Innovation Vouchers for Agrifood

By Suffolk Sheep Society 1st October, 2012

There are many small businesses in the Agrifood industry and margins are often tight. Time for innovation is also scarce.

Innovation Vouchers present an ideal opportunity for a business to think about how outside help and working with others can help them to grow their business profitably. It's a low risk way to explore new ideas that could make a real difference.

The global agricultural industry faces major challenges as it aims to produce sufficient food to meet anticipated future demand and meet changing public expectations. Rising raw material and energy costs and increasing regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and waste management also pose significant economic and operational challenges to the agriculture and food sectors – particularly smaller companies without internal R&D departments.

New technology-based solutions are needed to overcome these challenges. An example could be smaller food manufacturers who don't have in-house resources to help them to respond to the increased demands to improve the nutritional value of their products.

The UK has real strength in biological sciences and other underpinning research areas for agrifood so there is plenty of expertise for businesses to tap into right across the UK. An Innovation Voucher could help you to see how expert advice can work for your business.

Examples for how innovation vouchers could be used in this first round for agriculture (including horticulture and aquaculture), food and drink could include:

  • developing a novel food or drink product for a particular target market
  • product innovation/differentiation
  • innovations in plant or animal breeding that deliver new or improved varieties or breeds
  • reducing the impact of disease on crop or animal production through innovation
  • implementation of new measurement or diagnostic technologies to improve business performance or product quality
  • accelerating the delivery to market of a novel food processing technology that provides business benefits
  • radical reformulation to reduce costs, reduce environmental impact or improve product quality/performance
  • advice to improve management of intellectual property in the business as part of taking a new idea forward
  • specialist advice to incorporate design more effectively into a planned R&D project from the outset

Additional note on eligibility for the Agrifood sector

Businesses that are solely engaged in primary production, the cultivation of crops and husbandry of livestock, are not eligible for support under de minimis unless they are able to show that they have the capacity to undertake R&D activity that will have a wider impact within the agri-food sector, for example by selling the product/service to other businesses, not just for use on your own farm. If you are involved with any of the above activities, make sure your application shows us clearly how you will use the idea in this wider way.

Choosing a knowledge supplier

You may already have an idea where to find the expertise you are looking for and would like some other options to consider, or perhaps you are not sure yet.

Whatever is the case, we have put together some ideas on this portal for how to choose a supplier and details of organisations, such as our Knowledge Transfer Networks, who can provide you further information. We hope these suggestions will guide you to the knowledge you need.

For more information click here


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