UK announces drone technology research and innovation programme

The UK’s transport innovation accelerator, Connected Places Catapult, has launched the Department for Transport’s Drone-Technology Research and Innovation Grants (D-TRIG) programme.

D-TRIG will award grants of GBP30,000 to enable up to six SMEs to undertake early-stage research and development studies to explore how to integrate drones into UK airspace.

The D-TRIG programme will build upon the foundation of the DfT’s existing Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Programme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult. Achieved through the adoption of drones, the programme promotes new markets and technology to accelerate the delivery of near-to-market drone flight and air traffic management capabilities in the UK.

The programme is expected to have an impact by positioning the UK as a country open to technological innovation including as a source of expertise on the use of drones in industry and the public sector. ​It will help boost the development and use of drones across the UK.

Connected Places Catapult is looking to fund R&D drone technology projects under the following themes:

  1. Onboard Detect and Avoid, including electric conspicuity. Areas of interest include sensors to observe and interpret situational awareness and the processing of sensor data to make real-time decisions.
  2. Autonomy, including autonomous charging and weather onboard processing. We would be interested in unattended solutions, onboard automated battery charging solutions and ground-based charging infrastructure, in addition to the gathering of data using drones.
  3. Communications, including navigation. This theme would include such areas as redundancy and failover of  command and control (C2) communications and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to UAV mesh communication.

Mark Westwood, Chief Technology Officer, Connected Places Catapult said: “As part of the Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Programme, we are proud to launch D-TRIG to fund innovative projects that can assist with the integration of drones into UK airspace. It is fantastic to be working alongside the DfT once again to deliver such a great grant offer scheme.”

For more information on the D-TRIG Programme and how to apply, visit:

Applications are due by 31 March 2021

For more information visit:

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