Funding opens for large R&D partnerships with on-farm innovations

aerial view of gently rolling patchwork farmland

Businesses farmers, growers, foresters, and researchers can apply with projects that accelerate the development of new solutions and their integration into existing practices.

On 20 February, the second round of the large research and development (R&D) partnerships fund will open. It will offer backing to industrial research and experimental development projects that address major on-farm or immediate post-farmgate challenges and opportunities.

Details of the competition are now available online. It outlines how agri-tech businesses, researchers, farmers, growers and foresters in England will be able to apply for a share of up to £8 million. The competition will allow them to improve productivity, sustainability and resilience within the UK food and farming sector.

The competition is part of wider funding being provided under the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ Farming Innovation Programme, which is delivered by Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production challenge.

The opportunity

As with previous funding opportunities within the Farming Innovation Programme, we’re asking projects to demonstrate benefits to farmers, growers and foresters in England. Project applications must show they address a significant challenge or opportunity in at least one of the following industry subsectors:

  • livestock
  • plants
  • novel food production systems
  • bioeconomy and agroforestry

Within their submissions, applicants must also show that their solutions or project outputs will significantly improve productivity, sustainability and the environmental impact of farming.

Other key targets are to support the progression towards net zero emissions and to enhance resilience. This includes helping farms deal with input stresses, such as the recent spike in fertiliser prices, or in dealing with threats from pests and disease.

The funding opportunity is there to reach a wide portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, industry sectors and business sizes. As a result, businesses are encouraged to come together as a partnership to collaborate.

They are also encouraged to share knowledge and ideas to help solve these major challenges or opportunities, with a focus on being able to move through demonstration, commercialisation and adoption phases.

Projects can last up to 4 years and have project costs between £3 million to £5 million.

The application process

The competition will open to applicants on 20 February and will close on 19 April. This opportunity has a 2-stage assessment process including an interview stage.

This funding has been allocated for business-led consortia that:

  • include at least 1 small or medium sized enterprise
  • involve at least 1 grant claiming academic institution, research and technology organisation, charity, not-for-profit or public sector organisation

Find out more about this funding opportunity and how to apply on the Innovation Funding Service.

Key dates

Innovate UK will host a question and answer session on 21 February 2023. There will also be a Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network led consortia building event held on 2 March 2023.

Identifying exciting partnerships

Katrina Hayter, Interim Executive Director Healthy Living and Agriculture, Innovate UK, said:

As always with great ideas that will stand the test of time, the foundation is most often in collaboration. Bringing together the unique knowledge of farmers and growers, with the expertise of researchers and technology specialists, is key to finding solutions that work in the real world.

We look forward to supporting applicants and helping to identify truly exciting partnerships that have the potential to help meet the sustainability, efficiency and net zero challenges facing the UK’s agrifood industry both now and in the future.

Top image:  Credit: matthewleesdixon, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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