SMEs Transforming food production: Series A Investor Partnership round 2

SMEs Transforming food production: Series A Investor Partnership round 2
Founders: -
Funding type: Grant
Total fund: Up to £5 million
Award: Between £1 million and £3 million
Publication date: 11 October 2021
Period: Monday 18 October 2021 - 17 November 2021 11:00am

UK registered SMEs transforming food production towards net zero can apply for a share of up to £5 million in grant support. This must align with a series A investment. The grant funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.



  • Competition opens: Monday 18 October 2021

  • Competition closes: Wednesday 17 November 2021 11:00am 


Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £1 million and £3 million.


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. The grant funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Transforming Food Production challenge.


We will be working with a selected pool of investor partners, who have demonstrated that they have the credibility, capability, capacity, and appetite to invest in innovative, technology-led businesses to align with our objectives in this challenge.


This aim of this competition is to support UK registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to transform food production through experimental development projects that are closer to market.


To be offered grant funding your project must:



  • be assessed as eligible for grant funding

  • be successful in demonstrating how your project meets the overall aims of the ISCF Transforming Food Production Challenge

  • have secured aligned investment with a lead investor from the pool


In addition to investment, the lead investors in the pool can provide you with commercial acumen in, for example:



  • leadership

  • market access

  • skills

  • resources


Successful UK registered SME’s will receive:



  • grant funding from Innovate UK

  • aligned investment funding from the programme’s pool of lead investors


Innovate UK are seeking SMEs with high growth potential that aspire to transform food production towards net zero emissions by 2040. To secure grant funding you must also secure investment of at least twice the amount of grant through one of the lead investors associated with this programme.


Your project must:



  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £3 million

  • start by 1 August 2022

  • end by 31 January 2024

  • last 18 months

  • carry out all of its project work in the UK

  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK


To lead a project your organisation must:



Not award you funding if you have:



Innovate UK have allocated up to £5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.


If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.


For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get grant funding for your eligible project costs of:



  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation

  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation


Aligned private investment


You must agree the private investment through a lead investor and reach heads of terms by 29 March 2022.


The aligned private investment:



  • must provide you with suitable capital to complete your project and grow and scale

  • can be directed for use in your company, whereas the grant is to support the project only

  • can be used to fund additional costs typically ineligible for support by Innovate UK

  • must be provided under commercial terms negotiated with the lead investor and not Innovate UK

  • The investment can be in the form of either direct equity investment or a convertible loan. It must come from a single lead investor from the pool of investors associated with this programme. The lead investor may decide to syndicate with other investors from within or outside of the pool.


You must demonstrate how your project meets the overall aims of the ISCF Transforming Food Production Challenge, to:



  • help food production systems achieve net zero emissions by 2040

  • help produce food in ways that are more efficient, resilient and sustainable

  • speed up the development and use of integrated precision approaches to improve productivity in agricultural systems


Your project must focus on one or more of the following:



  • the development of precision solutions and systems that will make a significant step towards net zero emissions for food production

  • improving productivity of the agricultural sector

  • stimulating the establishment of novel high value production systems

  • developing export opportunities


Not funding projects involving:



  • equine

  • amenity horticulture

  • wild-caught fisheries

  • non-food crops


Not funding projects that are:



  • dependent on export performance - for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country

  • dependent on domestic inputs usage - for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

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