CDE: terms and conditions and contract guidance

Guidance on Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) terms and conditions for funding, contracts and intellectual property rights.

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

Read about acceptable use of this service.

The guidance below will help you to understand who can apply for funding, the sort of projects CDE funds, and the terms and conditions of CDE contracts.

Who can apply

CDE is open to all. Submissions are welcome from all organisation types and individuals. There are no nationality restrictions.

CDE can’t accept proposals from other government departments, agencies or public bodies, or any government-funded organisations (where the funding isn’t won through a competitive process), either in the UK or overseas.

What CDE funds

We fund innovative proof-of-concept research that could lead to a cost-effective advantage for UK armed forces and national security. Our investments in science and technology research are high risk but with high potential benefits.

You mustn’t submit any classified information to CDE.

We use technology readiness levels (TRLs) to help you understand what sort of work we fund. TRLs are a technology management tool that provides a measurement to assess the maturity of evolving technology. See the table below for guidance.

Research funded through CDE competitions is usually split into 2 phases. Phase-1 competitions seek technologies that have reached TRL 2 to 3. We fund projects to develop these to TRL 3 (or higher). Phase-2 projects seek to develop these to TRL 6 and no higher. Entry into a phase-2 competition is only from being successful via a phase-1 project.

We don’t fund work to get technologies to TRL 2.

TRL MOD definition
1 Basic principles observed and reported
2 Technology concept and/or application formulated
3 Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept
4 Technology basic validation in a laboratory environment
5 Technology basic validation in a relevant environment
6 Technology model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment
7 Technology prototype demonstration in an operational environment
8 Actual technology completed and qualified through test and demonstration
9 Actual technology qualified through successful mission operations

We typically fund proposals for proof-of-concept research in the range of £40,000 to £100,000 for work of 3 to 9 months duration for the first phase of work (phase 1). The enduring competition only accepts proposals up to £90,000 for up to 7 months work, and for themed competitions you should check the relevant competition document. CDE contracts are fully funded.

If your proposal is a product you should speak to the Defence Suppliers’ Service, or see other ways of how to sell to Dstl.

Standard contract terms and conditions

For your proposal to be accepted for assessment, you must tick a box to say you agree with CDE terms and conditions. This guidance will help you to understand what they mean.

CDE phase-1 contracts are most often under DEFCON 705 (PDF, 59KB, 10 pages) . This is MOD’s standard intellectual property (IP) rights condition for fully funded research and technology contracts. Under Def Con 705 all IP generated during the work done under the contract with CDE belongs to the contractor.

In your proposal to us, you need to describe the ‘deliverables’ from your project, ie what will be produced as a result of the project. You also need to state if these are what we call ‘full rights’ or ‘limited rights’ versions.

You must provide us with a full rights version of any deliverable; these only include IP generated during the work done under the contract with CDE. You can also provide a limited rights version where it’s useful to include background IP (from previous work not done under the CDE contract) to support the evaluation/understanding of the results; this version won’t be released outside government. You can’t provide a limited rights deliverable only; you must provide us with a full rights version of any limited rights deliverable. The accompanying full rights version must be a coherent document on its own. You can read more detail in DEFCON 705 (PDF, 59KB, 10 pages) .

Find out more about how we handle your IP.

You can find a description of Def Con 705 (and the full commercial toolkit) in Acquisition System Guidance (ASG). The ASG is available via registered access. You’ll need to register and then activate your account before you can browse the ASG. Be aware that it could take up to 4 hours for the account to be activated.

You can also view the standard CDE contract template (PDF, 139KB, 18 pages) .

We reserve the right to consider alternative or additional contractual conditions if individual circumstances dictate. Any alternatives will be mutually agreed with you before a contract is awarded.


All prices quoted for CDE proposals are firm (ie non-variable). Prices quoted are not subject to the effects of escalation or exchange-rate variation.

As well as the technical assessment of your CDE proposal, value for money will also be taken into consideration. To help with this, prices in your proposal must be supported by a full cost breakdown.

