How to sell to or work with Dstl

Guidance on the many ways for suppliers to work with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Help us improve the way we engage and do business with you:

This page explains how to become a supplier and where to find the opportunities that are available.

Dstl works alongside a range of suppliers to provide our customers with the best science and technology, research and capabilities to protect the UK’s security and advance the UK’s defence interests. Find out more about who we are and what we do, and how we we are increasing collaboration and engagement with Ministry of Defence (MOD), as set out in the Defence Science and Technology (DST) collaboration and engagement strategy.

Work with Dstl

We work with external suppliers unless there’s a clear reason not to: see our science and technology procurement criteria (PDF, 24 KB, 3 pages)

We want to make it easier for innovative suppliers to work with us, including:

  • suppliers who have not traditionally worked with Dstl, the MOD or in the defence sector before
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

SMEs: A guide to working with government provides advice for small and medium sized enterprises on how to bid for and win government contracts. The Dstl SME action plan 2020 to 2025 tells you more about what we are doing to make it easier for SMEs to work with us, including:

  • providing clearer guidance
  • making sure our framework supply partners advertise sub-contracting opportunities
  • simplifying our contracting process
  • ensuring that SMEs are paid promptly

Subscribe to our regular supplier email for the latest science and technology news and events, development in our work, information about new and existing contracts and case studies.

Why work with us

Suppliers working with Dstl have the opportunity to:

  • work with top scientists and technologists at the cutting edge of innovation
  • benefit from increased funding for defence: around half of Dstl’s £multi-million science and technology budget is spent with industry and academia
  • test and improve concepts with input from members of the armed forces
  • benefit from the experience and expertise of our framework supply partners
  • gain access to state-of-the-art facilities for development and testing
  • retain intellectual property rights, boosting longer-term prosperity
  • have a real impact on improving the UK’s security and defence

Supplier Stories: Advanced Material Development

Areas of work

Dstl is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Around half of MOD’s science and technology budget, managed by Dstl, is spent with industry and academia.

Our work covers everything from space to artificial intelligence. Find out more about our science and technology capabilities.

How you can sell to or work with us

Dstl expects suppliers to:

Suppliers should also be aware of guidance on trading with the EU, and that UK procurement rules are set to change with the removal of 350 EU laws.

Dstl reserves the right to exclude a supplier who has been convicted of any of the offences or misconduct listed in either the MOD or Dstl ‘statement relating to good standing.’

You can:

Selling directly to Dstl

By default we buy all goods and services through open competition, as set out in UK law for public sector procurement, and follow MOD’s procurement process. Dstl do not currently use MOD’s contracting, purchasing and finance (CP and F) system.

Dstl do not operate ‘preferred’ supplier lists.

In a typical competition:

  1. Dstl advertise our requirements.
  2. Suppliers complete a pre-qualification questionnaire. The pre-qualification stage may be skipped for certain requirements.
  3. If suppliers meet the pre-qualification selection criteria, we invite them to tender.
  4. We evaluate tenders using pre-agreed, objective assessment criteria. From June 2021 we will also take account of social value in our evaluations.
  5. We choose a supplier or suppliers based on this assessment.
  6. We award the contract to the successful bidder and give feedback to all suppliers who want it.

Find opportunities

  • We advertise tender and contract opportunities valued over £10,000 in the Defence Sourcing Portal (DSP). Access and registration is free.
  • We also advertise these contracts using the government’s Contracts Finder portal, alongside opportunities from other government departments and public bodies. Access is free of charge.
  • Dstl also uses a system called R-Cloud to match suppliers’ capabilities and skills to our requirements. Register to join the R-Cloud at any time. If matched to a requirement, we invite suppliers to express their interest in the opportunity and take part in a competitive tender process.
  • Our contract notices make it clear when opportunities are suitable for consortia to tender. For example, smaller companies can collaborate with other SMEs to meet the requirements.
  • Requirements below £10,000 are often one-off projects; these are procured or bought in accordance with Dstl’s policy for low value purchasing.
  • The Defence and Security Accelerator occasionally runs funding opportunities on behalf of Dstl.
  • Dstl operates a number of PhD programmes. We welcome applications to PhD level research calls from UK institutions with leading academics, research groups or research centres, including public sector research establishments (PSREs).

