Innovate UK, the non-departmental public body responsible for business innovation, has offered the money to collaborative R&D projects that “enhance the nutritional quality of food and drink through the reduction of sugar, salt and fats, and through an increase in dietary fibre”.
The deadline for companies to register is noon next Wednesday (18 November). Companies will then have a further seven days to declare a formal expression of interest.
Applicants may include plant and animal breeders, primary agricultural producers, food processors, food manufacturers, processing equipment companies, ingredients companies and retailers.
Helen Munday, lead technologist for sustainable agriculture and food at Innovate UK, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the agency was looking for projects that cut sugar, salt and fats, without a detrimental effect on calorie intake.
“As a nation we are still consuming too much saturated fat, salt and sugar, and we’re not consuming enough fibre,” she said.
“But it’s worth remembering that even healthy food can be overconsumed and the main societal issue we have today is obesity. Therefore, we are looking for projects concerned with bringing down fat, salt and sugar, but without a detrimental effect on the overall calorie content.”
- £10M funding available
- £1M maximum project allocation
- Small businesses eligible for 70% of project costs
- Medium-sized business eligible for 60%
Munday said another important criterion is that the product should be highly attractive to consumers.
“We know that people have a hierarchy of needs, and affordability and taste very often comes ahead of health and well-being.
“So, if you can reformulate something and no one really knows that you’ve done it, you’re delivering a great benefit.”
Another aspect being encouraged by the agency is collaboration. According to Munday, this involves bringing together companies that never would have previously thought about working together.
“They can be from completely different parts of the food industry. It’s also a chance for companies to collaborate with universities as well,” she said.
Munday said that £1M is the maximum that can be awarded to a single project, which makes the funding particularly suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Registration: November 18
- Expressions of interest: November 25
- Stage 2 opens for invited applicants: February 8
- Deadline for invited applications: March 10
“We’ve extended our reach to a number of trade associations, as they have good links to smaller manufacturers. The response so far has been really good. We opened the competition on November 5, and as of the end of last week we had more than 80 registrations.”
Click here to apply for the funding.
Innovate UK is also holding a separate funding innovation competition to improve the productivity of agri-food systems using satellite funding. Click here for more information and to apply.