Requested funding must be completely VAT free. If VAT is incurred (eg in sub-contractor or bought-in goods costs), this can be claimed back when invoicing.

Note that all bought-in items will become the property of MOD and will be registered as government-furnished assets.

If the proposed work is under a shared funding arrangement, you must describe the total costs, but clearly show the elements to be funded by MOD and by other parties.

We expect all quoted labour rates to be competitive in the market. If a bidder has agreed MOD rates, they shouldn’t exceed those rates agreed with the MOD Cost Assurance and Analysis Service (CAAS). In the case of the latter, proposals must be supported by evidence that they don’t exceed labour rates already agreed with MOD CAAS.

In addition, year-on-year escalation factors (used to generate future years’ labour rates) must be detailed in your proposal, with supporting statements if they exceed the current normal levels assumed (of the order 2.5% per annum).


Our normal policy is to pay on the satisfactory completion of all work under a contract.

Bidders can propose a stage payment plan, which must be supported by a detailed expenditure profile showing projected monthly expenditure figures.

The stage payment plan must provide clearly defined work stages, deliverables with associated payments and timescales.

If you’re requesting stage payments you must comply with the following:

  1. We won’t pre-fund any expenditure, so stage payment claims mustn’t include costs not yet incurred.
  2. No more than 6 stage payments are to be proposed.
  3. The last payment, entitled ‘satisfactory completion of all work under the contract’, shall be at least 20% of the total quoted firm price.

Government-furnished assets

Government-furnished assets (GFA) could be equipment, information or resources that are government-owned assets loaned (on a free-of-charge basis) to a contractor to assist in the completion of the contract. GFA aren’t provided lightly and only where there are substantial and pressing reasons (eg where there would be significant financial or quality benefits to the work as a result of using GFA).

With this in mind, we don’t believe that GFA is likely to be a requirement for a CDE phase-1 contract. That said, if there’s a demonstrable need for GFA this should be detailed in your proposal. If the case for GFA is accepted, additional contract conditions will be required and can be negotiated with you before a contract is awarded.

Ethical approval

It’s a condition of the contract that, as certain work must be justified ethically as well as scientifically, we reserve the right to terminate the work with immediate effect if you don’t gain the relevant approval.

You should submit your priced proposal using a staged approach, detailing deliverables and prices for work that can be done before and after getting ethical approval.

Read more about MOD ethical approval.

Research workers

Before we can award a contract, we need each person intending to work on the project to complete the form that we’ll issue.

This must be signed and returned with a brief curriculum vitae (CV) of each person by the nominated individual completing the work. The relevant people will be named in the subsequent contract. You must notify us in writing if you intend to change or add additional people. You must supply a completed form and CV for any new contractors.

Excluding ineligible suppliers

We expect our suppliers to maintain high standards of integrity and professionalism in their business dealings and adhere to the laws of the countries where they operate.

We reserve the right to exclude a supplier who’s been convicted of any of the offences or misconduct listed in the ‘statement relating to good standing’ that will be sent to you if you’re successful under a CDE competition.


Bidders must appoint a person who’s responsible for all communications with us.

After a contract has been awarded, all queries should be directed to either the technical or commercial points of contact detailed in the contract documentation.

English is the official language for all communication between bidders, CDE and Dstl and in all parts of CDE proposals.

Contractors should provide details to us of any intended public announcement for review prior to release.

We’ll use the email address that you used to create your account and the telephone number in your profile to contact you.

Centre for Defence Enterprise

Building R103
Fermi Avenue

Harwell Oxford
OX11 0QX

Please email for the quickest response.

Published 3 September 2014
Last updated 18 August 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated CDE contract template.
  2. Updated to say that the enduring competition only accepts proposals up to £90,000 for up to 7 months work.
  3. Added clarification of what sort of work CDE funds, in relation to technology readiness levels (TRLs).
  4. How you submit a proposal to CDE has changed. This updated guidance covers the new online submission service.
  5. Added guidance on what CDE funds and who can apply. 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.
  6. Updated guidance - funding requested must be completely VAT free.
  7. First published.