Funding competition Farming Innovation Programme - research starter pilot - EoI

Farming, growing or forestry businesses based in England can apply for a share of up to £1million for feasibility projects. This is an expression of interest competition.

Start new application

Or sign in to continue an existing application.

Competition sections

Description

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will work with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to invest up to £1million in innovation projects.

This funding is part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme which is delivered in partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. If your application is successful, you will be invited to apply to a full stage competition.

This two stage competition is designed to make funding accessible to a wider range of applicants. Applicants that are successful in the EoI stage will be able to access independent support to help them complete the full application stage. The full stage will open in February 2022.

The aim of this competition is to:

  • investigate early-stage solutions with the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, sustainability, resilience and move existing agricultural sectors to net zero
  • prioritise solutions that have positive outputs for farmers, growers or foresters in commercially relevant situations
  • accelerate development of effective new agricultural solutions by working with end-users and collaborating with the wider UK research community in the innovation process

Your proposal must be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England.

This is one of three competitions:

It is your responsibility to ensure you are applying to the correct competition for your project.

If you apply to the wrong competition you will be made ineligible and will not be sent for assessment, you cannot transfer your application.

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

Grant

Project size

Project cost details are not required at the EoI stage. At the full application stage your project’s total eligible costs must be between £28,000 and £56,000.

Who can apply

Your project

If your application is successful in this EoI stage, you will be invited to apply for a full stage competition. In the full stage you must collaborate with other eligible partners.

Your full stage project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £28,000 and £56,000
  • start by 1 August 2022
  • end by 31 July 2023
  • last up to 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in England
  • have at least 50% of the farmers, growers or foresters involved based in England

If you are successful at the full stage, 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.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a farming, growing or forestry business of any size based in England
  • be able to evidence that you are an established business, including sole traders and partnerships
  • have a UK bank account
  • not have been awarded Innovate UK funding as a project lead within the last 5 years

To collaborate with the lead at the full stage, your organisation must be a UK registered organisation or a farmer, grower or forester based in the UK.


Number of applications

A business can only lead on one EoI application.

Previous applications

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

At the full application stage, 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 full 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.

Funding

Defra and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge have allocated up to £1million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your full project cost information will only be required at the full application stage.

At the full stage 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 feasibility studies you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

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

For the full stage, research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 60% 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 60% 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 competition aims to provide an entry point​ for farmers, growers or foresters that have bold, ambitious, early-stage ideas solving major problems that impact their business. This may help them exploit new significant opportunities for their business or industry sub-sector.​

The outputs of this competition will ideally provide applicants with the knowledge and information needed to aid them in applying for a larger funding grant.

The scope of the competition is feasibility studies investigating new solutions to industry identified challenges, 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

Projects must focus on developing on-farm or immediate post farmgate​ solutions.

Your project must be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers, growers or forestry in England.

We want to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, industry sectors, technological maturities and business size.

Specific themes

Your project must address a significant industry challenge or opportunity in at least one of the four industry subsectors:

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

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

Text Update 20 October 2021: We have updated the out of scope project areas.

We are not funding projects that are:

  • hemp or cannabis production
  • equine specific​
  • wild caught fisheries
  • aquaculture, including algae and seaweed production​
  • cellular or acellular production systems, fermentation systems for bacteria, yeast or fungi​
  • projects that do not benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • 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
11 October 2021
EoI Online briefing: watch the recording
14 October 2021
KTN support event for applicants: watch the recording
20 October 2021
Applicant Q&A session: watch the recording
20 October 2021
Competition opens
24 November 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
10 February 2022
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 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

1. Project details

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

Application team

You can invite people from your organisation to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. You will need to give your project a title and a start date. Projects cannot start before 1 August 2022 and must end by 31 July 2023.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake. (We will only fund feasibility studies in this competition)

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, what is the problem or opportunity you want to address and which part of agriculture or horticulture does it apply to, for example, dairy, soft fruit, arable. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

2. Application questions

Applications for the EoI stage of this competition will be by video.

The assessors will score your answers for questions 3, 4, 5, and 6, questions 1 and 2 are not scored.

You must upload separate video responses for questions 2 to 6, on your YouTube account. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the correct video link is copied into the relevant question on your Innovation Funding Service (IFS) application.

Each video must be:

  • no longer than 90 seconds
  • ‘unlisted’ in your YouTube privacy settings
  • available for us to view until 1 December 2022

If your video response for a question is over 90 seconds long, only the first 90 seconds will be assessed.

Your application will be marked as ineligible if:

  • we cannot view your videos
  • it is hosted on a platform other than YouTube

More information on how to create an unlisted video on YouTube .

