Agritech startups to reap £16.5m in government funding

Farming tech funding Image credit: UKRI

The UK government is investing an additional £16.5m of funding into research and development in agriculture tech as part of its £270m Farming Innovation Programme.

Run in collaboration with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), £5.5m of the farming tech funding will be allocated to a “feasibility projects” competition, with grants ranging from £200,000 to £500,000 for research and development.

Steve Double, minister of farming innovation said: “Our £270m investment in farming innovation is designed to help take the UK’s world-leading research ideas and turn them into practical solutions to support healthy soils, abundant pollinators and clean water alongside profitable food production.”

The remaining £11m will be divided by winners of the Small R&D Partnership competition. Winners will receive a slice of £1m to £3m for projects addressing areas such as productivity and sustainability in farming.

Previous winners of the Small R&D Partnership Projects, Feasibility Projects and Research Starter Projects were also revealed by UKRI today.

They include Muddy Machine’s vegetable harvesting robots, Farmsense’s artificial intelligence (AI)  software to improve the care of pigs, and autonomous livestock monitoring system CowView.

“You only need look at the sheer breadth of projects that have received funding to see there are so many opportunities for innovation across the food sector,” said Katrina Hayter, challenge director for the Transforming Food Production challenge.

“From animal health to crop productivity, the introduction of strategic support technology and the precise application of chemicals, it’s exciting to see so many concepts beginning to come to life.”

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to spend around £600m in the next three years on grants and support for the agritech sector.

This month saw HM Prison Hewell, based in Worcestershire, team up with LettUs Grow to trial its vertical farming tech and teach prisoners skills for rehabilitation.

Food tech Clean Food Group earlier this month raised £1.65m for its palm oil lab alternative.