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Farming Innovation Programme – research starter pilot – EoI

Overview:

Farming, growing or forestry businesses based in England can apply for a share of up to £1million for feasibility projects. This is an expression of interest competition.

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.

Project cost details are not required at the EoI stage. At the full application stage your project’s total eligible costs must be between £28,000 and £56,000.

Open Date:

20/10/2021

Close Date:

24/11/2021

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 be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers, growers or forestry in England.

Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, industry sectors, technological maturities and business size.

Specific themes

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

If your application is successful in this EoI stage, you will be invited to apply for a full stage competition. In the full stage you must collaborate with other eligible partners.

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

If you are successful at the full stage, 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.

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 five 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.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one EoI application.

Previous applications

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

At the full application stage, Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK’s obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the full application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see the general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. Innovate UK are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times 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.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, they will tell you as soon as possible.

Defra and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge have allocated up to £1million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your full project cost information will only be required at the full application stage.

At the full stage if the majority of 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.

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.

Research participation

For the full stage, 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 eligible project costs if you are an RTO, charity, non-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • Equine specific​
  • Wild caught fisheries
  • Aquaculture, including algae and seaweed production​
  • Cellular or acellular production systems, fermentation systems for bacteria, yeast or fungi​
  • Projects that do not benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • Dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • Dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

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.