What is Serapis?
The Serapis framework will focus on the areas of C4ISR (command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), space systems, synthetic environments, and simulation technology to support human capability development. It is being set up to enable Dstl to reach the most diverse expertise available.
It aims to reach non-traditional defence suppliers, small and medium-sized enterprises and academia, as well as traditional defence suppliers, in order to develop new capabilities for the UK’s defence and security.
The Serapis framework complements other Dstl frameworks such as R-Cloud, Electronic Warfare and Cyber, Analysis Support Construct, and the Human and Social Science Research Capability (due to replace the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre framework in summer 2018).
Why not use an existing framework?
Serapis is being designed to accommodate and build upon previous frameworks. The other extant frameworks are more bespoke and have some tight restrictions that would prevent Dstl from being agile in contracting work in the Serapis capability areas.
The current proposal for the framework sees it split into 6 capability areas or ‘lots’:
- Lot 1 – Collect: This lot will cover the development and integration of new and emerging ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) ‘collect’ technology and techniques into the wider defence and cross-government ISTAR enterprise. This includes both conventional and novel sensing technology, such as gravity and biometric sensing, but also open source and human intelligence data, and information collection capabilities.
Listen to the presentation on lot 1
Serapis Framework Lot 1 Collect
- Lot 2 – Space systems: This lot will cover all aspects of defence and security space systems from underpinning enabling services including: space-specific analysis; fundamental and applied space research for areas, such as the space environment; the design and manufacture of space equipment and sub-systems; space launch and range assessments; through-life balance-of-investment studies looking at the operation of satellites, groundstations, or other terrestrial-based space systems (such as those used for the surveillance of space); and the application of commercial space systems and services for defence and security exploitation and benefit.
Listen to the presentation on lot 2
Serapis Framework Lot 2 Space Systems
Lot 3 - Decide: This lot will cover the development, testing, and evaluation of novel command and control (C2) systems to improve decision making, including human and autonomous (machine) system elements. It will also cover the development of novel agile, adaptive and resilient C2 concepts for effective military operation in constrained, degraded, or denied environments.
Listen to the presentation on lot 3
Serapis Framework Lot 3 Decide
Lot 4 – Assured information infrastructure: This lot will cover the development of C4ISR communication systems and networks. The lot will aim to exploit and drive emerging concepts and technology in military and civilian communications infrastructure, and will include the development of policy, technology and architectural options for the provision of assured information, information management and exploitation.
Listen to the presentation on lot 4
Serapis Framework Lot 4 Assured Information Infrastructure
- Lot 5 – Synthetic environment and simulation: This lot will cover the development of synthetic environments, modelling and simulation capabilities, and associated tools and assessment processes to allow UK Defence to train, exercise and prepare for future operations. The lot will also seek to test, evaluate and assess the performance of military capabilities and the C4ISR enterprise, as well as enhance and sustain UK Defence’s use of synthetic and simulation environments across all Defence applications.
Listen to the presentation on lot 5
Serapis Framework Lot 5 Simulation and Synthetic Environments
- Lot 6 – Understand: This lot will cover the development of data analytics and information processing tools and techniques in support of Defence’s decision-making processes and techniques (mostly covered in lot 3). Work in this lot will include the development and application of autonomy, artificial intelligence and machine learning to defence and security challenges, as well as information processing and visualisation and novel man-machine interface development.
Listen to the presentation on lot 6
Serapis Framework Lot 6 Understand
When does Serapis go live?
The Serapis project team is currently working towards a go-live date of spring 2019.
The request-for-information notice was published on Defence Contracts Online in September 2017 and a supplier engagement day was held in November 2017. At the engagement day, Dstl presented initial ideas on the design and scope of the future framework
Following feedback from those who attended, Dstl is now working on defining the commercial mechanisms. These will underpin the framework and help it facilitate innovation, teaming and partnership between Dstl, industry and academia, which will be essential if the research and development objectives of the UK defence and security organisations are to be met.
Information for potential bidders
The following presentations from the supplier engagement day, held in November 2017, provide more information about the commercial aspects of Serapis and the Dstl research programmes that the framework will support:
Serapis Engagement Commercial overview
###Information Systems Programme
Serapis Engagement Information Systems
###Future Sensing and Situational Awareness Programme
Serapis Engagement Future Sensing and Situational Awareness
Serapis Engagement Dstl Space Programme
###Future Workforce and Human Performance Programme
Serapis Engagement Future Workforce and Human Performance
Serapis Engagement Information Systems
Eight questions answered for potential bidders
Who is eligible to bid for a prime role?
The role of prime is open to anyone to bid, and could be a single company, a consortium, or an academic organisation. There are no restrictions as long as the potential bidder has the capability and capacity to fulfil the requirement.
How many primes is Dstl looking for and what is their expected role?
