• Status: Closed

  • Key features: The Technology Strategy Board, together with the BBSRC and Scottish Enterprise, is to invest up to £8.5m to stimulate innovation in the food and drink sector.

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £8.5m

  • Opens: 20 May 2013

  • Registration closes: 26 Jun 2013

  • Closes: 03 Jul 2013

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Nutrition for life - providing safe and healthy foods - Feasibility study

Summary

The results of this competition are now available; click here for a PDF of the winning project proposals.
 

Summary

The Technology Strategy Board, together with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Scottish Enterprise, is to invest up to £8.5m to stimulate innovation in the food and drink sector. 
 
Sitting between primary producers and retailers, the food processing sector has an important impact on food safety and quality, and forms a significant part of UK manufacturing output. The aim of this competition is to encourage innovative technologies and processes, to ensure that what we eat and drink can be made as safe and healthy as possible. 
 
Projects must be business-led and collaborative. We have allocated up to £7m to fund collaborative R&D projects, with up to a further £1.5m being available for smaller-scale feasibility studies. 
 
The competition comprises two strands: 
 
Strand 1: Feasibility studies must be collaborative, and may attract up to 65% public funding of project costs (75% for SMEs). We expect feasibility study projects to range in size from £50k to £100k and to last from six to 12 months. 
 
Strand 2: With collaborative R&D projects, we are primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding of their project costs (60% for SMEs). We expect collaborative R&D projects to range in size from £250k to £1m and to last from one to three years. 
 
The collaborative R&D and feasibility study elements of this competition both open for applications on 20 May 2013. The deadline for registration is noon on 26 June 2013. The deadline for completed feasibility study applications and expressions of interest for collaborative R&D projects is noon on 3 July 2013. A briefing event for potential applicants will be held on 21 May 2013
 
Register for the briefing event at Thistle Marble Arch, London or WEBINAR.
 

Background

With an annual turnover of around £80bn, the food and drink sector is an important contributor to the UK economy. To remain competitive within this industry, businesses need to be flexible and adaptive, putting innovation at the heart of product and production improvement. The Technology Strategy Board's Enabling technologies strategy has identified the following key areas where innovations in biotechnology can improve profitability in the food supply chain.

Healthy, nutritious and safe foods 

Changes in lifestyle have seen a rise in chronic, diet-related health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and some types of cancer. The burden on society of these conditions is increasing rapidly worldwide. 
 
With consumers becoming more interested in the foods they eat, the production of healthier, more nutritional food is becoming a prime driver for business. 
 
New scientific developments offer a range of possibilities, from making current products healthier to developing new products with health-promoting properties. Advances in nutritional science and molecular technologies may enable profiling at a sub-population and even an individual level, to detect predisposition to disease and provide specific advice on diet and lifestyle. 

Public safety 

The vast majority of our food is safe, but food safety, authenticity and traceability have been growing concerns among consumers over the last few decades. Outbreaks of disease in animals that has the potential to be transmitted to humans, and the presence of contaminants in feed and food, can threaten both the quality and safety of products. There are around a million cases of food poisoning each year in the UK, resulting in several hundred deaths, and an estimated total cost to the economy in excess of £500m. 
 
We need therefore to identify which foods are making people ill, to trace them, and ultimately to find innovative ways of safeguarding public health. Developing and deploying novel technologies and processes, which enable quick and robust analysis, represent prime opportunities for business. 

Global food security 

The organisations involved in funding this competition also contribute to Global Food Security – a multi-partner programme that aims to meet the challenge of supplying safe, nutritious and affordable food in a sustainable way for a growing global population. 
 

Scope

Through this competition we are encouraging innovative approaches to help businesses produce and process food that is as safe and healthy as possible. 
 
In this competition we are looking to fund both feasibility studies and CR&D projects that fall within one of the following areas: 

Integrating technologies to assist nutrient absorption 

  • integrating molecular technologies (such as metabolomics, proteomics or genomics) into new or existing systems, processes or approaches, to enable efficient delivery and uptake of nutrients 
  • developing linkages between genetics and diet, and so providing nutritional choices which improve the population's overall health and wellbeing, for example through food which is formulated to meet specific characteristics or deficiencies in sub-groups of the population (such as older people, people who are obese, or people with suppressed immunity) 
  • developing technologies that provide evidence of the mechanisms associated with the perception of food, eg taste, smell and sense of texture.  

Nutrient regulation and delivery 

  • developing novel formulations and delivery of nutrients (including through non-oral routes, such as micro-nutrient absorption through the skin) 
  • developing technologies that identify nutrient deficiencies. 

