Understanding Whole Body Vibration: Competition Document – GOV.UK

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Published 8 November 2022

© Crown copyright 2022
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected].
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/competition-understanding-whole-body-vibration/understanding-whole-body-vibration-competition-document
Whole body vibration (WBV) refers to vibration transmitted through the seat or feet and is often coupled with shock (sudden, unexpected impact that transmits energy to a device/person in a relatively short time interval). Exposure to WBV is highest in those working with large vehicles and machinery and has been linked to high rates of musculoskeletal pain and injury. However, WBV is poorly understood.
Military service personnel across the Front Line Commands experience WBV during training and operations, therefore, it is imperative that Defence furthers its understanding of WBV to prevent and mitigate its effects. The long term goal of Defence’s vibration research programme is to protect service personnel from injurious effects of WBV. Before this can be achieved however, we must be able to answer fundamental questions that are key to our understanding of the issue. For example:
This DASA themed competition, funded by Defence Medical Services and Defence Science and Technology, aims to address these questions through leading-edge research and innovation founded on cross-disciplinary collaboration. Innovation within proposals can begin at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) between 1-5 but should aim to progress to TRL 6 – technology model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment – by the end of the contract (47 months later). All contracts must complete by the end of March 2027.
Project outcomes should inform Defence policy regarding the assessment and effects of WBV. Realistic plans should be presented for how this policy impact might be achieved. Outcomes should also lay the foundations for future policy surrounding the design of vehicle platforms.
A subsequent programme – ‘protecting against whole body vibration’ – may be launched towards the end of this current competition, making use of the lessons learned. This will be open to all applicants, not solely successful suppliers from this phase of the work. It would be beneficial for proposals submitted into this competition to consider how outcomes might inform the future ‘protect programme’ deliverables, including: 
Midday on Wednesday 18 January 2023 (GMT)
Via the DASA Online Submission Service for which you will require an account. Only proposals submitted through the DASA Online Submission Service will be accepted.
The total funding available for this competition is £2.5m (ex VAT). £925k of the total £2.5m must be spent within financial year 2023/2024 and deliverables must be planned with this in mind.
We expect to fund between 1-3 proposals over a 47 month period. All contracts must complete by the end of March 2027.
At least one funded proposal will be a multidisciplinary programme seeking to address all or the majority of the questions raised. Any remaining funding will be directed towards applications focusing on delivery against specific questions, e.g. development of dosimeter technology.
Thursday 17 November 2022 – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
A series of 15 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the relevant Eventbrite page: Tuesday 22nd November and Tuesday 29th November. Booking is on a first come first served basis.
We encourage collaboration between organisations for this competition, particularly given the multidisciplinary nature of the challenges inherent to a programmatic proposal. To support this, we have a short survey to collect details of those who wish to explore collaboration possibilities. If you are interested in a collaboration, please complete the survey and your details will be circulated among other potential suppliers who have completed the survey and are interested in collaborating.
If you choose to complete the supplier collaboration survey, please be aware all of the information you submit in the survey will be provided to other suppliers who also complete the survey. All industry collaboration for proposal submissions is on an industry-industry basis. Inclusion or absence of any individual supplier organisation will not affect assessment, which will be solely on technical evidence in the proposal.
The Health and Safety Executive recognises two categories of vibration exposure: Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) and WBV. HAV is defined as exposure to vibration from mainly hand-held, hand-guided and / or hand-fed tools and can result in Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). HAV is the most well-researched area of the various vibration exposure types and there is a direct link between vibration and injury (‘Vibration White Finger’ and/or neurological damage) with clinical tests, and grounds for a dose-effect relationship. Standards for different power tool types are well established. HAV proposals are not in scope for this competition. 
WBV is defined as vibration usually transmitted to the whole body from the supporting surface or a platform involving standing, seated or recumbent persons.  
It is generally accepted that excessive WBV exposure is associated with injury, especially if linked to poor posture, but causation and dose-effect relationships have not been clearly established. The injuries that can be caused by WBV are less clearly defined and are often non-specific, for example, neck pain, back pain or dizziness. These symptoms – most frequently low back pain – are common and more difficult to attribute directly to levels of WBV exposure. 
