£20m funding competition launched for efficient and sustainable agriculture

UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million for projects to transform how the agri-food sector works.

The funding is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s efficient and sustainable agriculture challenge.

With a growing world population, it is important that countries such as the UK up their food production levels in a sustainable way.

To support businesses using disruptive technologies and precision farming to meet these goals, the Government is offering grants through its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

This £20 million funding competition will look to bring together the agri-food sector with expertise in real-time robotics sensing, data, artificial intelligence and earth observation.

It’s part of a £90 million Government investment that will make it easier for farmers and agricultural businesses to embrace technology and innovation.

The aim is to transform food production in the UK by encouraging rural growth and creating high-skilled jobs and new export opportunities.

Developing new systems and solutions

The £20 million will be shared across two types of projects:

  • Productivity solutions which develop a single intervention within a supply chain or production system;
  • Supply chain solutions, which develop multiple interventions across at least three parts of the supply chain, for example:
    • Beef producers, beef processors and supermarket retailers;
    • Plant breeders, arable producers and food manufacturers.

Projects should focus on one of two themes:

  • Driving productivity and improving environmental outcomes in crop and ruminant production systems;
  • Developing new, highly-efficient, high-value production systems that maximise productivity and improve environmental performance.

This could include:

  • Combining digital technologies and engineering solutions with biological, environmental or social science to improve productivity;
  • Developing technologies and systems that connect farms and supply chains;
  • Transferring an innovative technology from another sector into agriculture.

Objectives

As this competition is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, it needs to meet the Government’s objectives to transform food production.

This aims to:
  • Boost the efficiency and productivity of UK agricultural systems;
  • Embed sustainable food production with improved environmental impacts, such as enhancing biodiversity, soil and air quality, and reducing emissions, pollution and waste;
  • Create growth and increase exports of agricultural technologies.

Projects must also have a clear route to market and develop an optimised prototype that can be demonstrated within the production system or supply chain.

The competition opens on August 20, 2018, with the deadline for applications at midday on October 24, 2018.

Total project costs can reach as much as £2 million for productivity solutions projects or £5 million for supply chain solutions projects with successful applicants able to receive up to 70% of their project costs.

Projects must start by April 2019 and can last up to 36 months.