U.K. PETs Prize Challenge: Phase 3 (Red Teams)

Help unlock the potential of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) to combat global societal challenges. Test the privacy guarantees of blue teams' federated learning solutions. #privacy

£40,000 in prizes
mar 2023
13 joined

Privacy-Enhancing Technology prize challenge for financial crime prevention and pandemic forecasting

U.K. PETs Prize Challenge: Advancing Privacy-Preserving Federated Learning

This is the third in a series of challenge phases with a total prize pool of £700,000! Each phase in the PETs Prize Challenge invites participants to test and apply their innovations in privacy-preserving federated learning. Phase 3 is for Red Teams to put the privacy claims of Blue Teams' solutions to the test.


Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) have the potential to unlock more trustworthy innovation in data analysis and machine learning. Federated learning is one such technology that enables organisations to analyse sensitive data while providing improved privacy protections. These technologies could advance innovation and collaboration in new fields and help harness the power of data to tackle some of our most pressing societal challenges.

That’s why the U.S. and U.K. governments are partnering to deliver a set of prize challenges to unleash the potential of these democracy-affirming technologies to make a positive impact. In particular, this challenge will tackle two critical problems via separate data tracks: Data Track A will help with the identification of financial crime, while Data Track B will bolster pandemic responses.

By entering the prize challenges, innovators will have the opportunity to compete for cash prizes and engage with regulators and government agencies. Announced at the Summit for Democracy in December 2021, the prize challenges are a product of a collaboration between multiple government departments and agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Winning solutions will have the opportunity to be profiled at the second Summit for Democracy, to be convened by President Joe Biden, in early 2023.


The goal of this prize challenge is to mature federated learning approaches and build trust in their adoption. The challenge organisers hope to accelerate the development of efficient privacy-preserving federated learning solutions that leverage a combination of input and output privacy techniques to:

  • Drive innovation in the technological development and application of novel privacy-enhancing technologies
  • Deliver strong privacy guarantees against a set of common threats and privacy attacks
  • Generate effective models to accomplish a set of predictive or analytical tasks that support the use cases


Red teams must first register through Innovate UK here, where full eligibility criteria can also be found.

Participants in this Challenge, whether they are individuals, entities, or team members, are prohibited from participating in the U.K. prize challenge, and participants in the U.S. prize challenge are likewise prohibited from participating in this Challenge. Individuals, entities, or team members who are found to have entered both the U.S. and the U.K. challenges will be disqualified from participating in either. If you wish to instead participate in the U.S. competition, please register here.

Any individual who is or has been associated with an active Blue Team is prohibited from participating in the Red Team Phase. A Blue Team may withdraw from Phase 2 of the challenge so that its members are eligible to participate in the Red Team Phase. To withdraw, teams should email petsprizechallenges@cdei.gov.uk by 11.59pm on 2nd December 2022.

If you're looking to find teammates for this challenge, the community forum or the cross-U.S.–U.K. public Slack channel are great places to start. You can request access to the Slack channel here.

Phase 3 Timeline and Prizes

Phase 3 Key Dates

Launch 10 November 2022
Registration Deadline 2 December 2022 at 11:59:59 PM UTC
Preparation Period 9 December 2022–7 February 2023
Attack Period 7 February–28 February 2023
Winners Announced 30 March 2023

Phase 3 Prizes

Open to Red Team participants.

Top red teams will be evaluated for success and rigor and will be awarded prizes for their performance during this phase.

Prize Amount
1st £40,000
2nd £30,000
3rd £20,000

How to compete (Phase 3)

  1. Complete the registration form on the Innovate UK platform.
  2. Register for a DrivenData account here using the same email.
  3. Once the registration period has concluded, applicants who have registered through Innovate UK will be assigned to the DrivenData competition, enabling them to download additional resources including the relevant SWIFT and UVA datasets.
  4. Get familiar with the problem through the data overview and problem description pages.
  5. During the preparation period, review the provided blue teams' white papers to plan your privacy attacks.
  6. During the attack period, conduct privacy attacks on the blue team finalist solutions that you are assigned. Submit all required attack report materials by the deadline.

Note that registration closes on 2 December 2023 at 11:59 PM UTC.

Good luck!

Full Challenge Timeline and Prizes

Timeline Overview

There are three main phases in the challenge with two types of participants based on a red team/blue team approach. Blue Teams develop privacy-preserving solutions, while Red Teams act as adversaries to test those solutions.

  • Phase 1: White Paper Development (Jul–Sept 2022): Blue Teams propose privacy-preserving federated learning solution concepts.
  • Phase 2: Solution Development (Oct 2022–Jan 2023): Blue Teams develop working prototypes of their solutions.
  • Phase 3: Red Teaming (Nov 2022–Feb 2023): Red Teams prepare and test privacy attacks on top blue team solutions from Phase 2.

Diagram of challenge timeline showing the three phases.

Prize Overview

Track Prize Pool
Phase 1: White Paper £100,000
Phase 2: Solution Development Grants £300,000
Phase 2: Solution Prizes £210,000
Phase 3: Red Teaming £90,000
Total £700,000

Additional Phase Details and Prizes

Place Prize Amount
Top 6 Up to £50,000 grant funding
Top 10 £10,000

Phase 1: White Paper

20 July–21 September 2022

Participants will produce an abstract and technical white paper laying out their proposed solution. White papers will be evaluated by a panel of judges across a set of weighted criteria. Participants must complete a paper in Phase 1 in order to be eligible to compete in Phase 2.

Open to Blue Team participants.

Top Solutions

Prize Amount
1st place £50,000
2nd place £45,000
3rd place £35,000
4th place £20,000

Special Recognition

Prize Amount
Pool £60,000

Phase 2: Solution Development

25 October 2022–26 January 2023

Put your papers into action! Registered teams from Phase 1 will develop working prototypes and submit them to a remote execution environment for federated training and evaluation. These solutions are expected to be functional, i.e., capable of training a model and predicting against the evaluation data set with measurement of relevant performance and accuracy metrics. Solutions will be evaluated by a panel of judges across a set of weighted criteria. The top solutions, ranked by points awarded, will have their final rankings determined by incorporating red team evaluation from the red teams from Phase 3.

Prizes will be awarded to the four best solutions (this will be agnostic of whether they are tackling the health or financial crime use case). Additional “Special Recognition” prizes will be awarded from a pool of £60,000.

Open to Blue Team participants.

This challenge is sponsored by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) and Innovate UK

CDEI logo          Innovate UK logo

With additional collaboration from SWIFT and the University of Virginia's Biocomplexity Institute.

This prize challenge and its U.S. counterpart have been developed as part of a joint collaboration between the United Kingdom and the United States.