Work with China to transform food production

Posted on: 15/10/2019

Businesses can apply for a share of up to £5 million to work with Chinese partners on developing new smart farming technologies.


World demand for food is expected to grow by 60% to feed a rising and more prosperous global population.

Food producers in the UK and China need to supply what we eat in a more sustainable and efficient way, reducing pollution, minimising waste and improving soil conditions.

The UK is a global leader in the technologies that will help to achieve this including:

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Transforming Food Production Challenge has up to £90 million to help businesses invest in new data-driven precision-agriculture technologies that could transform food production.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, has up to £5 million from the fund to invest in UK businesses undertaking joint projects with Chinese partners to develop new integrated precision farming technology that helps towards achieving a sustainable position of net-zero emissions.

The Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China is investing a similar amount to support the work of Chinese partners.

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Projects must drive UK growth and exports

Projects must be in line with the aims of the Transforming Food Production Challenge to improve agricultural productivity and reduce emissions, to drive growth in UK precision agriculture companies, and to develop export opportunities.

They could cover:

  • remote sensing of crop growth and nutrients, soil health, weather, crop yields, water stress and pests through satellites, drones and sensors
  • smart pasture production including animal feeding systems, analysis of herds and individual animals, environmental control systems, methane reduction and improved animal welfare
  • precision technologies for indoor farming such as for planting, transplanting, harvesting, watering or applying fertiliser
  • exploitation of big data to improve productivity
  • robotic systems for agriculture including for detecting pests and diseases, making precision applications of agrochemicals and planting and transplanting

Projects must show equal effort on the UK and Chinese side and must work with commercial end users, which could be demonstration sites, farms, laboratories or other research and development facilities in one or both countries.

The competition is now open and the deadline for registration is midday on 15 January 2020. Projects must include at least one business and one research organisation from each country. You can find out more on the competition page here.

Competition Briefing & Consortium Building Event – 5 November, London

KTN hosted a Briefing and Consortium Building Event for this competition on 5th November 2019 in London which was also available by webcast.

This event allowed attendees to:

  • Understand the competition scope and consortia eligibility
  • Gain specific details on UK-China Bilateral requirements
  • Learn about challenges and opportunities to collaborating in China
  • Be informed about and encouraged to collaborate with different sectors such as Robotics, AI, Space etc.
  • Have the opportunity for businesses, academia, RTO to pitch their ideas, skills and partner needs to bid into TFP
  • Make valuable connections


Transforming Food Production Briefing Event – Northern Ireland on 28th Nov

A Transforming Food Production Briefing Event is taking place on 28th November 2019 at the CAFRE Loughry Campus in Cookstown, Northern Ireland.

This event will allow attendees to;

  • Hear the ambition of the¬†Transforming Food Production programme from the challenge Director Katrina Hayter
  • Find more detailed information about all elements of the Transforming Food Production programme (Future Food Production Systems, China:UK precision for enhancing¬†agricultural¬†productivity and Science and Technology in Practice
  • An opportunity for one to one meetings with Innovate UK and KTN staff to discuss specific project details.


KTN has set up a LinkedIn group to facilitate consortia building for this competition, where you can¬†post your capability and partnering needs, and respond to other members’ requests for partners. You can apply to join this group here.

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