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Earn £14 Million As UK Government is Inviting Candidates To Participate in Farming Innovation Programme

Approximately £14 million will be allocated through two upcoming competition rounds to support research on inventive farming methods. This funding is a crucial part of the Farming Innovation Programme, aimed at promoting sustainability and advancing efforts to achieve net zero emissions in agriculture and horticulture.

Vivek Singh
Approximately £14 million will be alloted to support research on inventive farming methods (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)
Approximately £14 million will be alloted to support research on inventive farming methods (Photo Courtesy: Freepik)

The UK's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Defra has announced the allocation of more than £14 million for two research and feasibility competitions as part of the Farming Innovation Programme. This funding is part of the government's commitment to invest £600 million in the farming sector over three years to promote innovation and productivity while achieving net-zero targets. 

Who Can Apply?

The competitions are open to farmers, growers, foresters, research organizations, and businesses involved in agriculture to collaborate on innovative ideas and solutions. Past rounds of funding have supported projects like automation to improve fruit yield, battery-operated asparagus-harvesting robots, and the use of ultraviolet disinfection in dairy and poultry sectors.

Here is What Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

  • The primary aim of these competitions is to promote partnerships between farmers, growers, research organizations, and industry players. The goal is to facilitate the implementation of innovative ideas that start from the planning phase and become a reality.

  • The previous competition rounds have been successful, and they have revealed a diverse array of ideas that have the potential to boost productivity and address significant challenges faced by the industry. I encourage everyone to explore the opportunities presented in the latest competitions and consider applying to contribute to the industry's growth and solutions.

Guidelines to Apply

The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released guidelines for the third round of the Small R&D Partnerships competition on August 2, 2023. The competition aims to support businesses in developing new farming products or services and bringing them to the market for commercialization. It has funding of nearly £10 million and is a collaboration with the Transforming Food Production Challenge, administered by Innovate UK.

Previous rounds funded projects such as breeding low-carbon footprint sheep and integrating electricity generation with berry cultivation to power operational processes. Defra has also introduced new guidance for a Feasibility Studies competition, offering £4.5 million, which aims to support businesses and researchers in testing their ideas' practical viability and moving existing agricultural sectors towards net-zero emissions.

Successful past projects include research on fungal strains to combat pests in wheat crops. Farmers, growers, foresters, research organizations, and businesses are encouraged to review the guidelines before applications open, with the Small R&D Partnerships competition starting on August 14, and the Feasibility Studies competition on 18 September.

Dr Katrina Hayter, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

It emphasizes the desire to assist upcoming applicants and find potential partnerships that can tackle sustainability, efficiency, and net-zero challenges in the UK's agrifood industry. Feasibility studies are highlighted as the first step in exploring farming improvement ideas, while small R&D partnerships are crucial for empowering businesses to create new farming products and services. The focus is on fostering collaborations between various stakeholders to transform innovative solutions into practical applications.

Total Competitions in Farming by UK Govt

Since its inception in October 2021, the Farming Innovation Programme, backed by a £270 million government investment, has launched 16 competitions. As of August 2023, over £123 million has been allocated to support industry-led research and development in agriculture and horticulture.

The recent Farm to Fork Summit highlighted the significance of innovation in the food and farming sectors. The government introduced a comprehensive support package for the farming sector, aiming to keep it at the forefront of adopting new technologies and techniques. One such initiative is the On-Farm Environmental Resilience competition, which offers up to £12.5 million in funding for projects driving the development of innovative farming methods and new technology. The focus is on practical solutions that can bring tangible improvements to farms. The competition has closed, and applicants will be notified of the outcomes in the autumn.

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