The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will work with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to invest up to £1million 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.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. If your application is successful, you will be invited to apply to a full stage competition.

This two stage competition is designed to make funding accessible to a wider range of applicants. Applicants that are successful in the EoI stage will be able to access independent support to help them complete the full application stage. The full stage will open in February 2022.

The aim of this competition is to:

  • investigate early-stage solutions with the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, sustainability, resilience and move existing agricultural sectors to net zero
  • prioritise solutions that have positive outputs for farmers, growers or foresters in commercially relevant situations
  • accelerate development of effective new agricultural solutions by working with end-users and collaborating with the wider UK research community in the innovation process

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

This is one of three competitions:

It is your responsibility to ensure you are applying to the correct competition for your 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.

Your full stage project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £28,000 and £56,000
  • start by 1 August 2022
  • end by 31 July 2023
  • last up to 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in England
  • have at least 50% of the farmers, growers or foresters involved based in England

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a farming, growing or forestry business of any size based in England
  • be able to evidence that you are an established business, including sole traders and partnerships
  • have a UK bank account
  • not have been awarded Innovate UK funding as a project lead within the last 5 years

To collaborate with the lead at the full stage, your organisation must be a UK registered organisation or a farmer, grower or forester based in the UK.

The competition aims to provide an entry point​ for farmers, growers or foresters that have bold, ambitious, early-stage ideas solving major problems that impact their business. This may help them exploit new significant opportunities for their business or industry sub-sector.​

The outputs of this competition will ideally provide applicants with the knowledge and information needed to aid them in applying for a larger funding grant.

The scope of the competition is feasibility studies investigating new solutions to industry identified challenges, or opportunities for farmers, growers or foresters that have the potential to significantly improve:

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

Projects must focus on developing on-farm or immediate post farmgate​ solutions.

Your project must address a significant industry challenge or opportunity in at least one of the four industry subsectors:

  • livestock
  • plants
  • novel food production systems
  • bioeconomy and agroforestry

To discuss your application or find a project partner, contact KTN’s Agrifood team.