Friday, April 27, 2012

Funding April 2012

Two TSB / DEFRA competitions

Innovation for growth in agriculture, food and drink

Open date: 16 April 2012
Registration close date: 23 May 2012
Close date: 30 May 2012

The Technology Strategy Board and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are to invest up to £500k to help stimulate and promote innovation in the agriculture and the food and drink sectors. This feasibility competition is specifically targeted at micro, small and medium-sized companies and aims to encourage better and more cost effective systems and processes and delivery of better products and services.

Grants will be available to support the rapid development of an innovative idea and demonstrate its practical feasibility in the agricultural (including horticulture) and food and drink sectors.

This competition is open to micro, and small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). Projects must be business-led and may be undertaken by the business alone or with one other business. Projects should last between three and six months. Grants will be available for up to 100% of the cost and will not exceed £25k.

The application process includes a two-minute video submission and a written submission.

For details see

Food processing and manufacturing efficiency

Open date: 11 June 2012
Registration close date: 11 July 2012
Close date: 18 July 2012

The Technology Strategy Board, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Scottish Government are to invest up to £15m in collaborative research and development to encourage an increase in efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness in the food processing and manufacturing sector.

Rising costs and increased regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and waste pose a significant challenge to the industry. This competition aims to encourage more efficient food processing, packaging and distribution in retail and food service sectors and the efficient recycling of manufacturing by-products and waste.

Proposals must be collaborative and business-led. Successful projects will generally attract up to 50% public funding. We are likely to award grants of between £100k and £2.5m, although projects larger than this are eligible to apply.

For full details see

Partner News April 2012

British Society of Plant Breeders £50,000 donation to transform farmers' lives in Kenya

The British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) is donating £50,000 to FARM-Africa to support a two-year project in Kenya. The project will work with 1500 local farmers to improve the quality and supply of drought tolerant seeds. This in turn will boost local food security and the incomes for farmers’ families, benefitting 9000 people.

BSPB chief executive Dr Penny Maplestone explained that the decision to support the project was made possible by the success of last year’s International Seed Federation (ISF) World Seed Congress, which was hosted by BSPB in Belfast.

"The ISF World Seed Congress 2011 offered a unique opportunity to welcome the world's seed industry to the UK, and the record attendance in Belfast reflects a growing recognition that innovation in the plant breeding and seeds sector will be a key factor in addressing the global challenges of food security and climate change. We are therefore delighted that surplus revenue from the Congress has enabled BSPB to support the vital work of FARM-Africa in helping smallholder farmers to access the benefits of improved varieties and better quality seeds," said Dr Maplestone.

Read the full story at

Rothamsted Research: Aphid-resistant wheat trial begins

Scientists from Rothamsted Research are conducting a controlled experiment, combining modern genetic engineering with their knowledge of natural plant defences, to test whether wheat that can repel aphids works in a farm setting. Aphids are unwelcome visitors that drain sap from plants. They cause significant damage to agriculture and reduce farmers' yields by damaging crops and spreading plant diseases.

Prof Maurice Moloney, Head of Rothamsted Research, says: "This is a critical experiment to begin Rothamsted's investigation of second generation GM technologies which focus upon naturally occurring deterrents of pests and diseases. We believe that using GM as a tool to emulate natural defence mechanisms provides a unique and world-leading approach that will also benefit the environment."

Read the full story at

Breakthrough technology: crops for the future 28 June

NIAB Innovation farm, 9:30 – 16:30

In collaboration with the Cambridge Partnership for Plant Sciences (CPPS) this workshop will explore the contribution of new technology such as hybrids and C4 photosynthesis. The morning session will consist of four presentations and single slide speed pitches from researchers. If you are interested in delivering a speed pitch, please contact Claire Pumfrey:

To book your place visit; for more details visit

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bioenergy Meeting 27 April

All welcome: please contact Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley if attending so we have an idea of numbers

External Speaker: Dr Calliope Panoutsou, Research Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College (

Biomass value chains for energy and materials: policy, economics & logistics

The talk will provide an outline of recent policies at EU27 (and a recent assessment for the NREAP bio-targets, which countries will and which will not reach them and why), as well as a detailed analysis of economics and logistics and how they can affect the biomass integration into heat, electricity and transport sectors (which are the key cost areas).

Internal Speaker: Dr Xiaoyu Yan, PDRA Energy Group (head: Adam Boies), Dept of Engineering (

UK biofuels – friend or foe?

