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DEFRA has launched the new Farming Innovation Programme with an initial £17.5m to boost the future of farming. The aim is to transform productivity and enhance environmental sustainability in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors. DEFRA will support ambitious projects that will also help drive these sectors towards net zero.

The first fund to open is the ‘Industry-led R&D Partnerships Fund’ for farmers, growers, foresters and businesses. Bids for funding can be to develop new technologies and practices to overcome challenges and exploit new opportunities in the sector. These range from use of artificial intelligence and low-emission machineries to optimising the production process and development of climate-resilient crops.

Defra will launch the ‘Farming Futures R&D Fund’, for strategic projects aimed at tackling climate change by reducing the environmental impact of farming. The third of the funds, called ‘Projects to Accelerate Adoption Fund’, will launch later in 2022 to support farmer-led projects to trial the viability of new innovations on farm.

Competition details

From October 2021:

  • Research Starter Projects – To help farmers and growers with bold, ambitious early-stage ideas develop them further and build a collaborative team. This is for those who haven’t previously received Innovate UK funding. Deadline 24 November 2021.
  • Feasibility Projects – To test the feasibility of early-stage solutions and to inform decisions on subsequent larger scale R&D projects. Deadline 1 December 2021.
  • Small R&D Partnership Projects – To carry out R&D for innovative solutions that have the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, sustainability and resilience of the sector. Deadline 1 December 2021.

From Spring 2022:

  • Large R&D Partnership Projects – Launching early 2022, this will provide funding for larger-scale R&D and demonstration of solutions that have the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, sustainability and resilience of the sector
  • each competition within the R&D Partnership Fund will offer different scales of funding. Project teams will be able to apply for grants towards the total project costs, while providing some of their own match funding.
  • the competitions will be open to applications for 5-6 weeks, with different closing dates for each competition.
  • video recordings of applicant briefing events are available on the competition pages.

More information on the new competitions and how to get involved can be found on the UKRI website

Further information on Defra’s new funds is available at the Future Farming Blog and at the dedicated UKRI webpage.

Applications are now open to support performance improvements to existing district or communal heating projects.

The Heat Network Efficiency Scheme (HNES) Demonstrator has been set up to improve performance to existing heat networks.

Heat networks supply heat from a central source to consumers, via a network of underground pipes carrying hot water. They can cover a large area or even an entire city, or be relatively local, supplying a small cluster of buildings. This avoids the need for individual boilers or electric heaters in every building.

The programme has an overall budget of £4.175 million. Applicants can apply for either revenue or capital grant funding. The scheme can provide up to 100% of eligible project costs for revenue grants. In addition, the scheme will fund up to 50% of eligible project costs for capital grants.

The budget for revenue grants is up to £375,000 to carry out Optimisation Studies. These studies will assess heat network projects to identify causes of sub-optimal performance and recommend improvement measures.

The budget for capital grants is up to £3.8 million, to part-fund the installation of eligible improvement measures. There is no upper or lower limit for capital grant funding bids. Funding awards will be made subject to budget availability.

Applications are welcome from public, private and third sector organisations in England and Wales that are responsible for operating or managing existing district heat networks or communal heating systems.

How To Apply

Applications opened on 19 October 2021. The deadline for applications is 31 October 2021 (23:59 BST).

Applicants with any queries regarding the scheme or how to apply are encouraged to email

Prospective applicants should email HNES to request an application form. The completed form should be submitted, with appropriate supporting information, to by the close of the HNES Demonstrator application window.

More details can be accessed here

British Council has opened a new £3.5m grants programme to deliver arts projects addressing contemporary social themes. Deadline is 4 November 2021.

This fund recognises the value of international collaboration in the arts sector and will support partnerships between UK and international organisations. Groups will be able to apply for:

  • Small grants of £5,000 to £20,000.
  • Large grants of £20,000 to £75,000.

Applications will be invited from UK organisations across the charity, community, private and public sectors as long as they have a registered legal structure, bank account and a focus on arts and culture. They must work in partnership with at least one organisation from one of the following countries/territories:

Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi, Spain, South Africa, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Funding is intended for innovative projects that demonstrate new art forms or content; work with a new partner; or that approach audiences in a new way, and could include use of:

  • Film.
  • Creative technology.
  • Literature.
  • Visual arts.
  • Theatre and dance.
  • Architecture, design and fashion.
  • Music.
  • Cross-art forms.
  • Activities with themes relevant to the economy.
  • Cross-disciplinary projects (eg art and science; art and technology).

Projects may address any theme, but the funders are particularly keen to receive proposals that focus on gender, race, ethnicity, disability, ageing and other areas of diversity.

Grants can cover a range of capital and revenue costs directly related to the project.

The fund opens on 15 October 2021, with a deadline of 4 November 2021.

For further details click here to go to the arts funding page on the British Council website.

The next round of Innovate UK’s Smart Awards is now open. Businesses can apply for a share of up to £25 million for game-changing innovative and disruptive ideas that can significantly impact the UK economy. Your proposal must be business focused.

Competition for this round closes: 5 January 2022 11:00am.


If you are looking to fund a feasibility study or industrial research project, you could get funding towards eligible costs of up to:

  • 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 50% if you are a large organisation

If you have are seeking funding for experimental development for project which is nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 25% if you are a large organisation


This competition is open to single applicants and collaborations. To lead a project your organisation must be: 

  • a UK registered business of any size or UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • able to carry out all your research and development (R&D) project activity in the UK
  • intending to commercially exploit the project results from the UK
  • involving at least one micro or SME.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:

  • the arts, design and media
  • creative industries
  • science or engineering

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a highly competitive process where your chance of success in securing funding will depend on the number and quality of applications submitted. 

