How to Get Security Contracts UK: Our Complete Guide to the Security Marketplace

Global trends such as shifting balances of power, rising nationalism COVID-19 and the emergence of new digital battlefields, means that UK defence and public sector organisations are becoming more reliant than ever on security suppliers.

This ever-evolving environment creates a stimulus to increase investment in defence and the requirement to spend more effectively as nations look to protect their interests. Maintaining this capability drives expenditure and means that those businesses working in the defence and security industry have a wealth of opportunities to exploit.

The industry is more lucrative than ever before and the procurement marketplace has seen a surge in suppliers that want to learn how to tender for security contracts.

Learn more about this marketplace and how you can use DCI’s features to help you engage earlier and win more in the global marketplace.


UK security marketplace

Advances in technology create both threats and opportunities for the UK’s security and prosperity, and innovation is vital to maintaining the UK’s military advantage.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) wants to encourage innovation and attract new and non-traditional suppliers, including SMEs, at all levels of the defence supply chain.

This drive for innovation gained momentum following the Government’s publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015.

The document outlined the MOD’s ambition to improve its ability to exploit innovative opportunities more quickly and with greater agility to secure a strategic and tactical advantage over adversaries. It also acknowledged the necessity to recognise and respond quickly to transformative ideas and technologies.

This resulted in the Defence Innovation Initiative in 2016, which included a provision for a Defence Innovation Fund worth £800 million over a ten-year period.

The initiative also saw the creation of the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to help government access innovative ideas, equipment, and services more quickly for UK security and military users.


Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA)

If you want to win security contracts in the UK, you must be up to date with the work that the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is doing.

The UK has invested heavily in its security strategy in recent years, putting innovation at the forefront of its defence plans. The increasing international terror threat has driven the security equipment market and increased demand for innovative security solutions.

DASA went live in December 2016, evolving from the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), and was given the remit to collaborate with industry, academia, and allies to rapidly develop innovative solutions to the most pressing national defence and security challenges.

Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is a cross-body organisation established to help the UK Government access innovative ideas, equipment, and services to maintain security and military advantage over adversaries.

DASA finds and funds exploitable innovation to support UK defence and security quickly and effectively, and support UK prosperity. DASA has run several innovation competitions and invested £42.1 million in 278 projects in its first two years.

Speaking at the DPRTE 2019 Keynote Arena, Dr Lucy Mason, the then Head of DASA, explained the role of the Accelerator and how her team are keen to reach out to find ideas and opportunities by engaging with SMEs and beyond.

Dr Mason said: “Government these days wants to work much more closely with SMEs, to incorporate them into supply chains and understand how we can diversify the range of suppliers that get involved.”

DASA is also keen to work with individuals and organisations that have not previously worked in the defence and security sector and to work collaboratively to form partnerships.

Modernising security

The Conservative Party manifesto in 2019 pledged to modernise UK security and invest in training and equipping the Armed Forces, including a focus on investment in cyber security and creating a UK Space Command.

The government has since pledged to exceed the NATO minimum 2% of GDP defence spending, with an increase of 0.5% above inflation for every year of the new Parliament. NATO members are encouraged to commit to the organisation’s 2% of GDP guidelines for defence spending – with this target figure set to increase in the future.

In the run-up to the election, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and other NATO leaders met for talks designed to strengthen the alliance and to ensure it is best placed to deal with future challenges.

The meeting highlighted the need to invest in technology to meet emerging threats such as cyber and hybrid attacks and to protect key infrastructure. It also recognised space as an operational domain.

This investment and expansion into new battle spaces will create significant opportunities for those companies working in the defence industry or looking to break into this lucrative marketplace.


How to find security contracts

If you want to win security tenders, your first step is to ensure your organisation is researching the marketplace and where to find relevant contracts.

This guide pulls together information on some of the key areas of security.



Global intelligence and defence organisations like the MOD want to work with suppliers that offer innovative technologies and remote surveillance devices.

Surveillance procurement covers many areas. CCTV, aerial surveillance, door entry systems, intruder detection and drone surveillance are just some of the key methods used by defence organisations in recent years to boost security in their buildings and land.

Surveillance has been a huge weapon in the fight against COVID-19 as the pandemic has left thousands of public spaces and properties across the UK empty. At the end of March 2020, public spaces such as leisure centres, schools, libraries, community centres and museums across the country closed their doors to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

CCTV and surveillance services alongside manned security services have played an integral part in the protection of these buildings.

Patrolling, CCTV monitoring, alarm response, key-holding, incident assistance, and high-risk product protection have all been vital services for the public sector during this time as vacant buildings have become targets for squatters, thieves, vandals, and arsonists.


Manned Security

The UK remains a huge hub for manned guarding procurement, and it is a market available to suppliers from around the world.

The UK is facing considerable security challenges in the present landscape. The UK national threat level (in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) is currently ‘substantial’, which means a terrorist attack is likely.

The UK defence sector continually works to improve safety for citizens and after the terrorist attacks in Manchester, the UK government very quickly put out a competition around the protection of crowded places.

Although manned security is traditionally sourced to tackle loss prevention and improve employee and public safety, this is no longer its sole focus. Many security suppliers have been enlisted to assist the government in combating the COVID-19 and protecting their community.

