Applications are open for research and development grants worth up to £250,000 to support innovation for horticultural food and drink-based businesses operating in the Kent and Medway area.

The collaborative R&D grants, made available by Growing Kent & Medway, will be awarded to proposals that demonstrate the potential to positively impact the local economy. Successful applicants will also be asked to commit to delivering community engagement in the Kent and Medway region.

Local businesses operating in the sector are encouraged to attend an online briefing event on 14 September 2014 to maximise their chances of accessing the £2million available.

Dr. Nicola Harrison, Programme Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said:  “These grants are an important part of our programme to uplift the region’s economy through inclusive and innovation-led growth. The impact of these R&D projects will help to cement the area’s reputation as world-leaders in sustainable food and drink production.”

“We would encourage local businesses across the whole horticultural food and drink supply chain, from food processing, packaging, storage to agri-food technology to apply.”

Proposed projects will need to support their business’ transition to net-zero, and deliver improved productivity and sustainability in food and drink production.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England and leader of the UK Research and Innovation Strength in Places Fund, said: “Growing Kent and Medway is developing the area as the UK’s leading region for climate-smart food production and processing with funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund. These newly available grants for horticulture, food production and related technology businesses will help drive inclusive, sustainable economic growth that will benefit local people across Kent and Medway, and help them move towards a sustainable, net zero future.”

“And as well as the financial support, the businesses will also be able to access advice on innovation and growth from the specialists at Innovate UK EDGE, which is also part of the UK Research and Innovation family.”

Eligible businesses will need to based in Kent or Medway, or carrying out significant economic activity in the region. They can be involved in any part of the horticultural food and drink sector; from production, fresh produce packaging, food processing or technologies that underpin the supply chain.

Interested businesses can join an online briefing event run by Growing Kent & Medway and Innovate UK to find out how to apply. The event will be held on Zoom at 11.30am, Tuesday 14 September 2021 and can be accessed with this link.

Full information about the competition brief and the application form are available on the Innovation Funding Service website. Applications for the grants close on 11am, 20 October 2021.