Agri-tech Catalyst round 7: agriculture and food systems innovation

Key Features

UK businesses and research organisations can apply for a share of up to £3 million from DFID for projects with partners in eligible African countries.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £3 million

Opens: 28th Aug 2018

Closes: 21st Nov 2018

! This scheme is now closed


There is up to £3 million of funding available from the Department for International Development (DFID) for early-stage feasibility studies, mid stage industrial research and late-stage experimental development. Projects must work on agri-tech and food chain innovations with partners in eligible African countries.


The aim of this competition is to increase the pace of development and scale of uptake of agricultural and food systems technology and innovation in Africa by:

  • farmers
  • other food systems actors

Your project’s innovations must:

  • be sustainable in the context of environmental challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity
  • minimise negative effects such as pollution, food losses and waste
  • promote safe, healthy, nutritious diets

The scope of the Catalyst includes:

  • primary crop and livestock production, including aquaculture
  • non-food uses of crops, excluding ornamentals
  • challenges in food processing, distribution or storage, and value addition (such as through a change in the physical state or form of the product)
  • improving the availability and accessibility of safe, healthy and nutritious foods

Your application must demonstrate how your project will contribute to international development outcomes, specifically enhanced food and nutrition security, and welfare of the poor in urban and rural areas.

The following are priorities for DFID funding. You could consider focusing on one or more themes:

  • integrating smallholders into global and local supply chains
  • meeting quality standards and improving productivity
  • increasing the value of production to smallholders
  • innovation that supports food systems to deliver nutritious, healthy and safe food
  • control of crop pests, weeds and diseases
  • reducing food losses ‘post-farm gate’ and through the value chain
  • addressing food safety issues through the value chain
  • addressing challenges in downstream food processing, distribution or storage and value addition
  • new food technologies and data-driven food systems, including for urban areas


All projects:

  • must be collaborative
  • must include a partner from an eligible African country, who can be the technical lead
  • must include a UK-based administrative lead
  • must be carried out in the UK or an eligible African country or both

In view of the overseas nature of this funding Innovate UK is imposing some additional assurance requirements:

  • successful UK applicants must demonstrate they have proper and transparent arrangements for passing grant monies to African participants
  • Innovate UK will carry out initial due diligence and final audit checks on African participants
  • successful UK participants must provide documented evidence that African participants agree to such checks

Innovate UK and DFID reserve the right to refuse funding to projects in areas where our risk-based considerations find that the cost of due diligence and monitoring requirements outweigh the potential benefits of funding.

Funding Costs

Early stage feasibility studies: £100,000 to £500,000, 12 to 18 months. Mid stage industrial research: £250,000 to £1 million, up to 3 years. Late stage experimental development: £150,000 to £800,000, up to 18 months. Projects must start by 1 April 2019.

For early-stage feasibility studies, and mid-stage industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For late-stage experimental development projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business


They will not fund projects that cover:

  • forestry or ornamentals
  • wild-capture fisheries
  • equine
  • crops for energy production