• Daniel Forrest

Farming Innovation Pathways (FIP) – feasibility studies


Competition opens: Monday 1 March 2021

Competition closes: Wednesday 28 April 2021 11:00 am


UK registered businesses and research organisations can apply for a share of up to £5 million for feasibility studies to address the farming challenges of productivity, sustainability, and net zero emissions.


Project Size: £75,000 - £250,000.

Project Length: 12 - 18 months


Award: Share of up to £5 million

Programme: Innovate UK


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Summary


The aim of this competition is to support the development of novel innovations to develop and support a productive, resilient, and sustainable agricultural sector. This funding is delivered through the ISCF Transforming Food Production programme, in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). This development is achieved through the investment of up to £5 million in feasibility studies in the agricultural sector. Your project must address one or more high priority areas in at least one of these four industry subsectors:

  • Livestock.

  • Plant.

  • Novel food production systems.

  • Bioeconomy and agroforestry.

Your proposal must engage with farmers, growers or producers to explore the potential of early-stage farm-focused solutions. These solutions must solve the short to long-term challenges of productivity, sustainability, and net zero emissions.” This competition is split into 2 strands:

  1. feasibility studies (this strand)

  2. industrial research

In applying to this competition you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.


Funding type Grant


Project size Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £75,000 and £250,000.

Eligibility


Funding for this competition is from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Future Farming and Countryside Programme. Your project can be based anywhere in the UK but must generate benefits to the English farming sector. This competition is for collaborative feasibility studies only. Your proposal should focus on the early-stage development of technologies, systems or approaches that will make significant steps towards improving productivity, increasing sustainability and resilience. It must:

  • demonstrate or deliver outcomes or benefits for farmers

  • help the agriculture sector to move towards achieving net zero emissions by 2040

Innovate UK expect your project to have clear links to farmers, growers, agri-businesses, and other potential end users. Your proposal must show that you have considered the appropriate business models and routes to adoption and have sought the relevant expertise to enable this. You must address problems identified by farmer and industry needs so that your innovative solution can be integrated into the sector with the potential to be widely adopted. Any awards given to primary agricultural producers are subject to the green box exemption under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. Please see further guidance on green box subsidies here WTO Guidance for support in Agriculture. Applicants receiving this type of support must ensure that there is minimal to no distortion of trade and comply with the requirements of Annex 2 of the Agriculture Agreement. This competition has two strands:

  • Feasibility studies (this strand)

  • Industrial research

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £75,000 and £250,000

  • start by 1 October 2021

  • last between 12 and 18 months

Lead organisation To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, academic institution, research organisation or a research and technology organisation (RTO)

  • collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations or RTOs

  • carry out its project work in the UK

  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Research organisation led projects must collaborate with at least one business. Project team To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, research organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)

  • carry out its project work in the UK

  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application. Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service. Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs. Subcontractors Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. Innovate UK expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further 2 applications across both strands. If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to 3 applications across both strands. When an RTO leads on an application, it can collaborate in a further 2 applications within this strand and any number within the Industrial Research strand. If an RTO is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications across both strands. When a Research organisation leads on an application it can collaborate in a further 2 applications within this strand and any number within the Industrial Research strand. When an academic institution leads on an application, it can collaborate in any number of applications across both strands. Text update 10 March 2021: Innovate UK have changed guidance on the number of applications to make it clearer how many applications you can submit.

Previous applications You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project

  • an overdue independent accountant’s report

  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions


Subsidy control This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage. European Commission State aid You must apply under European Commission State aid rules if you are an applicant who is conducting activities that will affect trade of goods and/or electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU as envisaged by Article 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU Withdrawal Agreement. In certain limited circumstances, the European Commission State aid rules may also apply if you are an organisation located in England, Wales, or Scotland and conduct activities that affect the trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU. For further information, please see section 7 of the BEIS technical guidance. For further information see our general guidance on state aid and BEIS guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol. For applicants subject to the European Commission State aid rules, applicants will be required to prove that they were not an “Undertaking in Difficulty” (UiD) on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. Innovate UK will ask for evidence of this.

Further Information If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, please take independent legal advice. You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom. This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries. If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, Innovate UK will tell you as soon as possible.


Funding Innovate UK has allocated up to £5 million to fund innovation projects in this feasibility studies competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically. For feasibility studies you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation

  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation

  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Innovate UK may adjust the levels of overall funding available in both the feasibility and industrial research strands in this competition. This will be to fund the portfolio of projects that are most likely to achieve the challenge aims. Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Scope


The aim of the Farming Innovation Pathways (FIP) competition is to develop and support a productive, resilient, and sustainable agricultural sector. Novel solutions are needed to produce healthy food for consumption, where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy. Funding for this competition is from Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside programme. Projects can be based anywhere in the UK but must be able to clearly demonstrate potential benefits to the English farming sector. Your project must engage with farmers, growers or producers to explore the potential of early-stage farm-focused solutions. These solutions must solve the short to long-term challenges of productivity, sustainability, and net zero emissions. To meet these challenges, your project must focus on innovative solutions that can be integrated into the sector with the potential to be taken up and widely adopted. Your project must address at least one of the four industry subsectors:

  • Livestock

  • Plant

  • Novel food production systems.

  • Bioeconomy and agroforestry.

Your project must focus on one or more of the high priority areas listed below. Livestock (for example: beef, dairy, sheep, pigs, poultry)

  • improving resource use efficiency, particularly feed efficiency

  • advances in breeding and genetic improvement

  • improving animal health and welfare

  • improved data capture, management and decision support

  • intelligent housing solutions

  • manure and slurry management

Plant (for example: arable, horticulture, vegetable production):

  • reducing reliance on fossil fuels and agrochemical inputs

  • improving resource use efficiency, particularly fertiliser

  • improving soil health

  • improving sustainability of growth substrates (horticulture)

  • diversification of rotations with novel crops

  • advances in breeding and genetic improvement

  • improving the quality, nutritional characteristics and life of arable and horticultural produce

  • increasing automation for crop husbandry and harvesting

Novel food production systems:

  • insect production for feed

  • controlled environment agriculture

Bioeconomy and agroforestry:

  • developing opportunities for UK farmers, growers and foresters in the Bioeconomy (primary focus must be on food or feed production)

  • integrating biomass and agroforestry into traditional farmed systems and land-use practice, improving sustainability, productivity and income diversification

Integrated approaches: Innovate UK is also encouraging applicants with proposals which are developing or improving integrated plant and livestock systems. The high-priority areas listed are not intended to be exhaustive. If your project’s scope falls outside of our criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request. To achieve the challenge’s objectives we will fund a balanced portfolio of projects across a variety of technologies, markets, industry sectors, technological maturities and business size.

Research categories Innovate UK will fund feasibility projects as defined in the guidance on categories of research.


Projects Innovate UK will not fund Innovate UK will not give subsidies to projects:

  • that are equine-specific

  • for amenity and ornamental horticulture

  • for aquaculture or wild caught fisheries

  • that do not primarily benefit farming in England

  • that are dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country

  • that are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if Innovate UK insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product


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