Future Opportunity: Agri-Food Supply Chain KTP


Funding to establish Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) to improve the competitiveness, resilience and responsiveness of the agri-food supply chain.

Extended Description

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), along with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Invest Northern Ireland, the Scottish Funding Council and the Welsh Government, are to invest jointly up to £2.3 million to establish Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) to improve the competitiveness, resilience and responsiveness of the agri-food supply chain. The Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), Food Standards Agency (FSA), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) may also consider co-funding KTPs on an individual basis.

The agri-food supply chain, spanning primary production through to consumption, is estimated to contribute £96 billion to the UK economy. Household expenditure on food and drink exceeds £100 billion annually and UK exports of food, drink and animal feed are valued at £19 billion. However, there are many challenges facing the agri-food sector, such as global food security (ensuring an adequate sustainable supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food) and the need to build resilience against environmental stresses.

The aim of this initiative is to give businesses access to the UK knowledge base so that they can develop innovative solutions to global challenges facing the agri-food sector. This Call will support up to 25 KTPs. Its scope spans primary production, including aquaculture, through to retail. The competition will provide new opportunities for open innovation and knowledge exchange across supply chains and sectors. It will help companies to mitigate commercial risk and improve business performance, and to subsequently achieve growth.

The KTP programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance through the better use of the knowledge, technology and skills available within the UK knowledge base. The programme is headed by TSB and supported by 12 other public sector funding organisations. A KTP involves a partnership between a business, an academic institution (or knowledge base partner) and a recently qualified person, known as the (knowledge transfer) associate.

The competition encompasses three high-level challenges and proposals are expected to address at least one of them:

  • Innovating to benefit consumer health, wellbeing and choice.
  • Improving productivity, resource efficiency and resilience in the supply chain.
  • Assuring safety and security across the supply chain.

The challenges are broad and potentially cross-cutting, and proposals are encouraged which can yield benefits across more than one challenge. This could include aligned proposals from several companies to deliver higher impact eg related innovations at different points in the supply chain.

The following examples illustrate areas that may be addressed during these KTPs:

  • Application of genetic and breeding approaches to crops and livestock.
  • Food safety, authenticity and traceability.
  • Improved methods to control yield/productivity loss or product quality deterioration.
  • Improved resource efficiency and/or waste minimisation.
  • Improving nutritional quality through better products or ingredients.
  • Measurement, control and precision application technologies.
  • Modern manufacturing methods.
  • Packaging and logistics supply chain.
  • Technologies, approaches or services which support the sustained modification of consumer or employee behaviours.
  • Use of data.
  • Use of systems-based approaches to improve sustainability, resilience and productivity within the agri-food supply chain.

Eligibility Criteria

The scheme is open to all UK companies and the UK-wide knowledge base.

Value Notes

The total budget for this Call is up to £2.3 million.

Part of the cost of running the KTP will be funded, with the level of grant dependent upon the size of the company. For example, a small or medium-sized enterprise might be asked to contribute around a third of the project costs, with the remainder being paid as grant. Larger companies generally receive a lower level of funding. For this competition, previous involvement in KTP will not be taken into account in determining the grant level.

Annual project costs will vary, depending on the type and duration of the KTP, but the average is currently around £60,000. It is expected that most KTPs supported through this competition will last up to two years. In exceptional circumstances (eg where work needs to be conducted over several growing seasons or the scale of the challenge requires a longer programme of work) KTPs will be considered of up to three years’ duration.

The grant is paid through the academic partner.

Match Funding Restrictions

Applicants must seek and secure funding from own or other sources.

Application Procedure

The scheme accepts applications on a rolling basis from 19 June 2014 to 11 February 2015. The periodic deadlines to be considered at the next available Partnership Approvals Group (PAG) meeting are:

  • 12 noon, 20 August 2014.
  • 12 noon, 1 October 2014.
  • 12 noon, 19 November 2014.
  • 12 noon, 30 January 2015.
  • 12 noon, 11 February 2015.

To take part in this competition, applicants should first discuss project ideas with a University KTP Office or contact one of the Regional KTP advisers directly through the KTP website at www.ktponline.org.uk/advisers.

KTP advisers provide advice on eligibility and timescales, and work with potential partners to develop joint proposals. University KTP offices may also be able to provide preliminary advice on possible proposal ideas.

The application process involves:

  • Stage 1: Expression of Interest (EOI).
  • Stage 2: Approved EOIs are invited to submit a grant proposal and application form.
  • Stage 3: KTP partnership approvals group (PAG) establishes a proposal’s suitability as a KTP.
  • Stage 4: TSB assesses whether the application fulfils the scope of the competition (with involvement from co-funders, as appropriate).

Both the EOI and application must be agreed by a KTP adviser before being submitted to a PAG by the academic partner.

Information taken from Grantfinder, Idox


TSB: Engineering solutions to enhance agri-food production

The Technology Strategy Board, together with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and Scottish Government, is offering up to £13m for businesses to develop engineering solutions across the agri-food supply chain.

