Work on longer-term farming innovations 

The ‘Farming Futures R&D’ competition is for ambitious research projects that could benefit farmers in England.     

Each competition has a different theme. For example, the first theme is ‘climate smart farming’, which aims to reduce carbon emissions. 

You can apply to lead a project if you’re a:

  • research organisation
  • business registered in the UK

You’ll need to collaborate with at least one other business or research organisation. 

Projects can last up to 4 years and need to cost between £3 million and £6 million. 


What’s coming up

Full details for each theme and how to apply will be published on the Innovation Funding Service (opens in new window) when competitions open. 

You can find early information here to help you plan ahead. 

ThemeOpensClosesStatus
Sustainable proteins (theme 2)Summer 22TBCUpcoming
Climate smart farming (theme 1)30 March 202218 May 2022Closed

How to apply

You apply for funding in two stages. This applies to theme 1 and could change for future themes. 

Stage 1: expression of interest (EOI)

At the first stage you only need to submit an ‘expression of interest’. 

You’ll need to explain:

  • the farming challenge you’re taking on
  • your approach, including where the focus on innovation will be
  • your team – who they are and how you’ll work together 
  • how your project aligns with the key priorities of Defra

Stage 2: full application

You’ll only be invited to apply for stage 2 if you’re successful at the EOI stage. 

To complete the full application, you’ll need to answer further questions about your project, including costs, project management and how you’ll measure the impact of your work.


Work as part of a team

We want to encourage collaboration between farmers, researchers and businesses. We believe that by working together you can develop the solutions and improvements needed to meet environmental and industry challenges.

To apply, you’ll need to collaborate with at least one other business or research organisation. 

Once the competition is open, Innovate UK KTN can help you find the right people to work with (opens in new window) on your project.  


Work with farmers

Farmers, growers or foresters must be involved throughout the project. This is so that any new solutions work for them in practice. 

There are different ways you could collaborate:

  • work with them directly to develop a product (for example on their land)
  • put them on your advisory or project boards
  • regularly check that the product you are developing works for them

Amount of funding you could get  

Total project costs need to be between £3 million and £6 million.  

Businesses: what you can claim

The amount of funding you can claim depends on the size of your business. It’s the same rules if you’re a lead or collaborator.  

There is guidance to help you check what size your company is if you’re not sure.

Size of business% of your project costs
Small or micro70%
Medium60%
Large 50%
Percentages relate to these competitions only and could vary in future competitions.

Research organisations: what you can claim

Your costs are capped at 30% of the total project costs. 

For example, if you’re working on a project that has a total cost of £5 million, combined costs for the research organisations involved would be capped at £1.5 million (30%). 

Research organisations can apply for funding to cover these costs, up to the full amount. In this example, that would be up to £1.5 million.