Farming, growing or forestry businesses based in England can apply for a share of up to £850,000 for feasibility projects to improve productivity, sustainability resilience and move the agricultural sector to net zero.
This competition is open to single applicants only. be an active 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 not have been awarded Innovate UK funding as a project lead within the last 5 years before 14 February 2024
Opens: 18 December 2023
Closes: 14 February 2024
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will invest up to £850,000 in innovation projects.
This funding is part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme which is a partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge and delivered by Innovate UK.
The aim of this competition is to:
This is an expression of interest (EoI) stage of a 2 stage competition. No funding will be awarded at this stage. If your application is successful, you will be invited to apply to a full stage competition.
This 2 stage competition is designed to make funding accessible to a wider range of applicants. If you are successful in the EoI stage, you will be able to access independent support to help complete the full stage application for grant funding. The full stage will open in March 2024.
Your proposal must be able to demonstrate how your project will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Detailed project costs are not required at this EoI stage. At the full application stage your project’s total costs must be between £28,000 and £56,000.
If you are invited to the full stage competition, 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.
If your application is successful at this expression of interest (EoI) stage, you will be invited to apply for a full stage competition. In the full stage competition you must collaborate with other eligible partners.
Your full stage project must:
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 or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.
To lead a full stage project your organisation must:
More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.
The aim of this funding is to enable a commercial farming, growing or forestry businesses to investigate their own idea. It is not intended to fund the development or testing of an existing product or idea by an external company on a farm or forestry application.
The lead applicant must be a farmer, grower or forester running a commercial agricultural or forestry business. Examples of organisations that would not be eligible as the lead applicant include research and technical organisations, manufacturers and suppliers of products, equipment or services, trade and membership organisations, not for profit organisations.
To collaborate with the lead in the full stage competition, an organisation must be a farmer, grower or forester based in the UK or be a UK registered:
Subcontractors will be allowed in the full stage of this competition.
Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.
Number of applications
A farming, growing or forestry business can only lead on one EoI application.
Use of animals in research and innovation
Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.
Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.
Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations and compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
You can make a maximum of 2 submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum.
If your application goes through to assessment and is unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal once more.
We will not award you funding if you have:
failed to exploit a previously funded project
an overdue independent accountant’s report
failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)
This competition provides funding in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Further information about the Subsidy requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk).
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.
If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022 or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.
You must always 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.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has allocated up to £850,000, working in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Transforming Food Production Challenge, to fund innovation projects in this competition. This competition is delivered by Innovate UK.
Funding for the full stage competition will be in the form of a grant.
A minimum of 50% of the total grant amount requested by farmers, growers and foresters in the full stage application, must come from farmers or growers geographically based in England.
At the full application stage, if 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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.
The balance of the non-funded project costs must be funded by the project partners.
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.
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 60% 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 60% 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