Funding competition Farming Futures R&D Fund: Sustainable farm-based protein, feasibility studies

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £12.5 million across the two strands of this competition to develop innovative solutions for sustainable farm-based protein production. This funding is from the Farming Futures R&D Fund.

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Competition sections

Description

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will 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.

Defra and Innovate UK will work in collaboration to deliver a portfolio of projects that meet the objectives of the Farming Innovation Programme to develop innovative solutions that increase the productivity and sustainability of farming. The focus of this competition is sustainable farm-based protein production.

The aim of this funding is to:

  • accelerate the development of novel and disruptive technologies, that will transform traditional farm protein production systems into more sustainable models
  • support innovation with the potential to grow the sustainable protein industry and create new sources of resource efficient, low emission proteins
  • support significant improvements to farming productivity, environmental sustainability and resilience in the sector and move existing agricultural sectors to net zero
  • accelerate R&D of game changing opportunities by building diverse consortia including the UK agricultural sector and relevant research expertise
  • support projects that demonstrate environmental and societal impact, and include clear project deliverables for measuring the sustainability of the solutions and how they are preventing negative impact upon the sector
  • encourage dissemination and knowledge exchange to drive impact and wide uptake in the farming sector

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

This competition is split into 2 strands:

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they are applying to the correct strand 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 costs must be between £200,000 and £500,000.

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 costs between £200,000 and £500,000
  • start by 1 April 2023
  • end by 31 March 2025
  • last up to 24 months
  • be collaborative
  • 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 that is requested by 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:

If the lead organisation is an academic institution or an RTO it must collaborate with at least 2 businesses of any size.


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 project costs.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

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.

Number of applications

A business, can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications across both strands of the competition.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications across both strands of the competition

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTO), can lead or collaborate on any number of applications across both stands of the competition.

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 at all times make sure 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

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has allocated up to £12.5 million, working in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Transforming Food Production Challenge, to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50 % 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 50% 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 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 collaborative feasibility studies developing ambitious new solutions for sustainable farm-based protein production in the UK. These must address identified major on-farm or immediate post-farmgate challenges or opportunities in agricultural and horticultural practices.

Your project must seek to significantly improve:

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

Your proposal must:

  • demonstrate environmental benefits and societal impact
  • include clear project deliverables for measuring the sustainability of the solutions, and how they are preventing negative impact upon the sector
  • be able to demonstrate how the solution and output will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • ensure your solutions are closely aligned with industry priorities to deliver business-orientated and transformative opportunities
  • consider how it will encourage dissemination and knowledge exchange to the wider sector

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of projects across both strands of the competition, different technologies, markets, technological maturities, and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific themes

Your project must be in one or more of the four industry subsectors:

  • livestock
  • plants
  • novel animal feed production systems (such as algae, seaweed, insects, etc)
  • bioeconomy and agroforestry

Your solutions can also support emerging production systems that create new sources of resource efficient, low emission proteins that address longer-term food security for mainstream consumers or animal feed users.

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • are not addressing sustainable protein production
  • are equine specific
  • involve wild caught fisheries
  • involve aquaculture for fish production or human consumption
  • involve cellular expression of proteins or cultivated meat
  • involve acellular production systems, fermentation systems for bacteria, yeast or fungi​ for human consumption
  • 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

25 July 2022
Competition opens
3 August 2022
Online KTN briefing event: watch the recording
21 September 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
2 December 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.

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.

Team members must each complete an Equality Diversity and Inclusion survey. The lead applicant must complete their survey to submit 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 respond and mark this question as complete, before you can submit your application.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake. We will only fund feasibility studies and industrial research projects in this competition.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign the right 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

The assessors will score all your answers apart from questions 1, 2 and 3. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.

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

Question 2. Farmers, growers or foresters location (not scored)

Provide the addresses of all the farmers, growers or foresters claiming or receiving grant funding in your project. This is required for Subsidy Control and eligibility purposes.

