The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) defence science and technology laboratory (Dstl) is seeking support from industry and academia to develop a novel electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) technology capability.
Run by Dstl's centre for defence enterprise (CDE), the competition is expected to provide up to £600,000 for proof-of-concept research projects.
CDE has already funded Amethyst Research, a small Glasgow-based company under a similar call for proposals, for development of a new IR detector capability.
Amethyst then partnered with Selex to develop a plan to exploit its proprietary detector technology and the latter's expertise in camera read-out circuitry to effectively compare and benchmark the emerging technology against current sophisticated technology.
The programme demonstrated significant advantages over existing products, and a credible supply chain for the technology's production and distribution was established in the UK within four months.
Dstl fellow Ken McEwan said: "This project is an excellent case study in harnessing technology across a range of organisations for the UK's commercial and economic benefit.
"As other international parties move into this space, the work performed in collaboration with Amethyst will protect the UK's leading capability in infrared electro-optic sensors and systems."
Amethyst CEO Terry Golding said: "This programme has been vital in allowing us to effectively develop this platform technology, establish key partnerships and stress test the UK supply chain.
"Dstl has been extremely agile and strategic to work with. This has allowed us to move quickly and position ourselves optimally for commercial development of this vitally important technology."
Amethyst is currently collaborating with Lancaster University, CST and IQE to consider how to take the novel detector technology to the next level of refinement and production, with an aim to commercial exploitation that will support defence requirements.
All bids for new competition are scheduled to be submitted through the CDE online portal by 8 May 2014.
Image: The novel infrared detector developed by Amethyst Research. Photo: courtesy of Amethyst Research.