Funding competition Growing Kent and Medway: Collaborative Research and Development

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2 million for business-focused innovation in the horticultural food supply chain.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


This competition is delivered in partnership with the Growing Kent and Medway consortium led by the National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB).It is funded by the UKRI Strength in Places Fund to invest up to £2 million in innovation projects.

These will be to stimulate an uplift in the region’s economy through inclusive and innovation-led growth.

It focuses on:

  • horticultural production including the production of novel, high-value compounds from plants
  • fresh produce packaging
  • food and drink processing
  • enabling technologies that underpin the supply chain.

The aim of this competition is to support business-focused innovation. Specifically, it aims to support transition to net-zero, and deliver improved productivity and sustainability in horticultural food and drink production.

Your proposal must demonstrate the potential to positively impact on the economy of the K&M area.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

You must request a grant of no less than £50,000 and no more than £250,000 for your project.

Who can apply

Any awards given to primary agricultural producers are subject to the green box exemption under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. Please see further guidance on green box subsidies here WTO Guidance for support in Agriculture.

Applicants receiving this type of support must ensure that there is minimal to no distortion of trade and comply with the requirements of Annex 2 of the Agriculture Agreement.

Your project

Your project must:

  • be undertaken in the Kent and Medway area
  • claim a grant between £50,000 and £250,000
  • start by 1 May 2022
  • end by 31 October 2024
  • last between 12 months and 30 months
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the K&M area

If your project's eligibility falls outside the green box subsidy exemption or your total grant requests, duration, geographical area falls outside our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us you will be made ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • include a minimum of 2 in the consortium
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the K&M area

The lead organisation must collaborate with at least one of the following research organisations or research and technology organisations in the K&M area:

  • NIAB
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Kent
  • Canterbury Christ Church University

Academic institutions cannot lead.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not-for-profit organisation
  • public sector organisation
  • research organisation (RO) and research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses, non-regional RO or RTO. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK, including outside of the K&M area, you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from outside of the K&M area but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the K&M area.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Overseas subcontractors are only allowed in exceptional circumstances. If you think this applies to you, please email for approval at least 10 working days before the competition closes with your justification.

Number of applications

If a business leads a project, it can collaborate on a further two projects.

Businesses can only lead on one application, if a business is not leading a project they can collaborate on any number of applications.

Academic institutions, charities and not for profit RO or RTO can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Eligibility overview

Here is a diagram showing a summary of eligibility.

This is a new way of showing you eligibility. Your feedback will help us to improve it.


We have allocated up to £2 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 40% if you are a micro or small organisation, a medium-sized organisation or a large organisation, to a maximum of £250,000 of grant claim

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-s registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your eligible project costs if you are an RTO, charity, non-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to support business-focused innovation in Kent and Medway. This is to support the transition to net-zero, deliver improved productivity and sustainability in horticultural food and drink production. This could include the production of novel, high-value compounds from plants.

Growing Kent and Medway want to stimulate socially inclusive innovation so individuals can contribute and benefit from economic growth in the Kent and Medway area.

Your project must:

  • provide solutions that tackle new or emerging needs
  • demonstrate a realistic potential to support business growth, scale-up, and job creation
  • deliver benefit to the region as well as further afield

Your activities can solve challenges at any point in:

  • horticultural production including the production of novel, high–value compounds from plants
  • fresh produce packaging
  • food and drink processing
  • enabling technologies that underpin the supply chain

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Innovate UK and Growing Kent and Medway will review and fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, geographic sub-regions, markets, technological maturities, as listed in specific themes.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • moving towards net-zero carbon emissions
  • minimising waste and maximising recycling
  • improving resource use efficiency and sustainability
  • increasing productivity
  • resilient food production, for example: supply chain resilience, nutritional security
  • precision technologies, for example: sensor technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), robotics
  • addressing current and future labour shortages, supply or demand driven, within the K&M agri-food sector

Portfolio consideration will include:

  • sub-regional balance
  • sub-sector balance, for example: horticulture, viticulture, Agri-food tech
  • where in the value chain, for example: cultivation, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution and business model innovation
  • balance of research partner participation

Research categories

We will fund industrial research projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • do not demonstrate the potential to positively impact on the economy of the K&M area
  • fail to commit to delivering social value
  • have a focus on animal or fish-based production systems and animal or fish derived food and drink products
  • grow plants with the primary purpose of producing animal feed
  • dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage- for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

6 September 2021
Competition opens
14 September 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording

20 October 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
17 December 2021 9:47am
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

1.Project details.

2.Application questions.


1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Subsidy Basis

Will the project, including any related activities, you want Innovate UK to fund, affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU?

All participants must complete this section.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

All participants must complete this EDI survey and the lead applicant must then select yes in the application question. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why.

  1. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to questions 7 to 14, questions 1 to 6 are not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question. You must answer all questions. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.

If you are working in collaboration you must also state the name and full registered address of all your partners. We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of projects.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 2. Social value (not scored)

How will you engage in delivering social value in the K&M area? Provision of social value: Before you answer this question, refer to the social value guidance provided in the “Background and Further Information” section of the competition brief. Detailed guidance around social value activities and levels of expected commitment can be found at

In your answer you must:

  • confirm that you will commit to delivering social value (failure to commit to delivering social value will mean that your project is ineligible for funding)
  • state the level of time that you are willing to commit to delivering social value. List the project partners who will be involved in this delivery
  • describe your plans for delivering social value. State which optional activity (from our framework) you will undertake or describe in your own words what you will do if you are using your own approach

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 3. Net-zero targets (not scored)

How does your project contribute towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions targets?

Your answer can be up to 150 words long.