Dstl is currently considering options regarding the structure of the framework: one prime versus multiple primes. The role of the prime(s) is expected to include responsibility for integrating, supporting and enabling collaborative working between all suppliers. As per the DSCPR 2011, the prime would be required to compete all work unless there is a significant reason to the contrary.
What is the funding source and split per lot?
The funding source is predominantly from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Chief Scientific Adviser’s budget. It is envisaged that other parts of MOD will also utilise the framework, bringing their own funding. Dstl is not discounting tasks that include elements of co-funding (private venture). The split of funding per lot is still under review; details will be released in due course.
What difference does suppliers’ feedback make and how will Dstl maintain communication throughout the procurement process?
Dstl will use – and encourages – suppliers’ feedback to get the right outcome for the framework. Dstl must adhere to commercial regulations and MOD policy; but, where able, we will challenge if needed.
Please use the dedicated email address DstlSerapis@dstl.gov.uk and refer to this web guide for open and transparent communication throughout this process.
Regarding extant contracts, will there be any gap in provision or any overlap in scope?
The C4ISR Secure Information Infrastructure and Services (CSIIS) framework will still be available when competing this framework, and R-Cloud is in place. There will still be some small gaps in continuity – specifically in relation to Lot 5 – but Dstl will not be extending any extant contract unless there is a robust case to do so. Programme managers will look at any gaps and, where there are logical pieces of work, will look to place bespoke contracts or use existing frameworks to fill the gaps. However, there will not be any overlap with Serapis. Furthermore, in developing the statements of requirements for the lots, the Serapis team has worked with colleagues to de-conflict any potential overlap in requirement.
What is the procurement strategy and how has this been developed?
In order to develop the procurement strategy, Dstl will produce a business case for approval. Any changes to the proposed framework design will be determined prior to the invitation to tender release. This is still being developed and the Serapis team would welcome your feedback to understand the potential barriers; please contact DstlSerapis@dstl.gov.uk.
The competitive tender process will be for the framework on a lot-by-lot basis (however, see also response to question 10), with subsequent tending for specific requirements managed as part of a call-off under the Serapis framework once active. The call-off tasks could fall into the Single Source Pricing Regulations but this would be assessed on a case by case basis.
Will this be an open or closed framework? What level of collaboration is Dstl seeking?
The aspiration is for Serapis to have an open supply chain, which is constantly refreshed to ensure Dstl has access to the most diverse talent available. The level of collaboration is still to be worked out in the detail of the framework, and Dstl will use the lessons from other frameworks and the engagement event to take this forward. However, Dstl is committed to establishing a framework which fundamentally encourages innovation, collaboration and partnering.
You are looking at new technologies and innovation; how will intellectual property (IP) be managed? What need is there for an operation system and how will technology demonstrators be managed?
The intention is that, in most cases, the IP will sit where it is generated, as per standard IP conditions. However, it is likely that there will be instances whereby Dstl wishes to retain the IP and the appropriate conditions will be made clear in these cases. It is further acknowledged that this is more complex in a collaborative environment and Dstl will work with its IP team to ensure that the appropriate IP conditions are established.
Fundamentally, Serapis is a framework for science and technology not procurement; therefore, the focus is on lower technology readiness level (TRL). Depending on the requirement in a particular area, Dstl might have higher-TRL components and/or seek to use these in new innovative ways. However, in the majority of cases, it would be expected that any higher-TRL activities would need to be migrated to Defence Equipment and Support procurement.
Although, the main aim of the framework will be to develop lower-TRL science and technology in support of UK defence and security, the intention is to maintain the option to support the full range of technology and system readiness levels. This will therefore include development of technology demonstrators should this be required to further the wider research or experimentation objectives of UK government. How these will be managed will be driven by the particular need at the time; but Dstl will work to ensure that the appropriate IP conditions are established to ensure an effective and productive outcome.
What commercial mechanism/governance are you seeking to implement?
Subject to MOD and Cabinet Office approval, the current procurement strategy is seeking a commercial mechanism to achieve principles included in the Commercial Overview presentation above.
Is the intention that the framework will be let as single contract or will there be a single contract per individual lot?
Subject to MOD and Cabinet Office approval, the current procurement strategy is seeking a lead per individual lot; however, this will be determined by the competition. See also response at number 2 above.
If you would like further information about the Serapis framework, please email: DstlSerapis@dstl.gov.uk.
You must not take this announcement to mean confirmation that MOD shall award a contract for this requirement. MOD is publishing this announcement without any commitment to issue an invitation to tender or place a contract. Accordingly, any expenditure, work or effort undertaken prior to contract award is a matter solely for the commercial judgement of potential suppliers. Announcements may also be published on Defence Contracts Online, Contracts Finder or the Official Journal of the European Union, as appropriate.