New funding for farmer led Research Starter innovation projects

A close up shot of wheat at Rothamstead Research's Harpenden site for agricultural research.

Businesses can apply for funding for projects to improve productivity, sustainability, resilience and the move of agriculture sector towards net zero.

This funding has been allocated to the Research Starter funding opportunities series within the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme. This is delivered by Innovate UK’s transforming food production challenge.

Research Starter projects are small research and development (R&D) projects that are designed to be an entry point to the innovation process. This is for farmers, growers or foresters who have bold, ambitious, early-stage ideas for solving major problems that impact their businesses.

This third round of the Research Starter funding opportunities follows the excellent response to the previous rounds where farmers and growers identified potential solutions to the real problems they experience.

In the first round of Research Starter projects, we funded a range of exciting and innovative projects ranging from digital solutions for vineyard planning to soil benchmarking and automated insect protein for poultry.

About the funding opportunity

The funding opportunity is a 2-stage application. This first stage is an expression of interest. Successful applicants from this stage will be invited to the full stage application process.

All applications will be reviewed by independent expert assessors, with relevant industry or academic expertise.

As with previous funding opportunities within the Farming Innovation Programme, we’re asking projects to demonstrate benefits to farmers, growers and foresters in England.


The project should address a significant industry challenge or opportunity in at least 1 of the 4 industry subsectors:

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

The proposal should also investigate new solutions to challenges identified by industry, or opportunities for farmers, growers or foresters that have the potential to significantly improve:

  • productivity
  • sustainability and environmental impact
  • progression towards net zero emissions
  • resilience

The project must focus on developing on-farm or immediate post farmgate solutions and technologies.

We want to fund a wide portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, industry sectors, and business sizes.

How to apply

This funding opportunity will open the competition on 30 January 2023 and close on 8 March 2023.

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

Briefing event

There will be a briefing webinar to further explain the funding opportunity and how to apply on 1 February 2023 at 10:00am.

Find out more about this event and how to register.

Other funding opportunities

There will be further funding opportunities this year as part of the Farming Innovation Programme.

We will be launching the ‘Large R&D Partnership’ funding opportunity next month, and more details on it will be announced in due course.

Please visit the Farming Innovation Programme website for upcoming dates, and you can also stay informed by signing up to Defra e-alerts.

Top image:  Credit: Adam Gasson, UK Research and Innovation

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