£17.5m innovation fund available to farmers and growers

Farmers and growers with ideas that could directly benefit the agriculture and horticulture sectors in England can bid for a share in a £17.5m pot of funding.

Defra’s new Research and Development Partnerships Fund has been ring-fenced for initiatives that increase farm productivity and environmental sustainability.

As the first initiative to be announced in the new Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), this fund aims to support “game-changer’’ farming and forestry ideas – ones that will solve issues that are holding the sector back.  

See also: Guide to funding for tree projects on farm

Applications will open on Wednesday 20 October 2021, with three of the four project categories available.

  • Under the Research Starter Projects category, farmers, growers and foresters will be supported to develop “bold, ambitious, early-stage ideas’’ and to build a collaborative team.

Applicants for Research Starter Projects have until 24 November 2021 to lodge their bid.

  • Under the Feasibility Projects category, funding will be awarded to test the viability of projects in their early stages and to inform decisions on subsequent larger-scale research and development projects.

The application window for Feasibility Projects runs until 1 December 2021. 

  • There is also funding for Small Research and Development Partnership Projects – research and innovative solutions that have the potential to substantially improve the overall productivity, sustainability and resilience of farming and forestry. 

Applications for the Small Research and Development Partnership Projects category can be made until 1 December 2021. 

A similar scheme targeted at large research projects will launch next year.

‘Exciting’ ideas

All farmers, growers and foresters with exciting ideas and the aim to develop them into projects can apply – it’s not restricted to those based in England only.

Defra would like UK-wide businesses, universities and research organisations to apply and collaborate on research and development projects – but these projects must seek to improve the productivity and sustainability of agriculture and horticulture in England.  

“Where farmers, growers or foresters are directly involved in a project, we ask that at least 50% of them in the team are based in England,” Defra said.

Details on how to apply can be found at Research Starter Projects, Feasibility Projects and Small Research and Development Partnership Projects

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