Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Strengthening the resilience of the UK food system

Start application

Apply for funding to strengthen the resilience of the UK food system, by taking a food systems approach and considering cascading risks.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding, who will administer the funding on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Your project must be interdisciplinary and you must collaborate with at least one stakeholder organisation (government, business and the third sector).

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £1.75 million. BBSRC will fund 80% of the FEC.

The funding is available for three year projects.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding, noting that any discipline can apply. That organisation will be responsible for submitting the grant application to UKRI.

As the project lead, you should normally hold a permanent post, but if you are a fixed-term employee you may be eligible, provided that the host research organisation commits in writing to give all the support normal for a permanent employee and that there is no conflict of interest between your obligations to UKRI and to any other organisation or employer. The term of employment of a fixed-term employee must extend beyond the duration of the proposed research project.

For this funding opportunity, you may apply only once as a project lead but may appear as a project co-lead on other applications, preferably not more than two in total (one as project lead and one as project co-lead).

There is no limit to the number of project co-leads per application, but it must be clear from the application what unique contribution each co-lead will make to the success of the proposed project. Project co-lead(s) must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding.

Who is not eligible to apply

Applicants who are not based at eligible UK institutions are not eligible to apply for this opportunity but can be project partners.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

Scope

The UK’s just-in-time global food system, where food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed as it is needed, is highly efficient but prone to shocks with the potential to undermine national food security.

The current food system is modelled on predictable behaviour, and as we saw with the pandemic, a sudden switch from out of home eating (for example; cafes, restaurants) to retail-based consumption (for example; shops, online), alongside consumer stockpiling, led to empty supermarket shelves. While this was a ‘demand’ shock, the next major disruption could equally be a ‘supply’ shock meaning a shortage of food products on the market. This can lead to higher food prices, conflict, and political unrest, as seen in the Arab Spring of 2011, which was preceded and to some extent sparked, by food riots in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. A more recent example is the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 which immediately impacted the global supply of key resources such as wheat, fertiliser and fuel and thus reducing food availability and increasing food prices. The pandemic was followed by a number of ‘supply’ shocks and disruptions such as the Ukraine war, energy crisis, labour shortages, and extreme weather in the Mediterranean and North Africa, exposing a number of inter-related vulnerabilities in the food system.

The UK imports 46% of the food it consumes, including 84% of its fruit and just under half of its vegetables, meaning our food supply and dietary health are directly impacted by shocks abroad. Increasing domestic production could help to moderate this risk, however there is limited land and a limited range of foods that can be produced in the UK, and associated challenges with meeting nutritional needs, food preferences and social acceptability.

Resilience arises from two conceptual notions that need to be built into future food systems. These are:

  • functional redundancy: in terms of having spare capacity. For example, food stores for supplies
  • diversity: in terms of agricultural approaches, food products, suppliers, and geographies

However, both of these measures come with costs and there is a question about who pays and how to ensure food is affordable, safe and nutritious for all in our society, at a time of increasing pressure on food prices and the cost of living.

This funding opportunity aims to improve the resilience of the UK food system to a variety of potentially cascading risks, including but not limited to:

  • further pandemics
  • climate change and extreme weather
  • food safety
  • pests and diseases
  • trade and geopolitics
  • labour shortages
  • food price spikes
  • civil unrest

An example of cascading risks in the food system might involve extreme weather abroad reducing imports of fruit and vegetables and an increase in energy prices reducing domestic production, both leading to empty supermarket shelves and higher food prices.

Proposals must address two or more cascading risks and align with one or more of the following themes:

Domestic production and trade

  • understanding the interplay, synergies, and trade-offs between natural shocks (for example, climate, biodiversity and extreme weather), socio-economic shocks (for example, civil unrest, market volatility, food price spikes, and reduced agricultural workforce) and geo-political shocks (for example, conflict, trade wars) in food systems
  • determining how diversification of UK agriculture, food products, suppliers and geographies might be operationalised, including potential barriers and challenges for growers, processors, and other stakeholders, wider impact on market power and concentration, and impact for consumers in terms of food availability, access, affordability and dietary health
  • increasing the resilience of crops and livestock produced in the UK to a variety of biotic threats (for example, invasive weeds, pests and diseases) and abiotic threats (for example, water insecurity, soil depletion, saltwater ingression) including those linked to climate change
  • determining the optimal balance of self-sufficiency versus imports for the UK food system. There is a need to understand how to increase sustainable UK food production at all levels from agricultural production through manufacturing and distribution to consumption. There is also a need to understand the ramifications of doing so, particularly with regard to food safety, food loss and waste, dietary preferences, and consumer nutrition and health. Consideration should also be given to the impacts of continuing to import foods from increasingly vulnerable sources (for example, areas with increasing pressure on local natural resources or exposure to extreme weather)
  • determining how trade policies might change to improve UK food system resilience, in the context of evolving geopolitics

