• Status: Closed

  • Key features: The Agri-Tech Catalyst, run by the Technology Strategy Board 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: Varies depending on grant type

  • Opens: 10 Oct 2013, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 04 Dec 2013, 12:00

  • Closes: 11 Dec 2013, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Agri-Tech Catalyst - Early-stage awards

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available; see the PDF of the winning project proposals.



The Agri-Tech Catalyst supports innovative ideas from any sector or discipline, which can help make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability.
Three categories of grant are available:
Register for the WEBINAR briefing on Tuesday, 22 October 2013.
These categories are designed to form a pipeline, supporting the development of an idea from concept to commercialisation, from the early-stage exploration of commercial and technical potential through to proving utility in the field and development prior to commercialisation. 
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for assessment by independent experts. Applicants may apply for the award category most appropriate for their work without having received a prior award.
The Agri-Tech Catalyst will fund proposals relating to:
  • primary crop and livestock production, including aquaculture
  • non-food uses of arable crops (for example, for biomass)
  • food security and nutrition challenges in international development 
  • challenges in downstream food processing, provided the solution lies in primary production. 
The Agri-Tech Catalyst will not fund equine-related proposals, or proposals relating to forestry or wild-capture fisheries.
Agricultural science and technology is one of the world's fastest-growing and exciting markets. It is driven by global changes: a rising population, climate change, rapid development of emerging economies with western lifestyle aspirations, and growing geopolitical instability around shortages of land, water and energy. A technology revolution is also taking place. Breakthroughs in nutrition, genetics, informatics, satellite imaging, remote sensing, meteorology, precision farming and low-impact agriculture are driving major global investment in agri-tech.  
In order to meet these challenges, businesses and researchers need to work together to develop innovative technologies and processes which provide solutions that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. That is the vision of the Government's UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies, which aims to put the UK at the forefront of the sustainable intensification of agricultural production.
And to help achieve this, the Government is investing £70m in a new Agri-Tech Catalyst. The Agri-Tech Catalyst offers funding for collaborative projects, taking innovative ideas from any sector or discipline with the potential to provide an economic boost to the UK Agri-Tech industry, by tackling challenges in agriculture. These may be domestic or international challenges: funding for the Agri-Tech Catalyst includes an element specifically targeted at contributing to international development.
Funding through the Agri-Tech Catalyst is available to UK businesses of any size, as well as researchers. Funding is also available to partners in developing countries for applications targeting international development challenges.
Support is available for projects arising from any sector or discipline that are aimed at addressing relevant challenges, and multi-disciplinary collaborations are encouraged.

Early-stage awards

Pre-industrial research feasibility studies 

The objective of pre-industrial feasibility studies is to explore and evaluate 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 their technologies in a field testing environment should apply for a late-stage award.

Key features of early-stage feasibility study awards

Academic or business-led collaborative projects that enable the exploration/evaluation of 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 academic- or business-led
  • funding for businesses – up to 75% of  total eligible project costs for SMEs, up to 60% for larger companies
  • total academic 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 first round is 11 December 2013. In the case of industrial research awards, the deadline for second-stage applications is 26 February 2014.


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 first round is 4 December 2013.
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.
Competition briefings (both face-to-face and via webinars) to explain the application process will be held periodically, and we strongly recommend that you take part before submitting your application. The next briefing events will be held via webinar on 22 October 2013. Register for the webinar via _connect

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 10 October 2013
  • Briefing event: 22 October 2013
  • Registration deadline: 4 December 2013
  • Competition application deadline: 11 December 2013