A NEW LINK programme that provides funding for research into non-food uses of crops and renewable materials has just been launched by DEFRA.

The programme, which is funded in conjunction with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) provides grant-aid to private sector-led collaborative research.

“From renewable fuels to starch based plastics, the list of renewable products and their uses continues to grow,” commented food and farming minister, Lord Bach.

“But there are areas where the development of crop based products is at an earlier stage of evolution or has come up against barriers.”

He highlighted three key challenges for the development of crop based products:

  • To raise awareness and develop markets based on robust supply chains
  • To pull innovation through to commercial application in a cost and environmentally effective way
  • To turn crops into products industry and consumers want

DEFRA say that all projects submitted will be considered, but priority will be given to those with a clearly defined private sector need and will be judged on quality of science, contribution to sustainability and likelihood of uptake.

The deadline for submission of papers is 24 February 2006. For more details see www.defra.gov.uk or contact the Renewable Materials Secretariat at renewablematerials.link@defra.gsi.gov.uk