Defra offers £12.5m funding for farm-based protein projects

Defra has launched a £12.5m package of grants to support research and innovation around sustainable farm-based proteins.

Farming businesses and researchers running projects such as those developing methane-reducing animal feeds or high-protein crops could benefit from the initiative.

It is part of government’s £270m Farming Innovation Programme, being run in partnership with UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Transforming Food Production Challenge to help spark new ideas and collaboration across the sector.

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The aim is to speed development of “novel and disruptive technologies” to create new sources of resource-efficient, low-emission proteins in a bid to improve farming productivity and resilience, and move agriculture towards net zero.

Katrina Hayter, challenge director for UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge, said: “When it comes to addressing the key issues of productivity and sustainability in the UK food sector, we’re looking for applicants who are truly able to demonstrate and deliver – and on-farm protein production is no different.

“It’s vital that new technologies disrupt the status quo, bringing with them measurable improvements to the environmental impact of food production and more sustainable models for the future.” 

Two strands

The competition is split into “feasibility” projects (running for up to two years) with a value of £200,000-£500,000, and “industrial research” projects (up to five years) with a value between £500,000 and £1m.

Nature recovery and environment minister Steve Double said: “Our farmers and food producers are the best in the world, and we want to encourage collaboration across the sector to help improve productivity and sustainability.

“Food production and environmental protection are two sides of the same coin – it’s why we are spending £270m to support farmers to innovate for the future through the Farming Innovation Programme.”