Novel, low-emission food production systems: Feasibility studies

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £16 million to deliver resource efficient, low-emission food production systems. Including alternative proteins and Total Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA).

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £16 million

Opens: 18th Jan 2023

Closes: 19th Apr 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, are jointly investing £16 million in this competition through their strategic partnership. This partnership will support UK businesses to engage with and benefit from the UK’s excellent research base to grow and scale innovations.

The Novel Low Emission Food Production systems competition is part of Innovate UK’s funding support for growing the future economy, as outlined in Innovate UK’s Plan for Action. This funding also includes the Better Food for All competition, early, mid and late stages. You must ensure you apply for the most relevant competition for your project.


The aim of this competition is to support the development of novel production systems that create new sources of resource efficient, low-emission foods, particularly proteins, while delivering healthy and sustainable diets.

Innovate UK are encouraging projects that:

  • develop the UK alternative protein industry sector to meet domestic consumer demands for alternative proteins and export opportunities for the technologies, products and services developed
  • establish world-leading Total Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) capacity, reducing horticulture imports and developing technology exports
  • establish sustainable, resilient and healthy local food supply chains, which can decarbonise other sectors through circular economy approaches and co-location of food production adjacent to other industries
  • realise unmet consumer demand for healthier, more sustainable alternative food products through the creation of new UK products
  • establish new alternative protein sources that address the UK’s reliance on imports and deliver against government net-zero and environment targets, this can include work on functional groups such as lipids for food product formulation
  • enable academic researchers to collaborate with businesses to help further develop and translate research towards commercially relevant impact and wider societal outcomes

Your proposal must describe how your project:

  • will support the development of novel production systems that create new sources of resource efficient, low-emission foods, particularly proteins, while delivering healthy and sustainable diets
  • outputs will progress emerging novel food production systems closer towards commercial viability and being able to supply mainstream consumer markets

Specific Themes

Your project must have the potential to significantly shift the current state of the art in one or more of the following six priority areas:

  • plant based products or production systems
  • acellular food production, for example, algal, bacterial or fungal fermentation systems
  • cellular food production, for example, cell culture systems for meat production
  • novel aquaculture systems, for example, fin-fish and shell-fish
  • new food production systems, for example, insect farming, seaweed cultivation and other alternatives to traditional animal production systems
  • Total Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) systems


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.

Your project

For feasibility studies, your project must:

  • have total costs between £200,000 and £500,000
  • start by 01 September 2023
  • end by 31 August 2025
  • last between 6 and 24 months
  • 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 feasibility studies project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, academic institution, a research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

If the lead organisation is an academic institution, research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation, it must collaborate with at least one business of any size.

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.

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications in either strand of the competition.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications in either strand of the competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are equine specific
  • involve wild caught fisheries or traditional inshore aquaculture systems
  • focus on non-food or non-feed applications and markets
  • focus on incrementally improving traditional UK animal production systems
  • focus on improvements to semi-controlled environment production systems such as glasshouses or polytunnels

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 £16 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects for both strands of this competition. 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, 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 feasibility studies, 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.