Apples kent

Research clusterGrowing Kent & Medway has announced £3 million in R&D grants for projects that support inclusive economic growth and environmentally sustainable practices and innovations.

Funding grants of up to £250,000 will be made available to initiatives that aim to develop green technologies, processes or products for horticultural food and drink businesses across the Kent and Medway region.

Applications open from 6 September 2021 and must be a Kent or Medway-based businesses, or carryingout significant economic activity in the region, working in horticultural food and drink sector or enabling technologies.

An additional requirement of the funding application will be an expectation that businesses commit to delivering social value back to the region. This may be through community engagement or by raising awareness around career pathways in horticulture, food production or agri-food technologies.

The grants were announced as part of Growing Kent & Medway’s official launch at Fruit Focus on Wednesday 21 July 2021.

Dr Nicola Harrison, programme director for Growing Kent & Medway, said the grants would be awarded to “projects that will help to establish the Kent and Medway area as a world leader in climate-smart, sustainable horticultural food and drink production”.

She added: “These grants are an important part of our wider programme to build on the region’s reputation and international gateway status.

“We are investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure and research facilities, scientific expertise and enterprise growth to make this region one of the most dynamic, competitive and successful horticultural and agri-tech locations in the world.”

Priority innovation themes set out for the grant funding include:

- Minimising waste and maximising recycling

- Improving resource use efficiency and sustainability

- Increasing productivity

- Resilient food production, such as supply chain resilience and nutritional security

- Precision technologies, including sensor technologies, AI or robotics

- Solving the challenge of access to labour

Oliver Doubleday, chair of East Malling Trust, said: “Funding for research and innovation to support the horticultural industry has been at the heart of the Trust’s work for more than a century.

“Thanks to Growing Kent & Medway’s grant scheme, it will ensure the sector can make an even greater contribution to the development and sustainability of the local economy through the commercial application of science and research.”

For more information about the grants and to find out how to apply,

Growing Kent & Medway is supported by government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagshipStrength in Places Fund.