Digital Dairy Chain: Collaborative R&D and Growth Round 2 SIPF

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £1.1 million for business focussed innovation in advanced and high value dairy production and manufacturing. This funding is from Digital Dairy Chain for Cumbria, South and West Scotland.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £1.1 million

Opens: 7th May 2024

Closes: 19th Jun 2024


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with Digital Dairy Chain for Cumbria, South and West Scotland, led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). They will invest up to £1.1 million in innovation projects.

These projects will stimulate an uplift in the region’s economy through inclusive and innovation led growth.


The aim of this competition is to support collaborative business focussed innovation in Cumbria, South and West Scotland. This is to support the transition to net zero and deliver improved productivity and sustainability in advanced and high value dairy production and manufacturing.

Your activities can solve challenges at any point in the dairy value chain, including dairy farming, milk transport and logistics, as well as the processing of milk and manufacture of other dairy products.

Digital Dairy Chain want to encourage socially inclusive innovation for individuals to contribute and benefit from economic growth in Cumbria, South and West Scotland.

Innovate UK encourage projects that:

  • provide solutions that tackle new or emerging needs
  • demonstrate a realistic potential to support business growth, scale-up and job creation
  • deliver benefit to Cumbria, South and West Scotland, as well as further afield
  • enable academic researchers and Research and Technology organisations to collaborate with businesses to help further develop and translate research towards commercially relevant impact and wider societal outcomes
  • develop novel approaches to monitor the effectiveness of products

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Portfolio consideration will include:

  • distribution of projects across the geography of the programme area
  • place in the dairy value chain, notably activities directed at dairy farms, milk transport, milk processing and dairy product manufacture
  • strength and depth of collaboration
  • value of grant funding requested
  • participation of women and young people in projects

Following the Innovate UK assessment, all fundable applications will be considered by a panel of independent advisors. The panel will be convened by the Digital Dairy Chain project and chaired independently.

The panel will review the applications in line with the Portfolio criteria and recommend to Digital Dairy Chain which projects would make up a balanced portfolio. That recommendation will inform Digital Dairy Chain’s final decision on funding awards.

Specific Themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • novel and high value products from dairy systems
  • decarbonising dairy production and manufacturing
  • waste minimisation and resource recirculation
  • reduced environmental impact and increased sustainability, for example, biodiversity, soil, air and water quality
  • sensor development and digitisation to improve productivity, welfare of staff and animals, and product quality including nutritional characteristics
  • value addition in the dairy supply chain

This list is not intended to be exhaustive or limiting.


Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request between £50,000 and £250,000
  • start from 1 October 2024
  • end by 31 December 2026
  • last between 6 and 24 months
  • carry out at least 75% of its project work in Cumbria, South or West Scotland
  • intend to exploit the results in Cumbria, South or West Scotland

Any awards given to primary agricultural producers are subject to the green box exemption under the World Trade Organisation (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.

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 or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

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 sent for assessment.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be either a UK registered business of any size or a UK farming business of any size
  • be able to evidence that you are an established business, including sole traders and partnerships
  • have a UK bank account
  • be based in Cumbria, South or West Scotland or carry out significant economic activity in that region
  • collaborate with other eligible grant claiming UK registered organisations

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead a project.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK based farmer or 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 partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) 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 IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs in the application.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Collaborations with Digital Dairy Chain research organisations are encouraged. These organisations are:

  • Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of the West of Scotland
  • CENSIS, part of the University of Glasgow

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You can use UK based subcontractors from outside Cumbria, South or West Scotland but you must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the specified region.

You must provide a detailed rationale and provide evidence of the potential subcontractors you approached and 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 outside the regions specified.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on two applications within this competition but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications.

If a business is not leading any application it can collaborate on any number of applications within this competition.

Research organisations, charities, not for profit, public sector organisations and research and technology organisations (RTOs) can collaborate on any number of applications.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not demonstrate potential to positively impact on the economy of Cumbria, South or West Scotland
  • deal with plant-based alternatives to milk
  • mainly install currently available technologies and involve minimal innovation
  • only involve product testing of agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, feeds or additives

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 £1.1 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

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.

The balance between your total project costs and the amount of grant awarded must be funded by the organisation receiving the grant.

Research, Development and Innovation Streamlined Subsidy Scheme Category 2 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

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

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.