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Grants and Funding


SMEs Transforming Food Production - Series A Investor Partnership

22 October 2020/Categories: Grants_and_Funding

Fund Information

Funding body:

Innovate UK (IUK)

Maximum value:

£ 500,000

Application deadline:



This Innovate UK (IUK) competition is provided with funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). IUK works with people, companies and partner organisations to de-risk, enable and support innovation, and promote UK economic growth. IUK is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) - a non-departmental public body, funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Objectives of Fund

Through this competition IUK is looking for UK-registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises aspiring to transform food production towards net zero emissions by 2040. The programme provides financial investment for experimental development projects that are closer to market, and support in the areas of leadership, market access, skills and resources.

Value Notes

ISCF has allocated up to £5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Projects must have total eligible costs of between £1 million and £3 million. They should start by 1 October 2021, end by 31 March 2023 and last 18 months.

As well as investment, the lead investors in the pool can provide business with commercial acumen, such as leadership, market access, skills and resources.

Match Funding Restrictions

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, applicants could get funding for their eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 45% if they are a micro or small organisation.

  • Up to 35% if they are a medium-sized organisation.

  • Up to 25% if they are a large organisation.

Applicants are required to secure aligned private investment, which must be at least twice the amount of the grant funding. Preference will be shown to applications with a higher ratio of investment to grant.

Applicants must agree the private investment through a lead investor and reach heads of terms by 3 June 2021. The aligned private investment:

  • Must provide suitable capital to complete the project and grow and scale.

  • Be directed for use by the company, whereas the grant is to support the project only.

  • Can be used to fund additional costs typically ineligible for support by Innovate UK.

  • Must be provided under commercial terms negotiated with the lead investor and not Innovate UK.

The investment can be in the form of either direct equity investment or a convertible loan. It must come from a single lead investor from the pool of investors associated with this programme. The lead investor may decide to syndicate with other investors from within or outside of the pool.

Who Can Apply

Applications will be accepted from individual micro, small or medium-sized businesses with high growth potential.

To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • Be registered in the UK.

  • Carry out its project work in the UK.

  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

  • Be prepared to negotiate head of terms for an aligned series A investment.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant's normal procurement process.

Projects must focus on one of the following:

  • The development of precision solutions and systems that will make a significant step towards net zero emissions for food production.

  • Improving productivity of the agricultural sector.

  • Stimulating the establishment of novel high value production systems.

  • Developing export opportunities.

Proposals must:

  • Demonstrate how the applicant will develop precision technologies and data driven solutions that make a significant step towards realising net zero food production systems by 2040.

  • Demonstrate the ambition to finalise a late stage innovation with the potential to grow and scale the business through successful negotiation of investment from a lead investor associated with the competition. Applicants must provide a coherent project plan which integrates into their business strategy.

  • Demonstrate how the project meets the overall aims of the ISCF Transforming Food Production Challenge, which are to:

    • help food production systems achieve net zero emissions by 2040;

    • help produce food in ways that are more efficient, resilient and sustainable;

    • speed up the development and use of integrated precision approaches to improve productivity in agricultural systems.


United Kingdom


IUK is not funding those who:

  • Have failed to exploit a previously funded project.

  • Have an overdue independent accountant's report.

  • Have failed to comply with grant terms and conditions.

IUK is not funding projects involving:

  • Equine.

  • Amenity horticulture.

  • Wild-caught fisheries.

  • Non-food crops.

Eligible Expenditure

IUK will fund experimental development projects through this competition.

Employee Notes


Turnover Notes

Annual turnover not exceeding €50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.

How To Apply

Competition dates:

  • Open: Monday 2 November 2020

  • Competition closing date: Wednesday 13 January 2021 (11:00 GMT)

Applicants are encouraged to read the general guidance for applicants to help their chances of submitting a quality application.

Those requiring more information should contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email [email protected]

More details can be accessed here


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