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ISCF Future food production systems


Apply for a share of up to £20million to transform food production systems, improve productivity and sustainability, and help the industry move towards net zero emissions by 2040. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Up to £20million of grant funding is available for projects that disrupt the traditional land-based models of food production.

Projects must create integrated, data-driven solutions to drive agricultural productivity as well as target net zero emissions. Innovate UK will consider a broad range of technologies and systems.

Your project must aim to determine the transformation of future food production systems. It must be ambitious, multidisciplinary and systems-focused rather than dedicated to developing a single technology.

Innovate UK are particularly looking to support large-scale, ambitious projects.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The scope for this competition is broad. Innovate UK are looking for large-scale, ambitious, integrated and data-driven solutions that can help move UK food production towards a sustainable and productive, net-zero emissions future.

Projects funded under this competition must address one of the following:

  • The development of new, resource efficient, low emission food production systems
  • The technological and other bottlenecks that prevent existing state-of-the-art systems from supplying mainstream consumer markets

You must show how your project will:

  • Significantly contribute to achieving net zero emissions across one or more food products
  • Provide nutrient dense foods that are accessible to mainstream consumers
  • Deliver other relevant benefits to society, such as reduced resource consumption, waste or improved animal welfare
  • Apply a systems approach as opposed to working on a single technology

Innovate UK are looking for multi-disciplinary projects with diverse collaborations to deliver transformation across one or more industry subsectors.

Your proposal must demonstrate how the work and associated exploitation will meet the aims and objectives of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Transforming Food Production challenge.

This competition’s funding comes from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). Projects must align with specific objectives 1 and 3 of the Transforming Food Production challenge.

The challenge’s specific objectives are to:

  1. Create integrated data-driven solutions to drive primary agricultural productivity whilst driving towards net zero emissions
  2. Embed adoption of precision approaches to bridge the productivity gap, strengthening connections between researchers, businesses and practitioners
  3. Stimulate the establishment of novel high value production systems to position UK technologies at the forefront of new industries.
  4. Drive growth in UK precision technology companies, creating high value jobs and adding value in the UK agricultural value chain.
  5. Develop export opportunities and increase investment into UK research and innovation.

Possible project areas could include, but are not limited to:

  • Indoor growing systems
  • Aquaculture, including deep water and algal culture
  • New food sources, including insects and fermentation based systems

Your project’s total eligible costs must be greater than £1million but less than £10million.

If your project is exceptional, Innovate UK may consider projects with total eligible costs more than £10million. You must email support@innovateuk.ukri.org to discuss your eligibility at least 6 weeks before the competition closing date.

All projects must be collaborative and involve a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Projects must start by 1 July 2020 and end by 31 March 2023. They can last between 24 and 33 months.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • Involve at least one SME
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Research organisations cannot lead a project.

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Be invited to take part by the lead applicant

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding and enter their costs as part of the application.

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

Any one business can lead on one application and collaborate in a further two applications.

If a business is not leading an application, they can collaborate in up to three applications.

RTOs and academic institutions can collaborate on any number of applications

Innovate UK have allocated up to £20million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

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

  • 80% of full economic costs if you are a research organisation
  • 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs if you are a research organisation
  • 45% if you are a micro or small business
  • 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • 25% if you are a large business

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Collaborative R&D’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Innovate UK are not funding projects involving:

  • Equine
  • Amenity horticulture
  • Wild caught fisheries

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.