Funding competition ISCF TFP science and technology into practice: feasibility studies

Apply for between £75,000 and £250,000 to test the feasibility of solutions that can transform food production and help the industry move towards net zero emissions by 2040. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Up to £15 million of grant funding is available through the Transforming Food Production Science and Technology into Practice programme. We are running 2 strands through this competition:

  • feasibility study projects (this competition): we expect to spend £5 million
  • demonstration projects: we expect to spend £10 million

It is your responsibility to make sure you are applying for the correct strand.

Your feasibility study must:

  • evaluate the early stage feasibility of precision solutions to transform food production
  • work with end users, such as farmers and producers
  • evaluate, in practice, the potential of early stage ideas that address industry identified problems
  • consider both the technical feasibility and the feasibility of the business model
  • consider the route to adoption
  • enable decisions to be made on the future development of the solution

Your solution must:

  • have the potential to improve productivity and sustainability
  • contribute to the target of net zero emissions from agriculture by 2040
The competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline

Funding type


Project size

Feasibility studies total eligible costs must be between £75,000 and £250,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £75,000 and £250,000.

For exceptional feasibility study projects, we may consider total eligible costs greater than £250,000. If you are considering this, you must provide justification by email to at least 6 weeks before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Projects must start by 26 August 2020 and end by 28 February 2022. They can last between 6 and 18 months.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

Feasibility studies led by a research organisation must collaborate with at least one business.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • enter its costs in the Innovation Funding Service

You must work with end-users to evaluate the potential of solutions.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

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.

Multiple applications

Any one business can lead on one feasibility application. A business leading an application can collaborate in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading an application, it can collaborate in up to 3 applications.

A research organisation can lead or collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications


You cannot use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you've submitted before. It can be updated based on the assessors' feedback.

If you submit a new proposal this time you will be able to use it in no more than one future competition that allows resubmissions.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, 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, and communicate it to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you are required to submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until we have received the documents.


We have allocated up to £15 million to fund innovation projects across the 2 strands of this competition.

(Edited 20 February 2020: we have altered the bullet points below to make clear that the rule about 80% full economic costs only applies to academic institutions.)

For feasibility studies, you could get funding for up to:

  • 100% of your eligible project costs if you are an RTO
  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are an academic institution
  • 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a micro or small business
  • 60% of your eligible project costs if you are a medium-sized business
  • 50% of your eligible project costs if you are a large business

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Collaborative R&D’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

Your project must accelerate the development of new, early stage solutions that address industry identified problems, by evaluating their potential in a commercial environment. The objective will be to enable decisions to be made quickly on whether the solution should be developed further and, if so, inform its future development.

Your project must:

  • consider appropriate business models and routes to adoption alongside technical feasibility
  • draw in relevant expertise to enable this (for example economic and social sciences)
  • engage with end users to ensure the development of solutions is informed by their needs
  • focus on the development of precision, data-driven solutions and systems that will make a significant step towards net zero emissions and improved resource use efficiency for food production
  • improve the sector’s productivity
  • meet the specific objectives of the Transforming Food Production challenge (set out in the supporting information section of this brief) and particularly objectives 1 and 2

To enable projects to have the maximum impact possible, Innovate UK will work across projects to co-ordinate:

  • dissemination of outcomes
  • outreach to end users
  • sharing of best practice

You must take part in these co-ordination activities.

To achieve the challenge’s objectives we will fund a balanced portfolio of high scoring projects across a variety of technologies, markets, industry sectors and technological maturities. We may also adjust the levels of overall funding available for feasibility and demonstration strands within Science and Technology into Practice to fund the best portfolio of projects to achieve the challenge’s aims.

