£14m innovation funding unveiled in Farming Innovation Programme

Funding available for industrial research and feasibility tackling on-farm challenges and sustainability goals.

Two competitions have been announced from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme, a partnership with the transforming food production challenge, delivered by Innovate UK.

Small R&D partnerships round three

On 14 August, the third round of the £9.8 million small research and development (R&D) partnership competition will open.

It is designed to support businesses in advancing novel farming products or services, guiding them towards successful commercialisation in the open market.

Solutions must significantly improve productivity, sustainability and environmental impact of farming, progression towards net zero emissions,​ or resilience.

Previous projects include solar-powered agrivoltaic berry farming and breeding sheep with a naturally low carbon footprint.

Feasibility studies round three

Following this, round three of the feasibility studies competition will open on 18 September with up to £4.5 million available.

This competition is designed to provide crucial support for R&D during the challenging testing phase of an idea, allowing businesses to determine its practical feasibility.

Example projects from previous rounds include looking to:

  • improve the control of bovine tuberculosis in dairy herds through better welfare surveillance
  • identify fungal strains combating pests in wheat, building on dual-action biofungicide and bioinsecticide for cereal farmers

Paving the path to sustainable agriculture

The primary objective of these funding competitions is to identify and support projects with the potential to revolutionise the agricultural landscape.

By developing solutions that address key challenges and opportunities, these initiatives aim to elevate overall productivity while ensuring positive outcomes for farmers, growers, and foresters in real-world, commercially relevant scenarios.

Identifying promising partnerships

Dr Katrina Hayter, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

We look forward to supporting the next round of applicants and identifying promising partnerships that hold the potential to address the sustainability, efficiency, and net zero challenges confronting the UK’s agrifood industry.

By fostering collaborations between farmers, growers, agri-businesses and researchers, these partnerships become the driving force behind transforming innovative solutions into practical applications.

Further information

This funding forms part of Defra’s £270 million Farming Innovation Programme, which has seen 15 competitions launched since opening in October 2021.

As of August 2023, they have committed over £123 million of funding to industry-led R&D in agricultural and horticulture through the Farming Innovation Programme.

Top image:  Credit: Innovate UK

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