The uncertainty in carbon intensity of UK wheat ethanol

Biofuels are frequently cited to save the day when all other technical options combined look insufficient to bring about the desired emission reduction in the transport sector. However, numerous and often significant sources of uncertainties exist in biofuel life cycles. How confident are we in estimating the emission reduction potentials of different biofuels given these uncertainties? Using UK wheat ethanol as a case study, we illustrate the quantification of uncertainties in life cycle emissions via stochastic modelling and compare the results with those from traditional deterministic life cycle analyses.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Plant power, 19 May

To kill and to cure, to make and to mend, to bewitch and beware, discover
The Power of Plants
as the Botanic Garden hosts first Fascination of Plants Day on
Saturday 19 May 2012

Plants have a unique talent: the ability to gather energy from the sun’s rays travelling through space to synthesise their own food. This is the foundation of all other life on earth, from the oxygen in our lungs to the medicines that keep us healthy. They’re also some of the most stunning organisms on the planet, and the most varied, adapted to every ecological niche across every continent.

On Saturday 19 May, plant scientists, biochemists, horticulturists and representatives from the plant science industries will gather at the Botanic Garden to share with visitors the power of plants for the first international Fascination of Plants Day. Demonstrations and activities will run from 10.30am: science experiments will include balloons inflated by gases released by fermenting plants, children can dress up as bees to collect nectar from giant flowers to learn about pollination and there’ll be quizzes to match the product to the plant. Plus the chance to test a laser remote sensing system – the latest tool in forest conservation.

The living world is a rich source of chemicals with many medicines, dyes, flavourings and foodstuffs having their origins in compounds produced by plants. Ampika Ltd, an ethical enterprise spinout of the University of Cambridge, will be bringing a display about medicinal plants, including a new anaesthetic gel derived from a plant found in the Peruvian rainforest, which is currently under trial as a pain-relief treatment for toothache. The Botanic Garden and Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre will also be launching a new Chemicals in Plants trail that identifies some of the poisonous, beneficial (and occasionally both!) chemicals produced by plants.

Launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation, the Fascination of Plants Day held at the Botanic Garden on 19 May will be a day of interactive plant fun and demos that will also highlight the critical role plant science plays in the social, environmental and economic landscape now and into the future. The event is co-organised by the Cambridge Partnership for Plant Science, a consortium that connects cutting-edge research undertaken in the region with the business community that develops plants for application in food, energy and other material uses.

More information

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March news: Funding

BBSRC: Horticulture and Potato Initiative

Outline application deadline: 25 April 2012

As part of its portfolio of activities related to food security, BBSRC are launching a new collaborative funding activity to support excellent quality, industrially relevant research projects on potato and edible horticulture crops.

Up to £7M will be invested through two calls. The Scottish Government and Natural Environment Research Council are also contributing to this initiative. The first call is open and information can be found on the apply for funding page.

Through discussions with companies from the sector BBSRC have identified 6 key areas where research is necessary to help improve food security:

* Changing seasons
* Crop maturity and spoilage
* Soil
* Pests and pathogens
* Seed quality and vigour
* Resource use efficiency

All of these areas are within scope for the first call. Further details can be found in the full call text (download from

Two TSB / DEFRA competitions

On 14 March Jim Paice, Food and Farming Minister, launched a £15 million programme to stimulate innovation and growth in the food industry at the Farming, Food and Drink Innovate for Growth Summit. This programme comprises of two funding competitions.

The competitions

* The Technology Strategy Board, in partnership with Defra and BBSRC, will invest up to £15 million in major R&D projects that increase the efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of the food processing and manufacturing sector, focussing on increasing efficiency and reducing supply chain waste. Applications open in June 2012.

* Defra and the Technology Strategy Board are also launching the Innovate for Growth competition, providing up to twenty £25k grants for innovative SMEs across the farming, food and drink industries. This funding will support the rapid development of an innovative idea and demonstrate its practical feasibility. The competition will open in April, with results announced in the summer.

To access the competition documents, please make sure you are a member of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform group on connect.

Next CPPS sponsored event 19th May

Fascination of plants - Plant power

Cambridge University Botanic gardens – Just turn up on the day.
Launched under the European Plant Sciences Organisation umbrella ( We are joining together with several scientific organisations based in Cambridge to enthuse visitors about plants and the importance of plant science. This open day is interactive and open to a public audience of all ages.

Invitation to nominate speakers for future CPPS Lectures

CPPS Lectures, such as that delivered by Prof Julian Ma in Feb on 'Molecular Pharming', are an excellent way for CPPS from academia and industry to build further links and network. The process for choosing next year’s speakers is under way – all of you are invited to nominate speakers and topics which are of particular interest to you. Please email with any suggestions in the next few weeks.