New call for Agri-food-themed KTPs announced


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The Technology Strategy Board, along with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Invest Northern Ireland, the Scottish Funding Council and the Welsh Government, are to invest jointly up to £2.3m to establish Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) to improve the competitiveness, resilience and responsiveness of the agri-food supply chain.

The aim of this initiative is to give businesses access to the UK knowledge base so that they can develop innovative solutions to global challenges facing the agri-food sector.

Its scope spans primary production, including aquaculture, through to retail. This competition will provide new opportunities for open innovation and knowledge exchange across supply chains and sectors. It will help companies to mitigate commercial risk and improve business performance – and to achieve growth as a result.

Project proposals should address at least one of three high-level challenges:

• innovating to benefit consumer health, wellbeing and choice

• improving productivity, resource efficiency and resilience in the supply chain

• assuring safety and security across the supply chain.

Examples of potential project areas include: application of genetic and breeding approaches to crops and livestock; food safety, authenticity and traceability; improved methods to control yield/productivity loss or product quality; improving nutritional quality through better products or ingredients; modern manufacturing methods; technologies, approaches or services which support the sustained modification of consumer or employee behaviours; use of data (e.g. generation and interpretation of  large data sets relevant to the agri-food supply chain).

The call opens today (19th June) and will close on 11th Feb 2015.

For further information, read the full competition briefing on the TSB’s ‘innovateuk’ website here, or contact Dominic Collins in Enterprise & Commercial Development: Tel: 01785 353404, email:

Re-imagining the high street


Breathing new life into Britain’s high streets – Technology Strategy Board


Business have been challenged to come up with new ways to rejuvenate Britain’s high streets, as part of an £8m investment by the Technology Strategy Board

The high street is facing a growing challenge from online shopping and out-of-town superstores.

Today’s shoppers spend more than half of their outlay away from town and city centres. While sales from physical stores, both in and out of town, have remained constant over the last five years, online sales have risen by 222% or £18.5bn.

Despite a positive outlook for retail as a whole – with increasing year-on-year retail sales and a near 20% increase in online sales over the past year, high vacancy rates and challenging trading conditions for the High St remain.

A new competition through TSB will encourage exciting new developments that could change the way business is done across our high streets – David Willetts, University and Science Minister explained the following;

“Technology plays a vital role in people’s everyday lives and has the ability to influence our movements and shopping habits. By developing innovations to regenerate the retail sector we will be able to breathe new life into the UK’s high streets. This competition will encourage exciting new developments that could change the way business is done across our high streets. Giving shoppers and businesses real time information that they can use to their advantage will make a real difference in helping to boost the UK economy. This competition is aimed at encouraging businesses of all sizes to come up with innovations that address key challenges, such as ways we can combine both physical and virtual shopping or develop real-time parking information.”

The competition, ‘Re-imagining the high street‘, is being run under the SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) programme, which provides opportunities for innovative businesses to develop products or services that solve particular challenges faced by government bodies.

Click here to find out more about the competition

Supporting Innovation in the UK Retail Sector – full briefing released

The ESRC and TSB have now released a full briefing document for ‘Supporting Innovation in the UK Retail Sector’, the new targeted call for KTP proposals aiming to “help retail managers address the major economic, social and environmental challenges that they face, leading to new opportunities and tangible outcomes for business”. The document can be downloaded at:

 The specific aims of this call are to:

o             increase knowledge exchange between retailers and economic / social scientists*

o             develop a greater understanding of the changing nature of the UK High Street and retail spaces to drive growth, innovation and efficiency within the sector

o             stimulate and support innovations in e-commerce, m-commerce and omni-commerce, to maintain and strengthen the UK’s position as a global leader in internet retailing

o             promote and enable innovations in the use of ‘big data,’ providing insights into consumer behaviour, increasing efficiency and growth within the retail sector

o             support other innovative projects, addressing one or more sectoral challenges

 *It’s well worth academics working outside of these disciplines submitting expressions of interest, though. As the briefing makes clear (p.4)  – if the ESRC doesn’t fund them, another KTP funder might (and see also the last of the five aims, above – “other innovative projects” will be funded). Interdisciplinary and cross-faculty approaches can also be considered.

 Partners should be businesses in the retail sector that:

  • need further support to understand and respond to the challenges facing the sector;
  • are looking to access social and economic science skills and knowledge (see above) to help them innovate in dealing with these challenges; 
  • want to build and improve their capability in innovation.

 The application process is essentially the same as that for a ‘normal’ KTP and the deadline for submission is 21st August, 2013. Please contact Dominic Collins (01785 353404 / )if you’re interested.


On 25 February the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will launch a call for retail-themed KTPs as part of its £2.5 million Retail Sector Initiative, funding collaborative research and knowledge exchange activities in the sector.  Their recent announcement states that—”Understanding the behaviours of individual people, communities and organisations is key to understanding the challenges now facing the retail sector”. They particularly welcome, therefore, proposals in the following areas:

1) the changing nature of the UK high street and changing retail spaces

2) e-commerce, m-commerce and omni-channel retailing

3) consumer (including ‘big’) data

 For more information please see the following link to the pre-call announcement on the ESRC website:

 The ESRC are holding  a launch event for the Retail Sector Initiative on 28 February 2013, further information about this event is available at the following link:

 A full briefing document will be available next week.

 Contact Dominic Collins: , ext. 3404,  for further information.