The operation of wheeled or tracked vehicles over rough tracks or the operation of small boats are scenarios where WBV exposure may be significant. The testing of new platforms by service personnel involves such WBV exposure.  
Shock is a sub-category of WBV and is defined as a sudden, unexpected impact that transmits energy to a device/person in a relatively short time interval. Injury is dependent on the impact force of the shock together with the positioning of the person in relation to the shock. In addition to acute injuries, long term exposure to even moderate levels of repeated shock may lead to chronic injuries to the spine.  
Exposure to severe, repeated shocks is experienced in highspeed craft at sea and in off-road vehicles travelling at speed over rough terrain. Such exposure is associated with acute injury, e.g. wedge fractures of the spine. Lower grade chronic exposure may be expected to lead to progressive damage. The effects of an interaction between shock and low level vibration are poorly characterised.
Much of the evidence for the impact of WBV is anecdotal and associative. Countering this requires detailed epidemiology, leading-edge engineering, robust experimentation and modelling and close collaboration between academia, industry and Defence clinicians and policy makers.
This competition has three challenges.
There is no definitive data on the prevalence and severity of WBV in service personnel working with armoured vehicles or boats. Data is likely to be an underestimation of the problem for several reasons. Firstly, symptoms of WBV such as lower back pain and joint pain are associated with multiple activities within military working life: there is therefore likely to be an under-reporting of vibration related symptoms into the primary care database. Secondly, the lack of awareness of the effects of WBV may mean that service personnel are not aware that their symptoms could be ascribed to WBV. In parallel, a lack of awareness of WBV amongst medical personnel may result in under-reporting of WBV on current primary care databases. Therefore, to gain a better understanding of the epidemiology and injury burden associated with WBV, focused clinical studies assessing service personnel that routinely use armoured vehicles or small boats is required.
Epidemiology will play a critical role in defining the size of the problem posed by WBV, but to fully understand the nature of WBV we must be able to model the mechanisms of its effects either in vivo, in vitro, or in silico. This mechanistic knowledge will underpin the future development of technology to protect and mitigate against injurious effects of WBV.
Ideas that might help solve this challenge area may include:
To determine a dose-response relationship between WBV and injury, it is critical to capture the level of exposure an individual experiences. This is true for both one-off exposures, for example, a soldier post-transit, and cumulative exposure, or a small boat pilot doing repeated journeys. In both cases, quantifying exposure will enable boundary conditions to be set that determine the level of exposure that cannot be exceeded to avoid short-term operational effects. Importantly, it is likely that these levels will differ between individuals of different sexes, sizes, and shapes and boundary conditions must be sensitive to this.
Whilst there is significant knowledge around the instrumentation and measurement of vibration at a vehicle level, there is a lack of knowledge on how that shock is transmitted to the individual and what impulses are experienced by the service person. These difficulties have been ascribed to the lack of wearable sensor technology that can apply to the vehicle occupant without being overly cumbersome. As sensor technology continues to advance and lessons are learned from other settings (e.g., concussion sensors in professional sports), the assessment of personal exposure to WBV and shock comes within closer reach.
Ideas that might help solve this challenge area may include:
Although the mechanisms of WBV-related injury are not fully understood, it is accepted that spinal compression, tension, rotation and flexion, can engage the back muscles and lead to fatigue. This fatigue could ultimately lead to decreased physical performance and possible injury. This is particularly relevant to military dismounted ground combat troops who are required to complete physically demanding activities on immediate dismount from a vehicle platform.   
There is some evidence for the effects of vibration exposure on human performance, including reduced visual tracking ability, cognitive skills, and physical performance. This evidence often stems from studies with small sample sizes – the results of which have been hard to replicate – and use outcome measures that rarely reflect tasks a service person might have to perform in an operational situation. As a result, there is little evidence available to inform Command decisions on risk associated with completion of operational duties upon disembarkation from a vibrating platform.
It is difficult to run controlled WBV experiments in the field. Once boundary conditions are established, technology can mimic the vibration signatures experienced on various platforms and enable laboratory assessment of short-term effects on service personnel.
