Farming Innovation Programme – competitions for funding

A milking parlour

Defra has partnered with UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) to launch a series of competitions for funding towards projects that help improve productivity through innovation. Read on to find out about the latest competitions to apply for, and how past applicants and winners can share their experiences with us. 

About the Farming Innovation Programme

Back in October 2021 Defra launched the first of a series of funding competitions to invest in R&D for the farming industry under the Farming Innovation Programme banner. Further competitions have become available throughout this year.

The aim of the programme is to help farmers, growers and foresters increase their sustainability and resilience through harnessing science to develop practical solutions for the industry.

The NFU have argued for increased funding in this area for many years and it is vital that investment leads to all farmers and growers being supported to get involved at some level with R&D.

It is essential robust evidence is accessible to everyone to improve decision-making and provide feedback on what works on farm.

Funding opportunities:

There are funding opportunities available through the third round of the following competition:

Farming Futures

The competition addresses the challenges to plants, crops and farmed animals, from both their biological (biotic) and physical (abiotic) environmental stressors. 

It will support ways to manage challenges such as pests, weeds, extreme temperatures or flooding, with the aim to make food production more resilient and have a lower environmental impact.

Defra are looking, in particular, to fund projects that are collaborative and ambitious and that align with the Genetic Technology Act 2023 and the government’s food strategy.

The competition has two strands:

The deadline for both of these competitions is 19 July 2023.

Defra and UKRI have recently published a video briefing with further details on both of the competitions, which can be watched here: Farming Futures: Environmental Resilience briefing

They will also be holding an online networking event on 8 June 2023 to build partnerships and ask further questions. Interested attendees can sign up here: Environmental Resilience – Competition Q&A & Consortium Building Event

We want to hear from you

We would like to know from any of our members who looked at these opportunities what their experiences were, good or bad. Whether you applied, or even just considered applying, this feedback will help with future NFU discussions with Defra and UKRI. We hope this can lead to improvements in the programme and application process. 

If you have feedback please email us on [email protected].

Past competitions

In October 2021, the first three competitions under industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund were launched with total funding of £17.5m.

A further funding opportunity for large R&D partnership projects opened in March 2022, with £8m of funding on offer for large collaborative business-led projects.

Other funding opportunities under the large R&D, research starter and robotics and automation competitions were available in 2023, with a total value of over £20million of funding.

These funding opportunities have now closed.

You can read more about the successful applications from the first round of the Small R&D partnership projects funding at: UKRI | £11m funding announced to further support food sector innovation

UKRI have also announced a further fifty successful projects across four FIP competitions, which you can read about at: UKRI | 50 winning projects showcase the latest farming innovations

Further information

If you are interested in the Farming Innovation Programme please visit: UKRI | Farming Innovation: find out about funding .

You can also read Defra’s blogs at: GOV.UK | Future Farming


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