CDE: how to submit a proposal

Guidance on how to submit a research proposal to the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE).

The only way to submit a research proposal to the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is online.

The process is the same if you’re submitting a proposal to the enduring competition or a themed competition.

Get started

Select ‘Start now’ to set up your initial account. If you already have an account, you can skip this and go straight to the ‘Sign in’ page.

Even if you had an account with CDE’s previous online submission portal (before November 2015), you’ll need to set up a new account now. There are no longer multi-user accounts.


The dashboard is where registered users can review all their proposal submissions and track their progress. It’s also where you can create a new proposal.

Submit a new proposal

As you go through the sections below, you can complete a section, save it and return later. You can also review everything before you submit it to CDE.

Competition name

You’ll need to tell us which of our themed competitions you’re entering. The competitions are then divided into specific challenges where we’re looking for responses.

You’ll be asked to confirm you’ve read and accept CDE terms and conditions.


We’ll then ask you to briefly summarise your proposal before going into much more detail about what you’re going to do. The information you give us here makes sure we get the right assessors to look at your proposal.

Proposal details

This is where you can write in detail about what you’re proposing to do, why we should fund it and how you’re going to do it.

There’s guidance at each part of this stage to help you give the information assessors are looking for. You’ll also be able to upload a selection of image files to illustrate your work and details of your project plan.

Finance and deliverables

This section’s designed so that you can divide the project up into a series of deliverables. You can ask for up to 6 staged payments assigned to some or all of the deliverables.

Please note that the final payment on successful completion of the project should be at least 20% of the total.

Review and submit

This last page is there to help you review your proposal before you submit. Once you submit the proposal, you can’t make any further changes.

How long should a proposal be?

We can’t give an exact word count, but for guidance, you should bear in mind that the assessor should be able to read, understand and assess your proposal within 1 hour.

After you submit a proposal

Once you submit your proposal, we’ll assign our expert assessors to look through it and decide if it’ll be funded.

We reserve the right to reject a proposal before assessment if the proposal doesn’t meet minimum requirements, as described in the guidance in the online submission service, such as being too long, having an obvious lack of scientific evidence or not providing any clear, meaningful deliverables or is a resubmission with no obvious changes to the original proposal. This is to ensure the best use of public money for assessing CDE proposals.

Every proposal you submit will have a status showing whether it’s been submitted, if it’s being assessed and ultimately whether it’ll be funded or not.

As soon as a decision is made, you’ll see the proposal status change to ‘Fund’ or ‘No Fund’ in your dashboard.

If you’re successful, our commercial team will be in touch to get contracting started. If you aren’t successful this time, we’ll give you feedback to help you understand why. This process will normally take a matter of weeks but you can get the exact dates from the competition document.

After a fixed period of time, most of your submission will be deleted from our system. We do this to protect your intellectual property (IP). We must retain some information though.


Please don’t resubmit an idea that’s been unsuccessful in gaining CDE funding previously, unless we’ve specifically encouraged a resubmission in our feedback to you.

If you are resubmitting an idea, you need to make it clear where you’ve made changes to address the feedback provided.

If it’s not clear that you’ve made changes to address the feedback, we’ll reject the proposal before assessment. This is to ensure the best use of public money for assessing CDE proposals.

Centre for Defence Enterprise

Building R103
Fermi Avenue

Harwell Oxford
OX11 0QX

Please email for the quickest response.

Published 30 June 2014
Last updated 28 July 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated with guidance on resubmitting a proposal to CDE.
  2. The new CDE online submission service is now live.
  3. How you submit a proposal to CDE has changed. This updated guidance covers the new online submission service.
  4. How you submit a research proposal to the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is changing in November 2015. Current users will need to save copies of information you have in the portal if you want to keep it, before 16 December 2015.
  5. CDE’s online portal will be offline for maintenance from 5pm on Friday 14 August 2015. This could take up to the morning of Monday 17 August 2015. We advise not to use the portal in the minutes approaching 5pm to avoid you losing any unsaved data.
  6. First published.