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HMGCC Co-Creation Space: Underground Tunnelling Techniques

Thursday 15 August 2024

Summary of the challenge

Underground tunnelling presents an array of opportunities and challenges, so the MoD would like to know how technologies and capabilities in this area could be better harnessed for future operations. In particular there is an interest in how to better access hostile and constrained subterranean environments. The latest HMGCC Co- Creation challenge is to demonstrate ways of producing subterranean pathways, preferably greater than 60mm diameter, with minimal chance of being detected.

Context of the challenge

There is a long history of industry, civil authorities and military using underground access to their advantage. The MoD is interested in using novel, automated methods to produce underground tunnels, opening new routes of access into otherwise difficult to reach locations. It is critical that any methods to produce these have a low probability of detection from adversaries.

The gap

One example of a current mature technology is Directional drilling; Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) rigs are industrial tools to create underground bore holes for the oil and gas industry, telecoms cabling and pipework. However HDDs are unsuited to MoD purposes due to their size, noise levels and typical need for direct human operation or manual preparation of groundworks before starting. The core technological gap is to provide new or existing industrial processes but with a low chance of detection.

  • Competition opens Monday 8 July 2024
  • Clarifying questions published Monday 5 August 2024
  • Competition closes Thursday 15 August 2024
  • Applicant notified Monday 2 September 2024
  • Pitch day in Milton Keynes Tuesday 10 September 2024
  • Target project kick-off October 2024

This challenge is open to sole innovators, industry, academic and research organisations of all types and sizes. There is no requirement for security clearances. Solution providers or direct collaboration from countries listed by the UK government under trade sanctions and/or arms embargoes, are not eligible for HMGCC Co-Creation challenges.

How to apply

Please submit your applications to 

Applications must be no more than six pages or six slides in length. The page/slide limit excludes personnel CVs and organisational profiles.

There is no prescribed application format, however, please ensure your application includes the following:

  • Applicant details: Contact name, organisation details, and registration number
  • Scope Design: How the project aligns to the challenge scope
  • Innovation: Describe the innovation and technology intended to be delivered in the project, along with new IP that will be generated or existing IP that can be used
  • Deliverables: Describe the project outcomes and their impacts
  • Timescale: Details how a minimum viable product will be achieve within the project duration
  • Team: Key personnel CVs and expertise, organisational profile if applicable

All information you provide as part of your proposal – whether submitted directly to HMGCC or via a collaborator platform – will be handled in confidence.