• Status: Closed

  • Key features: The Agri-Tech Catalyst, run by Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, offers funding to innovative businesses and researchers to develop solutions to global agricultural challenges.

  • Programme: Other

  • Award: Up to £1 million 

  • Opens: 25 Jun 2015, 12:00

  • Registration closes: 13 Jan 2016, 12:00

  • Closes: 20 Jan 2016, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

« go back

Agri-Tech Catalyst early and late stage awards - Round 5


Agricultural science and technology is one of the world's fastest-growing and exciting markets, driven by global challenges:
  • a rising population
  • rapid development of emerging economies
  • shortages of land, water and energy
The vision of the Government's UK strategy for agricultural technologies is to make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability. To achieve this, the Government is investing £70 million in an Agri-Tech Catalyst. The Agri-Tech Catalyst has been set up by Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The Department for International Development is contributing £10 million to the Catalyst, to support the transfer of technology and new products to developing countries.

How does it work?

The Agri-Tech Catalyst is now open for applications, to support businesses and researchers in developing innovative solutions to challenges in the agri-tech sector. The Agri-Tech Catalyst will fund proposals relating to: 
  • primary crop and livestock production, including aquaculture
  • non-food uses of crops including ornamentals
  • food security and nutrition challenges in international development
  • challenges in downstream food processing, provided the solution lies in primary production
Applications from the aquaculture and livestock sectors are particularly encouraged, as are crop sector projects targeting weed control and on-farm storage and management. Projects targeting the late-stage award category are also encouraged.
The Agri-Tech Catalyst will not fund equine-related proposals, or proposals relating to forestry or wild-capture fisheries. The Agri-Tech Catalyst will award grants for early-stage feasibility studies, industrial research, and late-stage experimental development.

Who can take part?

Subject to eligibility, any UK business or research base partner undertaking research and development may apply. 
All projects must be collaborative except for late-stage awards which can support individual companies or business partners working together through collaboration. Developing country partners must be involved for applicants targeting international development.

Further Information

View the Agri-Tech competition flyer.
Join us for the webinar on 2 July 2015 to find out more about the Agri-Tech Catalyst and how you could benefit.

Early Stage Awards

Pre-industrial research feasibility studies 

The objective of technical feasibility studies is to explore the commercial potential of an early-stage innovative idea. All projects must be based on prior underpinning research evidence. Examples of project work in this early-stage award category may include, but are not limited to:
  • development projects that encompass validation of disease targets (but not discovery of novel targets involving fundamental research), identification of agchem candidates, characterisation and optimisation, initial manufacturing process development and formulation, demonstration of safety and efficacy, plant and animal breeding trait assessment and marker identification, and material testing for engineering solutions 
  • diagnostic devices or other analytical technology projects that may include exploration of user requirements, initial design and engineering, systems integration and prototyping, laboratory-based evaluation and characterisation
Applicants wishing to evaluate or trial the commercial potential of their technologies in a field testing or real-life environment should apply for a late-stage award.

Key features of early-stage technical feasibility study awards

Research base or business-led collaborative projects that explore the commercial potential of an early-stage innovative idea, through review of research evidence and application potential in agri-food production, assessment of business opportunity, or scoping for further development.
  • Duration – up to 18 months
  • Typical project size – £150,000 to £500,000
  • Applications can be research base or business-led but must include at least one business partner
  • Funding for businesses – up to 55% of total eligible project costs for SMEs, up to 45% for larger companies
  • Total research base partner costs must not exceed 50% of total project costs

Key dates

  • Round 5 opens: 25 Jun 2015
  • Competition briefing: 2 Jul 2015
  • Registration deadline: 13 Jan 2016
  • Submission deadline: 20 Jan 2016

Late Stage Awards

These experimental development projects will evaluate or trial the commercial potential of an innovative concept in a real-life environment.  
We expect that all projects will be based on significant prior research, where the feasibility of the project has already been demonstrated. Examples of project work in this late-stage award category may include first tests in a field trial setting to evaluate commercial potential (crop or livestock as appropriate), trialling an innovative concept in the real-life operational environment, investigating product safety and effectiveness, through to the validation of the final product design, and production of final prototype. In some cases we may support early adoption studies.

Key features of late-stage awards

Business-led projects to support individual companies or business partners working in collaboration*. These projects will test and validate innovative concepts in a commercial environment to demonstrate their economic and technical feasibility ahead of large-scale deployment.
* Projects targeting international development must include a UK business partner and a developing country partner.
  • Duration – up to 12 months
  • Typical project size – up to £1 million
  • Funding for businesses – up to 35% of  total eligible project costs for SMEs, up to 25% for larger companies
  • Research base partners may participate as subcontractors to a business

Key dates

  • Round 5 opens: 25 Jun 2015
  • Competition briefing: 2 Jul 2015
  • Registration deadline: 13 Jan 2016
  • Submission deadline: 20 Jan 2016

Application Process

How to apply

The Agri-Tech Catalyst is now open for applications. It will in essence be ‘always open', but to help the processing of applications, there will be a number of ‘rounds', with submission and assessment deadlines for each. You can find these dates in the relevant award sections of this page.


Before you can enter the competition, you need first to register and you will then be sent an email with a username and password so you can upload your application securely, together with a unique application form and number. Please allow 2 working days for this.
You must submit your application in the round in which you have registered.
Registration typically closes for each round one week before the submission deadline. 
Applicants who register for a particular round and who do not submit in that round will need to re-register for a later round in order to obtain valid documentation and login and password for their application submission. If you are unsuccessful in a particular round, you may choose to reapply for funding in the same category of grant only once for the same project.

The competition process

Agri-Tech Catalyst awards are allocated through a competitive process. For both early-stage and late-stage awards, the competition involves a single-stage process. The industrial research awards category involves a two-stage process which involves a written expression of interest, followed by a full application for invited applicants.
Those applicants who successfully complete an early-stage feasibility study may apply for subsequent consideration in the industrial research category, and will be offered direct entry to the second stage of the competition – please contact the Customer Support Group for further information. 
In addition, there may be opportunities for projects in the industrial research category to move forward for consideration for late-stage awards, but this will also involve a competitive process and there may be potential timescale restrictions. 
For some projects therefore, it may be appropriate to include late-stage work streams within an industrial research proposal at the appropriate grant rate and at the time of applying for an industrial research award.