Ideas that might help solve this challenge area may include:
We want novel ideas to benefit end-users working in UK Defence and Security. Your proposal should include evidence of:
We are not interested in proposals that:
It is important that over the lifetime of DASA competitions, ideas are matured and accelerated towards appropriate end-users to enhance capability. How long this takes will depend on the nature and starting point of the innovation.
For DASA to consider routes for commercial exploitation, ensure your deliverables are designed with the aim of making it as easy as possible for collaborators/stakeholders to identify the innovative elements of your proposal.
Whilst early identification and engagement with potential end users during the competition and subsequent phases are essential to implementing an exploitation plan, during the competition phase there should be no correspondence between innovators and DASA other than via the DASA helpdesk email at [email protected], or their local Innovation Partner.
All proposals to DASA should articulate the expected development in technology maturity of the potential solution over the lifetime of the contract and how this relates to improved operational capability against the current known (or presumed) baseline.
A higher technology maturity is expected in subsequent phases. Include the following information to help the assessors understand your exploitation plans to date:
Long term studies may not be able to articulate exploitation in great detail, but it should be clear that there is credible advantage to be gained from the research project and associated technology development.
Include project specific information which will help exploitation. We may collaborate with organisations outside of the UK Government and this may provide the opportunity to carry out international trials and demonstrations in the future.
Midday on Wednesday 18 January 2023 (GMT)
Via the DASA Online Submission Service for which you will be required to register.
Only proposals submitted through the DASA Online Submission Service will be accepted.
The total funding available for this competition is £2.5m (ex VAT). £925k of the total £2.5m must be spent within financial year 2023/2024 and deliverables must be planned with this in mind.
We expect to fund between 1 to 3 proposals over a 47 month period. All contracts must complete by the end of March 2027.
At least one funded proposal will be a multidisciplinary programme seeking to address all or the majority of the questions raised. Any remaining funding will be directed towards applications focusing on delivery against specific questions, e.g. development of technology to reproduce vibration and shock signatures.
Click here for more information on our competition process and how your proposal is assessed.
Queries should be sent to the DASA Help Centre – [email protected].
Your resourcing plan must identify, where possible, the nationalities of proposed employees that you intend to work on this phase.
In the event of a proposal being recommended for funding, DASA reserves the right to undertake due diligence checks including the clearance of proposed employees. Please note that this process will take as long as necessary and could take up to 6 weeks in some cases for non-UK nationals.
You must identify any ethical/legal/regulatory factors within your proposal and how the associated risks will be managed, including break points in the project if approvals are not received.
MODREC approvals can take up to 5 months therefore you should plan your work programme accordingly. If you are unsure if your proposal will need to apply for MODREC approval, then please refer to theMODREC Guidance for Suppliers or contact your Innovation Partner for further guidance.
All proposals submitted that contain animal work will be reviewed by a Dstl veterinary surgeon and will be considered non-compliant without inclusion of appropriate information. For UK locations that are proposing use of animals under ASPA (Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986) as part of work under DASA, the location must demonstrate that they hold a Project Licence that covers the work proposed, and Establishment Licence for the location and Personal Licences for anyone carrying out the regulated procedures. International innovators proposing animal work under AAALAC should provide the equivalent documentation. For locations outside of the UK that do not have AAALAC, proposal assessment will need to include a Dstl veterinary surgeon making custom assessment of the location’s applicable national regulations, any other accreditations held by the location and the local governance systems for the location.
Requirements for access to Government Furnished Assets (GFA), for example, information, equipment, personnel, materials and facilities, may be included in your proposal. Innovators are responsible for arranging access to any GFA required. DASA cannot guarantee that GFA will be available. If you apply for GFA, you must include an alternative plan in case it is not available.
Failure to provide any of the above listed will automatically render your proposal non-compliant.
Innovators must complete a Supplier Assurance Questionnaire (SAQ), using the DASA Risk Assessment Reference (RAR) for this competition: RAR-613591261 and answer questions for risk level “Very Low”.
DASA has completed a Cyber Risk Assessment (CRA) for this competition. In order to submit to this competition innovators are required to work towards cyber resilience. If selected for funding, the innovator must prove cyber resilience before a contract will be awarded.
The Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP) will review your SAQ submission and respond with a reference number within 2 working days. The completed SAQ form and resulting email response from DCPP must be downloaded and included within the DASA submission service portal when the proposal is submitted. Please allow enough time to receive the SAQ reference number prior to competition close at midday on Wednesday 18 January 2023 (GMT).
If the proposal is being funded, the SAQ will be evaluated against the CRA for the competition, and it will be put it into one of the following categories:
Innovators can enter a proposal without all controls in place, but are expected to have all the cyber protection measures necessary to fulfil the requirements of the contract in place at the time of contract award, or have an agreed Cyber Implementation Plan (CIP).
The CIP provides evidence as to how and when potential innovators will achieve compliance. Provided the measures proposed in the Cyber Implementation Plan do not pose an unacceptable risk to the MOD, a submission with a Cyber Implementation Plan will be considered alongside those who can achieve the controls.
A final check will be made to ensure cyber resilience before the contract is placed. Commercial staff cannot progress without it. This process does not replace any contract specific security requirements.
Further guidance for completing this process can be requested by emailing the DASA Help Centre: [email protected].
Additional information about cyber security can be found at: DCPP: Cyber Security Model industry buyer and supplier guide.
When submitting your proposal, you will be required to include a title and a short abstract. The title and abstract you provide will be used by DASA, and other government departments, to describe your project and its intended outcomes and benefits. They may be included at DASA events in relation to this competition and in documentation such as brochures. The proposal title will be published in the DASA transparency data on GOV.UK, along with your company name, the amount of funding, and the start and end dates of your contract. As this information can be shared, it should not contain information that may compromise Intellectual property.
At Stage 1, all proposals will be checked for compliance with the competition document and may be rejected before full assessment if they do not comply. Only those proposals that demonstrate compliance against the competition scope and DASA mandatory criteria will be taken forward to full assessment.
Proposals that pass Stage 1 will then be assessed against the standard DASA assessment criteria (Desirability, Feasibility and Viability) by subject matter experts from the MOD (including Dstl), other government departments and the front-line military commands. You will not have the opportunity to view or comment on assessors’ recommendations.
DASA reserves the right to disclose on a confidential basis any information it receives from innovators during the procurement process (including information identified by the innovator as Commercially Sensitive Information in accordance with the provisions of this competition) to any third party engaged by DASA for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting DASA in the evaluation of the innovator’s proposal. In providing such information the innovator consents to such disclosure. Appropriate confidentiality agreements will be put in place.
Further guidance on how your proposal is assessed is available on the DASA website.
After assessment, proposals will be discussed internally at a Decision Conference where, based on the assessments, budget and wider strategic considerations, a decision will be made on the proposals that are recommended for funding.
Proposals that are unsuccessful will receive brief feedback after the Decision Conference.
Please read the DASA terms and conditions which contain important information for innovators. For this competition, the value of your proposal will determine which contract terms apply to you: if your proposal is £1m or less we will be using the Innovation Standard Contract (ISC) Terms, or if it is over £1m we will be using the SC2 Terms and Schedules. We will require unqualified acceptance of the terms and conditions; if applicable, please ensure your commercial department has provided their acceptance.
Funded projects will be allocated a Project Manager (to run the project) and a Technical Partner (as a technical point of contact). In addition, the DASA team will work with you to support delivery and exploitation including, when appropriate, introductions to end-users and business support to help develop their business.
We will use deliverables from DASA contracts in accordance with our rights detailed in the contract terms and conditions.
For this competition, £2.5m is currently available to fund proposals over a 47 month period. All contracts must complete by the end of March 2027. There may be occasions when additional funding may become available to allow us to revisit proposals deemed suitable for funding. Therefore, DASA reserves the right to keep such proposals in reserve. In the event that additional funding becomes available, DASA may ask whether you would still be prepared to undertake the work outlined in your proposal under the same terms.
Competition queries including on process, application, commercial, technical and intellectual property aspects should be sent to the DASA Help Centre at [email protected], quoting the competition title. If you wish receive future updates on this competition, please email the DASA Help Centre.
While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, DASA reserves the right to impose management controls if volumes of queries restrict fair access of information to all potential innovators.
Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
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