DEFRA's The Farming Innovation Programme

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has released an opportunity inviting forward-thinking farmers to seek funding that can go towards pioneering projects.

26th September 2023

Opportunity: Feasibility Round 3 now open

The Farming Innovation Programme, led by Defra in collaboration with Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) Challenge, is poised to invest up to a substantial £4.5 million in innovative projects. The money is available to farmers and others in the form of grants worth between £200,000 and £500,000. This initiative is designed to foster progress, sustainability, and resilience within farming, growing, and forestry industries in England. This round of the programme will fund feasibility projects. This covers costs incurred to research whether a project is viable before going ahead.

Key Objectives of the Funding

Defra are looking for applications that emphasise direct benefit to the farming, growing, and forestry sectors in the UK.

Cultivating Early-Stage Solutions

The programme seeks to nurture promising ideas in their infancy – those groundbreaking concepts that could significantly enhance productivity and sustainability while advancing toward the goal of net-zero emissions.

Benefiting Our Rural Community

Priority is given to solutions that promise tangible benefits for farmers, growers, and foresters, within commercially relevant scenarios.

Collaborative Prosperity

Collaboration with the broader UK research community is actively encouraged, as it accelerates research and development, fostering innovation.

Who Can Participate?

Lead Organisations

Any UK registered business, irrespective of its size, may take the lead in a project.


Those seeking collaboration must also be UK registered entities, including academic institutions, charitable organisations, not-for-profits, public sector entities, and research and technology organisations (RTOs). Your business can lead one application and be a collaborator in two additional applications.


Subcontractors are also welcome to play a role in this, facilitating projects.

Nurturing Agricultural Growth: Project Parameters

Financial Scale

Projects must fall within the financial range of £200,000 to £500,000.

Timely Commitment

Commencement should occur no later than 1 May 2024, with a project duration spanning 12 to 24 months and concluding by 30 April 2026.

Local Commitment

All project activities must be conducted within the United Kingdom, reinforcing commitment to local growth.

Fruitful Results

Projects must intend to harness and nurture the results within the United Kingdom, ensuring the United Kingdom benefits from the innovations.


Preserving Agricultural Heritage: Scope and Exclusions
  • The programme seeks to fund feasibility studies addressing substantial on-farm or immediate post-farmgate challenges and opportunities.
  • These projects should ideally usher in significant enhancements in productivity, sustainability, environmental impact, and resilience – elements integral to our rural livelihoods.
  • They must also address significant industry challenges or opportunities within the four industry subsectors: farmed animals, plants, novel food production systems, and the bioeconomy and agroforestry.

However, some endeavours do not fall within the scope of this funding
  • Projects that do not directly benefit our local farmers, growers, or foresters in England shall not be considered.
  • Equine-specific initiatives are beyond the scope of this competition.
  • Projects involving wild-caught fisheries or aquaculture for fish production or human consumption are not eligible.
  • Initiatives involving cellular expression of proteins, cultivated meat, or acellular production systems are also outside the competition’s objectives.
  • Lastly, the production of crops or plants for medicinal or pharmaceutical use is not covered.



Registration Opens/Opened:  18/09/2023

Registration Closes:  15/11/2023


Your project’s total costs must be between £200,000 and £500,000. Up to 70% of these costs can be covered by the grant, depending on business size.


Farming Innovation Programme – Farming Innovation Programme (

Start an Application

Competition overview – Farming Innovation Programme – feasibility round 3 – Innovation Funding Service (


Need help?

Old Mill is here to support you every step of the way. Whether you are a lead organisation, collaborator, or subcontractor, we are ready to assist you in navigating the financial aspects of the application process and ensuring your project’s success.  To discuss this further click here…