Funding competition SBRI: finding a solution to Hylobius abietis in Scottish forestry

Organisations can apply for a share of £150,000, including VAT, to develop innovative ways to reduce mortality of young forest trees in Scotland caused by pine weevil damage.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition. The aim of the competition is to achieve cost effective establishment of young forest trees in Scotland by reducing mortality from damage caused by Hylobius abietis (large pine weevil).

This competition is being supported by the Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund.

The overall programme will be delivered over 2 phases. This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

Phase 1: research and development contracts, feasibility study

The first phase involves research and development contracts being awarded to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed solution. We expect to fund up to 5 projects. The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

We would welcome bids that bring together a consortium of sector specialists.

Phase 2: research and development contracts, prototype development and testing

The second phase involves up to 2 research and development (R&D) contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £200,000, including VAT, will be allocated for each contract. This is to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for a period of time approximately covering 2 tree planting seasons, or up to 22 months. Phase 2 funding is dependent on the success of phase 1.

Funding type


Project size

We expect phase 1 projects to range in size up to total costs of £30,000, including VAT, for each organisation. Projects must start by February 2019, end by June 2019 and last up to 5 months.

Who can apply

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, the research base or the third sector as subcontractors

Depending on the type of solution proposed, you may need additional approvals before your solution can be employed on the National Forest Estate (NFE). Therefore you should also demonstrate your understanding of the approval process that your solution would need to go through before it can be used on the NFE. You should tell us how you would gain any separate approval. If there is no separate approvals process for your solution then please state this in your application.

In order for a solution to be implemented in the UK it must be judged to be compliant with the UK Forestry Standard.


Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively for R&D services. R&D can cover solution exploration and design. It can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to develop innovative ways to establish young forest trees cost effectively in Scotland by reducing mortality from Hylobius abietis damage.

We will consider supporting any cost effective solution that meets the brief and contributes to the Integrated Pest Management Plan. You must read the current Pest Management Strategy for Hylobius before you submit an application.

Examples of suitable approaches include:

  1. Predicting the severity of weevil damage in advance.
  2. Protecting young planted trees.
  3. Rapidly reducing the damage being caused by high populations of weevil.
  4. Suppressing the population of weevil in the longer term and wider landscape.

Your solution must:

  • demonstrate compliance with the UK Forestry Standard
  • demonstrate due consideration for FES’s certification status through the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS)

In phase 1 you must develop your proposed idea sufficiently to demonstrate that it has the potential to improve forest establishment by reducing tree mortality from Hylobius in a forest environment.

In phase 2 the successful projects will carry out appropriate prototype demonstration, which could include ‘field’ testing their ideas.
10 September 2018
Competition opens
15 October 2018
Edinburgh briefing event.
31 October 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
7 November 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
21 December 2018
Applicants notified
25 January 2019
Phase 1 contracts awarded.
25 January 2019
Feedback received.

Before you start

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending the briefing event on 15 October
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server

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

A selected panel of experts will assess the quality your application. You must use Microsoft Word for the application form or your application will be ineligible

Background and further information

The large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, can lead to complete loss of newly planted native or coniferous species, in some cases making continued forest management unsustainable.

Hylobius abietis is present throughout the UK and, as an adult, is the most serious pest of young, newly planted trees on sites where conifers form the preceding tree cover.

Contrary to its common name it is a generalist feeder. It can damage and kill not only our native Scots pine but all UK conifer species, as well as many of our native broadleaves. This can happen any time between restocking and 5 to 6 years later.

Adult weevils migrate onto sites where trees have been felled within the last 5 years. They lay their eggs on stumps and branches on the ground. Adults emerge in the autumn to feed on young seedlings, girdling the stems and often killing the young trees.

It is estimated the direct costs of damage losses are in the region of £5 million a year in the UK. This estimate excludes:

  • future financial losses due to poorer crop quality in unevenly established stands
  • loss of production and delayed revenue

With these losses included, the total financial impact to land managers is estimated to be around £40 million a year.

Several factors create the potential for considerably increased damage by this weevil. Current damage prevention relies heavily on insecticides but these may not be available in the future due to changes in forest accreditation, insecticide regulation and registration of plant protection products.

As the climate changes, it is predicted that higher temperatures will lead to Hylobius maturing at a larger size, which gives them a higher feeding rate, lower mortality and more offspring. The warmer climate will provide an extended feeding period and a faster generation time.

About SBRI competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. SBRI supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development (R&D). SBRI generates new business opportunities for companies and provides a route to market for their ideas. It also bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies.

Further help and information

You can find information on how to enter this competition in the invitation to tender document, which is available for download on our secure site after registration.

Questions related to the particular requirements of this competition should be addressed directly to

You will be able to find answers to common questions and slides from the briefing event on the Public Contracts Scotland page.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

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

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