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