The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has issued a £300m tender for the establishment of the ‘Serapis framework’, to manage and deliver research to support the department’s Science and Technology programmes.
The appointed contractors will be responsible for “delivering agile, and cutting-edge research, building and maintaining a robust supplier network with an emphasis on digital and scientific excellence, innovation, and collaboration to exploit research, skills and capabilities.”
DSTL is the MoD’s department responsible for leading the formulation, design and delivery of an integrated MOD Science and Technology programme using industrial, academic and government resources. The Serapis framework aims to provide an “expedient mechanism” for DSTL to access industrial and academic expertise in support of the division’s Science and Technology programmes, and cross government organisations, notably the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The DSTL is looking for a partner to help “maximise the impact of its Science and Technology programmes for the Defence and Security of the UK”.
The construct should allow the supply base to be refreshed throughout the contract lifespan, ensuring that the department has access to “innovative solutions and robust technical support”. The DSTL expects that this construct will allow for “the rapid response to emerging capability needs, urgent operational requirements/urgent capability requirements and surge requirements emanating from operations”.
Based on the structure of the programmes and the aggregation of the requirements across the portfolios, the Serapis Framework has been divided into six lots: “collect, space systems, decide, assured information infrastructure, synthetic environment and simulation and understand”.
The competition will the b appoint a prime contractor for each lot to lead, manage and deliver research into the areas covered.
- Lot 1 covers the development and integration of new and emerging intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) “Collect” technology and techniques into the wider defence and cross-government ISTAR enterprise. This includes a broad range of conventional and “novel” sensing technology (incl. biometric sensing and gravity) but also Human Intelligence (HUMINT) data, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and information collection capabilities.
- Lot 2 covers all aspects of Defence and Security space systems from “underpinning enabling services such as space-specific analysis; fundamental and applied space research for areas such as the space environment; design and manufacture of space equipment and sub-systems; space launch and range; through-life operation of satellites (including groundstation), or terrestrial-based space systems like those used for the surveillance of space; through to the application of space systems for D&S exploitation/benefit”.
- Lot 3 covers the development, testing, and evaluation of “novel Command and Control (C2) systems to improve decision making, including the human and autonomous (machine) system elements. Includes the development of novel agile, adaptive and resilient C2 concepts for operation in constrained, degraded, or denied environments”.
- Lot 4 embraces the development of C4ISR Communications and Networks. This Lot aims “to exploit and drive emerging concepts and technology in military and civilian communications infrastructure and include the development of policy, technology and architectural options for the provision of assured information, Information Management and Exploitation (IM/IX)”.
- Lot 5 covers the development of “synthetic environments, modelling and simulation, associated tools and assessment processes to allow defence to train, exercise and prepare for operations. and to test, evaluate and assess the performance of military capabilities and the C4ISR enterprise, as well as to enhance and sustain capability to exploit Simulation and Synthetic Environments (SSE) across all Defence applications”.
- Lot 6 covers the development of “Data Analytics and Information Processing tools and techniques in support of Defence’s Decision Making processes and techniques (covered in Lot 3). Includes the development and application of Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, information and visualisation and Man-Machine Interface development”.
Contractors are expected to provide a robust and proportionate technical and quality assurance mechanism as part of a wider assurance model as well as manage the delivery of cutting edge, world-leading, innovative research, to address both future focused, longer term requirements, and nearer term more applied requirements.
The MoD said it considers this contract “suitable” for Small or Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The estimated contract value for the six year contract ranges between £220m and £300m.