Q: What is the scope of the competition?

A: Eligible UK registered businesses/applicants must explain how the proposed idea is innovative, novel and realistic, with a strong practical focus to support SMEs or knowledge transfer between academia and industry. The approach used is flexible; from application of a simple idea to addressing more complex challenges. Projects should have relevance and show value across the food and drink supply chain, with clearly identified impact on the food processing and manufacturing industries. The funding can be used to facilitate access to expertise and knowhow, testing out ideas (including access to kit/facilities) or building partnerships.

Q: What are the competition criteria to receive a £5,000 award?

A: The assessors will be looking for submissions that

  • meet the scope of the competition 
  • are creative and innovative
  • clearly provide a business opportunity
  • explain why Government investment is needed to make it happen
  • provide value for money

Q:  What are the Food Innovation Network's objectives?

A: The Food Innovation Network (FIN) helps the agri-food sector innovate by connecting businesses to research and joining up the landscape so that information, expertise, funding, demonstration facilities are easier to access (especially by SMEs). Accessing these opportunities can help businesses develop innovative ideas and create new business opportunities

Q: Can Food Innovation Network Innovation Vouchers (FIN Innovation Vouchers) be used to fund PhD students?

A: FIN Innovation Vouchers cannot be used to fund PhD students as Defra does not fund PhD grants. FIN Innovation Vouchers are not able to be used to subsidise student grants.

Q: How is the scheme administered?

A: Except for the payment of grants by Defra directly to competition winners, the FIN will be managing all aspects of the competition, including all aspects of the match funding.

Q: Can FIN Innovation Vouchers be combined with (added to) fund larger projects e.g. £10,000 rather than £5,000?

A: The vouchers which are £5,000 in value can be combined with a match fund of a maximum of £5,000 to increase the amount available per project, i.e. up to £10,000. The aim of the vouchers is to stimulate innovative ideas and further research rather than carry out larger projects.

Q: If a FIN Innovation Voucher is used, does Defra allocate additional monies to include VAT or would they allocate £5,000 which includes the VAT?

A: The VAT is included within the £5K voucher value.

Q: Do projects and sponsors/collaborators have to be based in the UK or can they be overseas?

A: The Food Innovation Network is only able to fund UK-based businesses, so these FIN Innovation Vouchers must relate to a UK business doing a project in collaboration with an industrial partner. The business must be located in the UK when carrying out the project. FIN Innovation Voucher recipients should focus attention on UK-based partners where there is benefit to the UK innovation/research base and the UK economy. 

Q: Do the winning businesses (and their collaborators) have to be UK based?

A: The Food Innovation Network encourages a UK focus and requires that the collaborations, where applicable, are between food and drink businesses and academics within the UK.

Q: Can businesses ask for extra administrative or sundry costs to cover the additional resource required?

A: The Food Innovation Network is not able to provide extra administrative or sundry funds.

Q: Re: payment of grants – does the Food Innovation Network need evidence that the money has been spent as required to the level of actual receipts?

A: The Food Innovation Network does not need to see evidence of receipts but you are advised to keep records of your expenditure for audit or related purposes. You are required to provide a final report at the end of the project demonstrating the impact of the funding. We would advise you speak to your finance contact to discuss your standard procedures for transferring funds

Q: What if a project doesn’t spend the full grant amount and/or matches funding?

A: If there is underspend of the grants, the Food Innovation Network could legitimately request any unspent funds to be returned. Only invoices claimed will be paid and maximum invoice amount payable is £5,000.

Q: Which businesses are eligible for the FIN Innovation Vouchers scheme?

A: The FIN Innovation Vouchers scheme applies to micro, small and medium sized companies (SMEs) in the food and drinks sector. SMEs typically comprise no more than 250 employees: full definitions can be found at:

Q: Who can benefit from the scheme?

A: The aim of the scheme is to boost innovation in food and drink micro businesses and SMEs. This may be through partnering with other businesses or with academia to gain knowledge or expertise through collaboration.

Q:  Are FIN Innovation Vouchers payable to industry or the academics or both?

A: FIN Innovation Vouchers can be paid to successful applicants so long as a food and drink micro business or SME will have clear benefit from the award and as long as they meet other eligibility criteria. All businesses expecting to carry out work packages within the voucher award should be named on the application. 

Q: How does the match funding work?

A: Projects will be based on one of the following match funding mechanisms:

  • Company X providing £5,000 in-kind support
  • Company Y providing £5,000 cash
  • Company A wishes to use a service provided by Company Z (as put forward by the FIN) to the value of £5,000

Q: Can applicants find their own match funders/in kind support to include in their proposals?

A: Yes. Applicants are encouraged to engage with other partners who can bring support to the project – these can be in addition to those listed who are supporting the competition. Applicants can also choose from one of the match fund/in kind support organisations put forward by the FIN.

Q: Who is match funding the competition?

A: Current FIN award partners (for a full up-to-date list, see the sponsor list page on the website):

Q: Can FIN Innovation Vouchers be used to pay for consumables?

A: FIN Innovation Vouchers can be used to purchase consumables for projects for which vouchers were awarded and not for other projects nor for businesses’ staff time.

Q: When will successful applicants receive their awards

A: Each successful applicant will be required to send an end of project report to the FIN who, if satisfied report with the report, will then advise Defra to make payment direct to the successful applicant. An invoice will need to be sent in before any payment can be made.

Q: Can FIN Innovation Vouchers be used to facilitate a meeting between industry and academics to develop project ideas? The industrial contribution could be the hosting of the meeting, providing the meeting place, catering etc.

A: Meetings can form part of a FIN Innovation Voucher but should not be the sole purpose.

Q: What is the minimum and a maximum duration of projects?

A: Projects are expected to be run between 3 and 6 months.

Q: What happens at the end of a project?

A: At the end of a project, a final report or evaluation must be submitted to the Food Innovation Network to be able to claim the funding.

Q: Can I publicise that I have been awarded a grant?

A: Defra and the FIN welcome opportunities to showcase examples of innovation. If you wish to publicise your project in the media then please notify Defra Press Office on 0208 225 7626.

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