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Growing Kent and Medway: Collaborative Research and Development


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2million for business-focused innovation in the horticultural food supply chain.

This competition is delivered in partnership with the Growing Kent and Medway consortium led by the National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB).It is funded by the UKRI Strength in Places Fund to invest up to £2million in innovation projects.

These will be to stimulate an uplift in the region’s economy through inclusive and innovation-led growth.

It focuses on:

  • Horticultural production including the production of novel, high-value compounds from plants
  • Fresh produce packaging
  • Food and drink processing
  • Enabling technologies that underpin the supply chain.

The aim of this competition is to support business-focused innovation. Specifically, it aims to support transition to net-zero, and deliver improved productivity and sustainability in horticultural food and drink production.

Your proposal must demonstrate the potential to positively impact on the economy of the K&M area.

You must request a grant of no less than £50,000 and no more than £250,000 for your project.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The aim of this competition is to support business-focused innovation in Kent and Medway. This is to support the transition to net-zero, deliver improved productivity and sustainability in horticultural food and drink production. This could include the production of novel, high-value compounds from plants.

Growing Kent and Medway want to stimulate socially inclusive innovation so individuals can contribute and benefit from economic growth in the Kent and Medway area.

Your project must:

  • Provide solutions that tackle new or emerging needs
  • Demonstrate a realistic potential to support business growth, scale-up, and job creation
  • Deliver benefit to the region as well as further afield

Your activities can solve challenges at any point in:

  • Horticultural production including the production of novel, high–value compounds from plants
  • Fresh produce packaging
  • Food and drink processing
  • Enabling technologies that underpin the supply chain

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Innovate UK and Growing Kent and Medway will review and fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, geographic sub-regions, markets, technological maturities, as listed in specific themes.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • Moving towards net-zero carbon emissions
  • Minimising waste and maximising recycling
  • Improving resource use efficiency and sustainability
  • Increasing productivity
  • Resilient food production, for example: supply chain resilience, nutritional security
  • Precision technologies, for example: sensor technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), robotics
  • Addressing current and future labour shortages, supply or demand driven, within the K&M agri-food sector

Portfolio consideration will include:

  • Sub-regional balance
  • Sub-sector balance, for example: horticulture, viticulture, Agri-food tech
  • Where in the value chain, for example: cultivation, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution and business model innovation
  • Balance of research partner participation

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.

Your project must:

  • Be undertaken in the Kent and Medway area
  • Claim a grant between £50,000 and £250,000
  • Start by 1 May 2022
  • End by 31 October 2024
  • Last between 12 months and 30 months
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the K&M area

To lead a project, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other UK-registered businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • Include a minimum of two in the consortium
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the K&M area

The lead organisation must collaborate with at least one of the following research organisations or research and technology organisations in the K&M area:

  • NIAB
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Kent
  • Canterbury Christ Church University

Academic institutions cannot lead.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK-registered:

  • Business of any size
  • Academic institution
  • Charity
  • Not-for-profit organisation
  • Public sector organisation
  • Research organisation (RO) and research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses, non-regional RO or RTO. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK, including outside of the K&M area, you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from outside of the K&M area but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the K&M area.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Overseas subcontractors are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Number of applications

If a business leads a project, it can collaborate on a further two projects.

Businesses can only lead on one application, if a business is not leading a project they can collaborate on any number of applications.

Academic institutions, charities and not for profit RO or RTO can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

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

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 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.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £2million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

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 industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 40% if you are a micro or small organisation, a medium-sized organisation or a large organisation, to a maximum of £250,000 of grant claim

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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% 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 30%, 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:

  • Do not demonstrate the potential to positively impact on the economy of the K&M area
  • Fail to commit to delivering social value
  • Have a focus on animal or fish-based production systems and animal or fish derived food and drink products
  • Grow plants with the primary purpose of producing animal feed
  • 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.