Agri-tech Catalyst round 10: agriculture and food systems, mid stage

Mid stage industrial research

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million to work on agri-tech and food chain innovations in Africa.

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For mid stage industrial research, your total eligible project costs must be between £250,000 and £1 million. Up to 70% of costs can be covered.


Global Challenges Research Fund

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Up to £2.5 million of funding is available from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) across the 3 strands. This is for projects working on agri-tech and food chain innovations with partners in eligible African countries.

The aim of this competition is to increase the pace of innovation in the development of agricultural and food systems in Africa. Your project must result in more use of innovations by farmers and food systems organisations, such as manufacturers, processors, retailers, distributors and wholesalers.

We are running 3 strands to this competition at the same time:

Early stage feasibility studies.
Mid stage industrial research (this competition).
Late stage experimental development.

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £250,000 and £1 million
  • start by 1 April 2021
  • last up to 3 years

All projects must:

  • be collaborative
  • include a UK registered lead applicant organisation (known in previous rounds as the ‘administrative lead’)
  • include a technical lead, from any country
  • include at least one business (from the UK or an eligible African country from the list below)
  • include at least one partner from an eligible African country
  • implement significant activity in the eligible African country

The roles of lead applicant and technical lead could be carried out by a single UK organisation.

The list of eligible African countries is here.

Your proposal must show the potential to have a positive impact on poverty through the uptake of agricultural and food systems technology and innovation.

You can choose from one or more of the following areas:

  • primary crop and livestock production, including aquaculture
  • non-food uses of crops, excluding ornamentals
  • challenges in food processing, distribution or storage, and value addition (such as through a change in the physical state or form of the product)
  • improving the availability and accessibility of safe, healthy and nutritious foods

Your project’s innovations must:

  • be sustainable in the context of environmental challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity
  • minimise negative effects such as pollution, food loss and waste
  • promote safe, healthy and nutritious diets

Your project and its outcomes must fit within the Official Development Assistance (ODA) criteria.

Your application must demonstrate how the primary benefit from your project will be a contribution to international development outcomes, specifically:

  • enhanced food and nutrition security
  • welfare of the poor in urban and rural areas in developing countries

Activities carried out in the UK must clearly deliver impact in an eligible African country. Any benefits to the UK must be secondary in nature and result from delivering the primary benefit. Your proposal must clearly demonstrate the ways it will have an impact in the country.

If your project will support crop breeding it must have clear potential for impact at scale, in more than one eligible African country.

Gender analysis and data disaggregation

Men and women experience poverty differently and face different obstacles to moving out of poverty. A significant gender gap in agriculture means women have unequal access to and control over productive assets and income. This is despite contributing a significant share of agricultural labour.

If your project is not sensitive to how this affects agricultural productivity, marketing and processing, the impact will be limited and potentially exacerbate gender inequalities. You should not assume that the household is a unit in which everything is pooled and shared and in which one person makes decisions on behalf of all household members.

Your proposal should recognise that to promote gender equality and empower girls and women is not only a goal in its own right. It is often a means to improving agricultural productivity or achieving food and nutrition security.

You must include an analysis of the gender factors affecting the innovation. For example, you may find it is inappropriate to refer to ‘farmers’ without indicating whether you are referring to male farmers, female farmers, or both. Consider whether you need to include expertise on gender and social analysis within your project.

You must separate data about other variables, where relevant, such as ethnicity, age, disability and spatial geography. There is more guidance in question 7.

Animal welfare

You must make sure that all your proposed research, both in the UK and internationally, complies with the principles of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) and other UK funders’ common guidance on Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research.

We will not fund projects likely to directly compromise farm animal welfare outcomes. Projects likely to benefit animal welfare will be viewed favourably.

UK institutions should be aware of this extract from the guidance:

“When collaborating with other laboratories, or where animal facilities are provided by third parties, researchers and the local ethics committee in the UK should satisfy themselves that welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation (e.g. the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986), and set out in this guidance, are applied and maintained. Where there are significant deviations, prior approval from the funding body should be sought and agreed.”

Briefing events for the three separate strands were held on 9th July, and a further online briefing event will be held at 11.30am on 28th July: watch the recordings and join the briefing here.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network’s Agri-Food team for guidance.


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