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

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £8 million for large R&D partnership projects, from the industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund, a part of the Farming Innovation Programme.

This competition is now closed.

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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 £8 million 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:

  • drive the development and demonstration of solutions that have the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability
  • help the sector mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change
  • ensure solutions deliver positive benefits for England’s farmers, growers, or foresters in commercially relevant situations
  • accelerate research development and demonstration of new agricultural solutions by driving collaboration through active engagement of end users and the wider UK research community in the innovation process
  • enable adoption by demonstrating knowledge exchange to the wider sector and other stakeholders
Your proposal must be able to demonstrate how the project will:

  • work with end users across the supply chain to identify the major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities
  • benefit farmers, growers, or foresters in England
  • build understanding of how your approach can best achieve widespread use, developing a theory of change, working with economists, social scientists, and other relevant experts
  • have scalable solutions that can be taken up widely and have widespread impact
  • demonstrate how the project will support a transformative change in the agriculture or horticultural sectors
  • develop and deliver a knowledge exchange (KE) plan that identifies the targets for the solution with a clear dissemination plan
  • how you will exploit the outputs of the project, and expected outcomes in terms of solution adoption

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they are applying to the correct competition for their project.

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 costs must be between £3 million and £5 million.

Who can apply

Your project

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 must:

  • have total costs between £3 million and £5 million
  • start by 1 February 2023
  • end by 31 January 2027
  • last up to 48 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in England
  • have a minimum of 50% of any grant requested by farmers, growers or foresters, allocated to farmers, growers or foresters based in England
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project, your organisation must:

Project team

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

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.

Subcontractors 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 but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

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

An academic institution, research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not-for-profit or public sector organisation 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.

Funding

Defra and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge have allocated up to £8 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 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 experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% 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, not-for-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Your proposal

The scope of this competition is to fund industrial research and experimental development projects that will address major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities.

Your solutions or project outputs 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 proposal must be able to demonstrate how the project will:

  • work with end users across the supply chain to identify the major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities
  • benefit farmers, growers, or foresters in England
  • build understanding of how your approach can best achieve widespread use, developing a theory of change, working with economists, social scientists, and other relevant experts
  • have scalable solutions that can be taken up widely and have widespread impact
  • demonstrate how the project will support a transformative change in the agriculture sector
  • develop and deliver a knowledge exchange (KE) plan that identifies the targets for the solution with a clear dissemination plan
  • exploit the outputs of the project, and expected outcomes in terms of solution adoption, for example, number of end users, area of land, and percentage of production using the new solution

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

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 and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • are equine specific​
  • involve wild caught fisheries
  • involve aquaculture, including algae and seaweed, for fish production
  • are cellular or acellular production systems, fermentation systems for bacteria, yeast or fungi​
  • are for the production of cannabis for medicinal or pharmaceutical use
  • do not benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • are dependent on export performance
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage
30 March 2022
Competition opens
5 April 2022
Online applicant briefing event: watch the recording
20 April 2022
Online consortia building event: register to attend
29 June 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
10 August 2022
Invite to interview
12 September 2022
Interviews start
23 September 2022
Interviews end
12 October 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 either online or at a designated location.

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 15 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?

You and all your project partners must answer this question and mark as complete, before you can submit your application.

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.

Scope

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 tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Text update 10/6/2022: we have changed Question 1 by adding Subcontractors to the text to make it clearer.

The assessors will score your answers to questions 4 to 15. Questions 1 to 3 are not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

You must answer all questions. 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 and full registered address of your organisation, any partners and subcontractors working on your project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

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

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.

Please note, you must have a minimum of 50% of any grant requested by farmers, growers or foresters in the project, allocated to farmers, growers or foresters 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?

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?

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 to support your answer. 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?

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:

  • the target markets for the project outcomes, any other potential markets (domestic, international or both)
  • 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?

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?

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?

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?

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

How will this public funding help you to accelerate or enhance your approach to developing your project towards commercialisation? What impact would this award have on the organisations involved?

Explain:

  • what advantages would public funding offer your project, for example, appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market – this list is not exhaustive
  • the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
  • what other routes of investment have you already approached
  • what would your project look like without funding
  • how this project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved

Question 15. Knowledge exchange and dissemination

What approach and resources you will use to increase awareness of the research and drive uptake of the outputs developed during the project?

Explain:

  • how you will communicate and work with the target market and how this will inform your knowledge exchange plan
  • how you will encourage use of the outputs beyond the initial target market
  • what new or different approaches will you use to encourage farmers, growers or foresters in England to use the outputs developed
  • how you will measure progress and success during and after the dissemination activities

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

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 greenhouse gasses in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors. By helping them adapt and become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

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 Partnerships 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.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and Defra (each an “agency”).

Your submitted application and any other information you provide at the application stage can be submitted to each agency on an individual basis for its storage, processing and use. Any relevant information produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.

This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to Defra and vice versa.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. It is held in accordance with its Information Management Policy.

Innovate UK and Defra are directly accountable to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK, and Defra will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Find a project partner

If you want help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK 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 Innovate UK 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@iuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, 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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