Canada-UK: Plant-based Protein Innovation

Key Features

UK registered organisations, in collaboration with Canadian organisations, can apply for a share of up to £6.5 million for collaborative research and development projects, resulting in innovative solutions for the plant-based protein sector.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £6.5 million

Opens: 18th Sep 2023

Closes: 1st Nov 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with Protein Industries Canada (PIC) to invest up to £6.5 million in innovation projects.


The aim of this Expression of Interest (EoI) competition is to find the best proposals to be put forward to the full application stage of the competition.

The aim of the full stage competition is to support the development of the plant-based protein sector. The objective is to meet global consumer demands for alternative proteins and to create export opportunities for the technologies, products and services developed.

Your project must include the use of plant-based proteins from crops that have potential for deployment at scale across Canadian and UK food and feed supply chains. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • field peas
  • lentils
  • canola
  • beans
  • oats
  • lupin

Your project can consider innovations that utilise high-protein crops in combination with other plant-based proteins, for example potato and hemp. You can also consider other innovations that help enhance plant-based products, including oils or fats derived from cellular or acellular fermentation.

Specific Themes

Your proposal must focus on one or more of these five areas:

  • ingredients – the development, scaling and optimisation of plant-based ingredients
  • products – the conversion of high protein crops, ingredients and co-products into consumption-ready goods
  • adding value or enhancing quality – innovations to improve the nutritional quality, consumer acceptability, sustainability and safety of plant-based products
  • animal feed or pet food applications – innovation related to uses focused on plant-based pet food and animal feed
  • co-product stream management – innovations to add value to by-products produced during processing of crops and related ingredients for plant-based product manufacture


Your UK project must:

  • have a maximum grant funding request of £1.5 million
  • last between 12 and 18 months
  • start by 1 September 2024
  • end by 28 February 2026
  • carry out the majority of your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

Your project must have a balanced contribution of the total eligible project costs among the partners from the participating partner countries. No more than 70% of the total project costs can be claimed by partners from a single participating country.

Innovate UK and Protein Industries Canada (PIC) will decide whether to approve your request.

If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be progressed.

To lead a UK project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with at least one Canadian registered SME that holds a current PIC membership
  • collaborate with at least one other business, from the UK or Canada
  • be or involve at least one UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)

The consortium must include at least three businesses. All businesses in a consortium must be separate legal and non-linked entities. This is to ensure that projects encourage genuine international collaboration, not internal company research. Linked companies are considered a single entity under the parent company.

Academic institutions and RTOs cannot lead.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each UK partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in the Innovation Funding Service. They are responsible for entering their own project costs in the application.

You must not invite your collaborating Canadian partners onto the Innovate UK’s IFS application platform. Their involvement in the project is listed as part of your answers to the questions.

PIC eligibility criteria is available on the PIC website in English and French.

UK participants must be part of an application submitted to Innovate UK. Canadian partners must submit a parallel application to the PIC programme.

UK applications will be assessed by Innovate UK. Your Canadian partners’ proposal is reviewed by PIC. Innovate UK and PIC are responsible for the decision to progress your EoI proposal to the full stage. There is no funding in this stage; funding will be awarded in the full stage.

UK participants will receive grant funding from Innovate UK and Canadian participants will receive grant funding from PIC.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and Canada and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from other countries, but you must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK or Canada.

You must provide a detailed rationale and evidence of the potential UK or Canadian contractors you approached, with the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use a subcontractor from a third country.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A UK registered business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications.

If a UK registered business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.

An academic institution, research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation can collaborate on any number of applications.

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • focus solely on non-plant-based protein production, for example cellular meat production
  • are collaborations involving fewer than three businesses
  • do not meet Innovate UK’s and Protein Industries Canada (PIC) eligibility criteria

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Up to £6.5 million from Innovate UK and CA$10 million from Protein Industries Canada (PIC) has been allocated to fund innovation projects in the Full Stage Application (FSA) of this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

Each country will fund its eligible participants according to their national procedure and funding rules. Funding conditions and eligibility criteria may vary between UK and Canada.

No more than 70% of the total project costs can be claimed by partners from a single participating country.

UK organisations

As a UK partner, 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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, 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

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

Research participation

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. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Canadian organisations

Canadian partners must hold a current PIC membership. To receive any grant funding in the full stage competition and continue as a feasible project, the project proposal must be successful on both sides of the consortium.

Canadian organisations must apply through the PIC website by the 1 November 2023.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.