Funding competition Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming - EoI

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £12.5 million from the Farming Futures R&D Fund, a part of the Farming Innovation Programme.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will work with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to invest up to £12.5 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.

We will work in collaboration to deliver a portfolio of projects that meet the objectives of the Farming Innovation Programme and specific Defra key priorities. These are around reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate.

The aim of this funding is to:

  • develop ambitious solutions that will reduce emissions in existing practices whilst making the sector climate resilient
  • support innovation to transform farming productivity, environmental sustainability and resilience, whilst moving the sector towards net zero
  • prioritise outcomes aligned with Government key priorities to deliver business oriented solutions
  • develop solutions with a demonstrable societal impact, with clear deliverables including measurement of specific emissions reductions, and impacts
  • build diverse consortiums of innovative agricultural and horticultural businesses and relevant research expertise
  • encourage dissemination and knowledge exchange to drive impact and a wide uptake in the farming sector
  • increase the market readiness or maturity of emerging academic solutions

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

This is stage 1 of a 2 stage competition. The whole process will take at least 8 months.

  1. Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming - Expression of interest (EoI): Defra and Innovate UK will assess your application. Defra will review whether your application aligns to their key priorities (this competition).
  2. Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming - Full Stage competition: Only applicants who are successful in the EoI stage will be invited to apply. The full stage will be independently assessed by Innovate UK. If your application is assessed as eligible, you will be required to present at interview. The selection of successful projects will be decided after the interviews. You can review the questions for the full stage competition in the ‘Supporting Information’ tab.

A decision to proceed with the full stage competition will depend on the outcomes from this EoI. Your application will be checked for changes between your EoI and full stage 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


Project size

Your project’s total costs at full stage must be between £3 million and £6 million and can last up to 48 months.

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

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 grant claiming partners.

Your full stage project must:

  • address the specific requirements of the Defra key priorities for reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate
  • start by 1 April 2023
  • end by 31 March 2027
  • last between 24 and 48 months
  • have total eligible costs between £3 million and £6 million
  • 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 awarded to farmers, growers or foresters, allocated to farmers, growers or foresters based in England

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

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 be:

If the lead organisation is an academic institution or an RTO it must collaborate with at least 1 UK registered business of any size.

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 on the Innovation Funding Service.

We will not accept unjustified changes from your EoI proposal but the consortium may be expanded at full stage with additional partners invited. We expect the organisations identified in your EoI to continue to participate to a full stage application.

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


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 provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

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 application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

Academic institutions, research and technology organisations (RTO), can lead and collaborate on any number of applications.

Charities, not for profit or public sector organisations cannot lead but 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.


Defra and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge have allocated up to £12.5 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 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 aim of this competition is to fund industrial research studies developing ambitious new solutions reducing farming emissions and adapting to a changing climate. These must address major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities.

Your solutions must address the priority areas identified by Defra for reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate, and significantly improve:

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

You must reflect the societal impact of the proposed solution and include clear deliverables in measuring the specific emissions being addressed. You must demonstrate the impact and ability to manage the solution.

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.

We will not accept unjustified changes in challenge and solution but the consortium can have additional partners added at the full stage. We expect the organisations identified in the EoI to continue to participate if selected to pass through to full stage competition.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on solutions to reduce emissions in existing agricultural practices or enhance resilience to climate change in one or more of the four industry subsectors:

  • 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

We are not funding projects that:

  • are not addressing the priority areas identified by Defra
  • are for the production of cannabis for medicinal or pharmaceutical use
  • 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​
  • 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
7 April 2022
Online briefing event: watch the recording
18 May 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
1 July 2022 4:53pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

You will be able to see the full stage competition questions in the supporting information tab.

What we ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

1. Project details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application team

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

Application details

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

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake. We will only fund Industrial Research projects 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 and be clear about what makes it innovative. List any organisations you have named as collaborators. This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

2. Application questions

Defra will review your application to determine it aligns with their key priorities for reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate. Feedback following their assessment of your EoI application will be provided in a separate notification.

Innovate UK assessors will score your answers for questions 2 to 4, question 1 is not scored. Assessor feedback for each scored question will be made available through IFS.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any partners working on the project. We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. Challenge and ambition

What is the existing agricultural challenge you are addressing, and specifically which emissions are you looking to reduce?

Describe the ambition of your solution and the expected overall impact it could have in supporting the UK transition to net zero.


  • the specific greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction targets and the scale of reduction being sought
  • the farming or agricultural problem, need, technological challenge, or market opportunity identified
  • how your project outputs would deliver significant improvements in productivity and sustainability
  • how your project will contribute to achieving net zero goals and a green recovery in post-pandemic UK, whilst benefiting farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • how your project will impact the resilience of the UK food system to climate change

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 3. Approach and innovation

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


  • your approach or innovation and how will it address the identified problem
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need and any previous research or development which underpins your solution
  • how your project will complement existing technologies to deliver a more efficient and sustainable farm production system

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 4. Team and deployment potential

Who are the primary members of the consortium? What are their roles in the project development, and deployment at scale?


  • the main partners in the project, the relationships between partners and the rationale for working together
  • the roles, and experience of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • any additional parties you may need to enable you to deliver your project
  • how you will work with farmers, growers or foresters throughout the project
  • how you propose to deploy your project at scale and how project impact will be measured

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Please note: If you are invited to the full stage competition, organisations identified in your EoI application are expected to participate. However, new partners can be added to your consortium in your full stage application.

Full stage application questions

Applicants who are successful at this EoI stage will be invited to complete a full stage proposal. To make you aware of future requirements, the 13 questions below are those required to be completed at this later stage. These questions may be subject to change for the full stage competition.

Question 1. Applicant location

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation, all partners and any new organisations that have joined your consortium since the EoI stage.

Question 2. EDI: Consortium considerations

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

Question 3. Previous Application

Enter your previous EoI application number as your answer.

You must upload your previous EoI application as an appendix to support your answer.

Question 4. Challenge and ambition

What is the existing agricultural challenge you are addressing, and specifically which emissions are you looking to reduce?

Describe what you expect to achieve from your solution and the overall impact it could have in supporting the UK transition to net zero.

Question 5. Approach and innovation

What novel approach will you take, and what additional research will you need to support your project?

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts.

Question 6. Team and resources

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

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. This can include a short summary of the main people and organisations working on the project to support your answer.

Question 7: Project impact

How will your project impact be measured?

You can submit your expected deliverables during the project as an appendix.

Question 8. Outputs and exploitation

How will you exploit and disseminate your project results?

Provide a brief summary of your consortium exploitation plan.

You must submit an exploitation plan as an appendix to support your answer.

Your exploitation plan can be updated during the project, subject to agreement by UKRI.

Question 9: Benefits Realisation

What benefits is your project expected to deliver to external parties and over what timescale?

Distinguish between benefits you expect to deliver to those both inside and outside your project consortium, which may include benefits to farmers, growers, foresters and the wider agrifood industry, the UK economy and others.

You must download the logic model template and guidance document. Once completed, submit as one appendix to support your answer.

Question 10. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer.

Question 11. Risks

What are the main risks for your project?

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer.

Question 12. 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?

Question 13. Added Value

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

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. This gives farming 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 Farming Futures R&D Fund.

Defra’s partnership with UKRI

Defra and UKRI have developed a strong partnership for agrifood 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 agrifood 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.

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, environmentally sustainable and resilient sector.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, 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 the 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 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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