Question 4. Project location (not scored)

Where is the work being undertaken?

You must confirm:

  • where in the K&M area you intend to undertake the work·what work will be carried out in the K&M area

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 5. Awareness of funding opportunity (not scored)

How did you become aware of this funding opportunity?

Using the list below, state through which channels you heard about this competition. You may list as many that apply.

  • Innovate UK portal
  • KTN
  • Growing Kent & Medway (GK&M) website
  • Growing Kent & Medway (GK&M) promotion or events
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook or Instagram
  • Twitter
  • other

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

Question 6. Project focus (not scored)

What is the focus of your project or innovation?

Using the list below, state your primary focus, and if applicable, your secondary focus.

  • minimising waste and maximising recycling
  • improving resource use efficiency and sustainability
  • increasing productivity
  • improving resilience in the food chain
  • developing precision technologies
  • solving the labour challenge.

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

Question 7. The business need or opportunity

What is the business need or opportunity for your innovation?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project in terms of the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity, particularly in the horticultural food production and processing chain in Kent & Medway
  • who would benefit from your innovation in the immediate and longer term
  • the size of the target markets that your project addresses and any other potential secondary markets, backed up by references where available
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need and how this project fits with your current product, service lines, offerings, or activities

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 8. The innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain the idea and innovation your project will develop including:

  • how your project responds to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • the project outputs
  • the key innovations or scientific technological evidence supporting your proposed solution
  • how your innovation improves on the nearest current state-of-the-art or competitors’ products or services
  • your freedom to operate
  • your research approach

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You can also submit one additional appendix to support your answers to this question. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom. Do not include hyperlinks.

Question 9. Route to market

How are you going to grow your business as a result of the project?

Describe or explain the route to market for your project outputs including:

  • how near to commercialisation are your project outputs? What extra steps need to be taken for them to be commercialised?
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets and your current position in these markets; including your target customers or end users
  • your proposed business model and route to market.
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, e.g., increased revenues, productivity gains, transition to net-zero in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project to maximise your market potential
  • for research organisations, how you will actively engage knowledge dissemination to use the results generated from the project in further research activities to support Kent & Medway’s local economy and society in general.

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 10. Wider impact

What is the impact that the project outputs will have beyond the project team, including customers, others in the supply chain, the broader horticultural and food sector, and society more generally?

Describe or explain:

  • the economic benefits from the project to the economy of Kent & Medway for example, job creation, increased productivity
  • any expected societal impacts for example quality of life, social inclusion, nutritional security or improved employment opportunities
  • any expected environmental impacts for example, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced waste, reduced inputs.
  • whether your project is likely to have any negative impact (e.g., displacement of jobs, social exclusion) and how these will be minimised

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 11. Risk management

What is your approach to the identification, management, and mitigation of risks to the successful delivery of your project?

Describe or explain:

  • what are the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial, and environmental risks
  • how you will manage and mitigate these risks throughout the project
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, and ethical issues, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom. Do not include hyperlinks.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 12. Project team and management

Who is your project team and what is your capability to deliver the project and what other support you might need?

Describe or explain:

  • the exact role of each partner and any current relationships between the partners
  • why the project team has the right skills, experience, and access to facilities to deliver the project
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them, particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • any roles you will need to recruit for, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the team structure and how you will promote equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to deliver project outcomes
  • If applicable, the justification for inclusion of non-Kent & Medway based organisations in the project

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 13. Funding requirements

How has your project been costed and how will it be funded?

You must:

  • indicate the total eligible costs for the project and the balance of costs across the project partners
  • provide a full breakdown of the costs and justify them
  • clearly state the grant funding requested by each partner
  • explain how each partner will finance their own contributions/ co-investment to the project
  • describe how this project represents value for money for you compared to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • indicate justification for subcontractor costs
  • explain how this project represents value for money for the taxpayer

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 14: Added value

What is the added value that can be achieved by this project being funded?

Describe or explain:

  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding
  • what would happen if the application were unsuccessful
  • the difference that public funding would make to your project
  • the likely impact of the project on the partners involved, including increased R&D activities or spending

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

Delivering social value

Growing Kent & Medway will deliver inclusive economic growth so that all communities in the region can contribute to, and benefit, from an uplift in regional prosperity.

This will be achieved through a range of mechanisms, including the delivery of social value through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and other community engagement.

The focus of this engagement will be on raising awareness and advancing opportunity in horticulture, food production and the enabling technologies (e.g. robotics, sensors, AI). For example, social value could include raising awareness around career pathways or around nutrition and well-being through community participation.

Beneficiaries of the Growing Kent & Medway grant funding programmes are expected to contribute towards these social value goals. They will be asked to commit to a certain level of STEM or other community engagement in the region. Applicants who fail to commit to delivering social value will be ineligible for funding.

We recognise that some businesses may already have in place well established mechanisms to deliver Corporate Social Responsibility, for example; volunteering days for employees. However, others may be less familiar with the concept. Growing Kent & Medway will provide ideas and support to help these businesses to participate. These are described in the Growing Kent & Medway Social Value Framework.

Applicants are asked to outline their plans for STEM or other community engagement under the “Social Value” (Q2) response of the application form. This question is not assessed. However, Growing Kent & Medway may wish to have follow-up discussions with you to ensure that quality and safeguarding issues are adequately addressed.

Growing Kent & Medway will monitor and evaluate the impact of the social value activities that are undertaken by projects funded through this grant competition.

Further information about the range of engagement options, and expected levels of commitment, can be found in the Growing Kent & Medway Social Value Framework at:

Finding a project partner

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.
These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.
We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

Need help with this service? Contact us