Be part of the wider Dstl supply chain, working with our existing framework supply partners

Dstl has established science and technology (S&T) framework agreements for use across government. Suppliers can join them to become part of the UK government supply chain.

Current MOD S&T portfolio including Dstl priorities for research and investment

Details of the S&T procurement frameworks including:

  • when the frameworks start and finish and what they cover
  • who to contact (the supplier managing the framework) to find out about current opportunities

Dstl Capability and Framework Guide (MS PowerPoint Presentation, 464 KB) mapping our strategic S&T capabilities to the procurement frameworks and summarising our routes to market.

MOD Framework Library: details of purchasing agreements (frameworks) and wider MOD opportunities for suppliers

We also encourage our framework supply partners to advertise sub-contracting opportunities on the Defence Sourcing Portal.

What else you might like to know before working with us

Transparency and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

If you’re successfully awarded a public sector contract, including those advertised by Dstl, details from it may then be published under transparency regulations. The criteria for redactions will be in line with the exemptions set out by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); Dstl will assess their applications in discussion with suppliers.

Intellectual property

Dstl protects our partners’ intellectual property (IP), but we reserve the right for UK government to use the results of research and development funded by the UK taxpayer.

You can also licence some of our technologies through the Easy Access IP scheme, or via Ploughshare Innovations which was was formed in 2005 to commercialise and exploit Dstl’s intellectual property generated from its research.

For international (non-UK) suppliers

CPNI and the National Cyber Security Centre have produced some guidance aimed at raising awareness of risks associated with working internationally:

Other organisations we work with

We work with a number of other organisations at the forefront of innovation in science and technology for defence. These include:


For further information or queries contact

Subscribe to our regular supplier email for the latest science and technology news and events, development in our work, information about new and existing contracts and case studies.

Updates to this page

Published 1 July 2014
Last updated 2 February 2024 + show all updates
  1. Removed link to registering for webinar on the Procurement Act 2024 on 1 February 2024.

  2. Added link for registering to attend the webinar on the Procurement Act on 1 February 2024.

  3. Added link to a recently published series of Knowledge Drop guidance which provides an overview of the Procurement Act 2023. Aimed at: suppliers who deliver contracts to the UK public, utilities and defence sectors, who take part in competitive procurements or have delivered contracts under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011, and the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016, or new entrants who would like to do so in the future.

  4. Added link for pre-registration of Searchlight Science & Technology Solutions Showcase event.

  5. Separated sign-up mechanism for new suppliers from survey for existing suppliers, following feedback.

  6. New security guidance for selling to or working with Dstl

  7. Added link to Defence Science and Technology collaboration and engagement strategy, and added link to Dstl supplier registration survey.

  8. R-Cloud is now available again after a period of maintenance.

  9. Added details of new webinar briefing industry on Dstl's new commercial approach, and a notice that R-Cloud is currently not available for a period of 3 to 4 weeks while we carry out maintenance.

  10. Added link to latest series of webinars for suppliers.

  11. Updated Dstl Capability and Framework Guide and 'How you can sell to or work with us' section, and added link to MOD acquisition pipeline.

  12. Added new 'Work with Dstl' video and link to new MOD Science and Technology Portfolio.

  13. Added link to register for Supercharging Science 2022, a free MOD science and technology summit for industry and academia.

  14. Added details of forthcoming webinars.

  15. Updated Dstl Capability and Framework Guide.

  16. Updated links to S&T procurement framework information, under the heading 'Be part of the wider Dstl supply chain'.

  17. Updated Dstl Capability and Framework Guide.

  18. Fully updated guide including expectations for suppliers and how to find opportunities.

  19. Updated sections on transparency and engaging with small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

  20. Updated Framework and Capabilities.

  21. Updated frameworks and capabilities

  22. Updated guidance added

  23. Addition of information of SME Searchlight initiative

  24. Added a new academic alliance

  25. A web link edit.

  26. Description and length of term amended on University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC) in Signal Processing.

  27. Added a new open call for the University Defence Research Collaboration in signal processing

  28. Removed MURI (Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative) from list of ways to work with us, as none are currently planned.

  29. Added Serapis details.

  30. Updating CDE with the Defence and Security Accelerator following organisational change

  31. Added information and link for the Dstl Synthetic Environment Tower of Excellence (SE Tower).

  32. Added details of the US DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) programme.

  33. Added information about Easy Access IP.

  34. First published.

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