Innovative funding grants set to boost Kent & Medway area now open

Picked apples in a crate on a farm

Applications for research and development grants to support innovation for horticultural food and drink-based businesses operating in the Kent and Medway area are open now until 11am on 20 October 2021.

The collaborative grants, worth up to £250,000, will be awarded to proposals demonstrating potential to positively impact the local economy. Successful applicants will also be asked to commit to delivering community engagement in the Kent and Medway region. Proposed projects will need to support their business’ transition to net-zero, and deliver improved productivity and sustainability in food and drink production.

All information about the grants and application for them can be found on the Innovation Funding Service website, and interested local sector businesses can attend an online briefing event, run by Growing Kent & Medway and Innovate UK, to maximise their chances of accessing the £2 million available. The event will be held on Zoom at 11.30 am, 14 September 2021 here.

Local sector businesses can attend an online briefing event, run by Growing Kent and Medway and Innovate UK, on Zoom at 11.30am on 14 September 2021 here.

These grants have been made available by Growing Kent & Medway, a project led by horticultural and agricultural research institution NIAB EMR to strengthen the competitiveness of Britain’s horticulture, food and drink industries with government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund. The University of Kent is a key partner in delivering the Growing Kent and Medway project. Our School of Biosciences is establishing a Biotechnology Hub for Sustainable Food and Drink to apply high-tech approaches to production and processing of high-value foods and plant-based compounds from plant material and waste, pathogen identification and control, and maintenance of healthy soil. Kent Business School’s innovative Mentoring Hub offers specialist advice on how to market a business and promote products.

Dr Nicola Harrison, Programme Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said, “These grants are an important part of our programme to uplift the region’s economy through inclusive and innovation-led growth. The impact of these R&D projects will help to cement the area’s reputation as world-leaders in sustainable food and drink production.

We would encourage local businesses across the whole horticultural food and drink supply chain, from food processing, packaging, storage to agri-food technology to apply.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England and leader of the UK Research and Innovation Strength in Places Fund, said, “Growing Kent and Medway is developing the area as the UK’s leading region for climate-smart food production and processing with funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund. These newly available grants for horticulture, food production and related technology businesses will help drive inclusive, sustainable economic growth that will benefit local people across Kent and Medway, and help them move towards a sustainable, net zero future.

And as well as the financial support, the businesses will also be able to access advice on innovation and growth from the specialists at Innovate UK EDGE, which is also part of the UK Research and Innovation family.”

Eligible businesses must be based in Kent or Medway, or carrying out significant economic activity in the region. They can be involved in any part of the horticultural food and drink sector; from production, fresh produce packaging, food processing or technologies that underpin the supply chain.

Full information about the competition brief and the application form are available are available on the Innovation Funding Service website. Applications for the grants close on 11 am, 20 October 2021.


This blog post is based on the original post published on University of Kent News Centre here.

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