Dstl DECANT framework

DECANT aims to drive autonomy into defence and security research by building a supplier network for innovative and cutting-edge underpinning autonomous systems technologies

What is DECANT?

DECANT (Defence Capability for Autonomous and Novel Technologies) is a framework to provide a new route to market to help deliver Dstl’s Autonomy Programme.

DECANT’s key areas of interest include:

  • concept design
  • algorithm development
  • artificial intelligence / machine learning
  • optimising human autonomy teaming
  • autonomous systems technology

Aims and objectives

DECANT aims to drive autonomy into defence and security research by building a robust supplier network for innovative and cutting-edge underpinning autonomous systems technologies.

The framework will enable Dstl to reach the most diverse expertise available, including non-traditional defence suppliers, small and medium-sized enterprises and academia, as well as traditional defence suppliers, to develop new capabilities for the UK’s defence and security.

Emphasis will be placed on the exploitation of civil autonomy development to maximise the contribution of Defence to the economy.

When does DECANT go live?

DECANT is scheduled to go live in spring 2019. A prior information notice was published on Defence Contracts Online on 14 September 2018.

Information for potential bidders

Dstl is currently developing the framework model and welcomes feedback and contributions from the supplier community. The information below provides details for potential bidders; however, if you have any further questions, please contact the team.

Who is eligible to bid for a prime role?

Anyone can bid for the role of prime, whether 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, as determined by a pre-qualification questionnaire.

How many primes is Dstl looking for and what is their expected role?

Dstl is considering options regarding the structure of the framework: one prime operating with a fixed or a dynamic technical team. The role of the prime is expected to include responsibility for managing the supply chain and technical advisory group.

In accordance with the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations (DSPCR) 2011, the prime must open all work to competition, unless there is a significant reason why not.

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 can challenge if needed. Please email the team and refer to this web guide for open and transparent communication throughout this process.

What is the procurement strategy and how has this been developed?

To execute 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 DECANT team would welcome your feedback via email as information becomes available, to understand the potential barriers.

The competitive tender process will be for the framework on a single-lot basis, with subsequent tasking for specific requirements managed as part of a call-off under the DECANT framework once active.

Will this be an open or closed framework? What level of collaboration is Dstl seeking?

The aspiration is for DECANT 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 to take this forward. However, Dstl is committed to establishing a framework that fundamentally encourages innovation, collaboration, exploitation and partnering.

How will intellectual property (IP) be managed?

In most cases, the IP will sit where it is generated, as per standard IP conditions. However, if Dstl wishes to retain the IP, the appropriate conditions will be made clear. Dstl will work with its IP team to ensure that the appropriate IP conditions are established.

Fundamentally, DECANT is a framework for science and technology research not procurement; therefore, the focus is on lower technology readiness level (TRL). It would be expected that any higher-TRL activities would be migrated to other projects and frameworks.

Contact us

Email the DECANT team at if you would like to give feedback or insight, or if you have any questions.

In the interest of transparency and fair competition, any further information provided in response to emails will be shared on this page, unless marked ‘commercial in confidence’.

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.

Published 19 September 2018