Novel and healthier foods 

  • enabling the screening, identification, characterisation or production of new functional or healthier food, drink or ingredients 
  • improving food formulation and reformulation, in particular to reduce salt, fat and sugar. 

Safety, authenticity and traceability 

  • identification of the presence or levels of pathogens, contaminants or allergens 
  • implementing processing methods throughout the food chain to improve quality assurance, so reducing adverse effects or health risks to the consumer 
  • enabling quick and reliable determination of products or ingredients, country of origin, method of production, or the presence of adulterants or substituted or undeclared ingredients 
  • enabling efficient and robust tracking and monitoring of food, feed, food- producing animals or substances, intended for consumption. 

Production and processing of food or nutrients 

  • enabling the characterisation, retention, or improvement of nutritional content throughout the manufacturing process, for example to maximise the nutritional value of raw materials during food processing and hence that of the finished product 
  • developing enabling technologies to convert by-products or waste from food production processes into valuable materials 
  • developing smart/recyclable maintenance/ storage, for example packaging that maintains or maximises nutritional value throughout a product's shelf-life 
  • developing portable, modular, standardised, flexible and reliable food processing systems 
  • developing novel food production processes or making novel use of existing processes to produce food. 
     

Funding allocation and project details

The Technology Strategy Board, together with the BBSRC and Scottish Enterprise, is to invest up to £8.5m to fund collaborative projects that are within the scope of this competition.
 
In addition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Food Standards Agency and the Medical Research Council will consider co-funding opportunities for projects that fall within their strategic priority areas. 
 
Projects must be business-led; they can be business-to-science or business-to- business: academics can apply only as a partner in a consortium. Where academic partners are involved, their costs must be no greater than 30% of the total project costs, meaning that at least 70% of the project costs will be incurred by the business partner(s). 

Strand 1, a single-stage feasibility studies competition: 

Up to £1.5m is available for smaller-scale, business-led feasibility studies in line with the scope above. Projects should be preparatory to industrial research, and focused on relatively high-risk technical opportunities, building a technical evidence base to enable progression to larger-scale projects. 
 
Feasibility studies must be collaborative, and may attract up to 65% public funding for project costs for a business partner (75% for SMEs). We expect feasibility study projects to range in size from £50k to £100k. Projects should last from six to 12 months. 

Strand 2, a two-stage collaborative R&D competition:

We have allocated up to £7m to fund business-led collaborative R&D projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope above. Projects should develop highly innovative underpinning technologies or processes, processes that may be already proven at feasibility stage and require further work or demonstration on a commercial scale, or cross-cutting technologies that are novel to this sector and whose translation will be technically challenging or high-risk. 
 
We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding of their project costs (60% for SMEs), and we expect collaborative R&D projects to range in size from £250k to £1m. Projects should last from one to three years. 
 
We may consider larger projects, but applicants should discuss this with us before making their application. 
 
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the different subject areas that this competition covers, subject to applications reaching the required quality threshold. 
 
Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The level of grant funding available varies depending on the type of research being carried out and the types of organisation involved. 
 
Looking for partners to work on your project? Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks. 
 

Application process

This competition opens for applications on 20 May 2013.

All applicants must first register via our website, and the deadline for registration is noon on 26 June 2013.

The deadline for completed feasibility study applications and expressions of interest for collaborative R&D projects is noon on 3 July 2013.

A briefing event will be held in London on 21 May 2013 highlighting the main features of the competition and explaining the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event. 

Register for the briefing event at Thistle Marble Arch, London or WEBINAR.
 

Further information

To apply for this competition you must first register with us. When you register you will get access to all the supporting information you need before you apply, including the Guidance for Applicants and the application form. 
 
Additional information on the scope and application process for this competition is available from the Bioscience KTN
NB the funding rules for projects changed in September 2012. See general guidance on how projects are now funded.
 
Make sure that you have checked your figures against the new rules for type and level of funding. 
 

Key dates

For both Strand 1 and 2:
  • Competition opens: 20 May 2013
  • Briefing event: 21 May 2013
  • Registration deadline: Noon, 26 June 2013
Strand 1: Single-stage feasibility studies competition
  • Deadline for receipt of applications: Noon, 3 July 2013
  • Applicants informed of results: 9 August 2013
Strand 2: Two-stage collaborative R&D competition
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: Noon, 3 July 2013
  • Applicants informed of stage one results: 29 July 2013
  • Stage two opens for invited applicants: 29 July 2013
  • Deadline for stage two applications: Noon, 28 August 2013
  • Stage two applicants informed of results: 4 October 2013
     

Publicity

As part of the application process, all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.
 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the award is confirmed as final. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public. E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.