This competition will draw on all facets of engineering science to advance the sustainable intensification of primary agriculture, and raise product quality and process efficiency in food manufacturing. We are particularly keen to encourage engagement with sectors such as space, ICT and electronics sensors & photonics, which may not have fully recognised opportunities that exist for applying technologies throughout the agri-food supply chain.

Project proposals must be business-led and collaborative. The TSB is primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). The TSB expects most projects to range in size from £500k to £1.5m, with the maximum total project size being around £2m.

The CR&D competition is a two-stage process and opens on 23 September 2013. The deadline for submitting expressions of interest is at noon on 6 November 2013.

For more details, please visit the competition’s website, or contact Research & Income Generation Support at Research & Enterprise.

Wellcome Trust: Sustaining Health

Humanity faces profound questions about how our planet can sustain nine billion people by 2050. With the trend of urbanisation, the majority of the world’s population now live in cities. There is a global nutrition crisis, with dual problems of undernutrition and obesity. Meanwhile, environmental and population changes have major implications for issues including food and nutrition security, access to clean water and sanitation, and natural disasters. In meeting these challenges and delivering culturally, socially and economically appropriate solutions, research has a critical role to play.

The Wellcome Trust are pleased to launch our Sustaining Health awards scheme, with a call for proposals for pilot research projects in this broad area. This call supports small awards in the order of £250 000 (exceptionally up to £500 000) for up to two years.

Aims of the awards

  • These small awards are designed to open up research avenues that will ultimately lead to work with a significant impact on human health. Pilot projects may address any aspect of the interplay between health, environment and nutrition, but a focus on health is key. Projects are not required to cover issues related to both environment and nutrition.
  • Our scoping work highlighted the explosion of data in the public and private domains, and the importance of harnessing its value for society. In recognition of this, we would particularly like to see proposals with the potential to unlock the power of data by making it more relevant, available, accessible and useful (e.g. by formatting to permit inter-linkage). The size of these awards makes them well suited to projects that exploit existing datasets or pilot novel approaches to data collection and exploration.
  • Projects outside of this theme, but relevant to the Sustaining Health area in other ways, are also welcomed.

We expect these awards to stimulate collaborations and build capacity for interdisciplinary research. We believe that high-quality research in this area requires the development of new interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships, particularly between biomedical (including public health) researchers and those working in social, economic, environmental, climate, agricultural, development and computer sciences.

For more information, or to apply, please visit Wellcome’s website or contact Research and Income Generation Support at Research & Enterprise.

Horizon 2020: Presentations Available from Seminar on Food Security and Agriculture Research

Following a recent UKRO update on food security, agriculture, biotechnology and marine research in Horizon 2020, presentations from a recent Brussels event on this subject have been made available.

The presentations, some of which were delivered by representatives of different European Commission DGs, can be consulted in tandem with the previous UKRO article indicated below. 

They cover topics including:

  • The role of the Joint Research Centre in supporting global food security into the future
  • Horizon 2020 and the Bioeconomy Strategy: policy, initiatives and participants
  • Agricultural research and food security in Horizon 2020
  • The environmental perspective on food security research
  • Plant science contribution to agricultural research and food security
Additional Information

New BBSRC Call: Crop-Improvement Research Club

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has announced a new £7.06M, 5-year partnership “aimed at supporting innovative and excellent research to underpin the development of improved crop varieties.” This is a collaborative venture between the BBSRC, the Scottish Government and leading companies, including BASF Plant Science Company, Monsanto, and Limagrain UK:

BBSRC: Crop-Improvement Research Club

Worldwide food security is becoming an increasingly important issue and is a major strategic priority for BBSRC. An increasing global population combined with global climate change, the potential spread of newly emerging diseases of livestock and crops, and economic issues such as the volatility of oil prices threaten global food security and an urgent response is required. To coordinate research efforts in this area we are leading the development of a food security programme together with other funders.

As a result of discussion with industry and direction from our Bioscience for Industry Strategy Panel, crop improvement has been identified as an area where increased investment in research activity would underpin the needs of the crop production and processing industry to address the challenges of climate change and food security.

To bring together industry and the research community to support research in the area of crop improvement BBSRC, the Scottish Government and industry have launched a Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC). CIRC will support research on oilseed rape,barley and wheat and their uses in food production for humans and animals.

Focus areas for CIRC include:

  • Increasing nutrient use efficiency
  • Combating pests and diseases
  • Increasing yield potential
  • Seed structure and composition
  • Germination properties
  • Spoilage factors

This call will specifically target:

  • Wheat quality
  • Towards a step-change redesign of crops
  • Crop-soil interactions
  • Crop protection

Further information is given at the link above. In particular any potential applicants must read the Second Call Detailed information Document thoroughly to understand the specific areas to be addressed in this call.

Funding is for up to five years and significant collaboration with relevant industrial and research institutions would be expected.

This call has a two-stage application process. The deadline for outline applications is 29th June 2011 and those who are invited to submit full applications must do so by 9th November 2011.