10 Jun 2024

Farming Innovation Programme – Current and upcoming opportunities

Emma Lumley
Grant Consultant

What is the Farming Innovation Programme?

The Farming Innovation Programme, running since 2021, is part of Defra’s Farming and Countryside Programme and allows investment in innovation, research and development.  

The aims of the programme are help the UK achieve net zero ambitions by: 

  • helping farmers, growers and foresters increase productivity, sustainability and resilience 
  • reducing the environmental impact of agriculture and horticulture 
  • applying agricultural research to provide real benefits for farmers, growers and foresters 
  • using science to develop solutions for the practical challenges in agriculture and horticulture 

The programme has been developed to allow insights from science and business to be applied to the challenges in agriculture and horticulture; in order to get funding, you must work as part of a collaborative team.  

With the funding coming from Defra, all projects must have a demonstratable benefit for farmers and growers in England specifically. Importantly, this does not rule out other UK farmers taking part in projects, but 50% of the project costs allocated to UK farmers (not total project costs) must be geographically based in England. It should be noted, however, that all project work must take place in the UK. 




 What calls are open at the moment?

Currently, there are two open calls: 

There is a share of £15M available across the two open strands of the competition. 

Defra’s aim with this competition is to fund collaborative development projects with ambitious solutions to address the challenges related to nutrient management in soils and water associated with agricultural livestock and crop production. The solutions provided will enable sustainable and resilient farming. 

Projects submitted to either of these calls should align with the following nutrient management-specific Defra targets and commitments: 

  • the Environment Improvement Plan to reduce nitrogen, phosphate and sediment pollution by 40% by 2038 
  • the Clean Air Strategy to reduce emissions of ammonia by 16% by 2030 
  • to achieve Net Zero by 2050 where the agriculture contribution is 33% 

Projects must develop ambitious new solutions that: 

  • improve soil and water based nitrogen and phosphate nutrient management 
  • provide a positive impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions 
  • are applicable to manage nutrients from farm crop waste, from farm animal waste, or from commercial chemical and artificial fertilisers 
  • consider industrial and domestic wastes that are already used in agriculture, but the focus is on farm wastes (new waste streams are not included) 
  • lead to improvement of ground and river water quality 
  • reduce nitrogen, phosphate and sediment run-off and pollution 

Both calls have a closing date of 24th July 2024, so there is still time to apply. If you are considering applying to either call, please get in touch with us as soon as possible. 

Not suitable?

Take a look at the expected upcoming Farming Innovation Programme calls… 

Four calls are expected to open in the autumn: 

  • Small R&D Partnerships (round 4) 
  • Feasibility Studies (round 4) 
  • Farming Futures R&D – Nutrient Management, Phase 2 
  • Farming Futures R&D – Net Zero Farming 

Small R&D Partnerships aim to develop new products and services. Following on from previous rounds, we expect the eligibility to allow project sizes of £1M-3M and durations of up to 3 years. 

Feasibility Studies will fund smaller studies allowing successful applicants to check whether an idea will work in practice. Project costs are expected to be £200-500k and project durations of up to 2 years should be eligible. 

Farming Futures R&D calls will fund work on longer term innovations and are expected to fund projects ranging from £200k-6M, lasting 2-5 years.  

All four calls are anticipated to open and close this autumn. In order to maximise your chances of success, get the ball rolling as soon as possible so that you can act swiftly when the calls open.  

With all calls, more detailed information surrounding scope, eligibility and timelines will be published closer to the opening date. Briefing webinars and consortium building events will likely be held – a useful opportunity for potential applicants.  

Next steps… 

If you have a project in mind, please get in touch with the TBAT team. Whether you are planning to apply to an open call or wait for the calls opening this Autumn, getting in touch early allows us to prepare an application with time to refine all the details before submission. 

Our dedicated grants team will be able to discuss your project and identify the most suitable call, as well as providing input on how best to achieve a successful outcome. We will take you through our application process, drawing out the key information needed, making suggestions, writing and finally refining and polishing your application. 

Have you submitted an unsuccessful application to the Farming Innovation Programme previously? We can support you to resubmit or redevelop your application, get in touch to find out more about how we can help. 

If you receive funding, we can also support with Grants Claim Management, and help you in applying for R&D Tax Credits. 

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