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Don't Blow It! Safely Eliminating Chemical and Biological Munitions on the Battlefield
Access Disable Destroy
Department of Defense
Submission Start: 09/26/2018 01:00 PM ET
Submission End: 11/19/2018 05:00 PM ET
This challenge is externally hosted.
You can view the challenge details here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/defence-and-security-accelerator-submit-your-research-proposal
Tuesday 13th November 2018 open forum
Development and use of chemical weapons on the battlefield and in targeted attacks is on the rise. Destruction of such weapons presents numerous technical challenges and existing solutions – such as blowing it up – aren't always appropriate for use.
"Don't Blow It!" is an industry competition jointly sponsored and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and UK Ministry of Defence and administered by the UK's Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA). The goal of the competition is to identify novel and innovative technologies and approaches to access, disable and/or irreversibly destroy chemical and biological munitions, improvised explosive devices, and bulk agents on the battlefield or in other austere environments.
This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals for novel and innovative technologies and approaches to access, disable and/or irreversibly destroy chemical and biological munitions, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bulk agents in challenging environments.
The competition has an initial £500,000 to fund multiple proof-of-concept proposals at low Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). Additional funding of £1.5 million may be available depending on the outcome of the initial funding phase. The competition will launch at an event in London on the 26 September 2018.
It is joint funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defense, and will operate under an existing memorandum of understanding between both nations. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention all member states are obligated to destroy any chemical weapons they own or possess, or that they abandoned on the territory of another member state.
Key Dates (Phase I)
- Competition opens – 26 September 2018
- One-to-one clarification sessions – 9 October 2018 (pre-bookable teleconference)
- Competition closes – 5 pm GMT (12 pm EST) on 7 November 2018
- Funding decision/notification – by February 2019
- Anticipated contract placement – by March 2019
- UK collaboration event – May 2019
- Participation at the 22nd International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference, London, UK – 22-24 May 2019
- Demonstration event and networking day in the UK – October 2019
- Practical demonstration of your Phase 1 output at your facility – November 2019
- Delivery of final report within 2 weeks of the end of your contract – date to be confirmed
There is an increasing focus on developing a toolkit of novel and innovative options to enable rapid, effective and irreversible destruction of smaller caches of chemical and biological weapons discovered in resource-limited environments.
Whilst destruction technologies exist, they are not appropriate for use in all circumstances. Through this competition we want to investigate novel or innovative new concepts or adapt current technologies. We expect these solutions will ultimately enable destruction methods to be more rapid, effective and flexible than those used for large stockpiles, and reduce logistical support requirements, whilst maximising ease of operation, transportability and ruggedness of the equipment. These improved capabilities will allow us to address a greater breadth of threats and in a wider range of circumstances.
There are three main areas of interest for this competition:
- how to gain access to munitions, IEDs and bulk containers without relying on the original design features, such as filling ports, which may or may not be present
- how to prevent munitions, IEDs and bulk agent being used as intended either temporarily or permanently
- how to permanently and irreversibly destroy munitions, IEDs and bulk agents
Key limitations of the traditional destruction technologies include:
- significant logistical burden (large equipment footprint (a facility)), difficult to transport (size, weight), resource intensive (such as requiring large amounts of electricity or water);
- manpower intensive (significant set-up time, manually operated);
- low throughput and not designed for small-diameter or irregularly shaped items;
- large quantities of waste generated.
We're seeking novel and innovative technologies and approaches that will overcome these limitations and enhance the range of tools available for dealing with these devices. We're not anticipating a one-size-fits-all solution and envisage that the proposed approaches will result in a set of tools capable of addressing a range of problems. We expect that they will ultimately enable destruction methods to be more rapid, effective and flexible than those used for large stockpiles, and reduce logistical support requirements, whilst maximising ease of operation, transportability and ruggedness of the equipment.
