Funding competition Agri-tech Catalyst Colombia

UK and Colombian businesses, not for profits and research organisations can apply for a share of £3 million to support the uptake of new technologies and innovations in the Colombian agriculture sector, particularly by female smallholder farmers.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


Innovate UK, through the Colombian Prosperity Fund Programme, will invest up to £3 million. This is to enable UK and Colombian partners to address agricultural challenges in post-conflict and conflict-affected regions in Colombia.

This competition aims to help farmers in Colombia, particularly female smallholders, adopt innovations faster. This will help the country meet international development objectives in agriculture, including:

  • an improvement in the health and welfare of farmers, particularly female smallholders
  • sustainable intensification of Colombian agriculture
  • improvements in human health, and diversity in diets and nutrition
  • an improvement in rural income and food security
  • easier trade in agricultural products

Projects and their outcomes must fit with the Official Development Assistance (ODA) criteria and International Development (Gender Equality) Act. This aims to boost inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, and have a positive social or environmental effect on wider Colombian society.

Your proposal may take innovative ideas from any sector or discipline.

Agri-tech Catalyst funding is available to UK businesses of any size, UK research organisations and partners in Colombia.

Funding type


Project size

Early-stage awards can have total project costs from £150,000 to £500,000 and last up to 18 months. Late-stage awards can have total project costs from £200,000 up to £800,000. Projects must start by March 2019 and last up to 18 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK or Colombia based business (of any size), academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or research organisation
  • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector)
  • carry out your project work in the UK, Colombia or both
  • collaborate with a Colombian partner

Research organisations must follow our definition. Funding is also available to partners in Colombia for applications targeting relevant agriculture challenges.

The lead organisation must be from the UK and claim funding through this competition. If the project is collaborative, at least one other organisation in the consortium must also claim funding.

Any one business or research organisation may lead on one application and partner in a maximum of a further 2 applications.

If a research organisation is:

  • the lead on an application they must have 2 business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size)
  • not the lead on any application, they can be a partner in any number of applications

UK academics can lead an application only for the early-stage award category but can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Early-stage award projects can be business-led or research-led.

Late-stage award projects must be business-led and support UK companies working in collaboration with Colombian business partners. These projects will test and validate innovative ideas in a commercial environment. This is to demonstrate their economic and technical feasibility before large-scale deployment. UK and Colombian research base partners can only participate as subcontractors to a business partner in the late-stage award category.

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing


We have allocated up to £3 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Total research base partner costs must not exceed 50% of total project costs for early-stage feasibility studies. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Your proposal

This competition aims to help Colombian farmers, particularly female smallholders, adopt agricultural innovations faster. The scope is broad and proposals may take innovative ideas from any sector or discipline that address:

  • primary crop and livestock production, including aquaculture
  • food security and nutrition challenges
  • challenges in downstream food processing, provided the solution lies in primary production

All proposals must demonstrate the potential for advancing sustainable intensification in Colombian agriculture, to deliver economic impact across the agri-tech industry.

For this competition we are particularly interested in projects that:

  • integrate smallholders into supply chains to meet quality standards, improve productivity and create new supply chains
  • support improved sustainability outcomes in Colombia, through technologies that reduce the environmental impact of crop, livestock or aquaculture production, or that help to reduce deforestation
  • increase the value of production to smallholders
  • encourage digital agriculture applications in Colombia, through use of big data analytical innovations, or information services for farmers, particularly female smallholders
  • develop innovations that increase rural income through improved processing or storage
  • help control crop pests and diseases or weeds

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technology areas, market sectors and technological maturities. These may include feasibility studies or experimental development projects.

Your application must make clear how your project fits within the ODA criteria.

Project types

Early-stage awards must explore the commercial potential of an early-stage scientific idea through feasibility studies.

Late-stage awards must be experimental development projects. They will evaluate or trial the commercial potential of an innovative concept in a real-life commercial environment. They are designed to demonstrate their economic and technical feasibility ahead of large-scale deployment.

For early-stage feasibility studies projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

The total combination of your research partner costs must not exceed 50% of the total project costs.

Academics will be funded at 100% through Je-S, or 80% of the full economic cost.

For late-stage 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 small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Projects we won't fund

We will not fund projects that cover:

  • forestry or non-food crops
  • wild-capture fisheries
  • equine related proposals

26 March 2018
Competition opens
5 April 2018
Applicant briefing recording.
5 April 2018
Brokerage event.
18 July 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
25 July 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
7 September 2018
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending one of the briefing events listed in ‘Dates’
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

External, independent experts will assess the quality your application. We will then select the projects to fund, building a portfolio of projects that:

  • are high quality
  • address the range of themes as described in the scope
  • represent the potential for return on investment for the company and the UK

Subject to meeting the quality threshold, we reserve the right to manage the portfolio to achieve the correct balance of projects and funding.

Please use Microsoft Word. If you use Google Docs or any other open source software your application will be ineligible.

Background and further information

The competition is funded by the Colombian Prosperity Fund Programme. More information on the Prosperity Fund can be found on the cross-government Prosperity Fund background guidance.

The Colombian Prosperity Fund Programme aims to:

  • support economic development
  • unlock economic opportunities
  • drive growth in post-conflict and conflict-affected regions

The programme will benefit about 3 million people with a focus on women and girls in Colombia’s poorest regions. It will result in up to £1.99 billion of primary benefits to Colombia over 10 years. The programme will focus on 7 activities in the areas of infrastructure, institutional strengthening and agriculture. The fund forms a strategic proportion of the UK’s total Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI). It represents a significant change in the ODA resources spent on assisting countries to grow and develop, which will help to make the world a more prosperous place.

More information on the Prosperity Fund can be found on the cross-government Prosperity Fund background guidance.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network. They have more information about the agri-tech catalyst on their own website.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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