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African agriculture knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP): 2020 to 2021, round 5


UK-registered higher or further education institutions, RTOs or Catapults can apply for a share of up to £2million to help fund an innovation project with another knowledge base and a business partner registered in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa.

The African agriculture strand of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme supports a partnership between:

  • A UK-registered higher education or further education institution, research and technology organisation (RTO) or Catapult (which will be referred to as the ‘UK knowledge base partner’)
  • An African business or not-for-profit organisation (which will be referred to collectively as the ‘business partner’)
  • A knowledge base in Africa (which will be referred to as the ‘African knowledge base partner’)

The business partner and African knowledge base partner must both be based in the same one of the following countries: Republic of Ghana, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Kenya or Republic of South Africa.

The partnership brings new skills and the latest academic thinking into the business partner to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project. The knowledge base partner will recruit one or two graduates (known as ‘associates’) to work on the project.

In this round, Innovate UK is investing up to £2million towards the funding of projects.

Each application must be led by a UK-registered knowledge base, working with an African business partner and African knowledge base. If you are from a knowledge base that has not yet developed a project, get started by reading the KTP guidance.

If you are from an African business, read the guidance then contact the Knowledge Transfer Network or a knowledge base.

Innovate UK will consider partially funding project costs of any amount if they judge the costs to be appropriate. Typically projects cost no more than £125,000 per year.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Your project must align with the scope of the ‘Agri-tech catalyst round 9: agriculture and food systems innovation, late stage’ competition.

Your application must be for a specific, strategic innovation project that tackles one or more challenges faced by the business partner. It can be any kind of project but it must show:

  • That it helps the business with a real need
  • How it fits the strategic aims of the business partner
  • There is a genuine market opportunity and route to market
  • How the knowledge gained will be embedded within the business partner
  • The commercial impact for the business partner, and any wider impacts
  • That you have a clear understanding of what qualifications, skills, attributes and experience the associate will need

The UK knowledge base, African knowledge base and the business partner must sign the KTP joint commitment statement.

You must deliver an exploitation plan during your project. Your initial exploitation plan is part of your application.

This award is provided on a non-aid basis. This means the knowledge base partner must publish or make openly available, on a non-selective basis, all project outputs. If the business partner decides to commercially exploit the project outputs, it can only do so with no selective advantage.

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UiD). However, as per the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation, Innovate UK will provide funding to organisations that can prove they were not a UiD on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UiD between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. You will be asked for evidence of this.

Each African agriculture KTP is a partnership between the following:

  • A UK knowledge base, which will be the lead organisation and submit the application
  • An African knowledge base and business partner, both in one of the following countries: Republic of Ghana, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Kenya or Republic of South Africa

Typically projects last 24 months, depending on the project requirements.

KTP does not support projects with public sector organisations.

UK knowledge base partner

Each application must be created by a UK knowledge base, with the help of a knowledge transfer adviser.

The UK knowledge base must lead the project and must:

  • Be a UK-registered higher education (HE) or further education (FE) institution, RTO or Catapult
  • Invite one business or not-for-profit organisation from Republic of Ghana, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Kenya or Republic of South Africa to join the application and collaborate with them on the development of the project
  • Invite one African knowledge base from the same African country to join the application and collaborate with them on the development of the project
  • Invite one knowledge transfer adviser to join the application
  • Not act in any way to gain selective commercial or economic advantage from the outputs of the project
  • Allow associates to carry out the majority of the project at the business partner’s premises
  • Make sure the application is completed and submitted before the competition closes

The knowledge base partner cannot work alone.

African business partner

Business partners can work with knowledge bases of their choice, one from the UK and one from their own country. Innovate UK encourage business partners to approach knowledge bases directly.

To collaborate with the knowledge bases, the business partner must:

  • Be a business, of any size, or a not-for-profit organisation registered in Republic of Ghana, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Kenya or Republic of South Africa
  • Have more than two employees
  • Demonstrate its ability to support the project
  • Be invited by the UK knowledge base and complete its parts of the application
  • Provide business finance information for the past three years

The definition KTP uses for ‘not-for-profit organisation’ includes social enterprises and charities.


Subcontractors are not allowed in this competition.

Innovate UK will consider partially funding project costs of any amount if we judge the costs to be appropriate. Typically, projects cost about £125,000 per year.

Find out which project costs are eligible for funding.

Contribution from Innovate UK

Innovate UK has allocated up to £2million in this round of the African agriculture KTP programme, which will contribute towards the total costs of the individual projects.

Funding for African agriculture KTP comes through Innovate UK from the UK Global Challenge Research Fund.

Contribution from the business partner

The business partner must fund the time spent on the project by their own staff and other non-eligible costs such as the purchase of capital equipment.

State aid

This competition provides funding that is classed as ‘non-aid’. The business partner should seek independent legal advice on what this means for it, before applying.

Non-aid is only granted to organisations which declare that they will not use the funding:

  • In any way which gives them selective economic or commercial advantage
  • In any other way which would determine the funding as state aid as defined by the EC

It is important to note that it is the activity the business partner intends to perform in the project which is assessed as eligible for non-aid, and not the business as an entity.

Application rules

Multiple applications

Each knowledge base can collaborate on any number of applications.

Each African business partner (including separate businesses with a business group) can take part in up to four KTP funded projects at any one time. Additional applications may be allowed at the discretion of the programme manager.

Previously submitted applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • Failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • Failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

Innovate UK are not funding:

  • Projects which are classed as state aid
  • Undertakings which gain a selective economic or commercial advantage from the funding
  • Research projects
  • Projects that are not strategic for the business partner
  • Projects that work with public sector organisations
  • projects that do not demonstrate a genuine market opportunity

Innovate UK are also not funding projects with the following themes:

  • Forestry or ornamentals
  • Wild-capture fisheries
  • Equine
  • Crops for energy production

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.