We're looking for new or improved capabilities that are adaptable to varying munition and container sizes and shapes, have higher throughput and can destroy a range of devices either in situ or with minimum displacement. The solution does not necessarily need to be reusable – it could be a sacrificial single-use approach. Your proposed technical solution must minimise the impact of any hazardous materials generated.
We are also interested in proposals that develop existing technologies from other fields in a scalable and novel way.
This call has three challenges. Your proposal must address one or more of these challenges.
- Challenge 1: Access – We are looking for novel and innovative technologies and approaches that can access munitions, IEDs and containers of bulk agent without relying on the original design features, such as filling ports, which may or may not be present. (A filling port is an access hole into a munition or container that enables it to be filled or drained)
- Challenge 2: Disable – We are seeking novel and innovative technologies and approaches that prevent munitions, IEDs and bulk agent being used as intended. This could be by delaying their deployment to such a degree that it prevents their imminent use. Your proposed technology or approach must prevent these munitions, IEDs or bulk agent from being used for their intended purpose either temporarily or, if possible, permanently
- Challenge 3: Destroy – We are looking for novel and innovative technologies and approaches that permanently and irreversibly destroy munitions, IEDs and bulk agent
The devices to be accessed, disabled or destroyed may be munitions, IEDs or containers filled with chemical or biological agents. The munitions may be as large as 175mm projectiles and may contain explosive materials, which could be unstable. The IEDs may be irregularly shaped and may also contain explosive materials. The containers may hold up to 1 metric tonne of bulk chemical or biological agent. The chemical agents may include the toxic chemicals and precursors listed in Schedule 1and Schedule 2 of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which may be liquids, solids or gases. The biological agents may include any disease-causing organism or toxincovered by the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and may be liquids or solids.
We are seeking solutions which are readily transportable and satisfy one of two conditions:
- Man-portable – the system and consumables fit in two standard military backpacks, and can be carried by two people
- Mobile – the system and consumables must not exceed the NATO 463L pallet size and should be transportable by vehicle (land or air)
Ideally your solution would be capable of disabling or destroying up to one metric tonne of bulk chemical or biological agent and/or up to 48 munitions (as large as 175mm calibre) within 12 hours (in hostile territory) or 72 hours (in non-hostile territory), inclusive of equipment set-up and tear-down time.
These are the aspirational targets for the final solution. Phase 1 proposals that demonstrate proof-of-concept but are heavier, larger or have lower throughputs will be considered if there is a credible plan to increase throughput and/or reduce size/weight in potential later phases.
Clarification of what we want
For this competition we are interested in proposals that:
- describe novel and innovative technologies and approaches
- develop or apply existing technologies in a new way
These proposals will:
- provide a complete system solution
- comprise a single component part which will contribute to a system solution
Where Phase 1 funded proposals are focused on single component parts, suppliers are encouraged to consider how they will develop their innovation into a system solution. This could be by collaboration with other partners in follow-on Phase 2 projects or by integration into existing technologies as part of the exploitation / transition plan. We’re looking for proposals from both traditional defence suppliers and non-defence suppliers. This could include, but is not limited to, the following industry sectors:
- oil and gas
- hazardous waste management
Clarification of what we do not want
For this competition we are not interested in proposals that:
- purely identify the agent and/or deliver non-destructive evaluation
- will have a heavy training burden for end users
- provide incremental improvements in current destruction solutions for chemical and biological weapons, unless these are innovative and show significant added benefit
- cannot demonstrate feasibility within the timescale of the phase of the competition
- lack clear detail on the metrics which will be used to define the success of the solution
- are unaffordable (for example a single-use sacrificial system which is cost-prohibitive)
- provide just consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews
- only offer a written report – we are looking for a demonstration
Exploitation / Transition
It is important that over the lifetime of DASA competitions, ideas are accelerated towards appropriate end-users, to enhance capability. How long this takes will be dependent on the nature and starting point of the innovation. Early identification and appropriate engagement with potential users during the competition and subsequent phases is essential. All proposals to DASA should articulate the development in TRL of the output over the lifetime of the contract and how this relates to improved operational capability. For this competition it is envisaged that proposals will start at a minimum of TRL 2. The deliverables in your proposal (especially the final proof-of-concept demonstration) should be designed to provide evidence that you have reached the intended TRL (at least TRL 3) by the end of the contract. The final proof-of-concept demonstration should evidence that full development of the solution would indeed provide improved operational capability to the user. Subsequent phases, if applicable, will focus on TRL >3. The evidence generated during Phase 1 should support the development of your potential bid(s) for Phase 2, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for potential collaborators to identify the innovative elements of your proposal in order to consider routes for exploitation / transition. It is important right from the start that DASA and end users understand how your idea will deliver longer term improvements to defence and/or security capability and how it could be integrated with other relevant capabilities. Therefore, you may wish to include some of the following information, where known, to help the assessors understand your exploitation / transition plans:
