£12m fund on way to ‘turbocharge innovation’ in farming

A new Farming Innovation Pathways funding competition to address the challenges of productivity, sustainability and net zero emissions in farming will launch on 1 March.

The competition will be open to UK-registered businesses and research organisations who need funding for either a feasibility study or to carry out collaborative industrial research.

Priorities for funding will include novel technological solutions, such as projects involving robotics and automation, which could include things like vision-guided robotic weeding systems, and novel food production systems, including vertical farming.

See also: Read more on grants from Farmers Weekly

The fund is a collaboration between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Defra.

Projects can be based anywhere in the UK, but must be able to clearly demonstrate potential benefits to the English farming sector.

Long-term challenges

Any project must engage with farmers, growers or producers to explore farm-focused solutions that address their long-term challenges.

Applicants looking for financial support for a feasibility study must have total eligible project costs of between £75,000 and £250,000.

The project will need total eligible costs of between £250,000 and £750,000 for applications for support for industrial research.

Defra minister Victoria Prentis said: “We want to see farmers manage their businesses in a way that delivers profitable food production and the recovery of nature, using the best modern technology available today.

“Promising innovations such as robotics and automation and novel food production systems have the potential to transform business performance for our farmers and help them address some of the industry’s greatest challenges.”

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 28 April 2021.

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