The aims of the meeting were:-
- To help build consortia for ISCF calls
- To learn how to write a successful proposal
- To discuss other opportunities such as; circular economy and digital agronomy
- To hear from three of CHAP’s capabilities to encourage SMEs to benefit from the unique facilities within CHAP, for proposals as either RTO, collaborator or subcontractor
Chris Danks from the Knowledge Transfer Nework (KTN), part of Innovate UK outlined the various funding streams available. The main fund with £90m available in several tranches, is Transforming Food Production.
The first major funding block, with £20m, is “Future Food Production Systems”. Chris pointed out that this would be awarded to a small number of ‘gamechanger’ projects with multi-million pound budgets. These projects must address key concerns such as minimising the environmental impact of production systems, be sustainable and deliverable, with a clear route to commercial adoption and creating economic growth and jobs. They must also address the UK’s relatively poor productivity record by tackling ‘bottlenecks’ in current technology. Quite how we would identify those bottlenecks was left for others to decide.
Chris also announced a brand new source of funding ‘Science into Practice’, for smaller projects – up to £400k – over 12-18 months. This was made up of two key parts:
- Feasibility -This will assist developers of new technology , working with commercial partners , to demonstrate feasibility and identify the process needed to enable rapid adoption and commercial success.
- Demonstration- With an emphasis on knowledge exchange working with end users to test uptake of new ideas and the economic benefits. Unusually, the bids were encouraged to use social science to evaluate the success factors as well as the financial uplift and return on investment.
Bids for TFP close on January 22nd 2020 and for the Science into Practice fund bids need to be in by February 26th 2020.
CHAP partners, Liberty Produce and Stockbridge Technology Centre gave presentations on what they were offering as capabilities for R&D work, which fitted well with the CHAP consortium being formed to improve the potential for controlled environment agriculture. Currently the high capital outlay and higher production costs are limiting the development of vertical farming and the key to unlocking some of that potential may be in developing better use of energy, nutrients and water.
After lunch there was an opportunity for all the attendees to talk informally and discuss ideas about future research and development plans.
Most of the attendees felt that the format and presentation was exactly what they wanted and CHAP is now gaining credibility for the way in which it is well placed to encourage and support collaboration in the industry. It was also good to see more funding for agriculture from Innovate UK.
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