Specific themes

Your project can focus one or more agricultural sectors, including, but not limited to:

  • arable, such as cereals, field-scale vegetables or potatoes
  • dairy
  • ruminants, such as beef, lamb, goat
  • monogastrics, such as pork, poultry and eggs
  • horticulture, including berries, apples, lettuce and tomatoes but not ornamentals
  • aquaculture

Research categories

We will fund feasibility studies, as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • projects relating to non-food products, equine and amenity horticulture
  • demonstration projects that only include one solution

14 November 2019
Stoneleigh, Warwickshire briefing event
18 November 2019
Competition opens
27 November 2019
York briefing event
26 February 2020 12:00pm
Competition closes
15 May 2020 4:31pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section sets the scene 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. Is the application a resubmission?

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

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.


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 give you feedback on why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your answer to each question can be up to 500 words long. Do not include any website links in your answers.

Question 1. Transforming food production

How will your project improve productivity, increase sustainability and help the industry (or industry subsector) move towards achieving net zero emissions by 2040?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation and commercial rationale for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • how the project output(s) will improve productivity, increase sustainability and help the industry (or industry subsector) move towards achieving net zero emissions by 2040
  • 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

the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity

Question 2. Approach and innovation

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

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive

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 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Team and resources

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main partners in the project, the relationships between partners and the rationale for working together
  • 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 sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

You must submit one appendix to support your answer. It can contain a short summary of the main people working on the project. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the characteristics of the expected target market, for example business type, demographics or user attitudes
  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5. Competitors

Who else is operating in this space and how does your proposal build on and or differentiate from competitors?

Describe or explain:

  • the process you have completed to evaluate the work of competitors
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art technology or system internationally, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • how your project will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified

Question 6. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to take the outcomes of the feasibility project forward, ensuring appropriate business models and routes to adoption are in place?

Describe or explain:

  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
  • your approach to considering appropriate business models
  • your approach to considering routes to adoption
  • how the project will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you propose to take the outcomes of the project forward
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

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 7. Outputs and impacts

What will your project deliver and how it will meet the aims and objectives of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Transforming Food Production programme?

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible measure:

  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example, know-how, new process, product or service design, prototype, or demonstrator)
  • how these outputs will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • how you will measure the economic benefits identified above
  • the environmental benefits from the project to external parties, such as contributing to net-zero targets for emissions and reduction of waste, including to customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK overall
  • how you will measure the environmental benefits identified above
  • what your project will deliver to meet the objectives of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Transforming Food Production programme, and particularly objectives 1 and 2

Question 8. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the 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

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise or 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 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 11. 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?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs and the grant you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how each partner will 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 sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

Question 12. Knowledge exchange and demonstration

What approach and resources will you use to increase awareness of the research and encourage use of the technologies developed?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will work with potential users during the project
  • how you will share findings and results with potential users

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academic institutions will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

There is often a lack of connection between those developing new solutions (in research organisations or technology sectors) and end users (such as farmers, agronomists, vets and the wider supply chain). This is a significant barrier to the use of new precision agriculture solutions among ‘traditional’ farming sectors.

The aim of this competition is to help by ensuring solutions are driven by the needs of end users and that the best research and innovation addresses their needs.

This competition’s funding comes from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) which has the following objectives:

  • increased UK business investment in R&D and improved R&D capability and capacity
  • increased multi- and interdisciplinary research
  • increased business-academic engagement on innovation activities
  • increased collaboration between younger, smaller companies and larger more established companies, connecting up value chains (or networks)
  • increased overseas investment in R&D in the UK

The challenge’s specific objectives are to:

  1. Create integrated data-driven solutions to drive primary agricultural productivity whilst driving towards net zero emissions
  2. Embed adoption of precision approaches to bridge the productivity gap, strengthening connections between researchers, businesses and practitioners
  3. Stimulate the establishment of novel high value production systems to position UK technologies at the forefront of new industries.
  4. Drive growth in UK precision technology companies, creating high value jobs and adding value in the UK agricultural value chain.
  5. Develop export opportunities and increase investment into UK research and innovation.

Extra help

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 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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