Continued growth in support for agritech innovations and the transition to Net Zero

2022 has been a bumper year for agritech Research and Development (R&D) funding with 6 competitions launched so far under the Farming Innovation Programme totalling £50.5 million. Read on to find out more about the latest competitions and gain insight into future opportunities under this exciting funding programme.

By Dr Claire Flanagan, Senior Innovation Consultant

The UK’s agriculture sector is facing increasing pressures to become more sustainable and reduce emissions in line with the UK’s ambitious Net Zero agenda, all whilst improving productivity and increasing the UK’s food security. How can these seemingly contrasting challenges be addressed?

Enter the Farming Innovation Programme (FIP). Launched in 2021 as a funding support mechanism under Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan, this programme managed by Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production Challenge aims to:

  • help farmers, growers and foresters increase productivity, sustainability and resilience;
  • reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and horticulture;
  • apply agricultural research to provide real benefits for farmers, growers and foresters;
  • use science to develop solutions for the practical challenges in agriculture and horticulture.

The total funding available is £270 million up until 2028/29 for collaborative R&D projects that will build links between farmers and growers with industry and academia, ultimately benefitting farmers and growers in England.

To date, we have seen numerous funding competitions launched across the R&D&I spectrum covering:

  • Small research starter projects – for farmers, growers, foresters to explore a new idea
  • Feasibility projects – to check if a research idea works in practice
  • Small and large R&D partnerships – for further development of a new farming product or service towards commercialisation
  • Themed competitions through the Farming Futures R&D Fund – to support work on longer term innovations focusing on specific issues e.g. climate smart farming; sustainable farm-based proteins.

Currently, there are 2 opportunities open under Round 2 of the FIP Industry-led R&D partnership fund:

Feasibility Studies Round 2

For collaborative industry-led R&D projects that will:

  • investigate early stage solutions that have the potential to substantially improve the overall productivity, sustainability and resilience of farming, and move existing agricultural sectors to Net Zero
  • prioritise solutions that will have positive outputs for farmers, growers and foresters in commercially relevant situations
  • accelerate research and development of new agricultural solutions by actively engaging collaboration with the wider UK research community in the innovation process

Project value: £200K – £500K (@50-70%)

Project duration: up to 24 months

Deadline: 12 October 2022

More information here.

Small R&D Partnership Projects Round 2

For collaborative industry-led R&D projects that will:

  • develop solutions with the potential to improve overall productivity, sustainability, resilience, and move existing agricultural sectors to Net Zero
  • ensure solutions have positive outputs for farmers, growers or foresters in commercially relevant situations
  • develop new agricultural solutions, by collaboration through engagement with end users and the UK research community in the innovation process
  • accelerate adoption by ensuring knowledge exchange with the wider sector and other stakeholders

Value: £1Mn – 3Mn (@50-70%)

Duration: up to 36 months

Deadline: 02 November 2022

More information here.

Whilst sector specific, these competitions are broad in scope offering the opportunity for the development of diverse, technology agnostic solutions to address the challenges faced by farmers, growers and foresters. This is in recognition that multiple approaches will be needed in order to support the agricultural sector to transition to Net Zero and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution given the diverse practices within each sub-sector (livestock; plants; novel food production systems; and, bioeconomy and agroforestry).

Coming soon – FIP funding to accelerate adoption

At the other end of the innovation pipeline, we anticipate upcoming funding via ‘Projects to accelerate adoption’ that will support farmers and growers to trial new innovations on their farms. Details are to be announced. To make sure you don’t miss out you can follow PNO on social media for updates or get in touch with one of our team.

How PNO can support you

PNO has extensive experience supporting organisations applying for these competitions with phenomenal success in securing funding for a diverse range of projects in previous rounds of the Transforming Food Production, Farming Innovation Pathways competitions and Farming Innovation Programme competitions. These were really exciting projects aimed at developing innovative technologies and solutions for many agricultural industry sub-sectors securing over £3.9 million across 6 projects on behalf of recent clients.

We offer a flexible application support service from critical peer reviews through to coordinating partner inputs on large collaborative projects through to the full write and submission of applications. We would be happy to share further knowledge and insight, and welcome the opportunity to discuss potential project ideas with you, so feel free to get in touch!

Contact us

0161 488 3488 or or submit an online enquiry here.


Background reading:

Harvesting grants for agritech innovation growth – PNO article

Farming Innovation Programme – Defra & UKRI website

Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024 – Defra publication

Transforming Food Production challenge – UKRI website