Defence and Battlelab Small Object Detection and Analysis

Ministry of Defence - Battlelab

The MOD are seeking solutions with object detection, identification and/or categorisation capabilities sensitive enough to identify small (i.e. less than 22ft) mobile (travelling up to 100mph) objects across land, sea and air spaces.

Application Deadline
September 9th, 2022
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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is pioneering a world-leading innovation hub known as the Defence BattleLab. This houses a unique opportunity for prime contractors, small and medium-sized enterprises and academia to directly engage and collaborate with the MoD, regardless of industry. 

2022 will see the military teams uncover various types of technologies that could solve the complex challenges they face, and this is why the MoD are collaborating with global tech giants IBM to support them in finding the most innovative Start-up tech. 


The MoD are seeking solutions with object detection, identification and/or categorisation capabilities sensitive enough to identify small (i.e. less than 22ft) mobile (travelling up to 100mph) objects across land, sea and air spaces. 

The eventual goal of such a capability is to: 

  • Detect and identify an object early enough to make an informed decision 
  • Detect other objects in proximity, and quickly assess if they are acting collectively 
  • Create a system that can track and trigger an alert on tracked object activity 
  • Create a multi-layered approach, increasing the accuracy, for example using other data streams 
  • Consider environmental conditions and the effects on identification 
  • The system must detect objects on the sea, land and in the air 
  • The system can detect an object size from 30cm to 7m 
  • All information describing detection/alerts should be capable of being displayed locally (if appropriate) or forwarded to other systems.

Solutions proposed should include some combination of: 

  • Processing of visual and/or Infrared spectrum Imagery 
  • Processing of ranging radar reflections 
  • Processing of sonar reflections 
  • AI/ML identification/classification 
  • Processing (and capture) of open-source intelligence and/or private sector data to inform the contextual understanding and situational awareness 

Solutions are sought that can scale from central processing units, down to edge devices, with distributed identification/ categorisation. Solutions that work across a range of detection devices are preferred

Challenge Entry Criteria

Stage of Startup:

  • Early stage with advanced-stage Proof of Concept 
  • Growth or mature stage start-ups with premarket / advanced-stage Proof of Concept
  • Market ready product 


Minimum of Technology Readiness Level 4 

On-premise, cloud and mobile applications. To enable future flexibility, any on-premise applications should be cloud capable. These, and indeed all cloud applications, should support deployment onto multiple clouds, with the preferred mechanism for this being the ability to run on OpenShift domain experience/expertise

• Detection analytics

• AI/ML technologies 

Regional Limitations:

Applicants solutions must not include export controlled technology. It is the individual company's responsibility to understand the export control regulations around their solutions and those governed by both the country of origin and the country they're exporting to.

Challenge Dates:

15th of June 2022 - Challenge Launch

9th of September 2022 - Application Deadline

October 2022 - Innovation Showcase Event

What's in it for you?

The Opportunity

The Defence BattleLab team will hold a showcase event at the Dorset Innovation Park in October 2022. At this showcase event the down-selected teams, from those that applied, will be given the opportunity to present their capabilities to an invited audience drawn from across the MoD and wider UK Government departments. 

Those invited will both be those that have problem sets that could utilise the capabilities on the show but also those that have the budget available to run trials/PoC’s. 

In addition to the showcase event the challenge also offers these opportunities for the applicants: 

  • A physical showcase event at BattleLabs to which they will promote and invite folk from across HMG to attend and meet the down-selected teams 
  • Successful Start-ups and SMEs will have the opportunity to develop a proof-of-concept capability, in a stand-alone prototype to identify a number of small objects 
  • Successful Start-ups and SME’s will be able to collaborate and leverage the internal capabilities of BattleLab and IBM to accelerate their own product development 
  • Partnership opportunities with IBM and the MoD to access new opportunities and accelerate product and/or service development 
  • Opportunities for all applicants to join IBM’s Start-up Program and Partner Ecosystem

What can you expect from IBM?

Access to IBM technology and experts: 

• Assistance with any aspects of IBM  cloud, AI/ML, security or data access that you choose to use 

• Cloud credits to cover any IBM cloud  technologies that you choose to use 

Business opportunities:

• If you choose to use IBM technology and  partner with IBM, access to a range of  go-to-market programs and support