14 Mar 2023

Opportunity: £80m Open Networks Ecosystem Competition

The government has launched a new competition as part of the next phase of the UK's £250m Open Networks R&D Fund, which is aimed at tackling the key barriers facing the adoption of open mobile networks. 

An online pitching event will take place on Tuesday 18 April - More details here

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is offering applicants the opportunity to apply for funding to develop a range of software and hardware products that will enable enhanced development and adoption of open and interoperable technology; as well as the opportunity to apply for funding for demonstrations of Open RAN technologies in high demand density environments.

The competition aims to tackle barriers to the adoption of open mobile networks in three key challenge areas:

  • First is High Density Demand (HDD). HDD sites represent the most challenging environments for the technical performance of RAN elements and systems. The aim is to develop, demonstrate and test approaches for optimising Open RAN network performance in High Demand Density environments.
  • Second, Radio Frequency components. From hardware to chipsets to radio tech, the competition looks to ensure that the building blocks for our telecoms ecosystem are secure and diverse.
  • And the last theme that the Open Networks Ecosystem competition will address is Software. Covering the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), X app, R app, and software components in order to make them more efficient and secure.

This competition is part of the government’s Open Networks R&D Fund which delivers on the £250 million 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy through a range of telecoms R&D projects. Successful projects will run until the end of March 2025.

Applicants are permitted to propose projects which cover more than one objective within their application (i.e. one application addressing multiple technology themes).

Competition process and dates

The competition will run for ten weeks - the key milestones and deadlines are set out below:

Milestones and deadlines:

  • Competition opens: 14 March 2023
  • DSIT Subsidy Control Teach-in:  17 April 2023
  • Online pitching event: 18 April 2023
  • DSIT Commercial and Finance Teach-in: 19 April 2023
  • Clarification questions receipt deadline: 9 May 2023
  • Competition closes: 11:59pm 23 May 2023
  • Successful applicants notified: Late June 2023
  • Grant funding period: Subject to successful applicants’ satisfactory completion of pre-grant requirements and commercial agreements
  • Estimated project start: September 2023
  • Projects end: 31 March 2025


This competition is open to applications from UK-based organisations. Specific eligibility criteria for the competition can be found in the competition guidance. All required documents are linked here

How to apply

To submit your proposals, please refer to the ‘How to Apply’ section of the competition guidance, and submit all required documents via the Find a Grant site by 11:59pm 23 May 2023.


There is up to £80 million of grant funding available from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology in this competition (for eligible costs in FY23/24 and FY24/25).

Grants ranging from £1 million to £10 million will be made available to successful projects.

If you have any questions or would like more clarification, please contact DSIT on [email protected]. Please note that the deadline for clarification questions is 9 May 2023.

Your question and respective answer will be aggregated, anonymised and added to a public Q&A document unless commercially sensitive.


A balanced number of participants drawn from various interested businesses and organisations will be invited to this event. To register your interest in attending please email UKTIN below. Your attendance will be confirmed as soon as possible and UKTIN will provide a full agenda closer to the event.

There will also be the opportunity to live stream the event if you’re unable to attend in person. Register today here.

Pitching opportunities

Participants seeking partners will be able to pitch to one another. The pitches will be recorded and placed on the UKTIN website. Please note here will be a limited number of slots available on the day.

Contact [email protected] if you are interested in pitching

  • Each pitch length will be 4 minutes.
  • There will be a maximum limit of 4 slides for each pitch, please be concise.
  • In your pitch include information on:
    • What you’re looking to do if you are proposing a project
    • What do you have to offer?
    • What and/or who are you looking for?

To attend the event please complete the registration process.

Communications Infrastructure and Services updates

Sign-up to get the latest updates and opportunities from our Communications Infrastructure and Services programme.


Sophie Greaves

Sophie Greaves

Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy, techUK

Mia Haffety

Mia Haffety

Programme Manager - Telecoms and Net Zero, techUK

Tales Gaspar

Tales Gaspar

Programme Manager, UK SPF and Satellite, techUK

Matthew Wild

Programme Assistant - Markets, techUK