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Defra Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming - EoI

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What is the grant available for?

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will work with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to invest up to £12.5 million in innovation projects.

This funding is part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme which is delivered in partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge.

We will work in collaboration to deliver a portfolio of projects that meet the objectives of the Farming Innovation Programme and specific Defra key priorities. These are around reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate.

The aim of this funding is to:

  • develop ambitious solutions that will reduce emissions in existing practices whilst making the sector climate resilient
  • support innovation to transform farming productivity, environmental sustainability and resilience, whilst moving the sector towards net zero
  • prioritise outcomes aligned with Government key priorities to deliver business oriented solutions
  • develop solutions with a demonstrable societal impact, with clear deliverables including measurement of specific emissions reductions, and impacts
  • build diverse consortiums of innovative agricultural and horticultural businesses and relevant research expertise
  • encourage dissemination and knowledge exchange to drive impact and a wide uptake in the farming sector
  • increase the market readiness or maturity of emerging academic solutions

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

This is stage 1 of a 2 stage competition. The whole process will take at least 8 months.

  1. Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming - Expression of interest (EoI): Defra and Innovate UK will assess your application. Defra will review whether your application aligns to their key priorities (this competition).
  2. Farming Futures R&D Fund: Climate smart farming - Full Stage competition: Only applicants who are successful in the EoI stage will be invited to apply. The full stage will be independently assessed by Innovate UK. If your application is assessed as eligible, you will be required to present at interview. The selection of successful projects will be decided after the interviews. You can review the questions for the full stage competition in the ‘Supporting Information’ tab.

A decision to proceed with the full stage competition will depend on the outcomes from this EoI. Your application will be checked for changes between your EoI and full stage application.

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

Percentage of project cost

Defra and UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge have allocated up to £12.5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If the majority of 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.

For 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

Any eligibility criteria

Your project’s total costs at full stage must be between £3 million and £6 million and can last up to 48 months.

If you are successful, any awards given to primary agricultural producers are subject to the green box exemption under the 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.

If your application is successful in this EoI stage, you will be invited to apply for a full stage competition. In the full stage you must collaborate with other eligible grant claiming partners.

Your full stage project must:

  • address the specific requirements of the Defra key priorities for reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate
  • start by 1 April 2023
  • end by 31 March 2027
  • last between 24 and 48 months
  • have total eligible costs between £3 million and £6 million
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in England
  • have a minimum of 50% of any grant awarded to farmers, growers or foresters, allocated to farmers, growers or foresters based in England

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

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be:

If the lead organisation is an academic institution or an RTO it must collaborate with at least 1 UK registered business of any size.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK business of any size or a UK registered:

  • 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 on the Innovation Funding Service.

We will not accept unjustified changes from your EoI proposal but the consortium may be expanded at full stage with additional partners invited. We expect the organisations identified in your EoI to continue to participate to a full stage application.

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

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one application and can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

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

Academic institutions, research and technology organisations (RTO), can lead and collaborate on any number of applications.

Charities, not for profit or public sector organisations cannot lead but can collaborate in any number of applications.

Any required delivery targets / outcome required

The aim of this competition is to fund industrial research studies developing ambitious new solutions reducing farming emissions and adapting to a changing climate. These must address major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities.

Your solutions must address the priority areas identified by Defra for reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate, and significantly improve:

  • productivity
  • sustainability and environmental impact
  • progression towards net zero emissions​
  • resilience

How to apply for the grant?

For more information or to apply please click here.

Contact information:

Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme.

0300 321 4357

Additional information

Closing Date: 18/05/2022

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