• Status: Closed

  • Key features: The Agri-Tech Catalyst, run by the 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:

  • Opens: 08 Jan 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 17 Jun 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 24 Jun 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Agri-Tech Catalyst - Early-stage awards - round 4

Competition results

*Please see the results for previous Rounds at the bottom of this page under "Previous competition results".*


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 £70m 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 £10m to the Catalyst, to support the transfer of technology and new products to developing countries.

Changes for Round 3 onwards

The Agri-Tech Catalyst is expecting to support around 50 projects by the end of the first two rounds of funding. These projects, and future projects, will have a real impact on the sector by helping to accelerate innovation and commercialisation of agricultural research. Demand for funding has been very strong, particularly for the Early-stage and Industrial research awards.
The Agri-Tech Strategy set a vision for the UK to become a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability. To enable the Catalyst to deliver benefits as widely as possible across the sector, we want to support as many projects as we can.  To help achieve this aim, we need to rebalance the funding rates across the three award categories.
From Round 3 onwards there are new lower maximum funding rates for business partners. This will enable more projects to be supported, and increase the number of funding rounds. By changing these funding rates, up to 30% more projects will be funded. We are also encouraging more late-stage applications to support the translation of innovation into practice through the commercialisation of new products, processes and services.
The new industry grant rates from Round 3 are available through the links to the updated Agri-Tech Catalyst flyer and Guidance for Applicants documents. 

How will 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. With two competitions per year, the Agri-Tech Catalyst will award grants for early-stage pre-industrial research feasibility studies, industrial research, and late-stage pre-experimental feasibility studies and 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. Developing country partners must be involved for applicants targeting international development.
Early-stage awards
These projects will explore the commercial potential of an early-stage scientific idea through feasibility studies. 
These projects will aim to develop innovative solutions, eg through technology development, lab-based prototyping, product development planning, field trials, and market testing. View the Agri-Tech Catalyst - Industrial research awards - round 4 competition page.
These projects evaluate or trial the commercial potential of an innovative conceptin a real-life environment ahead of deployment. This can be through pre-experimental feasibility studies or experimental development. View the Agri-Tech Catalyst - Late-stage awards - round 4 competition page.

Further Information


Early-stage awards

Pre-industrial research feasibility studies 

The objective of pre-industrial 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 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 – £150k to £500k
  • applications can be research base or business-led
  • 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.

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.
The deadline for applications for the fourth round is 24 June 2015. 


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 two 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: the registration deadline for the fourth round is 17 June 2015.
Registration for the next round opens immediately after the previous submission deadline for applications.
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. 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.

Key dates

  • Stage 4 opens: 8th January 2015
  • Competition briefing: 28 January 2015
  • Registration deadline: 17 June 2015
  • Submission deadline: 24 June 2015