A UK collaboration has secured £8.75m of funding to help businesses develop technologies for efficient agri-food systems.
The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has teamed up with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Scottish Government on the initiative.
It is part of the five-year Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform launched in 2009, which freed up £90m for research projects.
The cash will primarily be channeled into research and development schemes, according to the Biosciences Knowledge Transfer Network (Biosciences KTN), one of several stakeholder groups.
Projects will fall into three areas: agriculture, to protect crops and maximize yields; livestock and animal, including carcass and milk quality and optimisation; and storage, processing and retail environments.
The latter category would be of most relevance to food and drink processors, knowledge transfer manager David Telford told FoodProductionDaily.com.
“We are looking for new technologies to monitor crop and stock in the supply chain, but also ways to monitor process yield and wastage, ripening characteristics of fruit and food safety,” he said.
Quality, flavour and texture
Cash would also be available for investigations into shelf life and the quality, flavour and texture characteristics of meat and agricultural produce, said Telford.
The organizations involved are primarily seeking to fund industrial research into these topics, with 50% of any public money available for business partners (60% in the case of small to medium-sized enterprises).
Collaborative research and development (R&D) projects are expected to range in size from £500,000 to £1.5m, with the maximum total project size expected to reach £2m. Larger projects may be considered, but the TSB urged applicants to discuss this with its representatives before applying.
Smaller scale feasibility studies
Up to £500,000 would also be made available for smaller scale feasibility studies, the Biosciences KTN confirmed.
The cash would feed into project sizes ranging from £25,000 to £100,000, it said. “Projects should explore relevant and relatively high risk technical opportunities for further development by industry.”
Applicants for both the R&D projects and feasibility studies are invited to submit proposals from March 18. Deadline for submissions is noon on May 1, 2013.