- the intended defence and/or security users of your final product and whether you have engaged with these end-users or their procurement organisation
- the current TRL of the innovation and where you realistically think it will be by the end of Phase 1
- awareness of, and alignment to, any existing end user procurement programmes
- the anticipated benefits (for example, in cost, time or improved capability) that your solution will provide to the user
- whether it is likely to be a standalone product or integrated with other technologies or platforms
- expected additional work required beyond the end of the contract to develop an operationally deployable commercial products (for example, ‘scaling up’ for manufacture, cyber security, integration with existing technologies or environmental operating conditions)
- additional future applications and markets for exploitation / transition
- wider collaborations and networks you have already developed or any additional relationships you see as a requirement to support exploitation / transition
- requirements for access Government Furnished Assets (GFA) for example data, equipment, materials and facilities (noting we cannot guarantee the availability of GFA)
- how you intend to demonstrate the outputs at the end of this phase, what form the proof-of-concept demonstration would take and whether it will require any special facilities (for example, outdoor space, specific venue)
- how your product could be tested in a representative environment in later phases
- any specific legal, commercial or regulatory considerations for exploitation / transition.
How to apply
Proposals for funding to meet these challenges must be submitted by 5 pm GMT (midday EST) on 7 November 2018 using the DASA submission service for which you will be required to register.
The initial Phase 1 funding of £500k is anticipated to fund up to 5 proof-of-concept, lower TRL (2 to 4) proposals, of up to 9 months duration from the start of the contract. Additional funding is anticipated to be available to develop the proposals from at least TRL 3 by the end of Phase 1 towards TRL 6 to 7 in Phase 2 of the competition.
Further guidance on submitting a proposal can be found here.
What your proposal must include
The proposal should focus on this proof-of-concept phase but must also include a brief outline of the next stages of work required for exploitation. When submitting a proposal, you must complete all sections of the online form, including an appropriate level of technical information to allow assessment of the bid and a completed finances section. A project plan with clear milestones and deliverables must also be provided. Deliverables must be well defined and designed to provide evidence of progress against the project plan and the end-point for this phase. Please provide details in your proposal how you intend to demonstrate the functionality and capability of your development, including any materials you plan to use to represent the threat materials. A resourcing plan must also be provided that identifies, where possible, the nationalities of those proposed Research Workers that you intend working on this phase. In the event of proposals being recommended for funding, the DASA reserves the right to undertake due diligence checks including the clearance of proposed Research Workers. Please note that this process will take as long as necessary and could take up to 6 weeks in some cases for non-UK nationals. You must identify any ethical/legal/regulatory/environmental factors within your proposal and how the associated risks will be managed, including break points in the project if approvals are not received. Further details are available in the DASA guidance. In addition, requirements for access to Government Furnished Assets (GFA) must be included in your proposal with information on how you intend to access them and any steps you have already taken to achieve this. Proposals must include costed participation at the following events:
- a 1-day collaboration event in the UK in May 2019
- a 5-minute presentation at the 22nd International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference, London, UK on 22-24 May 2019
- a practical demonstration of your project to the project board at your facility towards the end of Phase 1
- a 1-day demonstration event in October 2019 where you will be expected to give a short presentation to interested parties (this may include other industry parties, academia, government or end users)
Contracts awarded as a result of this competition will fall under an extant memorandum of understanding between the UK MOD and US DoD. This will facilitate the unimpeded exchange of proposals, prototypes and associated information between the UK and US governments. However, this effective exemption from export controls only applies to the UK and US, not to third countries, and all bidders must therefore abide by the export control requirements of their originator country. All relevant export control regulations will apply if a company ultimately wants to sell a developed solution to a foreign entity. All bidders must ensure that they can obtain, if required, the necessary export licences for their proposals and developments, such that they can be supplied to the UK and US. If you cannot confirm that you can gain the requisite licences, your proposal will be sifted out of the competition. Additionally, if the project board believes that you will not be able to obtain export clearance, additional checks may be conducted, which may also result in your proposal being sifted out of the competition.
