Farming Futures: Environmental resilience, Feasibility

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £12.5 million across the two strands of this competition. This will be to develop innovative solutions for sustainable and resilient farming. This funding is from Farming Futures R&D Fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £12.5 million

Opens: 22nd May 2023

Closes: 19th Jul 2023

! This scheme is now closed


The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will invest up to £12.5 million in innovation projects.

This funding is part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, which is a partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge and delivered by Innovate UK.

Your proposal must be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England.

This competition is split into 2 strands:

  • Strand 1 – Farming Futures: Feasibility; evaluating emerging solutions with the UK’s world-leading research base, agri-tech businesses, SMEs and the UK agricultural sector to develop innovations in agriculture, forestry and horticulture (this strand)
  • Strand 2 – Farming Futures: Industrial Research; progressing emerging solutions to new products, processes and services with the UK’s world-leading research base, agri-tech businesses, SMEs and the UK agricultural sector to develop innovations in agriculture, forestry and horticulture – View strand 2 here

This competition will address the challenges to plants, crops and farmed animals, from both their biological (biotic) and physical environments (abiotic).

It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.

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


The aim of this competition is to fund collaborative development of projects with ambitious solutions. Solutions provided will enable sustainable and resilient farming through addressing biotic and abiotic stresses in agriculture, horticulture and forestry to:

  • support specific recommendations from recent Defra reviews, the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) act 2023 and the Government Food Strategy
  • resolve key issues affecting the sector, where sustainable and resilientfarming solutions can mitigate climate challenges and increase productivity
  • develop innovations in agriculture, forestry and horticulture to meet challenges to plants, crops and farmed animals from both their biological (biotic) and physical environment (abiotic)

The innovative technologies in your proposal could include one or more of the following biological (biotic) and physical environmental (abiotic) challenges:

  • integrated pest management ​
  • detection, prevention and management of diseases​
  • agro-ecology ​
  • gene editing and breeding​
  • regenerative cropping, livestock and mixed systems​
  • livestock housing, nutrition, health and management​
  • innovative fertiliser practices​
  • soil resilience​
  • water management and innovation​

This list is not exhaustive.

Your project must seek to significantly improve:

  • productivity
  • sustainability and environmental impact of farming
  • progression towards net zero emissions
  • longer term resilience
  • food security

You must be able to demonstrate how your solution and output will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England.

Your proposal must:

  • demonstrate environmental benefits and societal impact
  • ensure your solutions are closely aligned with industry priorities to deliver business-orientated and transformative opportunities
  • consider how it will encourage dissemination and knowledge exchange to the wider sector

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following agricultural and horticultural production sectors:

Farmed animals

  • monogastric
  • ruminant


  • broadacre: cereals, root crops, grassland
  • horticulture: field based and specialist growers
  • fruit: top fruit, stone fruit and soft fruit
  • vineyard
  • protected cropping: glass and polytunnel systems
  • controlled environment and vertical farming systems


  • agro-forestry


  • bioeconomy


If you are successful, 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 in the 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.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £200,000 and £500,000
  • start by 1 January 2024
  • end by 31 December 2025
  • last between 12 to 24 months
  • be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

Academic institutions and research organisations cannot lead or work alone.

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 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.

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

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors 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 an overseas subcontractor.

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

A business, can only lead on one application in each strand but can be included as a collaborator in 2 further applications in each of the 2 strands of the competition. If you are successful you will be asked to confirm you have the capacity to run multiple projects simultaneously.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

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 and 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 when applying for both strands of this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that :

  • are equine specific
  • are focused specifically on financial resilience​
  • are specific to non-food or ornamental plants
  • involve wild caught fisheries
  • involve aquaculture for fish production or human consumption
  • involve cellular expression of proteins or cultivated meat
  • involve acellular production systems, fermentation systems for bacteria, yeast or fungi for human consumption
  • are for the production of crops or plants for medicinal or pharmaceutical use
  • do not benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England
  • involve post farm gate processing and packaging

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

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has allocated up to £12.5 million, across the two strands of this competition, working in partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge. This competition is delivered by Innovate UK.

If your project has farmers, growers and foresters requesting grant funding, a minimum of 50% of the total grant amount requested by those organisations, must come from farmers, growers or foresters geographically based in England.

Funding will be in the form of a grant.

The total funding available for the competition can change.

The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the funding allocations between the two competition strands
  • apply a portfolio approach

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 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 50% 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 50% 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.