How to work with or sell to Dstl: industry, academia and other research organisations

How to sell to Dstl if you are in industry, academia or another type of research organisation.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) believes that work should be conducted by external suppliers unless there is a clear reason for it to be done by Dstl.

Around 60 percent of the approximate £400 million Ministry of Defence (MOD) science and technology (S&T) research programme, managed through Dstl, goes to industry and academia to deliver. Dstl intends to increase this proportion.

As well as the MOD S&T programme, some areas of Dstl’s work are funded from other government sources. Because of the nature of this work, much of it is carried out in-house by Dstl, but there are still opportunities for suppliers to get involved. Read our science and technology procurement criteria (MS Word Document, 39.5KB) for more detail.


Dstl manages the delivery of its customers’ work through a number of programmes, using expertise from across the organisation and placing work externally wherever possible. These programmes detail the full breadth of work by subject area.

Centre for Defence Enterprise

The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) funds research into novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit innovations. CDE works with the broadest possible range of science and technology providers and often provides an entry point for those new to defence. CDE aims to remove barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enter the defence supply chain. More than two thirds of CDE contracts go to SMEs and innovators within academia, providing a vital way for defence to access fresh thinking and capabilities.


There are many different opportunities for organisations to work with Dstl, either directly or indirectly, via a contract. Dstl places a range of different types of contracts from proof-of-principle contracts through to enabling contracts. Some contracts may be placed with a single organisation, other contracts will bring in suppliers as and when needed, giving opportunities for new suppliers. Dstl may specify how much of a contract must be placed with SMEs, academia or other organisations and how much can be carried out by the prime contractor.

Depending on the nature of the contract, these are usually advertised via the Defence Contracts Online portal and MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin and the Official Journal of the European Union.


R-Cloud is a commercial framework which helps Dstl’s suppliers bid for contracts. It provides easy-to-use, direct access to current and future research requirements. It also aims to reduce the cost of trading with Dstl and simplify the contract process. Find out more about R-Cloud.

Ploughshare Innovations Limited

Ploughshare Innovations was formed in 2005 to commercialise and exploit Dstl’s intellectual property generated from its research. Since its creation, Ploughshare has commercialised more than 110 technologies and launched eleven spin-out companies, mainly for civilian applications. Ploughshare has also negotiated licences in the defence field leading to research being pulled through into defence products. Find out more on the Ploughshare website.

Easy Access Intellectual Property (IP)

Dstl is an Easy Access IP organisation. Easy Access institutions promote new ways of sharing IP to make it easier for researchers and industry to work together. You can read guidance for organisations on how to find out about and access Dstl-owned intellectual property available under the Easy Access IP scheme.

PhD programmes

Dstl operates a number of PhD programmes. Dstl welcomes applications to PhD level research calls from UK institutions with leading academics, research groups or research centres.

Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI)

MURI is a US Department of Defense (DoD) programme, sponsored by DoD research offices including the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Army Research Office (ARO), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Find out about opportunities for UK academics to engage in MURI.

Innovate UK

Dstl works closely with Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board), the UK’s innovation agency, whose goal is to accelerate economic growth by supporting business-led innovation. Dstl and Innovate UK collaborate on technologies where there is potential for ‘dual-use’ innovation (ie where the technology could be applied to both defence and civil market sectors) and jointly fund competitive research calls in areas of specific interest – usually through Innovate UK’s competitions process. Find out more about competitions managed by Innovate UK.

Dstl’s supplier eBulletin: inSIGHT

inSIGHT is a regular defence, science and technology eBulletin written for Dstl’s external suppliers. It covers the latest science and technology news and events, developments in Dstl’s programmes, information about new and existing contracts and case studies.

Subscription to inSIGHT is free. Subscribe to inSIGHT and read the latest edition here.

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