Skip to main content

Further funding available to improve productivity, sustainability and resilience

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Payments for research and innovation
Orchard scene in Kent.
An orchard in Kent. Photograph by Sarah Stewart

At the end of this month, farmers, growers and foresters in England will be able to apply for a share of £850,000 to improve productivity, sustainability and resilience. 

The Research Starter competition will open on 30 January.

The competition is designed to further develop bold, collaborative, ambitious ideas which move the agricultural sector towards net zero. 

This is the third round of the competition. We launched the first round of the Research Starter competition in October 2021.

Since then, we’ve funded a range of exciting and innovative projects. They range from digital solutions for vineyard planning to soil benchmarking and automated insect protein for poultry. 

In this post, I’ll share an overview of the competition, the application process and links to help you prepare.

Research Starter projects

Research Starter projects are small research and development projects. 

They are designed to be an entry point to the innovation process for farmers, growers or foresters who have great early-stage ideas to solve major problems that impact their businesses.

They are particularly aimed at supporting those who haven’t previously received Innovate UK funding.

Innovation in this space should benefit both you and the wider farming and growing communities. These small projects could have a big impact.

Full details can be found on the Research Starter competition page. 

The application process 

As mentioned, the competition opens 30 January 2023.

Step 1: Applicant submits an expression of interest. The deadline is 8 March 2023. 

Step 2: All applications will be assessed and scored by independent expert assessors, with relevant industry or academic expertise.

Step 3: Successful applicants will be invited to submit a full stage competition application. 

We expect projects to start 1 November 2023.


As with all competitions within the Farming Innovation Programme, your proposal must be able to demonstrate how your project will benefit farmers, growers or foresters in England. 

Your project should address a significant industry challenge or opportunity in at least one of the four industry subsectors:

  • livestock
  • plants
  • novel food production systems
  • bioeconomy and agroforestry 

Your proposal should also investigate new solutions to challenges identified by industry, or opportunities for farmers, growers or foresters that have the potential to significantly improve: 

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

Your project must focus on developing on-farm or immediate post farmgate solutions and technologies.

We want to fund a wide portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, industry sectors, and business sizes.  

If at the end of your project, it is delivering some promising results, you and your new consortium could also apply into one of the bigger funding opportunities in the Farming Innovation Programme

Dates for your diary 

30 January: Competition opens 

1 February: UKRI and Innovate UK KTN will host a briefing webinar 

8 March: Expressions of interest close

More from the Farming Innovation Programme 

The Farming Innovation Programme is delivered in partnership with UK Research and Innovation. 

On 20 February, we plan to open a further round of large research and development (R&D) partnerships. 

We'll share more details with you here on the blog and on the Farming Innovation Programme website.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by robert m yorke posted on

    Hi Joss, good to see these funds coming forward - albeit they attract not as much attention, though are just as important as, ELM funding such as the SFI etc.

    I assume beyond that "They are designed to be an entry point to the innovation process for farmers, growers or foresters" it also includes the wider land manager community such as rangers, wardens, gamekeepers et al?

    A definition of exactly what is meant as "bioeconomy" might also help. Thank you.

    Rob Yorke

    • Replies to robert m yorke>

      Comment by Joss Wallace posted on

      Hi Rob,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The Farming Innovation Programme’s focus is on farmers, growers and foresters (in the case of agro-forestry) and supporting them to produce food in ways which are more sustainable, efficient and resilient whilst contributing to the net-zero target.

      This investment in R&D in England aims to enable more farmers, growers and agri-food businesses to become involved in agricultural R&D, thereby maximising the impact of R&D investment in innovation and the take up of novel approaches on farms. The other environmental land management initiatives are more suited to wider land management practices and those who operate in these areas.

      Bioeconomy, in the scope of the Programme, can cover areas such as the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed and bio-based products as well as use of renewable biological resources to replace fossil raw materials.

      Best wishes,

  2. Comment by Peter Dawe posted on

    I followed the links and NEVER came across the forms to fill in!!!

    Kafka would have been proud!


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.