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High Altitude Intelligence: Cross Sector Innovation Challenge

Defence & Security
Project Size:
Share of up to £4million

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Defence Innovation Unit, Stratcom and UK Maritime Security Centre to invest up to £4 million in innovation projects.

The aim of this competition is to develop prototype dual use and multi-mission payloads and solutions for data processing, evaluation and dissemination (PED). This is to complement ongoing High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) platform development by addressing priority needs and challenges within sensing, datalinks and PED.

Your proposal must show utility in the context of Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) or Maritime Security missions and be compatible with at least one model of stratospheric platform.


Your project must:

  • have total project costs of between £100,000 and £2million
  • start by 1 March 2023
  • end by 28 February 2025
  • last between 12 and 24 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian source.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, academic institution, a research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses (business of any size).

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

The aim of the competition is to encourage participants from industry, academia and RTOs to participate in this cross-sector innovation challenge.

This is to support the High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) platform development by funding innovative prototypes dual use and multi-mission payloads.

Your project must:

  • propose versatile, multi-mission solutions which tackle multiple challenge topics and consider the wider system-of-systems
  • adhere to payload limits, platform interface requirements, as well as environmental and thermal requirements
  • conduct ground based testing to demonstrate theoretical compliance with the challenge statements and readiness for experimental flight-testing

Your project can:

  • propose holistic solutions which consider multiple challenge topics, for example, a solution comprising sensors, a suitable datalink, and associated processing technology
  • consider HAPS as part of a wider system-of-systems for example, connectivity to other HAPS platforms to deliver a greater overall effect, or the use of a high-bandwidth satellite connection to extend reach

We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific themes

Your project must demonstrate that your solution is compatible with at least one model of stratospheric platform, where that model:

  • already exists as a full-scale flight-tested prototype, or where credible plans and the associated financing are in place to deliver and test-fly a full-scale prototype platform prior to the conclusion of the challenge execution period


  • is designed to offer a mission endurance in excess of 6 days

Solutions should maximize the use of common and standard interfaces and open architectures to offer compatibility with a range of platform models and types, including:

  • fixed-wing solar HAPS
  • Lighter than Air (LTA) HAPS,
  • H2 HAPS,
  • CubeSats, SkimSats
  • High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) platforms
  • Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) platforms
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