Skip to main content

Farming Innovation Programme: applications open next week

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Payments for research and innovation

Earlier this summerwe said that we would launch the first competitions of the new Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships Fund in October.  

I'm pleased to say that we’re on track. 

The Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships Fund is the first of 3 funds to launch in the new Farming Innovation Programme. 

Applications for a share of £17.5 million funding will open Wednesday 20 October 2021. 

Project opportunities and dates 

The Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships Fund is made up of 4 different projects: 

  • Research Starter Projects

These are designed to help farmers, growers, and foresters based in England develop bold, ambitious, early-stage ideas and build a collaborative team. 

Applications for Research Starter Projects will open 20 October and close 24 November 2021. 

  • Feasibility Projects

These are designed to test the feasibility of early-stage solutions and to inform decisions on subsequent, larger scale research and development projects.

Applications for Feasibility Projects will open 20 October and close 1 December 2021. 

  • Small Research and Development Partnership Projects

These are designed to carry out research for innovative solutions that have the potential to substantially improve the overall productivity, sustainability, and resilience of the sectors. 

Applications for Small Research and Development Partnership Projects will open 20 October and close 1 December 2021. 

  • Large Research and Development Partnership Projects

 These are solutions that have the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, sustainability, and resilience of the sector. 

Applications for Large Research and Development Partnership Projects will launch in 2022.   

The Industry-led Research and Development Partnerships Fund will be delivered in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Visit then new Farming Innovation site for more information and to apply.


Whether you are a farmer, grower, or forester in England with an exciting idea that you’re looking to develop into a project; an established partnership of UK businesses looking to take the next step towards commercialising your innovative product; or a business from outside the sector with an idea that could prove to be a game-changer for farming in England, we encourage you to apply. 

Projects in this fund must be led by businesses, and will cover the traditional arable, livestock and horticulture sectors, as well as funding innovation in novel food production systems. For example, automation, controlled environment agriculture, bioeconomy and agroforestry.     

Funding must directly benefit farmers, growers, and foresters in England by helping to solve issues holding them and the sector back.  

However, we recognise that the UK has world-leading science and research expertise which operates across our shared borders.  

Applications will therefore be welcome from UK-wide businesses, universities, and research organisations to collaborate on ambitious research and development projects that will improve productivity and sustainability of agriculture and horticulture in England.  

Where farmers, growers or foresters are directly involved in a project, we ask that at least 50% of them in the team are based in England. 

Apply, attend one of our briefings and ask questions 

By working together on industry-led research and development projects, we believe that farmers, growers, foresters, businesses, and researchers will be better able to overcome challenges and improve agriculture in England. 

Video briefings with details of how to apply can be found on the application pages at the links below, where you can also sign up to attend a Q&A session on Wednesday 20 October.  

Research Starter Projects 

Feasibility Projects 

Small Research and Development Partnership Projects 

 The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) have also shared details of some upcoming events they will be hosting on 13-14 October.   These events are designed to help with the application process, and to identify project partners. Visit the events page of the Knowledge Transfer Network.

 The team at Defra will also host a webinar to introduce the Farming Innovation Programme on Monday 25 October. You can sign up to attend here.   

And of course more information can be found on the new Farming Innovation Programme website.

What to expect in 2022 

The other 2 funds in the Farming Innovation Programme are: 

  • The Farming Futures Research and Development Fund (competitions open early 2022) 
  • The Projects to Accelerate Adoption Fund (competitions open later in 2022) 

In early 2022, we will launch the first competitions in the Farming Futures Research and Development Fund. This fund will also be delivered in partnership with UKRI.  

This fund is aimed at bringing together agri-food businesses and researchers to focus on transformative solutions and address strategic and sector-wide challenges that impact productivity in the long-term. For example, Net Zero.   

Later in 2022, the Projects to Accelerate Adoption Fund will launch, with a focus on immediate, on-farm productivity challenges. This might be through smaller-scale, farmer-led research and development projects to trial and demonstrate the on-farm viability of new as well as existing technologies, processes and practices. 

Sharing and comments

Share this page

1 comment

  1. Comment by Jamie Bartley posted on

    Please can we have some further information as to why industrial Hemp has been specifically excluded from the scope of this funding? It far out performs many other crops in relation to Carbon sequestration, increasing biodiversity and following on crop yields. It seems very strange given the number of benefits the crop can provide to UK farmers, whilst also achieving great gains towards the Government's climate targets.


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.