Open Networks Ecosystem competition

Please note: the window for applications has now past.

This competition, funded by the Department of Science, Innovation & Technology, marks the next phase of the UK’s £250m Open Networks Research and Development (R&D) Fund, which itself backs the 5G Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy.

Building on the momentum made by the first phase of the programme and learning from consultation with industry leaders, this latest funding package will look to address three important themes.

First is High Density Demand (HDD). HDD sites represent the most challenging environments for the technical performance of RAN elements and systems. The aim is to develop, demonstrate and test approaches for optimising Open RAN network performance in High Demand Density environments.

Second, Radio Frequency components. From hardware to chipsets to radio tech, the competition looks to ensure that the building blocks for our telecoms ecosystem are secure and diverse.

And the last theme that the Open Networks Ecosystem competition will address is Software. Covering the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), X app and R app, software components in order to make them more efficient and secure.

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology Minister of State Julia Lopez said:

"This groundbreaking R&D competition marks a huge step forwards in our £250 million plan to build the more diverse, resilient and secure digital networks needed to support our economy in the 21st century.

“We're aiming to bring on board world-class talent to boost domestic development of next generation telecoms technology such as Open RAN, and help transform the UK into a tech and science superpower."

Click 'Read more' to find out about the projects already in flight and additional important info about the competition.

This follows the publication last week of the government's new Science and Technology Framework, which named future telecoms as a critical technology to the UK, alongside Artificial Intelligence, engineering biology, semiconductors and quantum technologies.  The framework paves the way for further UK action on telecoms with an ambitious Wireless Infrastructure Strategy to be published later this year.

In 2022 Government created and launched the UK Open Networks R&D Fund, driven by the opportunity to build a more diversified telecoms infrastructure, strengthening UK networks' future resilience and security. This £250 million fund sees the government investing alongside industry and key allied countries to bring more suppliers into the market where the private sector alone has not.

There are currently multiple projects in flight, SONIC Labs, NeutrORAN, Future RAN competition projects, Future Open Networks Research Challenge, UK Telecoms Lab and of course the UK Telecoms Innovation Network. All of which are showing incredibly positive results.

UK leadership in telecoms diversification has been noted and appreciated globally. A number of governments are looking to tap into the UK's experience and insight while building their own investment programmes - magnifying UK influence on the world stage.

Government is investing up to £80 million in addressing the three themes of ONE. If you think your organisation can help to address any of these, we encourage you to read more about the competition here and apply by 23:59 on the 23 May 2023.

To hear more about the competition, see the guidance page here. For any queries, please email

The Open Networks Ecosystem Competition Details

Briefing Event

A briefing event for this competition was held on 27 March 2023, including a pitching session from different companies keen to find partners to form a consortium.

Teach-in Event Recordings

As part of the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) Competition DSIT offered applicants the chance to attend two teach-ins which covered three key areas of the application process. These teach-ins aimed to improve applicants' understanding of how best to engage with DSIT on the following key areas; commercial, finance and subsidy control. 

These events were held, on the following dates:

(Click either link to view the recording via the Google Drive)

Online Pitching Event

Click here to read the full online pitching event article and see a full list of those companies that presented as part of this event.

Pitching Event Roundup Article

5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy

The 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy (2020) set out the Government’s long-term vision for the telecoms access supply market: one where competition and innovation bring forward new deployment models based on open interfaces and interoperable standards, with flexible networks and comprising an array of suppliers. This is because such a market increases competition and choice, and ultimately introduces interchangeability of equipment into the supply chain, boosting resilience.

Competition Process & Dates

The competition will run for ten weeks - the key milestones and deadlines are set out below:

Milestones and deadlines:

  • Competition opens: 14 March 2023
  • Competition briefing event: 27 March 2023
  • DSIT Subsidy Control Teach-in:  17 April 2023
  • DSIT Commercial and Finance Teach-in: 19 April 2023
  • Clarification questions receipt deadline: EXTENDED - now 17 May 2023
  • Competition closes: 11:59pm 23 May 2023
  • Successful applicants notified: Late June 2023
  • Grant funding period: Subject to successful applicants’ satisfactory completion of pre-grant requirements and commercial agreements
  • Estimated project start: September 2023
  • Projects end: 31 March 2025
Eligibility & How to Apply


This competition is open to applications from UK-based organisations. Specific eligibility criteria for the competition can be found in the competition guidance.

How to apply

To submit your proposals, please refer to the ‘How to Apply’ section of the competition guidance, and submit all required documents via the Find a Grant site by 11:59pm 23 May 2023.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or would like more clarification, please contact us on  Please note that the deadline for clarification questions has now been extended until 17 May 2023. Questions submitted before that date are guaranteed a response by 19 May.