Funding competition Farming Innovation Programme - small R&D partnership projects

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £11million for Small R&D Partnership Projects, from the Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund, a part of the Farming Innovation Programme.

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Competition sections

Description

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will work with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to invest up to £11million 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.

The aim of this competition is to:

  • develop solutions with the potential to improve overall productivity, sustainability, resilience, and move existing agricultural sectors to net zero
  • ensure solutions have positive outputs for farmers, growers or foresters in commercially relevant situations
  • develop new agricultural solutions, by collaboration through engagement with end users and the UK research community in the innovation process
  • accelerate adoption by ensuring knowledge exchange with the wider sector and other stakeholders

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 the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they are applying to the correct competition for their 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

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £1million and £3million.

Who can apply

If you are successful, 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:

  • have total eligible costs between £1million and £3million
  • start by 1 June 2022
  • end by 31 May 2025
  • last up to 36 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

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK organisations
  • work with at least one SME

Academic institutions and research organisations cannot lead.


Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK business of any size or a UK registered:

  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not-for-profit
  • public sector organisation
  • 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. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK. 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. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one application and can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading any applications, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

Academic institution, research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not-for-profit or public sector organisation can collaborate in 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.

Funding

Defra and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge have allocated up to £11million 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 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

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 fund industrial research studies developing new solutions that will address major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities.

Your solutions must significantly improve:

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

Businesses within a supply chain, are encouraged to come together as a partnership to solve major challenges or opportunities.

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

We aim 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 industry subsectors below:

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

Research categories

We will fund industrial research 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
Online briefing: watch the recording
13 October 2021
KTN support webinar for applicants: watch the recording
20 October 2021
Applicant Q&A session: watch the recording
20 October 2021
Competition opens
27 October 2021
KTN online collaboration event: register to attend
1 December 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
14 January 2022
Invite to interview
1 February 2022
Interview start
14 February 2022
Interview end
10 March 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 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

Interviews

If your online application is successful at this stage, you will be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place online.
Before the interview, by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:
  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback
List of attendees
Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 9 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.
Presentation slides
Your interview presentation must:
  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 20 minutes
  • have no more than 20 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links
You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.
Written response to assessor feedback
This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns.
It can:
  • be up to 2 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams
Interview
After your presentation the panel will spend 30 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

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.

Each and every participant in the application must complete this EDI survey, and the lead must select yes in the application question. This survey must be completed for every competition.

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.

Scope

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

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to questions 4 to 14, questions 1, 2 and 3 are not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. 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.

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 all participants of a project.

Question 2. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (not scored but mandatory)

How have you incorporated equality, diversity and inclusion into your project delivery and project outcomes?

Describe or explain the details relating to methods and approaches used:

  • during project delivery
  • for governance
  • for project team and advisory boards
  • for stakeholder and end-user engagement
  • for design thinking

Please note: Questions relating to equality, diversity and inclusion will not form part of the funding decision but will be used to inform the development of EDI activities for the competition cohort.

Question 3. Farmers, growers or foresters location (eligibility checked)

Provide a list of the addresses of your farmers, growers or foresters claiming grant funding in the project.

At least 50% of these farmers, growers or foresters must be based in England.

Question 4. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge, or market opportunity behind your project and how will this deliver the competition aims?

Describe or explain:

  • the farming or agricultural problem, need, technological challenge, or market opportunity identified
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural, or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity
  • how your project outputs would deliver large improvements in productivity, resilience, sustainability, while significantly decreasing the environmental impact of farming
  • how your project is helping the industry transition towards net zero emissions and benefiting farmers, growers or foresters in England

Question 5. Approach and innovation

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

Describe or explain:

  • what is the approach or innovation and how will it address the identified problem
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • how your project will complement existing technologies to deliver a more efficient and sustainable farm production system

You can submit one appendix. 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.

Question 6. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills, and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • how you will work with farmers, growers or foresters throughout the project to ensure outputs remain focussed on end-users' needs

You must submit one appendix. This can include a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • markets, domestic, international or both that you will be targeting in the project, and any other potential markets
  • customers, who are your actual target customers or end users, what is the value to them and why they would use or buy your product or service
  • market sizing, what is the structure and size of the market you are targeting and what market share do you expect to obtain
  • what are the dynamics of the market, growth rates, changes in demand

Question 8. Outcomes and route to market

What are the outcomes of this project and how are you going to progress them to commercialisation and market?

Describe or explain:

  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project: for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product, or service design, and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you propose to take the outcomes of the project forward to market
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, or designs
  • what business models will you use

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 9. Competitors and barriers

Who else is operating in this space and what barriers limit your ability to exploit your project output?

Describe or explain:

  • the process you have completed to evaluate the work of competitors including those near market or in development
  • how does your proposal build on, or differentiate from competitor offerings
  • where applicable, what regulatory, cultural and or other barriers exist, both in the UK and internationally that prevent you from fully exploiting this opportunity

Question 10. Wider impacts

What will your project deliver and what impacts might this project have outside the project team?

Describe and where possible, quantify:

  • the environmental, sustainability and resilience benefits from the project to external parties for example; contributing to net-zero targets for emissions and reduction of waste
  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • the social and welfare impacts from the project

Question 11. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages (WP) of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each WP and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones and deliverables

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.

Question 12. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

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

Question 13. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

In terms of the project goals, describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how will each partner finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to the project

Question 14. Added Value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • whether this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why are you not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application were unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

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

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 governments 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.

In this competition all projects awarded funding 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.

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 Farming Innovation Programme will be made up of three new innovation 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.

Defra and UKRI are looking to fund bold ideas and encourage collaboration between businesses, researchers, farmers, growers or foresters to deliver solutions for a more productive, more environmentally sustainable and more resilient sector.

Find a project partner

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the KTN.

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 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.

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