The UK government has launched its Transforming Food Production Challenge, making £90m (€105.61m) available in funding for agricultural innovation.
The Transforming Food Production Challenge, which will be delivered through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, aims to support businesses in purchasing new data-driven precision farming technology. The €90m fund includes provision of up to €15m for Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency to enable it to invest in demonstration projects and feasibility studies for new innovations in agriculture and food production.
Projects applying for funding through the Transforming Food Production Challenge must be focused on developing precision solutions for innovation in agriculture and farming; and must be conducted in alignment with the UK’s overarching sustainability goals. Research must be conducted in conducted in one or more defined sectors of food cultivation and production, including:
- Aquaculture, comprising the cultivation of fish and seafood;
- Arable farming, such as potatoes, field-grown vegetables, cereals and grains;
- Dairy farming;
- Horticulture for food purposes, to include apples, berries, lettuce and tomatoes but excluding the growth of purely ornamental plants;
- Monogastric animals such as pigs and poultry; and
- Ruminants, including cows, goats and sheep.
UK Research and Innovation, the UK’s innovation funding NGO, says: ‘It is predicted that 60% more food will be needed worldwide by 2050 to feed the increasing global population. To do this, we need to be able to produce resilient and sustainable food more efficiently. This will reduce emissions and pollution, minimise waste and improve soil. The UK is home to research and industries at the forefront of understanding crops and livestock. We are already a global leader in environmental management and earth observation, sensors, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics. By funding research and innovation projects that build on our strengths, we can transform the precision agricultural sector and meet the challenge; it will also help create high-value jobs, growth and export opportunities.’
Applications for funding through the Transforming Food Production Challenge are open until 26 February 2020.