Critical infrastructure and resources

  • examining alternative models to just-in-time supply chains and determining how these might be operationalised to maintain affordability, accessibility, nutrition security, and food safety. For example, exploring the feasibility of increasing storage in the UK food system at a producer, supplier, or national level, without increasing nutrient and food losses, and ensuring food is still affordable
  • understanding how to increase the resilience of critical inputs to the UK food supply chain (for example, energy, water, CO2, labour, fertilisers, pesticides)
  • exploring the ability of different sectors and supply chains to re-pivot activities during a disruption (for example, alternative packaging, ingredient substitution, re-manufacturing and so on) while avoiding unintended consequences

Projects funded under this funding opportunity must:

  • take a food systems approach to increasing resilience, focusing on either domestic production and trade, critical infrastructure and resources or both and consider two or more cascading risks. In doing so, projects should consider the actors, activities and outcomes involved in the food system and how they are connected, alongside the key vulnerabilities, interdependencies, and pinch points.
  • be interdisciplinary. Examples of possible disciplines include, but are not limited to:
    • biological sciences
    • engineering and physical sciences
    • environmental sciences
    • economic and social sciences
    • arts and humanities
  • collaborate with at least one stakeholder organisation (government, business and the third sector)

A key aim of this programme is to develop interventions in policy and practice that will increase the resilience of the UK food system to cascading risks. We particularly encourage interventions that will transform the current food system and lead to longer term resilience and nutritional security.

For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the ‘Additional information’ section.

Objectives of the funding opportunity

The objectives of this funding opportunity are to support interdisciplinary research and innovation which will:

  • improve the resilience of the UK food system to cascading risks and systemic shocks
  • develop interventions to increase the resilience of the UK food system. This can include measures focused on robustness and recovery (such as, a food system actors ability to resist and quickly recover from a shock), but we would strongly encourage measures focused on reorientation (such as, where food system actors adapt their activities leading to alternative food system outcomes, either before or after disruption. For more information, please refer to the ‘Additional information’ section
  • inform policy and practice by working with stakeholders (government, business and the third sector) on interventions
  • increase interdisciplinary research capability and capacity in resilient UK food systems

Expected outputs of the funding opportunity

The expected outputs of this funding opportunity are:

  • new knowledge on cascading risks and systemic shocks in the UK food system
  • new interventions to reduce the impacts of cascading risks and systemic shocks in the UK food system
  • new interdisciplinary research teams taking a food systems approach to risk and resilience
  • new collaboration and partnerships between the research base and stakeholders

Expected outcomes of the funding opportunity

The expected outcomes of this funding opportunity are:

  • researchers and stakeholders taking a systems approach to understanding and addressing the impacts of cascading risks and systemic shocks in the UK food system
  • interventions to address cascading risks and systemic shocks in the UK food system are adopted by businesses and government
  • enhanced relationships between different actors across the food system, including farmers, food and drink manufacturers, retailers, distributors, policymakers and NGOs, enabling a connected evidence-based approach to policymaking and industry practice
  • increased interdisciplinary research capability and capacity in strengthening the resilience of the UK food system
  • a more resilient UK food system that can cope with cascading risks and systemic shocks

Duration

The duration of this award is three years.

Projects must start by 1 September 2024.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £1.75 million.

BBSRC will fund 80% of the FEC up to £1.4 million.

What we will fund

Interdisciplinary projects that will strengthen the resilience of the UK food system, by taking a food systems approach and considering cascading risks.

