Around £11 million is being invested into improving the resource efficiency and resilience of the UK food and supply chain.
The funding is coming from Innovate UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
The group has set up a competition to help companies develop innovative solutions to improve the food and drink supply chain. It is looking for “collaborative and business-led” proposals.
“We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50 per cent public funding for their project costs (60 per cent for small-to-medium enterprises),” said Innovate UK.
“We expect projects to range in size from total costs of £250,000 to £1 million, although we may consider projects outside this range.”
Innovate UK explained that with global food demand to increase by 50 per cent to 70 per cent, “the food supply chain will be subject to increasing environmental stresses through competition for limited resources, the impacts of climate change, water availability, soil degradation and biodiversity loss”.
The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) at Sheffield Hallam University will act as a hub between industry and academia to research and develop solutions.
Gavin Darby, Premier Foods chief executive and chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for the NCEFE, said: “Access to this fund will support new and innovative engineering solutions that will help improve the industry's competitiveness and ultimately deliver better resource efficiency. The Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering will play an important role as a hub for industry collaboration to address a range of industry-wide challenges.”
The Food and Drink Federation welcomed the competition. It said: “With the increasing pressures the industry faces to produce more from less with less resource, this new competition fund will enable the industry to be in the driving seat of delivering improvements throughout the supply chain.”
The improving food supply chain efficiency competition is open for applications from 13 October until noon on 3 December.