Please note, you must have a minimum of 50% of any grant that is requested by farmers, growers or foresters in your project, allocated to farmers, growers or foresters based in England.

Question 3. 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 any challenges or opportunities relating to equality, diversity and inclusion arising from your project and the methods and approaches used to address them:

  • 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 4. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

Explain:

  • the farming or agricultural problem, need, technological challenge, or market opportunity identified that addresses sustainable protein production
  • how your project outputs would transform traditional farm protein production or create low emission systems that deliver significant healthy, sustainable proteins to mainstream consumers or animal feed users
  • how your project is benefiting farmers, growers or foresters in England improve productivity, resilience and sustainability, while decreasing the environmental impact of protein production
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural, or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

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, need or challenge
  • how your project will complement existing technologies to transform traditional farm protein production systems into more sustainable models
  • if your project will create new sources of resource efficient, low emission proteins and how it will deliver more efficient and sustainable protein production systems
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if your project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, 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 your project and how you will access them, particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • 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
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. This can include a short summary of the main people working on the project. It must be a PDF, 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)
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • 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
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models

Question 8. Route to market, competitors, and barriers

How are you going to grow your business as a result of the project? Who else is operating in this space and what barriers limit your ability to exploit your project output?

Explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your route to market, particularly if COVID-19 has changed market dynamics
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • the process you have completed to evaluate the work of competitors including those near market or in development, and how your proposal builds on, or differentiates from competitor offerings
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • where applicable, what regulatory, cultural or other barriers exist, both in the UK and internationally that prevent you from fully exploiting this opportunity

If there is any research organisation activity in your project, explain:

  • how you will encourage or facilitate dissemination and knowledge exchange to the wider sector over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from your project in further research activities

Question 9. Impacts and benefits

What impact would this project have on sustainable protein production and how will this be measured?

Describe:

  • a summary of your key deliverables during your project, the nature of the outputs you expect from your project (for example, reports, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design)
  • how your deliverables will help you target the problem, need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • the impact of your solution on protein production systems
  • the benefits you expect to the farming sectors, consumers and other end users in terms of sustainable options available in the future
  • the metrics you will use to measure the sustainability of your solution relative to existing practices, and how you will ensure the reliability and validity of the data measured
  • how you have determined that the proposed solution will not widen any farming inequalities, including any negative impacts that you have identified, and how will you mitigate against these
  • the sustained, long-term expected impacts on society, longer-term food security, the environment and supply chains
  • any wider impacts you expect on the economy at a regional or national scale

Question 10. Project management

How will you manage your project effectively?

Explain:

  • the main work packages of your project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each 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, taking into account the possible impact of further COVID-19 restrictions

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

Question 11. Risks

What are the main risks for your project?

Explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of your 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, and 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, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 12. 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 your project outcomes on the organisations involved
  • what other routes of investment have you already approached
  • what your project would look like without public funding
  • how your project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved

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 your project goals, explain:

  • your total project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to your project
  • how your 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 your project

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 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme, and is being delivered in partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge.

The Farming Innovation Programme will fund ambitious research and development projects to overcome barriers and create a more productive and sustainable sector. Projects will benefit England’s farmers, growers, foresters and other businesses to conduct R&D to help 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, Government’s Food Strategy 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, the Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund, and Farming Futures R&D Fund, are being delivered in partnership with UKRI.

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 and agriculture innovation, built upon the success of UKRI’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge, the recent Farming Innovation Pathways competition, and our shared ambition for a more productive, sustainable, and low carbon agrifood sector. We will take this partnership to the next level with 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.

Successful applicants

If you are successful in this competition, at least one member of your project team must attend a 1 hour briefing webinar within 10 days of receiving your successful notification.

At the webinar we will provide you with detailed information relating to setting up and starting your project. We will tell you about the briefing in your notification letter.

In this competition all projects awarded funding must upload evidence for each expenditure with every claim made. These can 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 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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