CDE: how your proposal is assessed

After you submit a proposal to CDE, it’ll be assessed by subject matter experts. This guidance explains how.

This guidance was withdrawn on

The Centre for Defence Enterprise has been replaced by the Defence and Security Accelerator

The only way to submit a research proposal to CDE is online.

Your CDE proposal will be assessed by experts from Dstl, MOD and sometimes wider UK government using 5 criteria. Detailed guidance of what to include in your proposal to help you perform well against the criteria is provided in each section of your online submission. What we’re looking for in each competition is explained in our competition pages.

We reserve the right to reject a proposal before assessment if it’s outside of CDE’s scope or doesn’t meet minimum requirements. These are 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.

For each proposal, a panel of assessors score against each of the criteria, and a moderator then makes a recommendation of whether to fund it or not. This recommendation is then subject to internal peer review before final decisions are made. We also consider relevant programme priorities and value for money to the UK taxpayer when deciding which proposals to fund.

The 5 assessment criteria are as below.

1. Impact on defence and security

We’re looking for clear evidence that your innovation will significantly improve our defence and security capabilities. We’ll consider things like what the innovation will do, who would use it and where, and the potential benefit to UK defence and security.

2. Likelihood of exploitation

We’re looking for evidence that your proposed idea can be developed into a mature, usable product. We’ll consider things like your plan for development beyond the proof-of-concept stage, and the usability and cost of the final product.

3. Advancing important science and technology

We want to develop important science and technology - and not necessarily just in relation to defence and security. We’ll consider things like whether or not your project will substantially progress science and technology in relation to UK defence and security, and whether it might have uses in other market sectors.

4. Innovation and scientific quality

We’d like to know if the science proposed is innovative and if it’s going to be done to the highest standard. We’ll consider things like how innovative your idea is, and the detail in your science and work plan.

5. Technical challenge

CDE competitions are designed to make possible exciting and innovative work. The perfect project will be highly challenging with a high potential benefit to UK defence and security. We’ll consider things like whether there’s evidence of very ambitious science and technology and rigorous testing. We want deliverables that help us to determine whether or not the project has been a success.

After you submit

You’ll be able to track the progress of your application through the submission service on your dashboard. You’ll be notified by email when we’ve made a decision on whether or not to fund your proposal.

If you’re successful, our commercial team will be in touch to get contracting started.

If you’re not successful this time, we’ll give you written feedback to help you understand why. You’ll also see a number in your dashboard for each of the criteria above ranging from 1 for unacceptable to 4 for outstanding.


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


Telephone +44 (0)30 67704236

Alternative number +44 (0)30 67704237

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. How you submit a proposal to CDE has changed. This updated guidance covers the new online submission service.

  3. 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.

  4. Additional information on how your proposal is assessed: we also consider relevant programme priorities and value for money to the UK taxpayer when deciding which proposals to fund.

  5. Changes to adding attachments to proposals on the portal: from 14 August 2015 at 5pm all attachments you add to your opportunity must be in PDF format. We no longer support Microsoft Word document attachments. Any existing Microsoft Word document attachments will be converted to PDF by the system.

  6. Added link to CDE terms and conditions and contract guidance, and that requested funding must be completely VAT free.

  7. First published.