What we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • do not include at least two different disciplines in the project team and the work proposed
  • do not take a food systems approach
  • do not consider at least two or more cascading risks
  • do not have a primary focus on the UK food system
  • do not collaborate with at least one stakeholder organisation
  • do not demonstrate an approach and commitment to championing diversity and inclusion by removing barriers to research activities and promoting an open and inclusive research community

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. If using visual elements, you must:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

Deadline

BBSRC must receive your application by 19 March 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Personal data

Processing personal data

BBSRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

BBSRC, as part of UKRI, will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with DEFRA so that they can contribute to the assessment process.

Read more information on how DEFRA uses personal information.

Publication of outcomes

BBSRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at awarded research grants.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives and how those will meet the objectives of the funding
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.

Application questions

Vision

Word limit: 500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

In this section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate the transformative potential of your proposal to improve the resilience of the UK food system to cascading risks and systemic shocks. You should clearly demonstrate how you will take an interdisciplinary, food systems approach, focusing on at least two cascading risks and at least one of the funding opportunity’s themes, and working with at least one stakeholder organisation

Approach

Word limit: 2,500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

In this section we also expect you to:

  • explain how you plan to generate new knowledge on cascading risks and systemic shocks in the UK food system
  • describe how your proposal will share knowledge generated, informing policy and practice and lead to interventions by a variety of stakeholders to reduce the impacts of cascading risks and systemic shocks in the UK food system
  • explain how your proposal complements and builds upon previous UKRI investments in the field of UK Food System Resilience. For examples of these, see the ‘Supporting links’ section
  • demonstrate what success would look like, and how this will be monitored and measured
  • describe how you will increase interdisciplinary research capability and capacity in resilient UK food systems
  • provide a clear and feasible plan and strategy to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the delivery of the project

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

In this section, we would also encourage you to clearly outline the:

  • experience of the project lead and team in working with a range of stakeholders across disciplines and sectors
  • robustness and feasibility of the management plan for the project

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit
Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

Genetic and biological risk

Word limit: 700

Does your proposed research involve any genetic or biological risk?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In respect of animals, plants or microbes, are you proposing to:

  • use genetic modification as an experimental tool, like studying gene function in a genetically modified organism
  • release genetically modified organisms
  • ultimately develop commercial and industrial genetically modified outcomes

If yes, provide the name of any required approving body and state if approval is already in place. If it is not, provide an indicative timeframe for obtaining the required approval.

Identify the organism or organisms as a plant, animal or microbe and specify the species and which of the three categories the research relates to.

Identify the genetic and biological risks resulting from the proposed research, their implications, and any mitigation you plan on taking. Assessors will want to know you have considered the risks and their implications to justify that any identified risks do not outweigh any benefits of the proposed research.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Research involving the use of animals

Word limit: 10

Does your proposed research involve the use of vertebrate animals or other organisms covered by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires using animals, download and complete the Animals Scientific Procedures Act template (DOCX, 74KB), which contains all the questions relating to research using vertebrate animals or other Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulated organisms.

Save it as a PDF. The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Conducting research with animals overseas

Word limit: 10

Will any of the proposed animal research be conducted overseas?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing to conduct overseas research, it must be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with those in the UK, as in Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research, page 14.

Ensure all named applicants in the UK and overseas are aware of this requirement. Provide a statement to confirm that:

  • all named applicants are aware of the requirements and have agreed to abide by them
  • this overseas research will be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation
  • the expectation set out in Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research will be applied and maintained
  • appropriate national and institutional approvals are in place

Overseas studies proposing to use non-human primates, cats, dogs, equines or pigs will be assessed during NC3Rs review of research applications. Provide the required information by completing the template from the question ‘Research involving the use of animals’.

For studies involving other species, select, download, and complete the relevant Word checklist or checklists from this list:

Save as a PDF. If you use more than one checklist, save it as a single PDF.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Research involving human participation

Word limit: 700

Will the project involve the use of human subjects or their personal information?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires the involvement of human subjects, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

Justify the number and the diversity of the participants involved, as well as any procedures.

Provide details of any areas of substantial or moderate severity of impact.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Research involving human tissues or biological samples

Word limit: 700

Does your proposed research involve the use of human tissues, or biological samples?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing work that involves human tissues or biological samples, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

Justify the use of human tissue or biological samples specifying the nature and quantity of the material to be used and its source.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 500

Provide details of support from your research organisation.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a Statement of Support from your research organisation detailing why the proposed work is needed. This should include details of any matched funding that will be provided to support the activity and any additional support that might add value to the work.

