Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Transforming food production challenge

The transforming food production (TFP) challenge supports new ways to produce food that reduces emissions and pollution, and contributes to feeding a growing world population.

The aim is to:

  • produce resilient and sustainable food more efficiently
  • reduce emissions and pollution
  • minimise waste
  • improve soil
Budget:
£90 million
Duration:
Single challenge running from 2019 to 2024, with interventions across traditional agriculture, new future food production systems, international partnerships and investor partnerships
Partners involved:
Innovate UK, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The TFP challenge is supporting new ways to produce food that reduce emissions and pollution, and contribute to feeding a growing world population.

We are investing up to £90 million of funding to help businesses, researchers and industry to transform food production, meet the growing demand and move towards net zero emissions by 2040.

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.

Funding will be invested in:

  • future food production systems
  • science and technology into practice
  • international opportunities
  • investment ecosystems

Future food production systems

This funding stream will stimulate the development of new high-value food production systems. To date, we have invested over £16 million in projects led by five innovative companies.

Science and technology into practice

We will strengthen connections between innovative businesses, farmers and end users. The aim is to accelerate the development and adoption of precision approaches to increase agricultural productivity, while supporting the sector in achieving net zero emissions by 2040.

This funding stream have awarded over £14 million to projects.

International opportunities

This is a programme to identify and accelerate shared international priorities and help build export opportunities for pioneering agricultural technologies and innovations with partners overseas. It currently includes two streams:

  • in Canada, to help UK companies to access precision agriculture markets in North America
  • in China, to help exploit rapidly emerging market opportunities in Asia

Investment ecosystem

Innovate UK research shows that the UK lags internationally on late-stage investment in agri-tech. We will create new approaches to working with the investment community to explore and accelerate the commercial potential of new technologies and attract private investments into UK businesses.

To address a lack of private agri-tech investment, we have created an investor partnership programme to encourage venture capital firms to take a stake in innovative UK agri-tech businesses working to achieve net zero emissions.

The programme aims to deliver government grant and venture capital funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) close to taking their product to the market. It is set to deliver £5 million in grant funding for late-stage projects, coupled with private investment matched by a ratio of at least two to one by the private investors.

The investor partnership programme is seeking small and medium-sized businesses aspiring to transform food production while targeting net zero by 2040, with focus areas including:

  • robotics
  • artificial intelligence
  • novel proteins
  • vertical farming
  • integrated supply chains
  • autonomous growing systems
  • precision agriculture

Farming innovation programme

The farming innovation programme is a partnership between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and UKRI to increase innovation in farming, through investment in research and development for a more efficient and productive sector.

It will support ambitious projects to transform productivity and enhance environmental sustainability in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, while driving the sectors towards net zero.

The programme’s aims are to:

  • help farmers, growers and foresters increase productivity, sustainability and resilience
  • reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and horticulture
  • apply agricultural research to provide real benefits for farmers, growers and foresters
  • use science to develop solutions for the practical challenges in agriculture and horticulture

For more details, visit the farming innovation site.

Why we're doing it

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, and help the sector get on a trajectory to realise net zero emissions by 2040.

Funding, support and collaborative activity will focus on four key areas:

  • future food production systems
  • science and technology into practice
  • international opportunities
  • investment ecosystems

From animal health to crop management, robotics to pest control, the food sector in the UK needs to innovate to meet demands on its:

  • efficiency
  • environmental impact
  • sustainability
  • economic value

Opportunities, support and resources available

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), delivered by Innovate UK, is leveraging the TFP challenge team’s experience and deep industry knowledge to guarantee the effective delivery of this programme.

FIP funds projects that benefit farmers, growers and foresters in England.

Find out more about current and future opportunities within FIP.

Search for UKRI Challenge Fund funding and any wider opportunities.

Read more about UKRI business funding opportunities.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

A total of 92 projects have benefited from TFP funding, which have included 316 different organisations engaged through the consortia developed in project applications.

Download the digital project portfolio brochure: catalysing the transition to net zero food production.

The breadth of engagement, funding and overall success of the TFP challenge can be seen by the scope of innovations from 10 stand-out success stories, which spread across a number of key areas.

Read the project case studies: catalysing the transition to net zero food production: delivering impact.

Watch the TFP challenge delivering impact video case studies.

Last updated: 9 January 2024

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