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Application and eligibility guidance for the Food and Drink Collaborative Innovation Fund - a fund for groups of businesses within Scotland's food and drink supply chain.


Innovation is important to Scotland’s economy. To make innovation effective for Scottish businesses, Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise brought together representatives from across industry, academia and the public sector. The group worked in partnership to develop the new Make Innovation Happen service.

This led to the introduction of a new Food and Drink Collaborative Innovation Fund which is fund for groups of businesses within the food & drink supply chain. The aim is to encourage and support the adoption of an innovation culture in Scotland, improve performance and enhance global competitiveness.

The core focus of the fund is exclusively around achieving an innovation outcome of scale, addressing a key food & drink opportunity or challenge in line with the objectives of the Scotland Food & Drink Strategy.

Who Can Apply?

  • The principal requirement is that the projects represent a collaborative relationship between a group of companies or a group of organisations and if appropriate a Scottish HEI or research facility.
  • F&D Companies must be registered in Scotland or be able to demonstrate that its principal business operation is based here.
  • Open to all businesses within the food & drink supply chain from farm to fork and sea to shelf.

The scheme is targeted at Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), but larger companies may be form part of the collaboration for grant funding. If the lead Industrial partner is not an SME then additional information on the impact of the proposed project on the Scottish SME supply chain will be required prior to the submission of an application. 

Strategic Criteria

Projects will be assessed against the following Key criteria:

  • RATIONALE FOR COLLABORATION: Why is it necessary to engage in collaboration between businesses and or academia to make this innovation happen? Who are the main partners in the collaboration and what skills and knowledge will they bring and what is their role in the collaboration?
  • RELEVANCE: Projects should have alignment with the Food & Drink Strategy. Read the Food & Drink Strategy.
  • INNOVATION: How innovative the project is and what is being done that is new or different, e.g. Use of existing technology in a new setting/novel way; adaptation of technology; introduction of new processes or products; entry into new markets.
  • INDUSTRY COMMITMENT: It should be clear from the entry that the proposed project is central to the industry partners’ strategy and is being driven by the industry partner(s). A financial contribution is expected, reflecting the value placed on the work by the companies, but commitment will be assessed on the amount of cash against the size of the companies and the importance of the project to the companies. 
  • ABILITY TO DELIVER: Both in terms of the strength of the current project team and their expertise and engagement with each other as well as opportunity for wider collaboration. Entries that involve multiple partners will most likely score higher. Partners may be similar producers, from the supply chain or commercialisation route, and other such as a Scottish Higher Education Institute (HEI).
  • ANTICIPATED IMPACT: Anticipated impact on business/industry/economy/region. A route to commercialisation and the targeted market opportunity should be spelled out in this section; without it, it will be difficult to establish how impact is likely to be achieved. 

In addition, the implications of State Aid rules in relation to any particular bid will be a key part of the evaluation process with bids being assessed with support from SE & HIE on a case by case basis.


This programme funding supports innovative and applied research and development for:

  • Experimental proof of concept
  • Technology/Product validated in a laboratory
  • Technology/product validated in relevant environment
  • Technology/Product demonstration in relevant environment
  • System or prototype demonstrated in operational environment
  • System or prototype complete and qualified
  • Actual system/prototype proven in operational environment

Generally, funding awards will be from £25,000 to £40,000 and to a maximum of 50% intervention and will take between 6-12 months to complete. The applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are able to meet a minimum of 50% of cash contribution to the project, in addition to any associated in kind contributions. Grants may also support feasibility studies to a maximum of £5,000.

A justification of the requested award amount is required as part of the application process. Proposals can be led by Scottish businesses and may include food and drink trade bodies and Scottish Universities but must involve industry. 

Applicants are obliged to follow Public sector procurement guidelines which involve approaching a minimum of three companies to supply written quotations for all contracts of with a value over £5000 (ex VAT).

Calculating Costs

To be eligible, costs must be incurred and paid between the start and end date of the project.

Eligible Costs

  • The eligible costs of research and development projects shall be allocated to a specific category of research and development and shall be the following:
  • personnel costs: researchers, technicians and other supporting staff to the extent employed on the project
  • costs of instruments and equipment to the extent and for the period used for the project. Where such instruments and equipment are not used for their full life for the project, only the depreciation costs corresponding to the life of the project, as calculated on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles are considered as eligible
  • costs for of buildings and land, to the extent and for the duration period used for the project. With regard to buildings, only the depreciation costs corresponding to the life of the project, as calculated on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles are considered as eligible. For land, costs of commercial transfer or actually incurred capital costs are eligible
  • costs of contractual research, knowledge and patents bought or licensed from outside sources at arm’s length conditions, as well as costs of consultancy and equivalent services used exclusively for the project
  • additional overheads and other operating expenses, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, incurred directly as a result of the project
  • The eligible costs for feasibility studies shall be the costs of the study.

Ineligible Costs

  • project audit, accounting or legal costs
  • interest charges, advertising
  • quality control/assurance, distribution, supply chain or selling costs or activities
  • entertainment or hospitality
  • sick days, waiting time and non –productive time
  • bonuses, awards, profit-related pay, company car expenses and any discretionary benefits to staff.

How to Apply - Key Stages and Time scales

An enquiry to the fund can be made at anytime. The Fund Manager will discuss your project and if appropriate issue an Expression of Interest Form (EOI). Completed EOI Forms should be returned to

Expression of Interest Form (EOI)

  • Response on eligibility is offered within 14 days of the submission of Expression of Interest Form
  • Feedback to unsuccessful bidders
  • The full application stage is by invitation only and dependent on the outcome decision of the EOI 
  • Full bid submissions are invited at any time

Full Application

  • Evaluation of Full Bid and Decision within 30 days of full submission
  • Feedback to unsuccessful bidders
  • Legal Documents processed and project approved

If eligible and your proposal is successful funding would be available from the financial year 2017-18 and for eligible expenditure incurred to 31 March 2020. Subject to continued funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise