• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Innovate UK and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport are running a competition of up to £1.5million to generate new innovative solutions to address the problem of nuisance calls.

  • Programme: SBRI

  • Award: Up to £1.5million

  • Opens: 21 Sep 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 04 Nov 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 11 Nov 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Nuisance calls


Department for Culture, Media & Sport logoWithin the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)*, the Digital Economy Unit has responsibility for policy development and implementation for Digital Communications infrastructure, cyber security and telecoms resilience, telecoms markets and consumer policy, spectrum release, digital enterprise and innovation, and digital skills.
Proposed projects can request a total cost of up to £50,000 (contract value) including VAT. Requests for more than £50,000 (over a 4 month period) must provide substantial evidence to justify the additional expense.
*Innovate UK is a DCMS delivery partner for this competition. DCMS funding for this competition is subject to the outcome of the Government's Spending Review.
The aim of this competition is to find solutions for the well-publicised problem of nuisance calls, especially to more vulnerable members of society who are at highest risk of financial harm and personal distress.  The competition is outcomes based, rather than technology specific.
This call will launch on Monday 21st September 2015.
A webinar,  available to all bidders who have registered for the competition, will take place at 13:30 on Wednesday 30th September. 
The call will close on Wednesday 11 November 2015 at 12 noon
A nuisance call is an unwanted call.  It can mean different things to different people and can cover any of the following; a live or pre-recorded sales or marketing call, a silent or abandoned call, or any call that a recipient wants to block because it has been the source of malicious, obscene or harassing phone calls. 
 A 2013 YouGov survey found that:
  • 26.3 million people have been contacted by marketers selling high cost credit such as payday loans
  • 31.3 million people have been contacted by fee-charging debt management companies
  • 3.2 million people felt afraid to answer the phone as a result of unsolicited marketing calls
  • 39.6 million people feel we need more protection from telemarketers
Tackling nuisance calls is a priority for government and it has already taken a number of actions to combat the issue.  However nuisance calls are still perceived to be a problem, particularly to people at the highest risk of financial harm and personal distress.   Over the last year between 10,000 and 20,000 concerns were reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) every month.  
Solutions can use any technology including, but not limited to, any of the following areas:
  1. Home- installed equipment that filters  and blocks calls, based on Calling Line Identification (CLI) or other techniques
  2. As above but integrating with a "community" or central database to block calls from known "problem sources"
  3. A network level solution that will filter and block calls before they are offered to the end user
Key challenges that bids will need to address are:
  • Blocking/filtering calls as an option where the number is ‘withheld' or ‘unavailable', including where these are international in origin. 
  • How legitimate callers using networks that present with no CLI are processed, for example gathering a list of legitimate callers (sometimes referred to as 'whitelists')
  • How the system can block calls that offer malformed CLI 
  • Whether the system is capable of detecting spoofed but valid CLI
  • How calls from mobile and non-geographic numbers are handled – i.e. can they be configured as blocked/filtered 
  • How a network level solution can be implemented on existing communication networks 

Application Process & supporting downloads

This competition is run by Innovate UK. All proposals must be submitted via the Innovate UK portal.

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 12.00pm (noon) GMT on 11 November 2015. In order to apply you must register with the SBRI for the competition by 12.00pm (noon) GMT on 4 November 2015.
When you register you will be sent login details for the FTP site where you will be able to download the guidance documents, you will also be sent an application form with an assigned reference number. You will need this reference number for all subsequent enquiries.
The application forms are suitable for ONE application only.  If you intend to submit more than one application, or have any other questions about the application process please request further information from the Business Support Group using the contact details below.
Phone number: 0300 321 4357