions||4 June 2019 PM|
|Competition closes||3 July 2019|
|Contracting||Aim to start September 2019 and end 7 months later in March 2020|
5.6 Supporting events
Tuesday 4 June 2019 AM – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
Tuesday 4 June 2019 PM – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
Competition queries including on process, application, technical, commercial and intellectual property aspects should be sent to email@example.com, quoting the competition title.
While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, DASA reserves the right to impose management controls if volumes of queries restrict fair access of information to all potential suppliers.