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Agri-Tech Catalyst industrial research 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.


Industrial research awards enable applicants to evaluate the technical feasibility of an idea and establish proof-of-concept and potential routes to exploitation. Such proposals will embrace longer-term studies in all relevant disciplines that demonstrate the potential to advance the sustainable intensification of agriculture and have an economic impact. As with feasibility studies, the work included in these projects will be dependent on the proposed application of the technology and the nature of the technological solution.  
Examples of project work in this category may include, but are not limited to:
  • development of work undertaken in early-stage feasibility studies
  • all aspects of plant agronomy and animal (including aquaculture) husbandry 
  • related engineering, IT, electronics and other non-biological solutions

Key features of industrial research awards

Business-led collaborative projects that develop any relevant innovative solutions from across all sectors of Agri-Tech and/or other industrial sectors, and that advance the sustainable intensification of global agriculture (including aquaculture) by developing and adopting innovative solutions. This could include technology development, lab-based prototyping, product development planning, extending proof-of-concept using plot/ field trials, exploration of production mechanisms, prototyping (lab-based), or product development planning and market testing.
  • Duration – up to three years
  • Project size – up to £3 million*  
  • Applications must be business-led
  • Funding for businesses – up to 45% of  total eligible project costs for SMEs, up to 35% for larger companies
  • Total research base partner costs must not exceed 50% of total project costs
* The £3 million limit relates to the total project costs for any one project. For projects where the total project costs are in excess of £3 million, please contact the helpdesk before applying. 

Key dates

The industrial research award category is a two-stage process:
  • Round 5 opens: 25 Jun 2015
  • Registration deadline: 7 Oct 2015
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: 14 Oct 2015
  • Deadline for stage 2 submission: 20 Jan 2016


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.