INSTINCT: Innovative Science and Technology in Counter-Terrorism

INSTINCT is a cross-government programme, led by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism within the Home Office that seeks innovative solutions to support CONTEST, the UK’s strategy for countering international terrorism.

It was set up in 2009 to improve government’s ability to engage with academia and the private sector on key science and technology challenges in counter-terrorism. Its aim is to provide a better understanding of, and influence over, the innovation community, and better coordination of investments in new ideas and solutions.

Engaging imaginatively with the public and private sector

INSTINCT aims to engage with innovators in an open and flexible way in order to explain the scientific and technical challenges in CONTEST and therefore drive innovation.

Over the last two years INSTINCT has sponsored a broad portfolio using a range of engagement mechanisms

Technology demonstrators

Technology demonstrators are INSTINCT’s flagship programmes in which INSTINCT works with an industry partner to seek out new ideas and technologies, test them in realistic scenarios, and showcase the results to key stakeholders from across Government and the private sector.

Over the last two years, INSTINCT has run three technology demonstrators focussing on crowd behaviour, and aviation security.

Research calls

In 2009 INSTINCT sponsored a research call through the centre for defence enterprise and the Technology Strategy Board’s small business research initiative focussed on intent in crowded places. In 2010 it cosponsored the CONTEST innovative research call on explosives and weapons detection.

Academic engagement

INSTINCT has sponsored the formation of the UK visual analytics consortium (UKVAC) in partnership with the US Department of Homeland Security. The UKVAC is a consortium of UK universities that will work in partnership with US academic Centers of Excellence to develop novel techniques to analyse large and complex data sets.

It also cosponsored the Who do you think you are? academic sandpit on the nature of identity in the modern age as part of the RCUK global uncertainties programme.


INSTINCT has identified promising new practices and technologies to tackle key challenges in counter-terrorism, some of which have been applied directly to improving security in the UK.

Through engaging in INSTINCT, participants from the private sector and academia have attracted direct Government funding, private sector investment, won awards through global security challenge competitions, formed fruitful partnerships and gained a better understanding of CONTEST, and the key challenges.

Find out more

INSTINCT will be in the Government zone at the Home Office scientific development branch exhibition from 22-24 March 2011, showcasing elements of its work.

Future work

INSTINCT has announced a new call have I got views for you? in partnership with the technology strategy board’s  small business research initiative

If you have an innovative solution or research proposal you believe could support counter-terrorism work, please email INSTINCT.

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