Typically, the fund is oversubscribed ten-fold, so a 10% chance, but a well-researched and written application will bring the chance of success to 33-50%.

Project size

Projects of 6 – 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000 and can be single or collaborative. 

Projects of 19 – 36 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million and must be collaborative.

Entries have opened for Ofwat’s second Water Breakthrough Challenge. This challenge fund calls for initiatives to drive innovation and collaboration within the water sector. The first round brought together water companies, conservation charities, technology giants and academia. The second challenge aims to encourage more partnerships focused on innovation from cutting-edge technologies, to new ways for the water sector to collaborate and engage with customers.

The Water Breakthrough Challenge aims to tackle major issues such as achieving net zero, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing leakage, as well as taking opportunities to use open data and deliver value to society.

For this round of the competition, there are two streams of funding:

  • Catalyst Stream – Approximately £5 million is available for entries seeking funding of between £100,000 – £1 million. The Catalyst Stream will close for entries at 12pm on 8th December 2021.
  • Transform Stream – Approximately £34 million is available for entries seeking funding of between £1 million – £10 million. Stage 1 of the Transform Stream will close for entries at 12pm on 16th November 2021. Stage 2 entries will open on 15 December 2021 and close at 12pm on 8th February 2022.

For further details, click here for the link to Ofwat

The Dream Fund encourages British charities to work together to deliver the project they have always dreamt of, but never had the opportunity to bring to life.

Applications must come from a partnership of at least two charitable organisations. The lead partner organisation MUST be a registered charity. The other partners can be registered charities, voluntary groups, community interest companies, universities or other not-for-profit organisations.

The Fund is providing a total of £3.5 million with grants of between £500,000 and £1.25 million to deliver projects over 2-3 years.

The Dream Fund aims to implement systemic change in order to address an important social or environmental problem. The current themes are:

Environmental Systems Change – collaborative and innovative projects that develop long term solutions to systemic environmental problems. Areas of interest include projects that challenge environmental degradation, in particular focusing on biodiversity and species preservation.

Social Inequality– projects take systematic approaches to addressing the root causes of social inequality. Successful projects will be able to demonstrate how they will promote the social inclusion of groups that are disadvantaged or excluded from society. Potential areas of interest include early childhood development and educational attainment.

Pandemic recovery – projects that will support society to recover from the effects of the pandemic. Potential areas of interest include loneliness and social isolation, health and wellbeing, domestic violence and support for neglected groups who have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.

Stage 1 applications will be accepted from 1 October 2021 to 1 November 2021 (5:30pm).

Further guidance and information –

Grants plus business support are available to social entrepreneurs looking to start or grow an existing social venture. Funding of up to £15,000 is available. The funding is being made available through the UnLtd, the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK. UnLtd are committed to providing 50% of their awards to Black, Asian and minority ethnic social entrepreneurs, and/or disabled social entrepreneurs.

To be eligible applicants need to be:

Aged 16 and over

Living in the United Kingdom

Willing to participate in a learning experience

Working to benefit people living in the United Kingdom

Have a real social impact

Fulfil a clear need and demand

Have clear outputs and goals

The closing date for this funding round is the 31st December 2021.

Useful Links:

Download Application Guidance

Download Application Questions

For more information, go to

Phase 2 of the UK Government’s Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, designed to help energy intensive industries and businesses with high energy use to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions, has opened to applications.

£60 million in funding is available to support the commercial roll out and permanent installation of energy efficient and low carbon technologies at industrial sites, along with feasibility and engineering studies. All projects must relate to improvements to an existing industrial process at a manufacturing site or data centre in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

Technologies within Scope

There are two main elements:

Energy efficiency proposals which reduce the energy consumed by industrial processes at site level, attributing benefits to both the bill savings (we anticipate most efficiency projects will have a positive payback) and any associated emissions savings. 

Decarbonisation proposals which reduce the emissions produced by industrial processes at site level. While in some cases there may be an associated energy saving this is not the key driver for the proposal and in many cases energy bills may in fact increase. 

Energy savings must be measured and take place at site level where there is an existing, identified operational industrial process.

The fund is managed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – Industrial Energy Transformation Fund


BEIS is always happy for companies talk to them about the projects they would like to do. If ineligible under this programme, they might be able to find an alternative source of funding in terms of utilisation.

The deadline for applications is the 6th December 2021.

Since 2000, Wessex Partnerships has been helping innovative firms and entrepreneurs secure funding for new product and service development. We have enabled companies large and small achieve significant business growth.

Our bid writing services help our clients first identify grant opportunities. Then we take on the workload of preparing the application. Our team works closely with your team to accurately present your project to agreed win themes. We then answer the application questions to meet the funder’s requirements. We advise on all aspects of the project delivery, planning and budget so your project appears well-managed and offers good value.

With backgrounds in economic development, we stay close to policy developments and new funding programmes. We undertake background industry research in your particular field to clarify the technical innovation and set out the commercial case.  This considerably enhances the chances of your application being successful. 

It all adds up to an enviable success rate for our clients, securing over £80m of grant funding over the last twenty-one years.

If you have a project you would like to discuss, book a call with us on 01329 556766. For more information on our services, see our website