Security companies have been a huge part of the UK’S COVID-19 response. Outsourcing giant G4S claimed a lucrative £10 million deal during the Coronavirus pandemic and the spend didn’t end there; firms across the country have been involved in the planning and security for hospitals across the UK, including critical care units for treating patients with coronavirus and the NHS Nightingale hospitals.

Manned security contacts have been vital during this time to ensure that social distancing is observed. The sight of a security guard outside a store or public building has become the norm as organisations strive to put the safety of the public and their employees first.


Cyber security

The defence sector is also keen to harness the power of innovation and technology as nations look to exploit every advantage on the battlefield and protecting borders and people.

Cyber warfare (also known as cyber attacks) often makes the headlines and has seen some high-profile incidents over recent years, whether carried out by individuals or state-sponsored groups.

Recently, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter delivered a lecture to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) where he spoke of the growing importance of the cyber battlespace and how it will ultimately form a key component of the UK’s defence strategy alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force.

He said: “Our new UK Strategic Command is charged with driving the essential integration across the modernised force to achieve multi-domain effect. It will develop and generate the capabilities we need to operate successfully in this sub-threshold context – or grey zone, as some call it – including space, cyber, special operations and information operations.”

General Carter cited the growing reliance on technology and the digitalisation of society as an opportunity for enemies to attack the West’s freedoms and way of life. This includes the use of intellectual property theft, online espionage, misuse of information; state-sponsored cyber attacks – all supported by propaganda.

Protecting against a cyber attack is, of course, not just a military issue but a real cause of concern for individuals and businesses across the globe.

A new report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has revealed that the UK cyber security sector experienced a record year with more than £348 million of investment.

According to the study, the UK cyber security industry is worth £8.3 billion following a growth of 44% in the number of active firms since 2017. The sector has seen significant growth in annual revenue and employment, as well as considerable investment in early-stage companies.

Matt Warner, Digital Minister, said: “It’s great to see our cyber security sector going from strength to strength. It plays a vital role in protecting the country’s thriving digital economy and keeping people safe online.”

“We are committed to seeing it grow and are investing £1.9 billion over five years through our National Cyber Security Strategy to make sure we lead the way in cyber innovation, develop and attract the best talent.”



Often described as the next battlespace, space is set to play a key role as nations define their future security strategies.

The UK defence and security export market is worth £13.8 billion, with a massive 87% of the UK’s defence exports to be found in the aerospace domain.

In 2019 the MOD outlined its ambitious space programme, which includes £30 million worth of funding for space projects. The Joint Forces Command was renamed Strategic Command to better reflect the contribution it makes to defence. This included the new addition of developing capabilities in space and cyber domains – in addition to land, sea, and air.


How to source security contracts in the UK

Our elite contract finder can help you find and win more security contracts.

Contract Alerts from DCI provides you with access to more tender opportunities and awards notices than anyone else in Europe, providing you with all you need to successfully tender for defence and security contracts across the public and private sectors.

Once you find a tender using our contracts finder that is relevant to the services or goods your business provides, you can bid for the opportunity like you would with other government contracts.


Cyber Essentials – are you certified?

Bidding for security contracts may require your business to become Cyber Essentials certified. According to the National Cyber Security Centre:

“If you would like to bid for central government contracts which involve handling sensitive and personal information or the provision of certain technical products and services, you will require Cyber Essentials Certification.”

Therefore, if you are bidding for a MOD or government contract it is always best to check if Cyber Essentials is required.


Knowledge is power

While there are many opportunities available for organisations of all sizes in the security sector, finding security contracts can seem difficult given the size and complexity of the defence market.

With so much competition out there, you must stay up to date with the latest contracts in the security marketplace.

We are different from other contract finders. Defence Contracts International (DCI) is a suite of industry-leading business intelligence tools designed to make it easier to find defence and security contracts across the public and private sectors. DCI’s range of features can help you engage earlier, be more competitive and sell more effectively to support your business growth at every level, whether you are an SME relatively new to working with the defence sector or a multinational company looking for deeper market insight.

For suppliers looking to find work in the UK, our customers can use DCI’s Archive Data tool to understand the previous requirements of security tenders, with five years’ minimum of historical data included as standard in each DCI package.

This kind of analysis will uncover new competitors within your field, boost your early engagement strategy and identify sub-contracting opportunities.


How to use early engagement to win security contracts

Using a contracts finder is all very well but what if you could gain information about security and defence contracts before your competitors do.

Early engagement gives businesses the best possible advantage when it comes to winning security contracts, and Defence Contracts International (DCI) can help you get ahead of the curve. DCI gives you the opportunity (and the time) to research the market in which you want to grow your business. DCI utilises tools and intelligence to support this analysis, including the areas in which and specific suppliers with whom the buyer has spent previously and the ongoing trends in the market from public spending to project growth. The value of this information cannot be overstated – it gives you a massive advantage compared to other potential tenderers blindly applying for the tender without data supporting their decisions.

DCI hosts the largest defence tenders database in Europe. DCI’s defence tenders are not only available from the MOD in the UK but also span the continents of the globe.

DCI’s range of features can help you engage earlier, be more competitive and sell more effectively to support your business growth at every level, whether you are an SME relatively new to working with the defence sector or a multinational company looking for deeper market insight.

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