UK Government launches £20m funding contest for agriculture technology

Written by Sam Trendall on 16 August 2018 in News

UK businesses can bid for backing for projects that use technology to improve how food gets from field to fork

Tractor in a field - Image credit: Press Association

The UK Government has launched a £20m contest for projects that aim to use technology to improve the efficiency of the agricultural sector and the food supply chain.

The contest opens on 20 August and will award funding to projects featuring technology solutions to improve either a single or multiple parts of the crop or livestock farming supply chain.

Proposed projects should aim to either “drive productivity and improve environmental outcomes” in existing farming production systems or “develop new, highly efficient, high-value production systems that maximise productivity and improve environmental performance”.

Such productivity gains could be achieved by “combining digital technologies and engineering solutions with biological, environment or social science”, the UK Government said, or by “developing technologies and systems that connect farms and supply chains”.

Projects could also propose ways of “transferring an innovative technology from another sector into agriculture”.

UK businesses can bid to receive funding equivalent to as much as 70 per cent of their expected project costs, up to a total of £2m for initiatives focused on a single part of the supply chain, and £5m for solutions targeting multiple areas.

Funding for projects costing less than £100,000 will be exclusively available to SMEs.

To secure funding, projects require “a clear route to market” and must have an “optimised prototype that can be demonstrated within the production system or supply chain”.

Bidders need to be able to commence work by April 2019, and projects can last up to 36 months.

The £20m funding pot is drawn from the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and will be provided by UK Research and Innovation, a collective of nine public research councils.

Awards will be delivered by Innovate UK.

Potential bidders are invited to attend a webinar on 27 August and an event in Birmingham two days later.

Applications for funding will be open until 24 October.

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