Guidance

Assessment process and criteria

This guidance explains our competition process and how your proposal is assessed.

At the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), we have a very thorough process for deciding which proposals to fund. The below guidance sets out our full competition process including the guidance given to our assessors to assess proposals.

Competition process

The competition process is made up of ten steps.

1. Competition opens

All competitions are launched on our Apply for funding page. If you are interested in submitting an idea for any competition, please Contact a DASA Innovation Partner to help you.

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2. Proposal submission

The only way to submit a proposal to DASA is online via our Enterprise Collaboration Service(ECS). Login or register for an account.

Some tips to help with your submission:

  • before submitting your proposal, check DASA’s standard terms and conditions carefully to ensure that you agree with all of them. You may wish to check them with your commercial or legal department
  • draft your proposal offline to avoid losing material when submitting online
  • be concise. Each assessor should be able to read, understand and assess your proposal within 1 hour and 30 minutes, unless otherwise stated in the competition document
  • only click submit when your proposal is complete. It is not possible to add any additional information to your proposal after it has been submitted
  • submit your proposal well before the deadline in case you experience any technical problems. The deadline is the deadline and will not be extended. If you are having problems submitting your proposal, email us prior to the deadline on accelerator@dstl.gov.uk or call 01980 950000 option 3

3. Competition close

4. Pre sift

Once you have submitted your proposal, it will pass through an initial sift. At this stage, your proposal may be rejected if it:

  • does not demonstrate impact for defence or security
  • does not outline how it meets the scope of the competition
  • is incomplete
  • is lacking technical information to allow technical assessment to take place
  • does not demonstrate how the project can be completed in the timelines
  • exceeds the funding limit or timescale stipulated
  • does not demonstrate acceptance of or comply with DASA terms and conditions
  • is not at the correct Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for the competition
  • is a resubmission of a previous proposal and does not adhere to the resubmission guidelines

Further guidance on pre sift criteria is described in the online submission service for the specific competition and in the relevant competition document, accessible via the Apply for Funding page.

5. Assessment

After the initial sifting process, experts from across UK government will be assigned to assess your proposal. When people outside of UK Government are used for assessment, it will be under a non-disclosure agreement and details will be provided in advance in the relevant competition document.

During the assessment phase all proposals are assessed against the following criteria:

  • desirable: strategic fit, end user support/pull
  • feasible: technical credibility, innovation, risk, expertise of team/capability
  • viable: costs and value for money, project delivery/plan

Further guidance on assessment criteria is listed below.

6. Moderation

After assessment, a moderator will compile an overview of all assessments, pulling together comments to provide a collective outcome in the form of a ‘Fund’ or ‘No Fund’ recommendation against the proposal.

7. Challenge

Stakeholders/moderators are invited to challenge the ‘Fund’ or ‘No Fund recommendation made against each proposal. Challengers should present their argument both in written form for circulation and at the decision conference.

8. Decision conference

Key stakeholders come together to discuss the recommendations. The moderator attends the decision conference to present the ‘Fund’ or No Fund’ recommendation for the proposal and to defend the proposal against any challenges that may have been submitted. Challengers attend the decision conference to present their challenges in order to promote robust discussion prior to the ‘Fund’ or ‘No Fund’ decision being made. At the end of the decision conference, a decision is made against each proposal on whether to fund it.

9. Decision release

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.

Suppliers who receive a ‘Fund’ decision will be contacted by DASA commercial to answer any clarification questions and finalise the contracts. If you have questions regarding your contract, contact DASACommercial@dstl.gov.uk.

10. Feedback release

Moderators provide feedback for ‘No Fund’ proposals which is subsequently reviewed by DASA and released by the commercial team.

Please note that every DASA competition has a finite financial limit which affects the number of bids we can fund. There may be occasions where additional funding subsequently becomes available, after a decision has been released. DASA reserves the right to keep proposals ‘in reserve’ for 12 months. In the event that additional funding becomes available, DASA may ask whether you would still be prepared to undertake the work outlined in your proposal under the same terms.

Assessment criteria

DASA uses three baseline assessment criteria; desirable, feasible and viable. The baseline criteria apply to all our competitions, unless stated in the competition document. It is important to note that criteria may be adjusted or weighted differently across competitions in accordance with the needs of Government customers. You should check the specific guidance that is provided within the competition document on the Apply for Funding page.

Once the criteria have been published for a particular competition, they will remain frozen for the duration of that competition.

