Digital security by design challenge

Integrated computer chip on circuit board

The digital security by design (DSbD) challenge is investing in projects that help the UK digital computing infrastructure to become more secure.

Cybersecurity is a major UK government strategic priority. The World Economic Forum risks report 2018 lists data fraud or theft and cyber-attacks as a key global risk.

The challenge has up to £70 million to invest in technology platforms and support for software development and business-led demonstrators. The funding was initially matched by £117 million from industry and is now tracking to £222 million.

The scope of this challenge includes:

  • the creation of an updated hardware architecture in a physical prototype board
  • developing the software and system development tools that will run on it
  • demonstration in industry sectors, including automotive, e-commerce, defence, telecoms and operational technologies

The challenge covers 3 areas of activity:

  • technology platform prototype, Morello Board
  • collaborative research and development (software development, enabling use)
  • 5 business-led demonstrators

Current opportunities to get involved

Technology Access Programme

Delivered by Digital Catapult, this programme has been designed for developers and organisations to experiment with DSbD technologies to block cyber vulnerabilities. This includes Arm’s Morello Board and the University of Cambridge’s secure computer architecture, capability hardware enhanced RISC instructions (CHERI).

The programme are giving participating organisations an opportunity to access this early-stage software and prototype hardware technology. This will allow them to investigate in their own research and development teams and validate the core capabilities and benefits.

Find out more on the DSbD portal

Funded and announced projects

Technology platform prototype

The Morello Board, developed by Arm and based on the University of Cambridge’s secure computer architecture, CHERI, will introduce a new approach to block security vulnerabilities in modern computer systems – making it harder to attack technology infrastructure and remotely take control.

The project also involves open-source software specialists Linaro and the University of Edinburgh.

Read more about Arm’s technology platform prototype.

Demonstrator projects

£13 million funding for 5 collaborative projects which will demonstrate the impact of new technologies. These projects will use the DSbD technology platform prototype, the Morello Board.


THG will test the benefits of DSbD technology to improve the security of e-commerce and enable the increased productivity and development of future world-leading services and products.


CyberHive will develop a demonstrator and supporting framework of development tools to help digital computing infrastructure to become more resistant to attacks, both in the UK and around the world.

It will also develop innovative new methods to secure the data being transmitted by applying layered encryption resistant to attack by quantum computers that is thus more resilient to near-term and future cyber-threats.

This will make it harder to attack and infiltrate network infrastructure or endpoints and remotely take control or extract sensitive information

Beam Connectivity

Beam Connectivity will demonstrate and review the use of DSbD technologies for cyber critical and safety critical applications in the automotive sector

Southern Gas

Southern Gas seeks to deliver an Internet of Things (IoT) demonstrator in the utility industry. This sees the use of DSbD technologies to deliver an enhanced security solution for applicability within SGN critical national infrastructure


ICETOPE will work with industry standard bodies to address the lack of cooperation between information technology and operational technology. The aim is to help overcome the cyber-security barrier for implementing effective Edge computing by harnessing the new security compartmentalisation features of the Morello platform.

Discribe: DSbD Social Science Hub+

A social science-led research programme bringing together social scientists, economists, computer scientists, and arts and humanities professionals for research, networking and engagement with the wider community.

Read more about the Discribe project.

EPSRC research projects

These EPSRC-led research projects will leverage the DSbD technology hardware prototype (Morello Board) to work on a focused area within a selected and specified software stack or operating system or developer toolchain used by a digital system.


Developing a formal, executable specification that every component of a mission-critical system-on-chip has to follow.

Read more about the AppControl project.


Focusing on capability architectures and trusted execution to protect safety and security-critical systems.

Read more about the CAP-TEE project.


Investigating how capability protection can be applied to systems containing heterogeneous accelerators for applications such as graphics, AI, cryptography and networking.

Read more about the CAPcelerate project.


Developing capability-based cloud compartments that can express policies about the confidentiality and integrity of data, within and across components of a cloud stack and cloud native applications.

Read more about the CloudCap project.


Developing new hypervisor and operating-system software compartmentalisation models able to use the CHERI / Morello architectural primitives to improve compartmentalisation scalability.

Read more about the ChaOS project.


Improving the security of high-performance programming language VMs using CHERI hardware enforced capabilities.

Read more about the CapableVMs project.


Developing a new semantic definition of C that provides safety by default, enabling it to be compatible with the DSBD hardware and maximising security.

Read more about the CapC project.


Developing a new software verification toolchain for capabilities to verify the Morello platform is used correctly, based on state-of-the-art static and dynamic software verification and theorem-proving techniques.

Read more about the SCorCH project.


Exploring engineering challenges in establishing and formally verifying the relationship between application-level security requirements and secure software implementations running on capability hardware.

Read more about the HD-Sec project.

Find other funding opportunities

You can use our funding finder to search for ISCF funding and any wider opportunities related to cybersecurity.

You can also keep up to date with latest challenge updates and developments on:

Last updated: 14 November 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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