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Farming Futures: automation and robotics, industrial research UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £12.5 million across the two strands of this competition, to develop innovative solutions for automation and robotics. This funding is from the Farming Futures R&D Fund. Eligibility This competition is open to collaborations only. To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size. Opening soon Opens: 9 January 2023 Closes: 15 March 2023

Programme: Innovate Uk

Award:

Opens: 9 January 2023

Closes: 15 March 2023

Description

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will 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.

The aim of this competition is to fund collaborative development projects with ambitious solutions for robotics and automation in agriculture and horticulture to:

  • support specific recommendations for automation innovation funding from recent Defra reviews and the Government Food Strategy
  • address key issues affecting the sector, where automation and robotics can mitigate labour challenges and increase productivity.

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

This competition is split into 2 strands:

  • Strand 1 - Farming Futures: automation and robotics industrial research; accelerating collaborative R&D with the UK’s world-leading research base, agri-tech businesses, SMEs and the UK agricultural sector to develop innovations in agriculture and horticulture (this strand)
  • Strand 2 - Farming Futures: automation and robotics experimental development; accelerating the deployment and uptake of innovation for robotics and automation in agriculture and horticulture that is almost at commercial stage

It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.

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

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total costs must be between £500,000 and £1 million.

Who can apply

If you are successful, any awards given to primary agricultural producers are subject to the green box exemption, under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture.

Please see further guidance on green box subsidies in the 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.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £500,000 and £1 million
  • start by 1 September 2023
  • end by 31 August 2026 for 36 month duration projects
  • end by 31 August 2027 for 48 month duration projects
  • be able to demonstrate how the project will benefit farmers or growers in England
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other eligible UK organisations

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK based farmer or grower, or a UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • 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 and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Non-funded partners

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

Subcontractors

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 in each strand of this competition. A business can also be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications in each of the 2 strands of the competition.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications across both strands of the competition.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Further information about the Subsidy requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.


Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022 or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must always make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.


This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has allocated up to £12.5 million to fund innovation projects across the two strands of this competition. Defra will be working in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Transforming Food Production Challenge to deliver this competition.

Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If your project has farmers or growers requesting grant funding, a minimum of 50% of the total grant amount requested by those organisations, must come from farmers or growers geographically based in England.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the funding allocations between the two competition strands
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

If 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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

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

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

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