Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge - Call for Applications

Defence Industry & Innovation - Next Generation Technologies Fund

The Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge is a unified Science and Technology (S&T) program to address the proliferation and variety of improvised threats. It underpins the Joint Counter Improvised Threats Task Force mission aimed at leading the Defence response to defeat such threats in support of current and future operations.

The Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge seeks to harness science, technology and innovation capability across Australia to develop technology solutions that enable stand-off detection and neutralisation of improvised threats without casualties in a complex joint battlespace. Stand-off is required to reduce the risk to Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and civilians.

Defence wants to work with the Australian innovation community (industry, academia and government research agencies) to create the ability to build prototype systems that detect and defeat a range of improvised threats while protecting Defence personnel and the civilian community. The goal of the Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge is to demonstrate integrated sets of detection and neutralisation systems within three years. As threats evolve over time it is expected that continuous innovation with potential solutions will be required.

Improvised Threats

Defence defines improvised threats as devices, systems and associated tactics, techniques and procedures, employed by adversarial elements in an innovative, unexpected or unconventional manner to deny the freedom of manoeuvre or force protection of a Joint Force, or achieve an asymmetric advantage against Australia's national interests and the interests of its coalition partners.

The two scenarios provided are illustrations of the context for Defence. The first concerns a Navy ship in a civilian port. The second concerns Defence capability in a warzone. Further details are included in the attachment.

Countering Improvised Threats

The aim of this unified S&T program is to develop technology solutions that enable stand-off detection and neutralisation of improvised threats without casualties in a complex joint battlespace.

The program will be successful if, within three years, it can develop and deliver open, modular, flexible systems that will detect and respond to a range of improvised threats with minimal risk to Defence personnel or civilians. The system should be able to detect improvised threats with high confidence and specificity and subsequently cue appropriate responses to an operator located beyond the effective range of the improvised threat.

A premise of the approach is that no single sensor will be able to unambiguously detect all improvised threats in all possible scenarios. It is expected that the research and development conducted in this Grand Challenge will lead to the creation of new sensors, in combination with the application and fusion of existing sensors, to form evolvable, integrated solutions which not only improve threat identification but also provide relevant response options resulting in technologies which safely neutralise those threats.

This strategy is designed to enable the rapid evolution of potential solutions through the integration of new detection and neutralisation technologies as new threats and different operating needs emerge.

How you can be involved in the Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge

This Grand Challenge is seeking proposals from industry, academia and government research agencies to contribute to the development of the integrated improvised threat defeat system. Specifically, proposals should address:

  • improvised threat defeat concepts;
  • the development of sensor and neutralisation concepts and technologies; and/or
  • algorithms for signal processing, data fusion, automatic target recognition and determining response options.

Sensors should have high detection performance and specificity for improvised threats and response options should be tailored to defeat improvised threats in a controlled manner.

Proposals are sought for funding for up to three years duration. Each project is expected to be funded in the range of $100,000 to $1,000,000 per year depending on scale, complexity and risk. Proposals should include an in-kind contribution from the participant. Collaboration with Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group is encouraged, but is not a prerequisite for applications.

Selection Process

A two-stage selection process is being employed for this initial call for applications. The timeline for this process is provided below.

Proposals submitted during the first stage will be selected against the following criteria:

  • the technological potential and alignment with the development of the improvised threat defeat system, and
  • the potential to offer game-changing capability.

The proposals which are down-selected after the first stage will be given the opportunity to submit a more detailed proposal and budget in the second stage selection process. It is expected that feedback will be given to the down-selected proposals, to aid in alignment with the aims of the Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge.

Successful second stage applicants will be announced in July and will work with DST to develop contracts/agreements starting early in FY 17/18.

DST will coordinate the successful project participants, who will need to work collaboratively to ensure delivery of the integrated improvised threat defeat system, such as integration of sub-systems into the open flexible system for sensor fusion and for software and hardware integration.

Further opportunities to be involved in this Grand Challenge will be announced in the future to address similar, or unmet, needs and to enable the development of the improvised threat defeat system, such as for systems integration.

Significant dates and times

26/04/2017Call for First Stage Applications: The invitation to submit against this call is limited to Australian universities, Australian and New Zealand industry and Australian Publicly Funded Research Agencies (PFRAs).

Information sessions: In-person information sessions will be held by the Grand Challenge program leads in the following locations after the release of the Call for Applications.

Canberra – 04 May 2017 10:00 am
Adelaide – 08 May 2017 10:00 am
Melbourne – 09 May 2017 10:00 am
Sydney – 09 May 2017 1:00 pm
Brisbane – 10 May 2017 10:00 am
Perth – 10 May 2017 10:00 am

Find further details and register for an event near you at:


First stage application closing date

12/06/2017Notification of first stage application outcomes: A detailed second stage proposal template will be provided to successful first stage applicants
07/07/2017Second stage detailed proposal closing date
24/07/2017Second stage detailed proposal application outcomes announced
25/07/2017Contracting phase begins

Key information

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