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£90 million to help feed the 9 billion

Copyright free (Pixabay/Creative Commons CC0)

The first funding from a £90 million fund that aims to revolutionise how food is produced and dramatically reduce its environmental impact launches later this month.

The Transforming Food Production Challenge, part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, will bring together the UK’s world-leading agri-food sector with robotics, satellite, data and digital technologies and artificial intelligence to make the UK a world leader in the precision farming techniques needed to make sure the planet is able to feed a population of nine billion people by 2050.

The Challenge, funded through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), will help to fuel rural growth, create high-skilled jobs and open up new export opportunities while reducing pollution and minimising waste and soil erosion.

“Precision farming is the future of farming and food production. There is an enormous opportunity for the UK to lead the world in deploying smart technologies to the field, farm and factory and truly transform the entire ‘farm to fork’ supply chain. We have to grasp that opportunity now, and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will help make that happen. We will be able to farm sustainably, produce healthy, nutritious and economically viable food, while preserving farmland and the wider environment for future generations,” said Professor Melanie Welham, Executive sponsor for the Transforming Food Production Challenge at UK Research and Innovation.

The UK agri-tech sector contributes £14.3 billion to UK economy, employing 500,000 people, with companies and researchers developing pioneering technologies from farming drones to 3D printing. From fundamental biology to the farm field, the UK is home to research and industries leading the world in understanding crops and livestock. The UK is a global leader in environmental management and earth observation, sensors, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics. The integration and application of these strengths can transform the agriculture industrial sector.

The ISCF is delivered by UK Research and Innovation. UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.

The first funding competition call opens on Monday 20 August 2018 with an investment up to £20 million. The Industry-Led Collaborative Research & Development call has two main themes:

  • To drive productivity and improve environmental outcomes in crop and ruminant production systems
  • To develop new, highly efficient, high-value food production systems that maximise productivity and improve environmental performance.

Projects must focus on the development of enhanced decision support, precision agriculture technology solutions and systems. This includes:

  • combining digital technologies and engineering solutions with biological, environmental and/or social science to drive productivity
  • developing technologies and solutions that connect farms and supply chains
  • transferring technology from another sector into agriculture, providing this requires innovation.

For more information on the ISCF Transforming Food Production challenge competition and to apply, please visit: Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: Transforming Production.


About the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation, is designed to develop UK industries that are fit for the future, driving progress in technologies where the UK can become a world-leader in their research and commercialisation.

It is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, the long-term plan to raise productivity and earning power in the UK, and is a core pillar in the government’s commitment to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over four years to strengthen UK science and business.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £498 million in world-class bioscience in 2017-18. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about UK Research and Innovation.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: food security agriculture crops data food innovation BBSRC press release funding