The committee will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your research organisation.

BBSRC recognises that in some instances, this information may be provided by the Research Office, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent, or a combination of both.

You must also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, from the TTO or Research Office, or both
  • office address or web link

Upload details are provided within the Funding Service on the actual application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters or emails of support

Word limit: 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the ‘Project partner’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter N/A. Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan that clearly details how you will comply with UKRI’s published data sharing policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Facilities

Word limit: 500

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

References

Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Panel

Your application will be assessed through a single-stage, expert panel only process. Additional external reviews will not be sought.

The external expert panel will assess the quality of your application against the requirements of this funding opportunity, as outlined in the funding opportunity text. The panel will rank the applications after which it will make a funding recommendation.

UKRI will make the final funding decision to enable a portfolio of relevant projects to be supported.

UKRI reserves the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process within five months of receiving your application.

Feedback

If your application was discussed by a panel, we will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Sharing data with co-funders

We will need to share the application (including any personal information that it contains) with DEFRA so that they can contribute to the assessment process.

Read more information on how DEFRA uses personal information.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • Vision
  • Approach
  • Applicant and team capability to deliver
  • Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • Resources and cost justification

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

Important note: The helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent funding opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact foodsystemsresilience@bbsrc.ukri.org

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, please contact foodsystemsresilience@bbsrc.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Background

This investment forms part of wider UKRI strategic theme investments where, by working across UKRI and leveraging new and existing investment and activity, we will harness the full power of the UK’s research and innovation system to tackle large-scale, complex challenges. These themes speak directly to national and global priorities including the government’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) priorities and underpin key sectors of the UK economy.

“Building secure and resilient societies” is one of these themes and has reached new levels of urgency in the wake of repeated systemic shocks from the financial crisis to pandemic to climate emergency to conventional armed conflict. The theme provides UKRI with a robust response to the challenges identified in the Integrated Review including defence and security, science diplomacy, economic growth, a responsible cyberpower status, and a force for good across norms and regulations, and crisis response.

UKRI will deliver a range of activities tailored to enable resilience to different risks in different systems that is built on the strengths of our current economy and society, helps reduce vulnerability, prepares for robust and rapid responses and enhances recovery, and encourages approaches which bring positive transformation. We propose to achieve our vision through a programme of interrelated themes, including Resilient and Secure Supply chains.

This specific investment will help to address and manage the impact of cascading risks and systemic shocks to food supply chains. It will build on core R&I investments to strengthen societal and economic resilience through improved awareness of risks and threats to food supply chains. The research will be strongly focused on securing positive outcomes for people and society.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Supporting links

Building a Secure and Resilient World: One of the UKRI Strategic Themes of UKRI Strategy 2022-2027

Workshop report: Building Back Better for increased resilience of the UK food system to future shocks (PDF, 2.5MB)

Transforming the UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund: A £47.5 million programme which aims to fundamentally transform the UK food system by placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at its centre

AgZero+: Supporting the UK’s transition towards domestic food production that is sustainable, carbon-neutral and has a positive effect on nature

Innovate UK AgriTech Centres: The four UK Agri-Tech Centres, who are working to support a successful and sustainable agrifood sector.

Climate and environmental risk analytics for resilient finance (CERAF): The aim of the CERAF programme is to establish a climate and environmental risk analytics capability and capacity in the UK that will meet the specific needs of the financial services sector and enhance the resilience of the financial system to the increasing impact of climate change.

Economics of Biodiversity: This programme aims to inform decision making by addressing critical gaps in our current understanding of the economic values, benefits and costs that society associates with, and derives from, biodiversity.

Modelling UK supply chains as complex systems for resilience: This Network Plus will model UK supply chains as complex systems to strengthen resilience. The Network will have a focus on cascading risks in food, critical minerals, and fashion and use data-led and conceptual modelling to inform policy and practice. We anticipate the network starting in April 2024 and would expect successful applicants to the ‘strengthening the resilience of the UK food system’ funding opportunity to closely coordinate with the Network to exploit synergies and maximise reach and impact.

UK Food Security Report 2021: Theme 2: UK Food Supply Sources 22 December 2021

Ingram, J., Bellotti, W., Brklacich, M. et al. Further concepts and approaches for enhancing food system resilience. Nat Food 4, 440–441 (2023)

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