Grant Competition: Farming Innovation Programme – Partnerships

Round 2 of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme – small R&D partnership projects is now open. Here’s what you need to know.

The UK government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched round 2 of its Farming Innovation Programme. 

This initiative provides funding for early-stage R&D projects that are designed to improve the productivity, sustainability and resilience of English farming.

Delivered in partnership with UKRI’s Transforming Food Production Challenge, the Farming Innovation Programme is split into two parallel competitions:

  • The £11 million small R&D partnership projects competition
  • The £5.5 million feasibility projects competition

This blog will cover the small R&D partnership projects competition. More on the feasibility projects competition here

For a hassle-free assessment of your eligibility for either competition, contact GrantTree today. 

Key Details

  • The competition runs from 31 August to 2 November 2022
  • Up to £2.1 million in funding is available
  • Your project must involve at least one other organisation
  • At least 50% of the grant must be requested by farmers, growers, and foresters based in England 

Below are the key things you need to know about the eligibility criteria and the application process for the Farming Innovation Programme small R&D partnership projects competition. 

Take a moment to read through this information. Then contact GrantTree for a quick, no-strings-attached eligibility assessment.

Am I eligible for the Farming Innovation Programme?

Here are the key eligibility criteria for the Farming Innovation Programme small R&D partnership projects competition.

Your Project

This competition is designed to fund industrial research studies for new solutions that will address on-farm or post-farmgate challenges and opportunities in at least one of the following subsectors: 

  • Livestock
  • Plants
  • Novel food production systems
  • Bioeconomy and agroforestry

Within these subsectors, your solution(s) must aim to significantly improve one of the following areas:

  • Productivity 
  • Sustainability and the environmental impact of farming
  • Progression towards net zero
  • Resilience

In addition, your project must: 

  • Start by 1 June 2023 and end by 31 May 2026
  • Last no more than 36 months
  • Be collaborative, meaning it must involve more than one organisation
  • Have total project costs of between £1 million and £3 million

You must carry out all of your project work and intend to exploit its results in the UK. 

At least 50% of the funding your request must be allocated to farmers, growers and foresters based in England.

Leading a Project

To lead a project, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered organisation of any size
  • Collaborate with at least one other UK organisation
  • Be or work with at least one grant-claiming SME

To find out how Innovate UK defines an SME, read our dedicated blog. Academic and research organisations cannot lead a project.

Project Team

To collaborate with a lead, your organisation must be a UK-registered:

  • Business of any size
  • Academic institution
  • Charity
  • Not-for-profit
  • Public sector organisation
  • Research and technology organisation (RTO)

The complete list of eligibility criteria is available on the competition’s website.

How do I apply for the Farming Innovation Programme?

The written portion of the competition’s application is split into three sections:

Project Details

This section includes a 400-word project summary, a 400-word description of how your project matches the competition’s scope, and a 400-word public description explaining how you would like Innovate UK to describe your work to third parties.

Application Questions

There are 14 questions in this section, covering a range of areas, including the need or challenge your project is addressing, the approach you will take, your project team, and your plan to commercialise your project’s results. 

Each question has a 400-word limit.


This is where you’ll enter your project costs, organisation details and funding details. Each organisation in your consortium must submit their own information.


If your written application is successful, you and your consortium partners will be invited to attend an interview and give a presentation, followed by a thirty-minute Q&A. You can then submit a written response to your assessors’ concerns.

Maximise Your Chances with GrantTree

The Farming Innovation Programme is highly competitive. But you can maximise your chances of submitting a successful application by working with GrantTree’s team of grant experts.

Our team can help you create a compelling proposal that satisfies all of the competition’s criteria and prepare for the interview with UKRI’s assessors.

To discuss working with GrantTree, and secure the funding that will take your project to the next stage of growth, just get in touch. Our team is standing by to help.