If you cannot upload your video to YouTube, you must contact support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes for advice.

Assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

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

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Question 2. Tell us about your business (not scored)

Who are you? Where is your farming, growing or forestry business based? What do you grow or produce? Where do you sell your produce?

You must upload a video response for this question in your YouTube submission. Assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

Your video response for this question must be no longer than 90 seconds. If your video response is over 90 seconds long, only the first 90 seconds will be assessed.

You must provide a link to your video as your answer to this question. You must also provide any passwords you may have created in order for us to access this video.

Question 3. What do you want to achieve from this funding?

What problem or opportunity do you want to address? Why does it matter? How does the problem affect farming, growing or forestry?

You must upload a video response for this question in your YouTube submission. Assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

Your video response for this question must be no longer than 90 seconds. If your video response is over 90 seconds long, only the first 90 seconds will be assessed.

You must provide a link to your video as your answer to this question. You must also provide any passwords you may have created in order for us to access this video.

Question 4. What is your 'big idea' for a solution?

Why is this problem not already solved? Why is your idea better than, or different from, what already exists?

You must upload a video response for this question in your YouTube submission. Assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

Your video response for this question must be no longer than 90 seconds. If your video response is over 90 seconds long, only the first 90 seconds will be assessed.

You must provide a link to your video as your answer to this question. You must also provide any passwords you may have created in order for us to access this video.

Question 5. Where did the idea come from?

Describe or explain any work done to develop your idea, from conception to now?

You must upload a video response for this question in your YouTube submission. Assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

Your video response for this question must be no longer than 90 seconds. If your video response is over 90 seconds long, only the first 90 seconds will be assessed.

You must provide a link to your video as your answer to this question. You must also provide any passwords you may have created in order for us to access this video.

Question 6. If your solution is successful idea is solved, what will this mean for farmers, growers or foresters?

How will this idea improve your:

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

How many farmers, growers or foresters may be impacted if you develop a solution?

You must upload video responses for this question in your YouTube submission. Assessors will review the content of your video not the quality.

Your video response for this question must be no longer than 90 seconds. If your video response is over 90 seconds long, only the first 90 seconds will be assessed.

You must provide a link to your video as your answer to this question. You must also provide any passwords you may have created in order for us to access this video.

3. Finances

Financial and project cost information is not required at the EOI stage.

Background and further information

This funding is a partnership between the UKRI’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme.

The Farming Innovation Programme will fund ambitious research and development projects. Projects will benefit England’s farmers, growers, foresters and other businesses to boost productivity, enhance sustainable practices, improve environmental outcomes and reduce carbon emissions in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors.

The programme provides a key means to deliver against the government’s goals. The goals are set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan, 25 Year Environment Plan and Net Zero targets. It aims to develop a renewed agricultural sector, producing healthy food for consumption at home and abroad, where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy. Giving farming, growing or forestry the opportunity to contribute significantly to environmental goals, including addressing climate change.

The Farming Innovation Programme is made up of three funds. Two of these funds, the Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund, and the forthcoming Farming Futures R&D Fund, are being launched and delivered in partnership with UKRI. The programme is designed to help groups of farmers, growers, foresters and other businesses conduct R&D to overcome barriers and create a more productive and sustainable sector.

This competition is part of the Industry-led R&D partnership fund.

Defra’s partnership with UKRI

Defra and UKRI have developed a strong partnership for agri-food innovation, built upon the success of UKRI’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge, and our shared ambition for a more productive, sustainable, and low carbon agri-food sector.

The recent Farming Innovation Pathways competition, which launched in March 2021 within the TFP Challenge demonstrated the strength of this partnership, which we will take to the next level with the Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme.

The competition will be run as a pilot to evaluate demand for this type of support and the impact of the funding on success rates of farmer-led consortia in future funding competitions.

If you are successful at this EoI competition you will be invited to complete a full application.

Innovate UK will provide access to an independent innovation broker to assist successful applicants to apply for the full stage. They will be able to help project leads identify other research organisations or businesses that can help deliver the project. The innovation broker will also be able to guide and assist project leads to complete the documentation required for the full stage application.

All projects awarded funding at the full stage must upload evidence for each expenditure with every claim made. These might include invoices, timesheets, receipts, or spreadsheets for capital usage. This is part of Innovate UK’s obligations under the Managing Public Money government handbook in relation to assurance, financial management and control.

Data Sharing

For applicants that are successful at the EoI stage Innovate UK reserve the right to share the following data with a 3rd party acting as an innovation broker for this competition. This data includes: your name, organisation name, contact details (phone and email), project title and project summary.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email support@innovateuk.ukri.org 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.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Need help with this service? Contact us