Farming Innovation Pathways competition

News article

New funding opportunity aimed at boosting investment in the agricultural sector

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are providing funding for a new Farming Innovation Pathways competition under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Transforming Food Production programme.

The aim of the competition is to support collaborative projects that focus on:

  • the development of innovative farm-focused technologies, systems or approaches to help improve food productivity
  • increasing resilience and sustainability in line with net zero ambitions
  • bringing together farmers, growers and businesses, enabling them to develop novel technological solutions

The competition is open to ideas addressing challenges across the agri-food sector. Priorities include robotics and automation, which could include things like vision-guided robotic weeding systems, and novel food production systems, including vertical farming.

The funding is split between:

  • Feasibility studies (£5 million): to evaluate the potential of early-stage ideas or innovations that tackle on-farm challenges, that could lead to further R&D to develop ideas into technically and commercially feasible solutions.
  • Industrial research (£7 million): to develop novel high-potential solutions targeting real issues affecting farmers, growers and other agribusinesses, or further develop existing solutions. This will deliver transformative solutions that tackle problems farmers are currently facing. It will include working with stakeholders to assess how solutions will be integrated within production systems to achieve widespread adoption.

Applications for both parts of the competition open on 1 March.

Briefing event
The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) are organising a briefing and consortia-building event on 11 March 2021, which will include presentations from UKRI and Defra on the competition scope and eligibility criteria.

There will also be an opportunity to identify potential collaboration partners and to put forward issues that farmers, growers and end-users may be facing across priority areas including:

  • livestock (beef, dairy, sheep, pigs, poultry)
  • plant (arable,horticulture, vegetable production)
  • novel food production systems
  • bioeconomy and agroforestry
  • integrated plant or livestock systems

If you are interested in attending, you should register to express your interest.


First published 22 February 2021