Transforming food production: Series A Investor Partnership Programme: round 2 Investors can apply to partner with Innovate UK to align their investments with up to £5 million grant funding in UK registered SMEs to transform food production towards net zero by 2040. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Eligibility To be considered as an investor partner you must: be an equity provider able to lead Series A investments demonstrate an interest in transforming food production, with a focus on data driven solutions to boost productivity and improving sustainability whilst targeting net zero emissions commit to exploring aligning investment in the portfolio of UK registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that Innovate UK will identify in the upcoming SME competition Opening soon Opens: 18 October 2021 Closes: 10 November 2021

Programme: Innovate Uk


Opens: 18 October 2021

Closes: 10 November 2021


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is inviting investors to partner with us for this Transforming Food Production Series A Investor Partnership Programme. Together we will align Innovate UK’s grant funding of relevant late stage R&D projects alongside your investment in UK micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) concerned with transforming food production.

We are seeking investor partners that are looking to invest in high growth potential SMEs that aspire to transform food production towards net zero emissions. The SMEs will be selected in a concurrent competition.

The aim of this programme is to encourage investment in innovative companies with developed technologies that are working towards net zero emission productive food systems. Investor partners must provide wider business skills and experience as well as financial investment.

The Transforming Food Production Series A Investor Partnership Programme consists of 2 competitions:

  1. This investor partner selection competition, which collates and assesses applications from investors to form an investor pool. This competition is not offering any funding.
  2. The SME competition, which opens on 18 October 2021. This will be for SMEs to submit project applications for grant support with a clear alignment for private investment.

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

Funding type

Investor Partnerships

Project size

This competition is not offering any funding.

Who can apply

We are seeking investor partners that want to invest in high growth potential SMEs that aspire to transform food production towards net zero emissions. The SMEs will be selected in a parallel competition.

Your organisation must be an equity provider with the potential to act as lead investor in Series A investments from £1 million to £5 million. Equity providers that are a charity or a trust are also eligible.

We aim to establish a ‘pool’ of lead investor partners, interested in making investments aligned with Innovate UK grants. Investments must be either direct equity or convertible loans.

You must also be able to offer other commercial acumen to SMEs, for example:

  • leadership
  • market access
  • skills
  • resources

No funding commitment is required at this stage. We only need your commitment to review and consider project proposals that will be selected by Innovate UK in the SME competition opening on 18 October 2021.

You must be able to demonstrate that your organisation is of good financial standing.

We are looking for a mix of established agri-tech investors alongside food-tech, social, impact and clean growth investors from the UK and overseas.

Your organisation must demonstrate it has the capability, capacity and investment appetite to fund individual SMEs that aim to achieve the ‘net zero’ objectives of the ISCF Transforming Food Production Challenge.

We are particularly interested in investors who:

  • are willing to act as sole investor in Series A investments or be the lead investor where additional co-investment is required (co-investors can be from within or from outside of the pool being formed)
  • are prepared to deploy Series A financing with a patient and long-term view
  • can follow their investment and potentially provide more financing when required
  • can commit to helping the SMEs with international aspirations to grow and scale up
  • have relevant sector or technology-specific expertise or social impact priorities around resilient and environmentally sustainable food production

How investors are selected

The process for becoming an investor partner is selective. Applications will be assessed by independent assessors and considered by Innovate UK’s TFP Investor Selection Panel.

By submitting an application to become an investor partner, you agree to be bound by the additional terms and conditions of the memorandum of understanding which is available to view in question 2 of the application. Each successful applicant will be required to sign the memorandum of understanding before participation in the scheme, no later than 18 January 2022.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

No grant funding will be allocated to Investor partners. The associated SME phase of this programme provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

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 UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times 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.

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

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

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