Corresponding guidance on what we need to see in the various sections of your proposal is provided in the proposal template on our on-line submission service.

In order to give you the best chance of success, please find below guidance on the three baseline criteria that is provided to our assessors in order to assess your proposals.

Desirable

DASA funds innovations that solve defence and security challenges. You should look out for things like the proposal’s alignment with a strategic need or challenge and who would benefit from the innovation. Evidence of end user buy-in for the idea is welcomed. Ideas that are useful for both defence and security should be acknowledged.

Under this category, proposals should be assessed on:

Defence and security compatibility.

  • the proposal shows benefit across defence and/or security sectors.

Strategic fit

  • the proposal is clear on the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity driving the innovation.
  • the proposal describes the impact for defence and/or security in terms of performance, time and cost
  • the proposal has a clear link to a user need or challenge. This may be the challenge as specified in the competition document

End user pull

  • the proposal identifies who would benefit from and exploit the innovation if successful
  • the proposal may include letters of support as evidence that the potential customer or end user will actively support the project
  • the proposal outlines how the proposer expects to take the solution to market on completion of the project and who the appropriate partners would be to do so. This may include information on further phases of development or funding required for the solution to reach an appropriate TRL for procurement

Feasible

You should assess whether the idea has a good chance of success technically.

You are asked to consider whether the proposal is scientifically, technically and practically feasible, how innovative the idea is, and how it compares with potential alternatives. A clear and logical plan, backed by relevant expertise, capability and appropriate resources needs to be present.

Under this category, proposals should be assessed on:

Technical Credibility

  • the proposal is scientifically, technically and practically feasible
  • the proposal has a robust testing regime with clear and quantifiable measures of progress and performance

Innovation and risk

  • the proposal assesses how the solution compares to alternative solutions in terms of time, cost and performance
  • the proposal assesses and provides mitigations for technical risks - to note DASA welcomes proposals that are high risk, high reward, but mitigations should be explained thoroughly

Expertise and capability

  • the proposal provides evidence of the team’s relevant expertise and experience in the technical area of the innovation, including background research and projects completed
  • the proposal provides evidence of the resources available to the team to deliver the project including facilities and labour

Viable

You should assess for evidence that the idea can be delivered within the project scope and timelines.

Look for evidence of a robust project plan which identifies any links or dependencies between work packages and milestones, and which clearly identifies measurable deliverables. We are looking at overall costs and value for money. Finally, please look at the proposer’s plans to take their innovation forward beyond the project.

Under this category, proposals should be assessed on:

Project Delivery

  • the proposal has a project plan in sufficient detail and identifies any links or dependencies between work packages and/or milestones
  • the proposal identifies any project risks or dependencies and has identified appropriate mitigations
  • the proposal identifies any need for Government Furnished Assets (GFA) (including Government Furnished Information (GFI)). Should GFA not be granted, the proposal identifies suitable alternatives
  • the proposal identifies any legal or ethical concerns including MODREC approval, RIPA, data protection and has put in place appropriate steps and timescales to heed these considerations

Costs and Value for Money

  • the proposal provides detail on the total project cost, and the profiling of spend across milestones and does so in line with DASA financial terms and conditions
  • the proposal explains what alternative sources of funding have been considered and what funding would be sought should the proposal be unsuccessful
  • the proposal provides information on any additional funding or in-kind support that has been or is being provided by anyone other than the proposer
  • the proposal explains what would happen to the innovation if it were not publicly funded
  • the proposal describes the benefit and value for money for government, and also explains any wider value to the UK economy

Plan Beyond the Project

  • the proposal outlines what funding and/or customer support is potentially available to develop and incorporate the outcomes of this project
  • the proposal explains what tests, accreditation, trials would be necessary to take the project forward on completion of the project
  • the proposal considers how the outcomes could be integrated into existing systems and capabilities or outlines the solution that it would be replacing and why
  • the proposal estimates the long term cost of further development of the solution and any potential pricing models for procurement.

Resubmission

Please do not resubmit an idea that has been unsuccessful in gaining Defence and Security Accelerator funding previously, unless we have specifically encouraged a resubmission in our feedback to you.

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

If it is not clear that you have made changes to address the feedback, we will reject the proposal at pre sift.

Published 8 December 2016
Last updated 20 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added competition process guidance and further guidance on the assessment criteria as used by our assessors

  2. We have added some clarification on how we assess your proposals.

  3. We have changed our assessment criteria for future competitions.

  4. First published.