Specific to U.S. applicants: U.S. bidders must obtain the proper requisite export license before submitting technical information to the DASA. The Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has been advised of the competition and is prepared to facilitate rapid processing of these licenses. In addition, bidders are strongly encouraged to review relevant export control sections of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), to ascertain if any sections pertain to the requested activity, noting that recent amendments expedite processing of licenses for export to the UK. Pertinent information should be referenced in the applicant’s transmittal letter and in Block 20 (Purpose) of the permanent export license form (DSP-5) before submitting application to the DDTC. The bidder may wish to review the guidelines for an export license request prior to submission. This information can be found on the DDTC website: www.pmddtc.state.gov.
A brief abstract will be requested if the proposal is funded. This will be used by DASA and other government departments as appropriate, to describe the project and its intended outcomes and benefits. It will be used for inclusion at DASA events in relation to this competition and placed on the DASA website, along with your company information and generic contact details.
All proposals will be assessed in accordance with the standard DASA assessment criteria All proposals will be checked for compliance with the competition document and may be rejected before sifting or full assessment if they do not comply. In addition, we may undertake a pre-sift of proposals based on the competition scope and the standard DASA assessment criteria.
Proposals will then be assessed by subject matter experts from the MOD (including Dstl), other government departments, front-line military commands as well as and US governments and US Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) contractors. Suppliers will not have the opportunity to comment on assessors comments.
DASA reserves the right to disclose on a confidential basis any information it receives from bidders during the procurement process (including information identified by the bidder as Commercially Sensitive Information in accordance with the provisions of this competition) to any third party engaged by DASA for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting DASA in the evaluation of the bidder’s proposal. In providing such information the bidder consents to such disclosure. Appropriate confidentiality agreements will be put in place.
After assessment, proposals will be discussed internally at a Decision Conference where, based on the assessments, budget and wider strategic considerations, a decision will be made on the proposals that are recommended for funding.
Proposals that are unsuccessful will receive brief feedback after the Decision Conference.
Things you should know about DASA contracts
Please read the DASA terms and conditions which contain important information for suppliers. For this competition we will be using the Short Form Contract (SFC).
Funded projects will be allocated a Technical Partner, either from the US, UK or both. The Technical Partners will work with the supplier, acting as a technical reviewer of the deliverables and providing an interface between the UK and US stakeholder communities. Additionally, an Exploitation Partner will be assigned from DASA who will provide transition support to the supplier as the project progresses.
Deliverables from DASA contracts will be made available to UK MOD, US DoD, front-line commands, and may be subject to review by relevant government departments.
The full-rights outputs of funded work may be exposed to international government partners. This is to promote international collaboration and to give projects the best chance of exploitation / transition through exposure to a larger scope of requirements. This will only be done under the protection of existing inter-governmental memoranda of understanding.
On the 9 October 2018, between 13:00 and 18:00 BST, we will be holding a series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
Competition queries including on process, application, technical, commercial and intellectual property aspects should be sent to email@example.com, quoting the competition title. While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, DASA reserves the right to impose management controls if volumes of queries restrict fair access of information to all potential suppliers.