The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has launched a £2.8m ($3.6m) competition seeking advanced technological solutions for enhanced detection of explosives, weapons and illicit drugs.

The cross-governmental programme, called Innovative Research Call (IRC) 2020 for Explosives and Weapons Detection, has sought proposals from industry and academia for the screening of people and/or their possessions, goods, vehicles, and buildings and areas.

DASA delivery manager Laurence Bickerton said: “We are looking for the best innovations to keep our communities safe from the deadliest threats we face.

“To tackle this challenge, we are looking for new concepts and advances in current technology, and we are appealing far and wide for the best ideas and innovative solutions to help create a safer future for all.”

The IRC competition is run on behalf of government departments and law enforcement agencies, including Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), Department for Transport (DFT ), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT), Metropolitan Police Service , US Department of Homeland Security , Science and Technology Directorate, and UK Border Force.

Being conducted in two phases, up to £1m ($1.3m) is available for proposals under Phase 1. During this phase, proposal bids of £70,000 ($92,000) will have six months to develop a proof of concept.

The competition will consider proposals of a higher value only if they are ‘appropriately justified’ under Phase 1.

The deadline for proposal submissions under Phase 1 is 28 September 2020.

However, proposals with higher technical readiness that do not require funding under the first phase will still need to be submitted in this phase in the expectation of receiving funding under Phase 2.

Proposals under Phase 2 can avail funds of up to £1.8m ($2.3m).

This phase will require project development and evaluation of prototypes and demonstrators by September 2023.

Previously conducted in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016, this is the fifth run of IRC.