Funding provides opportunities for food and drink manufacturers to address both contemporary and future business challenges through the development of innovative solutions.

Funding bodies in the UK including Innovate UK, the KTN, and the research councils (such as BBSRC and the EPSRC), run several calls throughout the year which are in line with the UK’s Industrial Strategy. The FDF maintains close ties to these organisations and seeks to provide an understanding of what funding is available to its members.

The FDF has also established connections with researchers within academic institutions and businesses, which provide innovative solutions to various business challenges. The FDF can connect you with the right people to drive innovation through suggesting funding routes and collaboration partners for project consortia. Project support is also available to our members when funding applications are submitted.

Information on industry developments, funding and supported projects are updated on our site regularly. 

Updates & milestones

Made Smarter Industry Ready Robotics and Automation funding call open

The Made Smarter Innovation programme has opened the Industry Ready Robotics and Automation funding call, aimed at supporting the development of industry-ready solutions for deployment within manufacturing production environments.  The competition is open now until Wednesday 5th April 2023, 11:00am.

The funding call is aimed at late-stage higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL) developments, and projects will be able to run for up to 12 months culminating in trials within a production environment.  Projects must be an innovative development or novel application of robotics and automation that overcomes a technical barrier, and can span both hardware solutions such as fixed or mobile robots, as well as software innovations to improve system integration.

Improving the flexibility, agility and future re-deployment opportunities will be a key innovation theme, with project applications encouraged in topics such as modularity, no-code programming, and optimised gripper design.  Development of innovative solutions to maximise the potential of collaborative robots (co-bots) as well as to improve the safety of Human Machine Interface (HMI) will also be within the scope of the call.

Applications will need to demonstrate clear post-project scalability and routes to commercialisation of the solution beyond initial deployment.  It is envisaged that projects of up to £4m will be eligible to apply, with collaborations comprising multiple manufacturers and technology developers encouraged. 

You can find more details about the competition here.

If you would like to discuss a potential bid, or find out more about FDF’s work in this area, please contact Tanya

Cranfield University Green Future Investments Fund open for SME applications

The Green Future Investments Fund, through Cranfield University is open for applications until 19th/20th January 2023.

Innovators and entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for three funding streams to scale up ideas which will help address the challenges related to tackling climate change, protecting our environment and delivering a Net Zero future.  Eligible applicants for the funds include SMEs, start-ups, spinouts, individuals and students.  No match funding is required.

  • The Future Frontiers Fund (FFF) supports the generation of fresh and highly novel ideas, technologies, products and services. We are looking for truly innovative leaps and will provide support through small grants of approximately £10,000 to test ‘might work’ concepts along with technical mentoring support. Applications close January 19th 2023.
  • The Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) is providing six awards in the region of £50,000 to innovators with technologies currently at TRL 4-5 to take ideas or technology to prototype and beyond. Applications close January 19th 2023.
  • The Ready for Net Zero Growth programme Green Scholarships provide green businesses with a fully-funded scholarship to focus on embedding the business’ Net Zero ambitions within their growth plan. Applications close January 20th 2023.


Better Food for All: Innovation for improved nutrition competition opening 11 January 2023

On Wednesday 11 January 2023, Innovate UK is opening the competition to support the development of innovative solutions to address significant nutrition challenges.  UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million over the three strands of the competition, details for each strand can be found below:

All applications will require collaboration with at least one other organisation.  Agri-Food Funding is hosting a webinar on 12 January 2023, 10:00-12:00 for organisations to engage with others working in the field and meet potential partners.  You can register for the webinar here.


IETF stakeholder clinics

For the Phase 2: Summer 2022 competition where businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can now bid for a share of up to £70 million in grant funding (competition closes on 9 September 2022), BEIS is holding some stakeholder clinics help businesses planning on bidding.  Stakeholders can then speak directly to BEIS and ask questions around potential bids, scope of the competitions, eligibility criteria, how to apply for funding, the IETF support and information services available, etc. The clinics are run on a fortnightly basis with the next ones taking place on 26 July 2022 and 9 August 2022.  To register to attend one of these stakeholder clinics, please visit the registration site.

Industrial Hydrogen Accelerator Programme now open

The £26m Industrial Hydrogen Accelerator Funding programme is now open for applications. 

Details can be found here, including the Competition Guidance for both streams:

  • IHA Stream 1 demonstration grant of up to £10m per project is open for applications until 14:00 BST, 21 July 2022.
  • IHA Stream 2A feasibility study SBRI funding of up to £400k per project is open for applications until 14:00 BST, 23 June 2022.

A Launch and Networking event is taking place on Monday 9th May 10-12. BEIS will provide an overview of the competition and attendees will have the chance to meet and network with other prospective applicants. This is the link to sign up here.

If you would like to network with other stakeholders interested in applying to the IHA competition and are looking for collaborators, here is the link to the B2Match IHA networking platform, which already has over 150 participants:



Next Welsh Government must support growth of vital food and drink industry

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Cymru and the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) have today launched what it sees as the key priorities for the next Welsh Government.

Read more

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