UK unveils £20m innovation grants “to transform food production”
The UK government is offering £20m to drive innovation in smart agriculture, as part of a £90m fund to make it easier for farmers and food businesses to embrace technology and innovation.
Changing food production is a plank in the UK government’s developing Industrial Strategy. Funding is being provided by UK Research and Innovation, which has a £6 billion annual budget to combine with academia, enterprises, and charities to deliver ‘digital transformation’ in the UK economy.
The project is being delivered by the UK’s innovation engine Innovate UK.
“Due to the continued growth in global population, the UK, alongside many other countries, needs to produce more food. However, agricultural production issues such as costs and environmental factors mean we must do so in ways that are significantly more efficient, resilient and sustainable,” the Uk government said in a statement.
Organisations can apply for a share of the £20 million pot to transform how the agriculture sector works with crop and animal-based agricultural systems. The government wants projects that deliver productivity and sustainability in crop and ruminant agriculture.
The £20 million will be shared across two types of project: “productivity solutions, which develop a single intervention within a supply chain or production system, and supply chain solutions, which develop multiple interventions across at least three parts of the supply chain.”
As an example, it suggested then three-tier model might include beef producers, beef processors and supermarket retailers, or plant breeders, arable producers and food manufacturers.
The programme is available to project submissions that either combine digital technologies and engineering solutions with biological, environment or social science to improve productivity, develop technologies and systems that connect farms and supply chains, or transfer an innovative technology from another sector into agriculture.
It will consider productivity projects worth up to £2 million and supply chain projects worth up to £5 million. Winners will receive up to 70 per cent of their total project costs.
The competition is one element of the government’s smart agriculture programme, which looks to bring technologies like robotics, sensing, data, artificial intelligence and earth observation to UK farmers and food businesses.
“The aim is to transform food production in the UK by encouraging rural growth and creating high-skilled jobs and new export opportunities,” it said.
The deadline for applications is October 24, 2018. Projects must start by April 2019, and can last up to 36 months.
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